Tag Archives: amc

Car Spot: Dodge Magnum

A superfast grocery getter …

Show of hands. How many reading this remember station wagons? Most likely it was your parents who purchased one to haul the family around on vacations. We had a 1967 AMC Rebel and went all over the country with it. I remember dad ordering it and opting for the 290 V8. This was the Gen-2 short-deck that produced a respectable 225 hp. That engine was the basis for AMC’s upcoming entry into Trans-Am and the muscle car era. But the words station wagon and muscle car were almost never mentioned in the same breath.

Magnum ad I found for sale on eBay

Fast forward to 2005 when the words came together in the form of the Dodge Magnum. Where, for under $38 grand you could get a people hauler that was capable of 0-60 in less than six seconds, when ordered as the RT version with its 345ci Hemi V8 producing 340 horsepower.

Dodge Magnum I spotted in for service at a shop in Florida when I was visiting

This was the handywork of soon to retire head of design Tom Gale and done before the “merger of equals” with Daimler in 1998. Don’t get me started on that because my dad was there during that fiasco.

Based on the Chrysler LX platform the Magnum RT used the Mercedes-Benz derived 5-speed automatic. It also had fog lights; a bright grille; leather seats, steering wheel, and shifter; and a six-speaker stereo along with four-wheel disc brakes and anti-locks were also part of the deal.

The car sold well and was well-received by the automotive press and in 2005 was one of Car and Driver’s Ten Best. There’s an AMC connection here because it was built in Brampton, Ontario, a plant that AMC had bought just before being purchased by Chrysler in 1987.

Like so many fun cars, this one has a sad ending.

On Nov. 1, 2007, Chrysler announced that, as part of its restructuring plans, the Dodge Magnum would be one of four models discontinued after the 2008 model year. In Chrysler’s words: “The Magnum, along with the PT Cruiser convertible, the Crossfire, and the Pacifica were not earning their keep”. Production ended on March 28, 2008.

I was at a media event just after this and was told by an insider that it was a retiring Chrysler executive who never liked the Magnum that convinced management to pull the plug. There were almost 170,000 of this iteration of the Magnum which is not a bad number when you consider vehicles that have sold less have stuck around a lot longer. Had this vehicle somehow found a fan in the company to save it for a bit longer, there’s almost no way it would still be alive in the current environment where SUVs have taken the place of the station wagon.

But the vehicle has created almost a cult following and you can pick up the RT’s more muscular brother, the SRT8, which had a bigger Hemi and could do 0-60 in just a touch over 5 seconds for under $25 grand.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots and have a great weekend.

Car spotting: America’s other two-seat sports car

This one I know well

The AMX was produced by American Motors from 1968 to 1970 as a two-seat sports car. Its short wheelbase, one inch shorter than the Corvette, and big engines, 290 to 390, V8’s made it a hit for AMC who was a late arrival at the muscle car party. To show it had the chops, Craig Breedlove and his wife set all kinds of land speed records when it was introduced.

Red 1968 AMX I spotted while on my way to Mark’s house.

The American Society of Automotive Engineers named the AMX as the “best-engineered car of the year” in 1969 and 1970. In its three-year run, it sold a total of just under 20,000. It was discontinued by AMC because of tougher crash standards and they didn’t have the money. The AMX rode on as a performance package on various other AMC cars concluding with the Spirit in 1980. I was fortunate to own two AMX’s, a ’70 and ’79 Spirit AMX. The value of the two-seaters continues to rise on the collector market with excellent examples going for around $60,000.

I spotted this clean 1970 while out for a ride. Owner did a great job on the restoration. It had a 390 and 4 speed.
amc, amx
My two AMX’s. 1970 had a 390 V8 while the 1979 a 304.

It ripped up rally racing

It’s light weight and gobs of torque made it an ideal car for rally racing and still is to this day. This AMX was spotted by fellow AMC geek Joe Schliz at the Lake Superior Performance Rally held this past fall near Marquette, MI. This car still has it finishing eigth driven by Tim O’Neil and Constatine Mantopoulos and against competators like Ken Block who came in first. It was sponsored by Team O’Neil Rally School in NH.

My car spots appear on SavageOnWheels.com every Friday. Have a great weekend and keep that phone ready.

Back to a time when American motors built cars worldwide

The Concord with a side of rice and beans

 

France, Germany, Iran, New Zealand, South Africa, and England all at one time manufactured Jeeps, Javelins, Americans, Hornets and more through partnerships put together by AMC’s E-VP, International Operations Roy D. Chapin Jr. One of those unique partnerships was set up about 2,000 south of the company’s major assembly operation, Kenosha, WI, in Mexico with Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos, S.A.

