1968-1970 AMX Buying Guide

The rarest American muscle car is not the Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro, but the AMC AMX. Found one for sale? You’ll want to read this first..

How much to pay

• Project £7000-12,000 • Good £15,000-20,000 • Concours £25,000-30,000 •

Overview

Practicality ★★★★
Running costs ★★★★
Spares ★★★
DIY friendly ★★★★
Investment ★★★
Desirability ★★★

See also...

In 1968, only 525 American Motors Corporation AMX 290ci V8 four-speeds were made. Total AMX production for the year was 6725. During the entire run from 1968-1970, the total was 19,134 cars; Ford built more Mustangs in a week.

The AMX was a two-seat version of the AMC Javelin. Along with the Corvette, it was the only two-seat American sports car of the era. It was a unique machine, based on a very short, 97-inch wheelbase. Its overall length was 12in shorter than the Javelin’s.

As with all the ‘pony cars’, there were plenty of power options, from the 290 V8 220bhp 4bbl and the 343 280bhp 4bbl up to the 390 315bhp 4bbl. Interestingly, American Motors never built a big-block engine; the 209 and the 390 share the same block, giving the advantages of a big-block motor without the additional weight.

At the very end of the run, AMC even made a 401ci version. These folks were building a race car for the street. There was a sole performance option, the Go Package, which got you front disc brakes and a limited-slip differential.

The AMX’s interior was basic, yet so were those of all pony cars. You did get a tachometer, and there was a gauge package, too, but the latter was an extremely rare option. Today the seats still seem quite comfortable and the windows roll up and down the old-fashioned way. In 1970 AMC redesigned the interior in line with the competition; there was an optional centre console and remote mirrors in 1970-’71.

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Engine

All engines are a derivative of the 290 V8, the 390 being the most powerful with forged steal crankshafts and connecting rods. The 343 and 390 shared the same heads, which had larger valves than the 290.

In the AMX, the 343 and 390 were always mated to a 4bbl carburettor. They produced prodigious amounts of torque: 365lb ft in the 343, and 425lb ft in the 390.

In 1970 AMC modified the block design, and there were new displacements of 304, 360 and 401ci. Fresh heads were also designed. The newly refined engines were more powerful, at 210bhp (304), 295bhp (360) and 335bhp (401).

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Gearbox

The AMX used the Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed transmission, a bullet-proof solution found in most muscle cars from the 1960s such as Corvettes until 1963, many Fords including the Mustang and even some Plymouths. These units did have unique gearing depending on the car it was going into, but they were basically all the same trans. In the 1970s the Super T-10 was introduced, which improved shifting. Gearbox issues are rare, and if you do have problems the parts are easy to find.

Suspension and brakes

Unlike its competitors, the AMX used a kingpin suspension in 1968 and 1969. With the right shocks the suspension is stiff, but not overly so. Given the short wheelbase, these cars feel like they’re ready for the race track.

One downside of a 1960s muscle car is the steering. The power-steering system in particular is way over-boosted by today’s standard. In 1970 the AMX gained more traditional ball-joint suspension, which is cheaper to maintain.

The standard brakes on these cars were large drums front and rear. They don’t live up to current standards, but they do stop the car surprisingly well. The Go-Package disc brakes are a nice upgrade, and are available for about £700. Installation on the older cars is a lot of work, so only go down this road if you really need to.

Bodywork

As with all 1960s American muscle, unless it’s a California or Nevada (dry-state) car rust is a problem. These vehicles did not have undercoating, and there were plenty of places for water to hide. Always check the floor boards and boot for rust, as well as the bottom of the doors and behind the rear wheels. Unlike for the Mustang or Camaro not ‘everything’ is available, but most of the critical bits are reproduced. It never hurts to pull the doors apart and spray them with a rust-proofing product.

Interior

AMX cabins are all vinyl trimmed, with a very rare leather option in 1970-’71. The vinyl interior wears well; we’ve seen original seat covers on 1968 cars. And while the foam won’t last, you can buy this separately. The interiors are race-car minimal; there wasn’t even a centre-console option in 1968.

There was an armrest in 1969, and then an option for a centre console in 1970-’71. The rare parts are expensive, but they do exist. The only interior items we’ve seen on the ‘unobtanium’ list is the Rally Pack centre dash gauges. This option included a clock plus oil-pressure and temperature gauges.

History

  • 1968 production: 6725
  • 1969 production: 8293
  • 1970 production: 4116
  • Total: 19,134

AutoClassics says…

The AMX is a fantastic buy right now. It’s significantly less expensive than the other pony cars from the era and is just as fast. The parts prices are inline with those of other muscle cars from the era, and it’s the only pony car with two seats. AMC was going after the Trans Am championship, and it won back-to-back in 1971 and ‘72. Look for a car with a four-speed and AC, and lay down some rubber.

Specifications

1968-69 401-V8
  Power 315bhp
  Top speed 105mph
  0-60mph 6.2 sec
  Economy 11 mpg

1970-71 401-V8
  Power 330bhp
  Top speed 114mph
  0-60mph 5.7 secs
  Economy 11 mpg

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