Tag: AMC

Stateside Slip-ups — Driven To Write

Stateside Slip-ups — Driven To Write

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America: land of unlimited possibilities. Of course, not all roads lead to success. Image: the author Cardin Cadillac Eldorado Evolution I French couture designer Pierre Cardin* was no stranger to dabbling in the automotive sector: in 1972 and 1973 AMC offered a specially upholstered version of the Javelin with his name on it. Not only […]

Stateside Slip-ups — Driven To Write

What sense would a Gremlin station wagon have made? – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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What would a Gremlin have been without Bob Nixon’s on-a-budget barf-bag-sketch chop back truncation? What would it have been with any other silhouette behind the B-pillars? Correct, it wouldn’t be a Gremlin at all, which is fairly obvious given the Gremlin’s successor, the Spirit, swapped the chop back for a liftback and nobody ever confused the latter for the former. But what if AMC’s designers tried to give the Gremlin more utility by turning it into, say, a station wagon?

Granted, there’s no information attached to this image of a wagon-bodied Gremlin-nosed AMC small car that the Gateway AMC club recently posted to Facebook that would suggest that was the intention behind the mockup. In fact, there’s no information attached to it at all, and AMC enthusiasts have been trying to discern whatever they can from the image since, including the location of the photo. We know, for example, that the schnozz comes from a 1977-1978 Gremlin, though those wheel covers came on 1973-1975 Hornets.

We know from Pat Foster’s “American Motors Corporation: The Rise And Fall of America’s Last Independent Automaker” that AMC execs were looking to keep Gremlin sales from collapsing during the late Seventies – hence the redesigned front end, along with several other changes like a larger rear window, more standard equipment, and the newly available Audi-built 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Could the mockup above have been another proposal for juicing Gremlin sales?

Above, the Gremlin G-II. Below, the Hornet GT and the later Concept Grand Touring.

Then again, as mentioned above, the Gremlin wasn’t the Gremlin with a different profile, and AMC had already toyed with semi-wagon small-car rooflines and with the Gremlin silhouette. First, there was the circa-1973 Hornet GT, a sort of shortened two-door Hornet Sportabout on the Gremlin’s 96-inch wheelbase—a running prototype with two different rear side window treatments that eventually became the circa-1978 square-headlamp Concept Grand Touring with a different interior and an odd vinyl top. Then there was the 1974 Gremlin G-II, another show car built on the Gremlin’s wheelbase with Hornet front fenders, though this time with a Spirit-like hatchback and aggressively wide rear quarters. They all looked sharp, but unlike, say, the 1974 Gremlin XP, they had no real resemblance to the Gremlin.

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If you know the name Chilson, then you know this 1975 AMC Pacer X is special – Mike Austin @Hemmings

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AMC made around 280,000 copies of the Pacer, of which some smaller fraction survive today. The number of clean, unrestored examples of the wide, small car is an even smaller fraction. Of that subset, a connection to Chilson Motors makes this 1975 AMC Pacer X up for bids on Hemmings Auctions a rare offering. Those already in the AMC fold know the Chilson name well. Gordy Chilson kept the AMC flame alive by hosting an annual gathering at his family’s dealerships (which once included an AMC franchise) near the Pennsylvania/New York state line. Suffice it to say, when an AMC from the Chilson collection comes up for sale, it’s probably one of the good ones. From the auction listing:

This original 1975 AMC Pacer is doubly historic for fans of the United States’ last independent automaker, American Motors Corporation. First, this is one of more than 90,000 examples of the audacious, widebody Pacer compact built in the model’s initial production year. Next, the car is reported to have been custom ordered by Gordy Chilson, of Chilson AMC in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, the site of a well-known AMC gatherings. The Pacer, with the desirable X trim package, is said to have been a display inside the Chilson showroom since the original owner traded it for a new AMC Eagle in 1987. A fully optioned car, including air conditioning, cruise control, and an 8-track audio system, this Pacer is part of the Chilson AMC collection, with an odometer reading of 26,811 that the seller believes is accurate.

This Pacer’s interior, including carpeting, is described as being entirely original, the materials presenting as being in excellent, undamaged condition. The padded dashboard also presents as being in excellent condition, with no missing trim or small controls. The seller reports that all instrumentation is functional, including the original 8-track audio system. The heating and air conditioning system are believed to be in good working order although the a/c system may need to be charged before use. The cargo area presents as being undamaged and strongly clean.

