1979 American Motors AMX
6-cyl. 258cid/110hp 2bbl
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Bearing little resemblance to the classic 340 bhp, 390 cubic inch V-8 two-seater AMX of 1968-70 or the baroque Javelin variant of 1971-74, AMC took another run at the youth market with a Hornet-based hatchback called the AMX in 1977.
The AMX continued in 1978, now on the revised Hornet/Concord body. By this point it was more show than go, with lots of matte black trim, plenty of stripes, flares and spoilers. It still did, however, have a four-speed transmission (at least with the six-cylinder 258 cubic inch engine), decent bucket seats, and full instruments. Unfortunately, the venerable motor only delivered 120 bhp, and the 304 cubic V-8 wasn’t much better with only 130 bhp and an automatic transmission.
The colors at least harkened back to the past with Alpine White, Firecracker Red, Sunshine Yellow, Quicksilver Metallic and Classic Black, with contrasting stripes and decals. Even so, nobody was fooled and at up to $4,900 with the V-8, only 2,540 AMXs found buyers.
The AMX story took a stranger twist in 1979, as the model left its 108-inch chassis for the tiny 96-inch chassis of the new Spirit (read Gremlin, with a new body). It had all the air dams, spoilers stripes and decals you could ask for, and still a pretty decent interior and dash, but the four-speed only came with the 110 bhp, 258 cubic inch six-cylinder, and the 304 cubic inch V-8 now produced 125 bhp. The only good news in the performance department was that the car weighed less. Colors were Olympic White, Classic Black, Wedgewood Blue, Saxon Yellow, Morocco Buff and Firecracker Red. Prices were up to $6,149 with a V-8, and 3,657 were sold.
With the departure of the Matador in 1979, AMC no longer needed to build a V-8 engine, so the 110 bhp 258 cubic inch six-cylinder was the only motor offered in the AMX in 1980. It could be had with a four-speed or automatic transmission, and the price was now down to $5,653. AMC had also now pinned its hopes on the 4WD Eagle wagon, which would sustain the company until the arrival of the American-built Renault Alliance in 1983.
AMX models from this generation are not easy to find since they were relatively uncommon in the first place and have had little collectible value until now. The biggest problem is likely to be the AMX-only spoilers, flares and trim. Improving the performance is no problem, but the “soft parts” will take some finding.