For 40 years, this government-controlled company imported and produced automobiles and light trucks under license from Willys, AMC, Eagle, Jeep, Chrysler, Renault and designed their own vehicles based on AMC platforms.

One of the more interesting cars they designed and produced was the VAM Lerma, a cross between the Concord and Spirit. It was available as a three-door or a five-door hatchback, something not available on AMC cars built in Kenosha. It was named after Lerma, a city in Mexico where VAM produced engines. This wasn’t just a warmed-over Concord, it featured a different interior and the only element carried over from AMC was the instrument panel. It was focused on the top-end market in Mexico and never exported. While I couldn’t find sales numbers specific to the Lerma, it was a top 10 seller and at one time held a 9% market share.  But when Renault bought into AMC in the mid-eighties they had no interest in building AMC cars in Mexico and the partnership ended.

The Lerma lives on

It’s a 1/43 diecast model of the Lerma manufactured by IXO Models in Hong Kong. Besides this, they make all kinds of hard-to-find cars, motorcycles, and trucks based mostly on non-u.s models.

This one has a ton of miles on it. While it was manufactured in Hong Kong, I bought it off eBay and it came from Spain. That’s a lot more miles than you would see on the real deal. While I knew about VAM because of my dad working at AMC, I had never seen a model until I was poking around on Facebook and found a group of VAM enthusiasts.

The detail on this one that I acquired has amazing details. While the doors, hood, and hatch don’t open, there is a full interior. Exterior details include a hood ornament, simulated glass headlights, windshield wipers, side view mirrors, even the scripted name of the car on the back. I don’t normally collect cars this small because they lack the details of their larger counterparts but would consider any of their cars.

Die-cast: NEO’s 1958 Rambler Cross Country 6

Rambler wagon was economical, so is model …  

Station Wagons were the SUVs and crossovers of years ago, long before we knew to call them anything but wagons.

And there’s some thinking now in the car world that wagons, which behave much more like cars than trucks, may be on the verge of a comeback. Rumor has it that Millennials prefer the lower-riding wagons to the taller SUVs and CUVs of today. We’ll see. Continue reading Die-cast: NEO’s 1958 Rambler Cross Country 6

Die-cast: Jeep CJ-7 Renegade

Model Car Group launches a 1/18 scale Jeep CJ-7 …

Few vehicles are as recognizable as a Jeep, and yet Jeeps have been restyled multiple times since World War II and are now the younger generation’s urban vehicle of choice.

But back in the 1970s (remember those?), the CJ-7 was the cool retro-styled Jeep that outdoorsy folks ached for. Still mostly an open truck, the CJ was mostly utilitarian, but it offered a rugged exterior that everyone could identify as a Jeep. And as they weren’t the trendy wheels of the day, they were somewhat rare on the roads. Continue reading Die-cast: Jeep CJ-7 Renegade

Holy crap, I think that car might have been mine!

My one shot at a collector car

promotional model cars, AMX, AMC, American MotorsCame in 1987 while living in Green Bay. I always kept an eye out in the papers, this was before that interweb thing got big, looking for, well, I wasn’t sure. Then, bingo, a 1970 AMX was for sale in Milwaukee similar to the image of this model I built to remind myself about the experience. I had to have it. Never mind I hadn’t even seen it yet. They seller didn’t want too much for it, $2,500, which should have been a red flag, but I was laser focused. I needed fast cash since I didn’t have that much saved up and this was an impulse purchase so I went to my local bank Continue reading Holy crap, I think that car might have been mine!

Almost $1M for an AMC

I’m a pretty happy AMC fan this morning!

gooding & company, gooding's auctions, amx 3, american motors, amx, amc
Photo: Gooding & Company

That’s because last night at the Gooding & Company auction in Scottsdale, AZ  this AMX 3 sold for $891,000 setting a new world record price for an American Motors creation. More than other cars in the auction like a 1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster which sold for $693,000 but not as high as the top seller, a 1925 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix hammering for $3,300,000. Continue reading Almost $1M for an AMC

Chasing Classic Cars: Not your father’s Pacer

The Racer Pacer

amc pacer, american motors, cab-forward designI had never heard of this before my dad gave me a book to read “The Cars of American Motors”, by Marc Cranswick, McFarland Publishing. The “this” were not the Pacers that rolled off the assembly line in Kenosha, WI. I had one, just like this, a 1975 with a 258. My buddies and I tailgate with this at Milwaukee Brewer games and made a trip to Cleveland in it to visit a friend going to John Carroll University. Side note: Bob Hope was the commencement speaker. What fun. Named it the Astrodome or Astro for short. Later I sold it to my buddy who went to school in Cleveland after he graduated. Sorry Joe but it was good when I had it. The AMC Pacer was built between 1975 and 1980 and was the first modern mass-produced, U.S. automobile design using the cab forward concept. AMC marketed it as “the first wide small car.” Later in the production run a 304 V8 was an option.

