20 September 2013

Our Five Favorite AMC Designs

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the end of the American Motors Corporation as a truly American enterprise. In 1983, Renault of France bought a controlling interest in the company, bringing to an end some of the most stunning shoestring budget innovation that the American auto industry had ever seen. Here are five of our favorite oddball AMCs:

  1. 1965-67 Marlin: The introduction of the Ford Mustang in April 1964 caught most of the competition flatfooted. Like its similarly fishy competition from Plymouth, the Barracuda, it had a bit of a makeshift appearance to it with a strange fastback grafted on to an existing design. It gave way to the much prettier (and far less weird) Javelin in 1968.
  2. 1975-80 Pacer: The Pacer may well be one of the strangest cars ever to come from a U.S. manufacturer. Built to house GM’s stillborn rotary engine, it made due mostly with AMC’s ancient 258 cid six. Seemingly almost as wide as it is long, the Pacer, due to an appearance in the film “Wayne’s World,” was briefly popular as a collectible “nerd car” along with the next car on the list.
  3. 1970-78 Gremlin: AMC had a wonderful history of talented designers making due with miniscule budgets, which often meant new models were slice-and-dice versions of older models. And so it was with the Gremlin, which was basically a truncated AMC Hornet. The advertising of the day even made light of this fact with a commercial in which a grizzled gas station attendant looked quizzically at a Gremlin and asked the owner, “Where’s the rest of your car, toots?”
  4. 1980-88 Eagle: The Eagle was perhaps AMC’s most brilliant mash-up of existing parts, marrying a drivetrain from its Jeep division with the AMC Concord wagon to create the first successful mass-produced four-wheel-drive passenger car. The Concord wagon-based cars still turn up in places like Colorado and Alaska in regular use. The Gremlin-based Kammback is particularly weird and nearly extinct.
  5. 1954-62 Metropolitan: American Motors was among the first of the U.S. automakers to see the value in trying to compete with foreign companies who were beginning to send large numbers of small cars into the United States by the 1950s. The Metropolitan was a tiny VW Beetle fighter that came in hardtop and convertible body styles. A bit of a “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” type of thing, it was built by Austin of England and sold under the Nash, Hudson and Metropolitan names in North America. Collectors like them today for their bright two-tone color schemes and their “almost too cute to function as a car” appearance.

76 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Bud Massachusetts September 23, 2013 at 11:29
    Those AMC cars were not bad at all, only exception being the Gremlin. As a young man, I saw a lot of one of the original small cars here, the Metro and the old Crosley, which was the fore-runner of the Yugo. Had an opportunity to drive a Javelin while living in California and it was like driving the cousin of the Dodge Charger.The AMC Concord was a comfortable riding and driving wagon, too! Too bad AMC went out of business. :(((
  • 2
    Ken Miamisburg, Ohio September 24, 2013 at 15:46
    Having owned a four year old used '74 Gremlin, I can say that even though not the greatest car in the world, it met and exceeded my needs to get through college. It was yellow, yellow, yellow (very yellow!) 258 inline six, 3 speed. on the floor, and no power anything. Decided after a year to paint it and install new wheels and tires. GM firethorn red straight enamel (cheap!) was applied by a master straight enamel painter. Shined like the best possible many staged paint. Being straight enamel though meant that shine lasted about 2 years. Wheels were ET crosswire mags with Dayton Daytona white letter radials of ER-70 size (anybody remember that sizing?). Red carpet went down and red Olds Cutlass buckets installed. To top off the body, pinstriping was laid down the side and back. The pinstriper said he normally wouldn't put his signature crest on a Gremlin but my car was so nice he did it! Pretty cool for a 20 year old college student. Ended up putting over 80,000 miles in five years on it, enjoying a killer stereo and groovin' on getting many admiring looks for a weird looking car. To this day still brag of that car!
  • 3
    art wegweiser Allison Park (McCandless) PA September 24, 2013 at 16:57
    AMC attempted to save Nash and Hudson. Other than its absurd "bathtub" look and innovative seats that became a real bed, (fathers would not let their daughters date a guy who owned one), and the good Rambler, I know nothing about the former. Hudson & Hudson Jet was a terrific car that did not deserve to die. Neither did Studebaker/Packard and Kaiser/Willys (the 1954 Aero Eagle was a great looking car competing with the lumbering monsters of the time.) AMC's Jeep, of course, survived (it was originally a Willys). The AMC Eagle wagon I had did its job but was a pig.
