American Motors was in trouble. With the departure of Studebaker to Canada in late 1963, AMC’s Rambler was the only non-Big-Three automobile manufacturer of any consequence left in the United States. The introduction of a Chevrolet intermediate in 1964 only exacerbated the company’s problems, and by 1966, it was on the ropes. As the saying goes, there is nothing like the prospect of being hanged in the morning to focus one’s attention at night, and the small but bright and dedicated team of engineers and designers forged ahead with plans for a car to compete with the Mustang.
The Javelin and the shorter wheelbase two-door car based on the Javelin, known as the AMX, were introduced in 1968 to huge acclaim. The Javelin sold 55,124 cars, while the AMX added 6,725 to the AMC sales ledger that year. AMC’s nearly brand new 290 and 343 cubic inch “mid-block” lightweight engines were on deck and could be had with as much as 280 hp, which provided for more than sparkling performance in the lightweight AMX and Javelin lines.
If the AMX proved anything, it was that AMC could adapt to the marketplace. It was intended to be a rolling statement saying just that to the motoring public, and in that sense, it succeeded admirably. AMC survived until 1987 before being absorbed into, and many say, saving, Chrysler Corporation to live on to fight another day.