Enter Carl Green Enterprises (CGE) who took the Pacers which came with the 304 and dropped in AMC’s 401 along with some other mods. Swapping out engines was no big deal because the blocks were the same size. Here is where the magic started. Green loved the Pacer because its design was a breath of fresh air Continue reading Chasing Classic Cars: Not your father’s Pacer

Barn Find for AMC Enthusiasts

More like a closet find

I love American Motors’ products. Part of my sickness comes from my dad working for the company. Sure they had the clunkers but also had some cool cars. Dad brought home tons of stuff and now it’s time to thin things out a bit.

amc promo model cars, amc ambassador, american motors, amcamc brouchures, amc press kits, amc collector itemsMy collection includes full-line catalogues mostly from the 70’s and 80’s. Dad would bring them home, I’d page through them and throw them in a box. I even have some super-rare Press Kits.

My promo model collects has a little bit of everything. What I’m offering up are a couple of Javelins, AMX’s, and an Ambassador still with the hood ornament on it. Rare. So check out this micro site I put up and then let’s talk.1970 amx, amx promotional model cars, amc javelin promo model, amc , american motors

Chasing Classic Cars: One-of-a-kinds

Rare cars that pop up from time to time

AMC Project IV cars, one of a kind cars, chasing classic carsone-of-a-kind concept cars, chasing classic cars, amc, amxHave you ever seen a car, in person, and it was the only one made? When I was a kid my dad would take me to the Chicago Auto Show. He got the tickets when he worked at American Motors and that was our first stop. There I saw their Project IV cars developed in 1966 for consumer research. Of the four only one still exists, the AMX. It’s an amazing story of how it survived. A factory worker ran into AMC’s then president William Luneburg and simply asked for it. Read this amazing story from Hemmings Classic Car by clicking here.

Richard Teague: Styling Genius

AMX/3, amx, american motors, concept cars amx/3, amx, american motors, concept carsSales of the AMX were not quite what AMC execs were hoping for but one of the legends of automotive styling was busy designing the next generation of the AMX, the AMX/3, Richard Teague. The body mold was sent to Italian GT maker Giotto Bizzarrini, whose Turin facility hand-made drivable mid-engined, steel bodied cars. Built on a 105.3-inch wheelbase, the Bizzarrini prototypes used the AMC 390 cu in V8 and an Italian OTO Melara four-speed transaxle. Road testing went well and test drivers declared the AMX/3’s chassis one of the stiffest and most neutral handling they had ever tested. AMC had originally ordered 30 but only five were built and two know to be in existence. Read more about them here.

What the 1971 AMX could have looked like

1971 amx, amx, american motors, concept carsRichard Teague wanted the two-seat version to continue and received permission to build one-off the redesigned Javelin but it never made it into production. Too bad. I have seen this car. It’s owned by long-time American Motors Owners Association member Mike Spangler. I found this article which gives the whole story.

Alternative fuel before it was in fashion

chrysler-turbineHere’s another one I saw, the Chrysler Turbine, as clear as it was just yesterday, at the intersection of 84th and Bluemound here in Milwaukee. First off, it looked cool, nothing else like it on the road, and sounded cool with the turbine humming. Chrysler build 55 of these cars from 62-64 in what was first and only consumer test ever conducted of gas turbine-powered cars. When the test was done all but a hand full were destroyed. Seems the legal guys get their underwear in a bundle about letting the public keep concept cars. The best-known car guy with tons of recognition is Jay Leno who owns a Chrysler Turbine and drives it. See more here in this Jay’s Garage video

Concept cars have a long history

RM AuctionsNow here’s a really cool one this Lincoln Indianapolis (photo credit: RM Auctions) created in 1955 by Carrozzeria Boano, using the chassis and running gear from the 1955 Lincoln. The only time it was shown to the public as a new concept study was at the 1955 Turin Motor Show.

Last time seen just over a month ago at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it previously appeared back in 2001 and took home the first place for Postwar Custom Coachwork class. It at the 2005 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance in Connecticut, where it just about stole the show at a recent appearance at Pebble, one of its few public outings. Want it? Well, you’re too late because it was sold at auction for 1.5 million bucks.

RM Auctions1955-Lincoln-Indianapolis-design-study

The concept car list goes on

I’ve only scratched the surface on these rare cars. This blog entry could go on for a long time. I found some interesting pictures on this Pinterest Board. Cool “What If” cars.