  • 4
    Paul Pennsylvania September 24, 2013 at 17:18
    Long time AMC fan, too heat as a kid because my father drove Ramblers. Had a Javelin SST 390 bought new in 1968, sold to buymy sife's engagement ring. Recently acquired a 1969 that I am building as a resto-mod as it was already nowhere near original anymore. Usually the only AMC at cruise night and never fails to attract attention. Want to do the same with a 1967 Marlin - last year they were made, used the Ambassador sheet metal. .
  • 5
    Jeff California September 24, 2013 at 17:45
    Parents had a 1952 2-door Wagon, remember it fondly. Then we drove across the U.S. in our brand new 1955 Cross Country Wagon and had that for 10 years and 150k mi., Great Car. My older brother bought a brand new 1958 Metropolitan, he loved it. I drove a 4WD Eagle for a short while when I was a Cop, it was a piece of crap. But I always wanted an AMX 390 w/4spd.. Overall AMC were pretty good vehicles, simple to work on and reliable, (except the Eagle).
  • 6
    Bart Evans Rome, Pa September 24, 2013 at 20:17
    Don't forget the AMX , and The Gremlin was not only a year ahead of the Pinto & Vega but a much better car.
  • 7
    Steve morris Ohio September 24, 2013 at 20:23
    What, no AMX?
  • 8
    jeff california September 24, 2013 at 21:57
    I owned a 70 Javelin for a very short period of time, in 1974. I loved the car and had big plans to fix it up, but then it hit the business end of a 74 Fleetwood Brougham. I survived, but the car didn't.
  • 9
    Vince Florida September 24, 2013 at 22:09
    What? No AMX? I'm still kicking myself for snoozing and losing out on a barn stored 68 AMX. Seriously though, a Pacer?
  • 10
    Rod Kuznicki Michigan September 25, 2013 at 13:24
    I still own my first car a 1958 Nash Metropolitan Convertible that I got from my dad. He owned 4 Metropolitans and bought them to drive to work since they were inexpensive and very good on gas. The normal going price he paid for a Metro was $50 but the convertible I still own he paid big money for....$85. I can remember my mother taking me to a music lesson in one of the other Metros my dad owned and having the shift linkage lock up, but we always carried a screwdriver in the car to put between the shifter are to free it up.
  • 11
    cleve england tulsa oklahoma September 25, 2013 at 07:06
    I own a 1959 modle 6
  • 12
    Larry Blyly Michigan September 25, 2013 at 20:40
    I was witness to a couple guys discussing the Metro. They traded at least 6 or more jokes. The only one I remembered was, "If you owned two, you could use them for bookends!"
  • 13
    Tom Pettit Ohio September 25, 2013 at 08:58
    I learned to drive a 58 Metropolitan. In high school the principle was a car guy and knew my car. It was red and white and I could not get away with any thing. When everyone else had V8's and Camaros I had my little Met. Sometimes we called it the Zesta cracker box. Oh to have that car back now.
  • 14
    mike lucas arizona September 25, 2013 at 23:47
    I like all AMC Vehicles, but am fondest of the Red, Whie and Blue 1970 AMC Rebel Machine! It is one of the first patriotic cars and I bought my first one brand new because of the push for patriotism necessary as a result of the conflicts during the Veit-Nam era. I am a veteran proud of our Country, its freedoms and the meaning and colors of our flag! Therefore, The Machine is the best! (PS: The Rambler Scrambler is OK as well!)
  • 15
    jim cunningham Mays Landing N.J. September 25, 2013 at 12:43
    You forgot to mention that the gremlin became a very popular body for stock cars. It was fun to see 30 or so of these all competing at the same time.They were usually chevy powered but still fun. That is why you can't find a gremlin today.
  • 16
    Paul Albany, NY September 27, 2013 at 16:27
    My brother has a 1987 Wrangler; the first year of the YJ body style, but last year of Jeep being owned by AMC. Not really rare, but always thought it was kind of neat that it's the only year Wrangler to bear "AMC" on the registration. It's a blast to ride in, and looks pretty good done up with the Laredo trim package. As for myself, I've always thought the styling of the Eagle was pretty cool (for the 80's anyway), and wouldn't mind cruising around in one!
