The American Motors AMX: The Two-Seat Muscle Car

In March 1968 American Motors Corporation introduced the AMX which stood for “American Motors Experimental”.  This was a high performance car that was a rare two-seat car that came from a car manufacturer that was not known for producing high performance cars.

The AMX had styling that was very similar to the American Motors Javelin which had gone on sale a few months earlier in September, 1967.  The main difference between the Javelin and the AMX was that the wheelbase of the Javelin was 109 inches, while the AMX had a wheelbase of only 97-inches.

1968 AMX

Only V8 engines were available in the AMX.  The standard AMX engine was a four-barrel carburetted 290 cubic inch engine that produced 225 horsepower.  The intermediate option was the 343 cubic inch V8 engine that produced 280 horsepower, while the big option was the 315 horsepower 390 cubic inch V8 engine.

The AMX was produced only from 1968 to 1970.  In 1970, the base engine was the 290 horsepower 360-cubic inch V8 engine with a floor-mounted 4-speed with a Hurst shifter.  The optional V8 engine was a 325 horsepower 390 cubic inch engine.

The highest performing AMX was the 1969 AMX SS model which was either 52 or 53 AMX cars that were shipped to Hurst Industries to have their performance upgraded.  These cars had two four-barrel carburetors on an Edelbrock cross-ram intake as well as Doug’s Headers.  These modifications reportedly increased the horsepower of the 390 cubic inch engine to 340 horsepower.

1969 AMX SS

The AMX had a relatively short lifespan.  It was dropped by American Motors in 1971, as they turned their attention to other cars like the Javelin, Hornet  and Gremlin.

1970 AMX

As shown in the above image, the 1970 AMX had a few more styling lines and gimmicks as compared to the 1968 AMX.

I have included a road test of a 1968 American Motors AMX that was published in Canada Track & Traffic.

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15 Responses to The American Motors AMX: The Two-Seat Muscle Car

  1. greg g says:

    Always liked the AMX and early Javelins, Almost bought a V8 4speed hornet in 71. Didn’t know about car loans and financing and couldn’t make a cash deal. If I remember right it would have been out the door for just under 2600 bucks. Bought a 66 Mustang 2+2 instead.

    Its interesting to see that while this was a performance car in its day, a V6 Honda Accord, would probably equal its acceleration numbers, while out handling and outstopping it also, and doubling its fuel economy.

    • There is no doubt that today’s cars are much better in all respects than the cars or 45 – 50 years ago. I remember driving those cars cars at 80 miles per hour and you knew that you were going 80 miles per hour. I can drive one of today’s cars on the interstate highways at 90 miles an hour as easily as doing 30 miles per hour in my subdivision. I have to watch that I don’t drive the car too fast to attract the authorities.

      Some times we forget just how long ago that cars like the AMX were referred to as performance cars, but 45 – 50 years ago is a long time. Looking even further backward and assuming a linear technology curve it would be like comparing an AMX with a Mercer Raceabout. Each car needs to be compared with others of its era. It is strange however that era of the AMX is referred to as the “Muscle Car Era”, when as you note, many of today’s mild-mannered family cars would out-perform the “muscle” cars.

      Thanks for your comment!
      Steve McKelvie

      • Christopher says:

        Yeah but how cool can u look in an accord. V8 American Muscle is the way to go. Stupid import lovers.

  2. Bud Tucker says:

    I Just came upon your web page today for the first time.

    I raced the Amx In ’68

    There is an article about it in on of the 1968 or 69 issues of T&T magazine if you are interested.

    BUD TUCKER
    Ontario sports car racing champion 1967.

    • Hi Bud,
      I have a complete set of T&T so if you tell me the issue then I could look it up. I have not seen many racing AMX cars. Of course I remember the Javelin in the Trans Am series, but I don’t recall the AMX being raced other than by a couple of the drag racing guys. I would be interested in information about a racing AMX.

      Regards,
      Steve

  3. Rick Breitenbach says:

    Hi Steve, thanks for putting this page together. Question. Do you know who owns the 1969 AMX SS you have pictured? Beautiful car.

    Rick

  4. Greg Smith says:

    can you imagine owning a buff AMX today? WOW.

  5. Laurie Szuter says:

    Hi Steve. I use to own a 1970 AMX with a 360 automatic. I know you wrote above that the 70 cars were 4 speed with a Hurst as shifter. I would have loved to have a 4 speed but I was 19 years old and bought the car from the original owner. So I ended up with an automatic. I worked for the Crawford Auto Aviation museum at the time and my dream was to have a collector car. Well years later when I was married my late husband thought I loved the car more than him so I decided to sell it. However I was very particular and intervieed people that had a restoration type mind and would keep it and restore any worn parts. That was in 1981. To this day I regret selling but what can you do. I would love to find another but now they are out of my price range. Thanks for your article. Oh and by the way,. Crawfordked museum use to have the prototype of the AMX on display it was beautiful

  6. i think the ss is actually a 70

  7. Doug Lieuwen says:

    They made the AMX right until 1974.

    • Hi Doug,
      You are right that AMC used the AMX name after 1970 but the classic two-seat AMX ended in 1970. AMC used the AMX name on some Javelin and Hornet models after that time, but for many of us the last year of the AMX was 1970.
      Steve McKelvie

  8. Spencer Racine says:

    I had a 1970 AMX with a 390 and 4 speed. I bought the car for $1000 bucks in 1977.
    Don’t remember the original colour, think baby blue, anyway I had it painted in Imron Black.
    Drove it a few years then moved to California where I sold it around 1981. If memory serves me right I got $3000 for it. I ended up running across it again around 1994 and tried to buy it back but the owner didn’t want to sell. It still had the same paint on it and nothing was changed inside. It looked like it had been sitting for quite a while in a yard with other muscle cars.
    Spencer

  9. seth gordon says:

    The SS AMX was made in 1969. AMC provided parts to alter the car to look like a 1970 car for qualification purposes. In 1969 an AMX was campaigned in SCCA B production using a 343 engine. Ike Knupp (Technical Employees of American Motors) won the Midwest division over a Corvette driven by Alan Barker. Knupp was leading the national championship race at Daytona; details are sketchy but it is alleged that another Corvette interfered with Knupp who damaged his engine while downshifting to avoid a collision. Barker then went on to win. There is another B-production AMX that ruled its division and it is still around. Google Ike Knupp for more info and pictures.

    Today’s vehicles benefit from having components that would have been considered very exotic in 1968: Aluminum heads (and block), fuel injection, factory headers, 5 (or more) speed transmissions and roller tappet valve trains come to mind. Throw in some modern wheels and tires and an AMX will slaughter any V-6 Honda except perhaps an NSX ($125,000). Breedlove’s supercharged 390 AMX had around 800 hp and reached about 190 in the flying mile and was said to be still accelerating.

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