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The 1968 AMC Javelin “Bonneville Speed Spectacular” World Record Setter – Ben Branch @Silodrome

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This was the AMC Javelin that won the “Bonneville Speed Spectacular,” setting a new C-Production class record of 161.733 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats with Craig Breedlove at the wheel in 1968.

The competition was sponsored by AMC and CarCraft Magazine. They took three Javelins and assigned them to three separate three-man teams who had applied to enter the contest. The team with the fastest car then won all three cars – one for each man.

Fast Facts – A “Bonneville Speed Spectacular” AMC Javelin

  • The name Craig Breedlove needs to introduction to anyone even vaguely familiar with land speed record racing. He’s a five-time world land speed record holder and the first person in history to reach 500 mph and 600 mph on the ground.
  • The car you see here is the winner of the 1968 “Bonneville Speed Spectacular,” a competition that was held at the Bonneville Salt Flats. This car set a C-Production class record of 161.733 mph.
  • Three 1968 AMC Javelins were entered in total, each was modified by a team of three contestants, the winning team with the fastest car then won all three cars – one each.
  • The AMC Javelin was developed as an answer to the Ford Mustang and the wildly popular “Pony Car” genre. The Javelin was released in 1968, and the “Bonneville Speed Spectacular” was developed to drum up publicity for the new car.

The 1968 Bonneville Speed Spectacular

In 1968 with the release of the Javelin, AMC set to work creating a publicity stunt that would win the company coverage from coast to coast, and permanently link the new pony car challenger with two things: a world speed record at Bonneville and the Craig Breedlove – the national hero and famous land speed record setter.

This competition was co-sponsored by Car Craft Magazine. Readers of the magazine were invited to enter a competition to join one of three teams that would be modifying three Javelins in the hope of setting a new C-Production class record.

The Three Teams

Each applicant had answer some true or false questions and write a paragraph selling their mechanical aptitude. Nine winners were selected and divided into three teams, they were: Carl Tracer, Alynn Luessen, and Bruce Nottingham on Team #1.

Charlie Seabrook, Pete Darnell, and Matt Strong on Team #2, and Bill Tinker, Jim Riley, and Larry Lechner on Team #3.

The engine remains in original condition, still including all of the modifications made to the car by the team who won the competition and set the new record.

Interestingly, Pete Darnell of the winning team was flown in from the Vietnam War to compete.

Each of the teams modified their AMC Javelins to the best of their abilities and Breedlove drove each of them down a marked course on the Bonneville Salt Flats in November of 1968.

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For Sale:The Original 1977 AMC AM Van 4×4 Concept Vehicle – Ben Branch @Silodrome

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The styling of the AM Van is clearly the work of AMC designer Richard Teague, the father of the Gremlin, Pacer, AMX, Javelin, and the Jeep Cherokee to name but a few.

This is the 1977 AMC AM Van, a concept vehicle that was planned to have a four-wheel drive powertrain headed by a turbocharged engine – both quite novel ideas for a production car in the 1970s.

This van was part of AMC’s seven car “Concept 80” traveling motor show, intended to showcase to the American public their vision for the future of the automobile. The AMC AM Van was by far the most popular vehicle in the show, resoundingly winning the public vote everywhere it was shown.

Fast Facts – The 1977 AMC AM Van

  • The 1977 AMC AM Van was penned by legendary automotive stylist Richard Teague, the creator of the AMX, Javelin, Jeep Cherokee and a slew of other designs.
  • AMC was known for unusual and oftentimes quite prescient vehicle designs, including the likes of the Gremlin, the Eagle 4×4, and the SX/4 4×4.
  • Had it been approved for production the AMC AM Van would likely have sold well, the 1970s were a time when vans were king, and with the included turbocharged engine and 4×4 drivetrain the van would have ticked a lot of boxes for a lot of consumers.
  • Sadly the van didn’t get the green light for production, and now just this single fiberglass bodied concept vehicle remains to show the world what might have been.

The AMC “Concept 80” Traveling Motor Show

The AMC Concept 80 traveling motor show was unveiled in 1977 and sent on a seven city tour of the United States, to showcase the future direction of the American Motors Corporation

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Which $20,000-or-Less Malaise-Era Four-Door Would You Choose for Your Dream Garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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Like a kid in a candy store, we’re zipping our way around a vast, virtual car market that is the Hemmings Classifieds. In our latest edition of This or That, we’re circling around to a specific asking price point between $10,000 and $20,000, this time rounding up four-door hardtops and sedans from the 1970s that are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds. We’ve mentioned this plenty of times before, but for those new to this game, the good news about a $20k cap is that it offers options in good condition (even in our inflated market). So, given the money and space, which one would you take home?