  • 17
    Lee M. Dziekan Michigan September 27, 2013 at 23:29
    1963 Ramble Classic. Motor Trend Car of the Year
  • 18
    Noel Sheffield North Carolina October 2, 2013 at 22:03
    Hagerty insures both of my AMC's. 1968 Rebel 770, and 1974 Matador. Both are unrestored, and both are great cars. The attention and compliments these cars get is crazy. I sometimes feel bad for the owners of the Big 3 cars parked around me. More and more people seem to have a great appreciation for something different, however you still need to be thick- skinned to own them. There will be some insults too.
  • 19
    Paul Davenport FL October 3, 2013 at 19:52
    I am the only person on record to tow a camping trailer (19' Trophy) behind a Pacer! Very interesting experience going out to Yellowstone park from Boston MA. Brought a priest friend who would periodically pray for our return trip down the rockies....!!
  • 20
    Darlene NH October 9, 2013 at 16:39
    Had Gremlin- it was GRAPE purple!....beat the crap out of it.... Had a Pacer- it was UGLY but ran ok. Had an Eagle- LOVED IT!! It was like the first "SUV"- had 4 wheel drive, we could pack up the family and pull the snowmobile trailer and head north in any weather. It was the rescue vehicle of choice for most of the gals up to cam when they had to go fetch a broken sled from the side of the trail. We all loved. We loved it until in no longer moved an inch. To the bitter end.
  • 21
    Steve Seattle, WA October 9, 2013 at 16:58
    Had a 72 Gremlin when I was 18, a factory 304 with lots of mods and a 4 speed. Very entertaining to drive and would regularly beat a few Shelby Mustangs in autocross in the Dallas area back in the late 70's. Very annoying to them. Wasn't the best handling of course with a lot of understeer but it was pretty nimble with a short wheelbase. It wasn't the most tasteless thing out there in the 70s although it sure looks dated now. Always wished I had an early AMX instead.
  • 22
    john atlanta ga October 9, 2013 at 17:21
    One of my favorites from AMC, the Rambler SC/rambler. With the red, white and blue color scheme and the little ram air hood scoop, it turned the little Rambler American (I think?) into a real hot looking machine.
  • 23
    Bart M California October 9, 2013 at 17:26
    During the late 70's, I used to watch my neighbor drive around town in his blue Pacer with a white interior and thought that he looked like a big fish in that aquarium. Oddball cars they were. I now own a real AMC - a 69 AMX with a 390 Go-Pack. Nothing odd about this two-seater rocket sled!!!
  • 24
    Paul Newton NC October 9, 2013 at 17:40
    Many of the gremlins were turned into open wheeled modified race cars.
  • 25
    Joel New York City October 9, 2013 at 18:09
    I've been building and showing cars for the past 50 years and I purchased my first Gremlin as a goof two years ago. It was 90% restored and the kid lost interest in it. 1974, "X", V8, P/S, P/B, A/C, Automatic, Tilt Wheel with a list of other options that would make your head spin. I do a lot of car shows and cruise nights. I have been in car and motorcycle magazines but this is the first car that not only "car guys" love but "normal people" love it too. It brings back so many memories to so many people. Ain't that what it's all about.
  • 26
    Rick Arbogast Oakdale pa October 9, 2013 at 18:35
    I have a stock one owner 1981 jeep scrambler. It seems its a forgotten car.
  • 27
    Mike Gulett California October 9, 2013 at 18:40
    AMC also tried to compete in the super car market with the shoe string development of the AMX/3 - styled by Dick Teague, engineered by Giotto Bizzarrini (the engineer in charge of the Ferrari 250 GTO) and powered by AMC. It is a beautiful mid-engine car that is also quite fast. An AMX/3 is for sale here: http://mycarquest.com/?p=34951
  • 28
    John Lincoln Vermont October 9, 2013 at 19:13
    Had a friend with a 60 Rambler SW back in the '60s. Was a bed from the dasboard to the rear tailgate. Many memories, but the best was what I never got...an AMX. Took a 390 AMX for a test drive and loved it, (so did Mom) but Nationwide would not let a 18 year old touch it unless his parents were millionaires. Ended up with grandma's '62 Bel-Aire 283. JD
  • 29
    Dave Colorado October 9, 2013 at 19:38
    I feel proud that I own two of the cars on the list - a 1972 Gremlin and a 1981 Eagle. And its not just any Eagle, its "The Gremlin-based Kammback that is particularly weird and nearly extinct." I love both of them and get tons of nice comments from people when they see me drive them.
