The American Motors Corporation (AMC) AMX (for “American Motors eXperimental”) began its design phase in 1965, producing a concept vehicle in 1966. The AMX helped AMC shed its “economy car” image, offering a two-seater to the more youthful market. Touted as the first steel-bodied, two seat American performance car since the 1957 Thunderbird, the AMX had a short, 97 inch wheelbase, and sold for $3,245, which was over $1,000 less than its direct competition, the Chevrolet Corvette. The AMX was produced for three years between 1968 and 1970. Production totals for each year were 6,725 for the 1968 model year, 8,293 units for the 1969 model year, and 4,116 units for the final model year of 1970, for a grand total of 19,134 AMX vehicles produced.
Although the two-seater AMX production run spanned just three short years, the AMX name lived on as higher-performance versions of several AMC models, including the four-seater companion to the AMX called the Javelin, as well as their Hornet and other AMC lines.
A wide variety of engine options were available, all in the V8 configuration. The AMX offered a 290 cu in for 1968 and 1969 with 223 hp, the 343 cu in also was available for 1968 and 1969 with 280 hp. A 360 cu in was available only in 1970 with 290 hp, and the big 390 cu in power plant was available throughout all model years. The big 390 cu in engine was priced just $123 more than the 343 cu in engine and was a popular option. The 290, 343 and 360 engines were dubbed “Typhoon V-8” whereas the big 390 cu in engine was called simply the “AMX V-8”.
AMC advertised in its factory literature and print ads for the AMX that "Once the 390 was broken in, you could roll right onto a race track and be ready to do 130 mph". Times listed for 0-60 mph were 6.9 seconds, and the quarter mile time was listed at 15.2 seconds.
The AMX was introduced to the press at the Daytona International Speedway in February, 1968, which was just over four months after the companion model the Javelin went on sale.
Record breaking with the AMX: In January, 1968, two specially-prepared AMX vehicles set 106 world speed records at a track in Texas. Described as “stock” in AMC’s promotional material about the run, the cars were modified for added power, better handling, and increased strength by World Land Speed Record holder Craig Breedlove’s own speed shop.
The V8 engines, such as the 290 cu in engine in one if the cars, was bored out to 304 cu in, and the 390 cu in engine in the other car was bored out to 397 cu in. The shop installed exhaust headers, eight quart oil pans, oil coolers, hi-rise intake manifolds, racing camshafts with solid lifters, and larger carburetors. The cars had 37-gallon fuel-cells added as well. Engine components were X-rayed and Magnafluxed to check for cracks, as were all chassis components.
Chassis preparation included heavy-duty front and rear springs, rear spring traction control arms, heavy-duty shock absorbers and a Panhard-type track bar in the rear to eliminate side sway of the rear axle. Stock wheels and tires were replaced by wide magnesium racing wheels and Goodyear racing tires.
The car interiors included structure-stiffening roll cages for driver protection, a stock bucket seat modified for additional support, and supplementary engine-monitoring instruments.
The cars were aerodynamically modified as well. The front ends were lowered, the hoods were slanted downward and spoilers were installed below the front bumpers. The cars were driven on the record runs by Breedlove, his wife Lee, and Ron Dykes.