1973 OLDSMOBILE NINETY-EIGHT LUXURY SEDAN

With exception of the Toronado, Oldsmobile’s Ninety-Eight (or, 98) continued its reign as the division’s top-of-the-line series for 1973, now offered in five body styles, including this four-door Ninety-Eight Luxury Sedan. Bested in fine accoutrements by only the Ninety-Eight Regency, the hardtop’s lengthy listed of standard features included – but were not limited to – a 275-hp 455-cu.in. engine, Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission, power steering, power front disc brakes, power windows, bench seats finished in “luxurious Bravo cloth with Morocceen trim” upholstery, windshield antenna, and more, all strapped to a 127-inch wheelbase chassis that cost $5,234 (or $34,335 in today’s currency). Olds built 21,896 four-door Luxury Sedans that year, making it the second most popular car within the Ninety-Eight series. From the seller’s description:

Talk about Old School Cool, once you see it, you won’t be able to walk away. Often turned into low-riders, or used for cruising or hopping, this car has the potential for it all. However, it’s perfect as is… a car that your Father drove and swore it was the best car ever. Finished in Honey Beige with Black 60/40 cloth upholstery, the looks are sure to get the town talking. Drive this one home now, it’s ready to go, in close to perfect condition. Solid body, chassis and drive train. Everything works and was a central part of an estate collection. Do you want to win car show trophies or just take the family out for an ice cream? Pile em’ and go. This car is an amazing drive that you don’t want to miss out on.

Price$18,500LocationCampbellsville, KYAvailability Available

1974 CHRYSLER NEW YORKER BROUGHAM SEDAN

Like the Olds Ninety-Eight, Chrysler’s New Yorker Brougham was bested only by the Imperial in terms of divisional luxury hierarchy by the time our featured 1974 four-door Brougham sedan was sold to its first owner. The Brougham’s mechanical DNA was identical to that of its base New Yorker sibling, meaning it was fitted with a 230-hp 440-cu.in. engine, TorqueFlite automatic transmission, torsion bar front suspension, power disc brakes, power steering, and 15-inch wheels, yet the Brougham also benefitted from the installation of power windows, plusher 50/50 front bench seat with additional arm rests, upscale trim, and a few other bits, all for a standard base price of $6,479 (or $39,099 in today’s currency). While pillared four-door sedans sold exceptionally well in the entry-level Newport and Newport Custom series, the pillared four-door New Yorker Brougham flopped: just 4,533 examples were built. From the seller’s description:

This highly desirable top of the line 1974 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham has only 50,500 miles! Highly optioned with the iconic big-block 440 four-barrel V-8, three-speed 727 TorqueFlite automatic, power steering, power disc brakes, working air conditioning, power windows, locks, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, vinyl top, factory AM/FM stereo, 50/50 power bench seat with dual armrests, etc. The body’s finished in Lucerne Blue Iridium, and is super straight rust free both top and bottom. All lights are in working order, the trunk trunk and engine compartment look like new. This car drives as good as it looks, and is guaranteed to draw attention. The 1974 models were the last full-size models Chrysler designed from the ground up, and one of the last to receive the big dog 440 V-8. Here’s your chance to own one at a very affordable price!

Price$12,950LocationMaple Lake, MNAvailability Available

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Other Than the Aftermarket Radio, This 1966 Rambler Rebel Is Remarkably Preserved – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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The fact that this 1966 Rambler Rebel, listed for sale on Hemmings.com, is still around shouldn’t come as a surprise: Well-equipped or sporty versions of any car tend to have higher survival rates than the bare-bones models. Go to any AMC show, though, and you’re far more likely to see restored Rebels than you are ones left essentially untouched, like this example. That legendary straight-six is just getting broken in, with the odometer reporting 65,000 miles. The body shows some wear on the trunklid but no rust, and that interior might have suffered some sun fading but remains intact and clean. The only modification we can see is the addition of the modern radio and speakers. This nice Rambler shows how these cars were originally put together. From the seller’s description:

This Teal Rambler Rebel has a black vinyl hard top and Rambler hubcaps with teal accented wheels making this a cool Survivor Classic. This Rambler started its life at the Kenosha Wisconsin assembly plant as verified by the VIN. The original inline 6 with 3 speed automatic glides through the gears and is an original numbers matching survivor.