  • 30
    Dave Colorado October 9, 2013 at 19:39
    I feel proud that I own two of the cars on the list - a 1972 Gremlin and a 1981 Eagle. And its not just any Eagle, its "The Gremlin-based Kammback that is particularly weird and nearly extinct." I love both of them and get tons of nice comments from people when they see me drive them.
  • 31
    Mike Gulett California October 9, 2013 at 19:41
    AMC also tried to compete in the super car market with the shoe string development of the AMX/3 - styled by Dick Teague, engineered by Giotto Bizzarrini (the engineer in charge of the Ferrari 250 GTO) and powered by AMC. It is a beautiful mid-engine car that is also quite fast. An AMX/3 is for sale here: http://mycarquest.com/?p=34951
  • 32
    Bob USA October 9, 2013 at 19:54
    My only bit of AMC trivia: The doors on the Nash Metropolitan were symmetrical front to back so they could fit either right or left sides of the car.
  • 33
    Bruce Massachusetts October 9, 2013 at 19:56
    Actually, it's pretty nice to have the only car of a make during a cruise night. And my '67 Ambassador 343 is a pleasure on the highway. AMC made a bunch of really usable cars. There is something nice about preserving a make such that people on the street ask "What the heck is that?"
  • 34
    Bob North Carolina October 9, 2013 at 20:02
    My only 2 bits of AMC trivia have to do with doors (of all things): The doors on the Nash Metropolitan were symmetrical front to back so they could fit either right or left sides of the car. The passenger door on the Pacer was wider than the driver's door to make access to the rear seats easier!
  • 35
    Storm Cbus, Oh October 9, 2013 at 20:05
    I can remember travelling around in my folk's AMC Matador Sedan when I was just a youngster. They had that thing for years and it was quite a nice ride. I've always wanted an Eagle personally. They are such a neat little car.
  • 36
    Pete Johnson Esquire Rochester Hills Mi. October 9, 2013 at 21:03
    I've only owned and enjoyed one AMC car, a 1973 Hornet sportabout, and get this, it had a Gucci interior....WOW I couldn't believe it. Very comfortable, well made wagon. had a lot of fun with it. That body style ended up as the Eagle with 4 wheel drive. AMC always did a good job with interiors, I remember in the 50's they had one that the front seat would lay down and make up into a bed!
  • 37
    george nelson clarksville tn October 9, 2013 at 21:04
    I have only owned one rambler, I bought it new in Dec 1963 it is a 1964 American 330 2 dr. sedan 196 ohv 6 cylinder, I was in the military and it was shipped overseas on 3 different assignments for a total of 11 years. I have recently restored , very little rust. it has 160 thousand miles on the spedo. it is one of the best cars I have every owned.
  • 38
    Jason Indianapolis, IN October 9, 2013 at 21:12
    1969 SC/Rambler, 1970 Rebel Machine, 1971 SC/360 Hornet... UP WITH THE REBEL MACHINE!
  • 39
    Joe Wisconsin Rapids, WI. October 9, 2013 at 21:25
    I owned a 1981 AMC spirit GT. Ordered it from the dealer and it was the first brand new car I owned. I originally wanted a mustang t top, but liked the spirit GT better. It had all the rally gauges, AMC rally wheels, nice bucket seats, 4 speed manual transmission, 151 cid. iron duke motor, also a 21 gal. fuel tank, and galvanized dipped body. plus it got 32 mpgs. It was more car for your money than the Ford mustang was.
  • 40
    Don Franklin Mt. Pleasnt, SC October 9, 2013 at 21:26
    I had one of the first 1970 Gremlins in Pgh. Matallic Blue, blue interior, white pinstriping, automatic. I was glad they brought out the roof air deflector, it made a big difference driving in PA snow. I sold my 1965 T-Bird conv. because of the cost of gas, to get one. My new wife and I drove it on our honeymoon, the day after Christmas, to the east coast, up to New England, back across New York to Buffalo and back to Pgh. No snow tires. Only one problem,she had to push it out of the snowdrift in Rochester NY. (she did not know how to drive). It was a great and dependable car for four years, back and forth from Phila. until watered down gas during a shortage ruined the engine. My wife soon learned to drive after that.
