A Few AMC Concept Cars
Folks, please allow me to do a different kind of post this time. These cars were never sold, and there's just not enough information to do a detailed description on each one. So I guess this time it's more or less a slide show, hopefully a little more entertaining than that trip your aunt took to the quilt museum.
Some of these cars could have been built very easily. I think a couple were slightly ahead of their time and should have been built, and one is just awkward... maybe even drawn somewhat study hall-ish. But who knows? Maybe if some of these had made it to market in time, AMC could have survived.
First up, only two of these swoopy AMX\2 prototype coupes were built in 1969 for styling exercises and car shows. They had fake, plastic engines. Had the car made production, it would have had a longitudinally-mounted AMC V-8 engine and transaxle.
The styling reminds me of an early 1970s DeTomaso Pantera. Its clean lines are timeless, but they surely would have been spoiled by the invasion of 5-mile-per-hour bumpers that would have been fitted by 1974.
It has the profile of a Gremlin, but that AMX-like front end looks right at home. The body lines are softer, maybe more organic than a production Gremlin. I even see a probable exhaust port in place of the rocker panel, but the wheels (wheel covers?) don't do much for me. I think AMC really missed the boat by not building this car instead of the more "blocky"-looking Gremlin.
What would an AMC concept car post be without an AMC Pacer concept car? The Pacer is a truly love-it-or-hate-it car (I love it), so AMC must have thought its legacy should continue. In 1977, this Concept-II styling proposal was unveiled. I'm not sure if they were serious, or if they just had some extra time.
OK, even I don't like this thing. It looks like a Pacer married a Renault Alliance. Maybe it did. I can't find any information about its running gear, or even if it had any. Conan O'Brian would surely have fun with this image if he still did the "If They Mated" skits.
There was a 1965 AMC Cavalier ...sort of. It is not to be confused with the Chevy Cavalier or its high-falootin' stablemate, the Cadillac Cimarron. This AMC dream car received its likeness on a Sharjah postage stamp to honor their "Post Day," even though not a single AMC Cavalier was ever sold.
I like it for several reasons, not the least of which is that it has rear suicide doors! It was also an exercise in engineering in that only two doors, two fenders, and one hood had to be stamped to build the car. Left- and right-side opposing fender/quarter panels and doors were the same, as were the hood and trunklid. Those bumpers and valance panels look very similar too.
These shared stamped body panels supposedly saved 30% of the costs to build the car; Studebaker did a similar exercise in its final days, though only that car's doors and bumpers were interchangeable. I guess desperate economic times bring about desperate engineering measures. The AMC Cavalier became the styling forerunner of the AMC Hornet that was sold five years later, and was built well into 1977.
It was a car that could do most everything. It had a racy, sporty front-end, convenient four doors for everybody, and a bulbous Pacer-like rear cargo area. The curved roof rack suggested sporty utility.
Please rub your eyes and look again. This is not a Marlin, it's the proposed AMC Tarpon, which was based on the smaller Rambler American convertible. Built in 1963 (Predating the Ford Mustang), the metal roof was dropped two inches, the windshield was curved back, and 13-inch wheels replaced the stock 14-inchers, all in an effort to lower the car.
The Tarpon was supposed to move Rambler's image away from cheap small cars, to compete with the Plymouth Barracuda, and also to enter the (then) brand-new automotive market segment called "pony cars." But the American was underpowered with just a 6-cylinder available, so Rambler decided to execute the styling concept onto the larger Rambler Classic, which had more niceties and a V-8. That car became the Marlin.
I guess these concept cars are also "What if?" cars. Had they been built in time, would AMC have survived? Hopefully so, if the sales volumes had been high enough. At the worst possible time, AMC was hit by overwhelming development costs of federally-mandated pollution and safety features; a higher volume of sales meant that these costs could be absorbed on each car. Selling millions of vehicles absorbed these costs easier; selling fewer meant higher costs per car. There go your profits, there goes your company.
I miss AMC. I think they were a car company that took chances, and even sometimes succeeded. They may have had radical styling exercises, were built with components also used by competitors, and had a failure or two, but they also gave us an acceptable alternative to the other "Big Three" American auto makers at the time.
Whether AMC cars were a tick ahead of their time or were just plain wacky, they definitely have found a place in our culture. When I see a Pacer, I think of "Wayne's World," when I see a red Hornet, I think of James Bond ("I shore am, boy!"). Had some of these and other AMC concept cars made it to life, who knows what memories they would evoke.
--That Car Guy (Chuck)
Credits: The first AMX\2 image is from www.LotusEspritTurbo.com; its rear view is from ConceptCarz.com. The AMX-GT image is from HowStuffWorks. The Pacer Concept II picture is from www.CarStyling.ru. AMC's Cavalier image(s) are from www.CarStyling.ru . The AMX III image is from www.Shorey.net. The Tarpon photo is from www.Merit.edu. The AMC logo is from Wikipedia.