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Which one of these four cars from the start of the “downsized era” would you choose for your dream garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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The dawn of Detroit’s downsized era in the late Seventies was probably long overdue. The bigger-is-better attitude had cost consumers a ton (pardon the pun) thanks to a series of circumstances that included, but were not limited to, a fuel crisis, emission and safety regulations, and rapidly changing CAFE standards.

The necessary diet, however, turned out to be a breath of fresh air in some regards, taken in steps and planned appropriately enough so that handling, comfort, and cabin space – all things most Americans thoroughly enjoyed – was not sacrificed.

A perfect example was Oldsmobile’s Cutlass, which set a staggering production record after shedding its bulk. So, in our latest edition of This or That, we’re celebrating the beginning of the downsized era, which was administered in steps that began in earnest in 1977. As always, we’re delivering just four examples to your inbox to ponder, all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds.

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Flashy, not fast: The 1969 American Motors Rebel Raider was a limited-run package exclusive to New York and New Jersey dealers – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings

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Regional specialty car programs lured curious potential customers into dealer showrooms by promising an exclusive offering, often at a tempting price. Even if consumers didn’t ultimately buy that particular vehicle, it still got them in the door so a savvy salesperson could seize the opportunity to sell them a different one.

These packages normally consisted of a group of options added to an existing model, as well as a catchy name announced with decals or emblems, and possibly special stripes and/or paint colors to make the creation standout further.

Some of these distinctive rides went on to become widely known beyond their geographical points of sale, while others were seemingly lost to time.In 1969, New York and New Jersey-area American Motors Rambler dealers offered the “Raider.” Based on the unit-body midsize Rebel, it featured “Electric Green, Tangerine, or Blue—You’ve Never Seen” (as stated in the ad) exterior colors, a black grille, a vinyl top, a bench-seat interior, a sports-type steering wheel, an AM radio, power steering and brakes, and other small items.

We know those colors instead as Big Bad Green, Big Bad Orange, and Big Bad Blue, and our featured Raider’s original window sticker lists “Big Bad Blue.

“Given its aggressive appearance, you may be expecting to hear that the engine was a rumbling 280-hp 343, or possibly the even-more-powerful 315-hp 390, but it was actually a 200-hp 290 two-barrel V-8 with a single exhaust. It was backed by a column-shifted Borg-Warner Shift- Command automatic transmission and a 3.15:1 axle ratio. The powertrain choice made sense to keep the price reasonable and reach a broader customer base.

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The History of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer – Benjamin Hunting @Motortrend

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How the 1984–1991 Grand Wagoneer cast the luxury SUV mould for today’s model.

Although luxury trucks are a key profit center for modern automotive manufacturers, there was a time when only a single brand on the American market was brave enough to make the leap from ski station to valet station. It was the early ’80s when AMC decided to go all-in on an aging platform by transforming its already decades-old Wagoneer into the Grand Wagoneer and open up an entirely new segment for U.S. buyers. The Jeep Grand Wagoneer beat the (still Spartan but nevertheless high-priced) Range Rover to the American market by a handful of years, and while Land Rover was able to outlast its underfunded rival in the long run, as contemporaries there was no question who was first, and in the minds of many sport-utility fans, who also did it better.

Ancient Roots

A bit of backstory first. The original Wagoneer, internally known as the Full-Size Jeep, FSJ, or SJ, debuted in 1963, and would soldier on for decades with only minor mechanical tweaks. The first hints that the truck had the potential to woo an upscale clientele came with the Super Wagoneer, which then Jeep owner Kaiser released in 1966. Packed with luxury gear completely foreign to anything trucklike at the time (power brakes, a high-end radio, tilt steering, power steering), it wasn’t long before the model was commanding nearly three times the average transaction price of an entry-level automobile.

Once AMC purchased Jeep in 1970, the product line coalesced around the more basic Cherokee and its more family-friendly Wagoneer variant. Despite repeated urging from AMC dealers to increase the price point on the latter—due to the surprisingly high household incomes of buyers attracted to the truck’s blend of on-pavement comfort and rugged go-anywhere image—each truck would stay in its lane for the next several year

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