  • 41
    Duane Chattanooga,TN October 9, 2013 at 22:29
    I never owned an American Motors car but had the opportunity to drive a Pacer from Grand Rapids Michigan to San Francisco in 1980. I was transporting the car for a doctor who had joined the military and was stationed in California. My new wife & I & my 3 kids from my first marriage made the trip without incident and it was actually very comfortable. It had lots of room for the 5 of us plus lots of room for our suitcases & some other items I was taking to my ex-wife..... yes, we got along great even after the divorce, why not, we were both in a place we wanted to be, we just had some kids to share fun times & memories with, doesn't everyone? After that trip, I considered buying one, but ended up with a Buick and my wife with a Chevy (dad retired from GM, soooo).
  • 42
    Joe Richmond, VA October 9, 2013 at 22:38
    AMC's Matador from the 1970s was one of the strangest-looking cars ever. I don't want any of them in the garage (well, an AMX or Metropolitan would be cool) but I love seeing them at shows.
  • 43
    Gary and Carolyn Powder Springs, GA October 10, 2013 at 13:02
    We are the proud owners of a 1970 Mod Javelin in Big Bad Blue,390 4 speed and a 1974 Gremlin X, red with white stripe, 304 automatic. Both have been restored stock and both get lots of attention at local car shows and cruise-ins. The Javelin has been featured in magazines and on display at Summitt. We have owned a number of AMCs over the years and restored a few of them. My father was a AMC factory service technician so we have a family history of AMC. Love the AMCs because they are unique!
  • 44
    barney sonoraCA October 10, 2013 at 13:30
    Had a Matador Oleg Cass in I Model Understand there were less than 8000 made It had EVERYTHING including (for me). The first ever intermittent wipers. My wife hated it because the seat was too wide and she had trouble reaching the pedals So we had to sell it but I loved it.
  • 45
    Mark G California October 10, 2013 at 02:00
    I currently own 2 AMC Matador sedans, 1972 6 cylinder 'daily driver' and a 1973 Police package 401 powered sedan, I love both cars!! The 1972 & 73 AMC Police Matadors were some of the best police cars ever made in the 70's. After LAPD tested the '71 Matador they told AMC that if the Chrysler Torque-Flite 727 transmission and Mopar police wheels were installed they would purchase over 500 '72 Matadors. History was made when LAPD started using the Matador, Jack Webb's Mark VII Productions purchased several '72 Matadors for use on the greatest police show ADAM-12. I get more attention from my 'retired' police car at events than most of the other cars out on display. Classic police cars are cool!!
  • 46
    Terry Elizabeth, CO October 10, 2013 at 02:35
    I love all Nash, Rambler & AMC cars! The company very seldom gets the credit they deserve for what they contributed to the automotive industry. All car companies had thier problems, none of them were perfect. AMC put out some nice cars for the money. Hagerty insures my collection of Nash and AMC cars, check them out at ramblerranch.com
  • 47
    Dave H Rochester, NY October 10, 2013 at 15:11
    Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe Chrysler, not Renault bought AMC back in the early 80's. I say this because when the buzz was out there of the purchase I was going to jump on the bandwagon and buy a lot of AMC stock knowing that it would be converted to Chrysler stock. At the time, AMC was selling for $4 a share. I had a stockbroker talk me out of it saying it would have been a long term investment and if I wanted a short term investment I should buy Burrows/Wellcome (now Glaxo/Wellcome). I listed to the stockbroker because I figured he knew what he was talking about. My huge mistake! The Burrows/Wellcome stock turned out to be the long term investment and the AMC/Chrysler stock was the short term. I could have bought at $4/share and sold at $68/share. To this day I'm still kicking myself over that one.
  • 48
    Tommy Elmore Easley, SC October 10, 2013 at 06:09
    The Gremlin was my first car, a 73 X, 304 V8, a rocket for a 16 year old! Sense that first one 32 years ago I've owned 18, I currently own 3. I'll park beside the Mustangs, Vettes, and Camaros at shows and cruise-ins and always draw twice the lookers, most people freak when they see a Gremlin! These cars are a true icon in American Automotive history!
  • 49
    Gary Chuven Chicago, IL October 10, 2013 at 19:22
    My father's 1965 Rambler Classic 660 with the 287 V-8 would blow the doors off a Chevelle 283. Every time.
  • 50
    Ron Lisle,IL. October 10, 2013 at 07:37
    AMC corp. was ahead of their time. 1st real hatchback.midsize.Suv.Compared to the Big 3. Back then Ugly now Cool. Learned to drve with a`1969 Rambler 3speed on the column. Prices are now going thru the roof for these memories.
