A good Samaritan helped my father’s AMX stay in our family

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Courtesy Chris Hook

I inherited my passion for cars from my dad, mostly thanks to a 1968 AMX X-code Go Pack 390 that he bought in 1972. It was his dream car, painted in Calcutta Russet with white stripes and optioned with power steering, power brakes with front discs, a three-speed auto, and factory air conditioning. Dad used a little black book to document every oil change and all maintenance.

Mom and Dad met, dated, and drove away from their wedding in this car. I remember Dad starting the AMX on occasion when I was young, but it scared me because it was so loud. As family life happened, however, the car was put on the back burner. Dad’s last noted oil change was in December 1975 at 16,666 miles.

1968 AMC AMX X-code Go Pack 390 historical
Courtesy Chris Hook

We moved to a new house around 1990, and once the AMX was nestled under a cover in the garage, I never remember it moving again under its own power. Since Dad would never spend money on anything for himself, I gave him some cash for Christmas 2013, specifically bookmarked for the AMX. The next fall, he changed the oil in final preparation for starting the car, which then showed 17,050 miles. Unfortunately, he passed away unexpectedly in December 2014, at the age of 60. The water pump had been rebuilt and shipped back, but he hadn’t installed it yet, so he never heard it run again.

1968 AMC AMX X-code Go Pack 390 garaged rear
Courtesy Chris Hook

After he passed, I wanted to get the AMX restored, but it was cost-prohibitive. A local restorer fell in love with the car, and we sold it to him in summer 2016. He assumed it had 116,666 miles until he started working on it and realized every clip, seal, sticker, bracket, and more were clearly from the factory. He did the minimal amount of work to get it running, installed some new parts—brake lines, fuel system, exhaust, suspension components, carpet, headliner, seat covers—and drove it to local car shows. After about a year, however, he decided he didn’t want to paint or fully restore the car because of its originality. In what must be the most stand-up thing a person could do, he sold it back to us in May 2017 for only the cost of the parts he had replaced.

Four years after Dad died, Mom passed away suddenly of a stroke at age 64. Having the AMX back in the family means even more to me now. The car is not perfect, and the paint is clearly showing its age, but the engine still has never been opened. I have continued to add maintenance items and repair notes to the black book. The AMX is now parked in the garage next to my Honda S2000. Dad always told me cars were meant to be driven, so I drive the AMX monthly, and it now shows 19,033 original miles.

This article first appeared in Hagerty Drivers Club magazine. Click here to subscribe and join the club.

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Comments

    Right…those original Magnum 500’s with correct center caps and beauty rings are a winning combination on this ride..always been very fond of the burnt orange paint…

    It’s nice to keep an old car that has some history with the family, especially if you have a proper place to park it and resources to maintain it to drive, even if only once or twice a month. One of our two keepers has antique plates (one time $75 fee – and no inspection or emissions required). Full coverage insurance is less than $160 per year.

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