  • 51
    Will Owen Pasadena, CA October 10, 2013 at 19:48
    My brother had two Metropolitans in succession, one of which I drove when I was just out of the USAF and home briefly. I've driven big cars that sort of shrank around me, being nimble and all, but the Metro did exactly the opposite: it was a tiddler that felt like a Buick! Except for the part about having a roomy interior … About ten years later he started in on Gremlins, one after the other, but with a Triumph Stag in between (!!). Those were not terrible cars, except on snow or ice. The slightest upward incline to an icy road might as well have been a cliff to that poor thing. That 232 six was a good stout engine, but astoundingly heavy; we'd have needed about 200 lbs of sandbags behind the rear wheels, but I don't believe there was room.
  • 52
    NovaResource.org Cyberspace October 10, 2013 at 08:30
    For all those people complainig that the AMX is not listed, please READ the article. It cleary says "Here are five of our favorite oddball AMCs". This is why the AMX is not listed. It's not an ODDBALL design.
  • 53
    Jim Avon Park Fl October 10, 2013 at 08:37
    I had a 72 Green Gremlin X with 70 series tires and a 232 six. I would drive one today if I could find what I like. One of my favorite AMCs was the Grand Cherokee of the 70's or even the legendary Grand Wagoneer. I would love to have a Wagoneer with a 350 chevy engine and a 700r4 tranny. One day I will build one like I want. I sold my 89 and have been kicking myself ever since.
  • 54
    Al Fleischer Dayton Ohio October 10, 2013 at 08:50
    I traded in my 1971 Porsche 914 for a new 1975 AMC Pacer. It was an even trade at the dealership. I had that car for 4 years and to say it was underpowered was a true statement.. There were a few friends I had that had steep driveways where the car never made it to the top. I do remember it was wonderful in the snow for I had put studded snow tires on it and with all its weight it was a tank on the road. I also recall that it was hard on brakes and it required numerous pad and rotor replacements. Even the gas tank rusted out for it had an indentation for the spare tire which became a water catch basin and caused holes in that area. Despite my issues with that car, I always had a soft spot fin my heart for it. Great visibility when driving it..
  • 55
    Rick Carignan Clarkesville NH October 10, 2013 at 09:02
    Amc consistently fails to get the respect they deserve. Although nice of you to recognize them, your article is no different.
  • 56
    Joe Monroe, Iowa October 10, 2013 at 09:17
    I have a '67 Marlin that is about to move from "good" to "excellent" condition. Always the only one at a show and gets a lot of attention and occassionally a "what is that?". When I tell people I have a Marlin, they usually don't know what I'm talking about.
  • 57
    Joe Monroe, Iowa October 10, 2013 at 09:25
    I have a '67 Marlin that is about to move from "good" to "excellent" condition. Always the only one at a car show and gets lots of attention plus an occassional "what is that?". When I tell someone that I have a Marlin, they usually don't know what I'm talking about.
  • 58
    Tom Collins Michigan Summer October 10, 2013 at 09:43
    My Scots born grandfather loved his Rambler, George Romney had it right even back then. Dependable transportation with good fuel economy but too many size and lots of chrome made up for their ego deficiencies. They were the 1950s answer to the 73 gas prices!
  • 59
    joe stein ohio October 10, 2013 at 09:47
    Metropolitan, Marlin, Gremlin X 304 4speed, 70 AMX, Police Spec Matador 401, MarkDonohugh Javelin. Oleg Cassini Javelin. . Loved them all. Even with a set of brakes every year. Motorola alternators. Like having a RangeRover, keep a lot of spares!
  • 60
    Don Orion, MI October 10, 2013 at 09:52
    I owned a 1981 Spirit hatchback with a manual 4 speed and six cylinder motor. I drove it a lot of miles in three different countries. Had to replace the rear leaf springs and the clutch, but otherwise it was a solid car.
  • 61
    Ted Naperville, IL October 10, 2013 at 10:15
    The pacer was too wide and the car-haulers had to modify their trailers.
  • 62
    Steve G Springfield, IL October 10, 2013 at 23:05
    Let's not forget AMC providing their 1974 360 engines for one year to the fledgling Bricklin company, for use in their new gull-wing sports car. It would sadly fail in 1976. The AMC engines only appeared for one year with the Ford Windsor 351 taking over in 1975. They still also used some AMC chassis parts for the whole run, though.
  • 63
    Car Collector Chronicles United States October 10, 2013 at 11:11
    I owned a '73 Gremlin. It was the first brand new car I was ever able to buy. It seemed to me at that stage in its corporate life AMC used whatever parts it had on hand to make their cars run.
  • 64
    Karl Carmel California October 10, 2013 at 11:23
    My dad owned a 1963 Rambler classic. Roll up windows...No radio....blackwall tires....and I remember him asking if the price could be lowered out the door if the heater and spare were removed. We are talking basic here and cheep.
  • 65
    Mike Michigan October 10, 2013 at 12:13
    I have a 1965 Marlin, red & black, 327, positrac. I also have:75 Eldorado convt, 68 Jag xke coupe, 75 TR6, 98 Camaro SS Brickyard Pace Car. Guess which one people talk the most about...? The Marlin! Without a doubt the most talked about and interest getting car I have! Want to get attention at the Cruise-in, swap meet, Car show or just the grocery store parking lot on a Saturday afternoon? Get a Marlin! Bonus... The seats are like BarcaLoungers!
  • 66
    Jeff Keedysville MD October 10, 2013 at 00:34
    In 1974 Bobby Allison won the LA Times 500 at Ontario Motor Speedway in a Roger Penske AMC Matador. I took a photo of that car on the track. Several years later Penske and Allison were appearing at the grand opening of one of the Penske Tire Centers and I took the photo down to see if they would sign it for me. I handed the photo to Roger Penske and he took it, showed it to Bobby Allison and said, "Hey look, it's the old Bull Fighter" and smiled. Both gentlemen were happy to autograph the photo for me.
  • 67
    Devon Salinas, CA October 10, 2013 at 12:53
    My Dad always said the darkest day of his life was when Hudson & Nash merged to form AMC. He swore that Hudsons were the best cars ever built. I paid for my college education so after high school I sold my '65 Mustang and economically down-sized to a Nash Metro convertible. It was reliable and cheap. And humbling. With the top down it did look like a Kelvinator on wheels. But I wish I had both of those cars.
  • 68
    John Scott United States October 11, 2013 at 13:34
    My first car was a 72 Gremlin. Smaller of the v6s, I think 232 could do 0-60 by thursday. . Three other shortcomings I remember were, a bizillion cranks to roll up a window, similar steering lost count going lock to lock, and handled like a row boat. I was invited to drive up to Breckenridge ski area with my dad and brother. Dad opted to buy the first tank of gas. 20 + gallons @ .43/ gallon had him whining all the way up. It was mercifully T-boned in an intersection which gave me money to by a respectable teen car, a white 1968 Cutlass 442 for 675.00, the first of my 5 442s. My rock/jazz drumming instructor had the Levi Gremlin X with a 304 V8. Odd, but cool. Lost my license drag racing a 401 equipped snorkel-hooded Gremlin X beast on our cruise strip. I won and later dated his girlfriend. Not really winning looking back at either. In college I bought another, yellow Gremlin, 258 this time, very much improved interior and smooth as silk engine. I liked that car and sold it for nearly what I paid, three years later. Good memories!
  • 69
    David S Albuquerque, NM October 11, 2013 at 13:42
    Reading the comments on the AMC cars brought back memories one of them not so nice. I know a lot of buys bought the Gremlins and Pacers and put big block Ford and Chevy engines in them and took them to the drag strip to race. If I recall the Gremlins the Pacers did very well with the big block engines in them because they were a bit wider than the Pintos and Vegas which helped with stability. It was strange to see a Gremlin/Pacer with its front end up in the air hauling the mail down a drag strip beating the Pintos and Vegas and other cars in its classification. About a year ago some guy was selling a Gremlin here in Albq. that ran in the low to mid 9's ET. If I didn't putting all my money in a 69 Fairlane 500 Fastback I probably would have bought it. My worse experience was with the AMC Hornet. I need something cheap to drive to college that easy on gas and would get me from Fort Madison, Iowa to Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri. One winter day I drove to school and it started to snow. When school was over for me there was about 6-7 inches of snow on the ground. I headed back home and the roads still a lot of snow on them there was just the ruts that were made by the cars and semi trucks. I wanted to pass a semi truck, I got around the truck okay and when I went to get back in the right lane the Hornet caught a rut and took a hard right and I before I knew it I going sideways and I looked out the passenger side window and all I saw was the eyes of the truck driver as he drove his semi towards me. My only thought was this is not going to end well for me. Somehow I managed to get the car under control without an accident happening or putting then Hornet in the ditch. It is still one of those days where I look back and wonder how I managed to survive that. I was stuck with the Hornet for a while. I did learn never to drive the Hornet in the snow, it was just to light in the ass end even with putting weight in the trunk.
  • 70
    IngerH Waretown,NJ October 11, 2013 at 14:10
    My father was a service manager first for a Nash Dealer in New Brunswick, NJ which ended up as an AMC & Jeep Dealer. Here tired in 1978 before the demise of the Brand. I remember a 1958 Nash he owned that was a beauty. He usually bought his cars used since he saw the trade-ins and knew the best ones. I bought a 1970 Hornet brand new when I was 17, really would have loved to have a Javelin- but my budget limited me. Went on to buy several more AMC cars over the years and also remember my brother delivering pizza's using an old Metro owned by the Pizza Parlor. Many memories of the old AMC cars since they were primarily what my family drove from the 50's through the 70's.
  • 71
    Edward Greenberg United States October 11, 2013 at 18:04
    I had two 1973 Hornets. One a simple gray with a 6 cylinder the other a terrific Hornet X hatchback with a smallish 8 cylinder . The Hatchback was featured in a James Bond movie doing a barrel roll with Rodger Moore on board. The X towed a 17 foot trailer cross country and back and went to 165,000 miles (35k with a trailer) before I sold it. The Hornet X hatchback still looks great as does the Javelin and AMX. I currently own a 1968 Cougar XR7 which was my first car. You got me thinking about looking for another 1973 Hornet X Hatchback, blue with a white racing stripe and white vinyl roof. The car was great.
  • 72
    Bruce K Union City Pa. October 11, 2013 at 09:16
    My first car @ 16 was a 1970 Big Bad Blue Gremlin. Last Year I found a Brilliant Blue 1978 Gremlin with 39,000 mi. on it. I take it shows and cruises and have a ball with it. A lot of positive comments! My plate reads IAMCOOL!
  • 73
    ralph az October 11, 2013 at 22:07
    The photo of the gremlin is ? In 1973 I owned a major pontiac muscle car. My brother in law purchased a brand new 1973 Gremlin - Purple-V-8 - 4spd- "Levi" interior. This car was no joke,It "flew". And it was Cool. Thats from a GM Big block guy!
  • 74
    Tom California October 12, 2013 at 17:18
    Gremlins are attacked due to old memories and impressions. When seen now, they are not weirdly styled and look very similar to scores of popular newer designs. Also keep in mind it was their cheapest car and were usually Spartan (but could be optioned up nicely). They were AMCs best selling car with about 500,000 made total. I get many compliments on my very orange 78. Pacers are very comfortable and surprisingly agile. They sold well at first but people soon learned the "1st Wide Small Car" was also a gas hog. If AMC had only used its limited budget to refresh the Hornet and Gremlin instead of the cant-be-recycled styling used on Matador and Pacer we might have had a chance.
  • 75
    Steve Green Monterey County, California October 14, 2013 at 14:30
    Many AMC cars were unique and beautifully styled for their time. The Javelin was probably the most stylish of all the "pony" cars which came along in the late 60's, after the advent of the Ford Mustang. (Chevy Camaro, Mercury Cougar, Pontiac Firebird, Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Barracuda, etc.). I owned a '68 Javelin at one time, and currently own and restored a '59 Rambler American station wagon ("fire engine" red, with the flathead 6 cyl. engine), and a '60 Rambler American coupe, with a Continental Kit (pink, the original color, with a white top, and the peppier 6 cyl. overhead 6 engine which eventually replaced the flathead 6), both of which I've owned and driven for 30 years or so. (My kids actually drove them as teenagers, but didn't really develop any affection for them). Both cars get noticed at car shows, and the ladies love the pink car!! When asked ("what are they???"), and I explain that they're Ramblers, I get blank stares from anyone under the age of 45 or 50 (and have to explain the history of American Motors and how they went out of business entirely in the 1980's).
  • 76
    jon fla October 14, 2013 at 20:48
    I had a 73 hornet hatchback which was a good looking car. It was 1980, i was in a tech school so it became my project car. I repainted it dark brown with a spoiler from a mach 1 mustang. The 258 6 cyl was hopped up with very little money spent. We milled the head for more compression, Grinded and reworked the intake manifold to take a 2 bbl carb from a mustang. msd ignition, thrush turbo muffler, and shift kit for the borg warner auto trans. I took more money from all the "Joe Bad" trans am guys than i can remember street racing lol.

Join the Discussion