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Muscle Car Madness: 1968 AMC AMX

Muscle Car Madness: 1968 AMC AMX


What do you get when you chop one foot off an AMC Javelin to produce greater power and lightness? The AMC AMX. The stubby two-seater was introduced in Feb. 1968, six months after the unveiling of the Javelin to compete in the popular “Ponycar” market (characteristics of the long hood/short deck proportions and power to burn) against GM, Ford and Chrysler contemporaries. It was immediately embraced for its prowess and handling by both muscle car and sports car enthusiasts.With a decidedly head-on assault, without compromise, the AMX was a complete contrast to AMC’s predecessors - the suburbanite’s wet dream, the Marlin, and the family-snoozer, the Rambler. The AMX had bite.

“I can burn out in 1st and 2nd gear and could feel the car fishtail. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face,” boasted Albert Theriault, the proud owner of this '68 example. “I always liked AMC. There was something unique about their cars."

His love for AMC extends to include a 1968 SST Javelin, and his 1974 Javelin, which was recently restored as a quarter-mile racer with flares and molded hood scoop. “As an ode to the Penske Racing/Mark Donohue Trans-Am glory days, I painted it in their traditional tri-colours," he explained.

Albert was persistent in trying to buy the AMX from a friend, but to no avail, even when the interior was accidently burnt. By the time the friend relented, the car was in rough shape, with 120,000 miles clicked on it.

“The front end was wrecked and the hood was damaged,” remembered Al. “The interior didn’t match the original model and the paint job was flat black!"

It took Albert seven years to restore and correctly match the numbers with the 390 powerhouse under the hood. “I restored the AMX all on my own with the proper red interior, repainted the exterior to its former Matador red with white go stripes, and rebuilt the motor and transmission,” he said.

In fact, Al did his own wheel alignments using a string-and-yardstick methid that his father taught him. When he brought it to a garage to test the alignment, the mechanic confessed he didn’t have to do anything and that Al’s technique was 98% perfect. He bought the seats, hood and trim from an owner of a neglected AMX for a mere $100. The owner only wanted parts from the AMX that could equip his Javelin.

Amongst the 6,725 AMX units manufactured, (Al’s car is registered 0162 on his dash plaque), he has one of only 1,000 furnished with the Go Package that includes a RAM air induction and a limited-slip differential. Even more remarkable is that he purchased the last available stock AMC grille from a dealership in Renfrew.

As a testament to Al’s mechanical knowledge and skills, he is an accomplished racing driver and drove his AMX at 140 mph on a quarter-mile strip, clocking 14.4 seconds a couple of years ago. “When I get behind the wheel, hear the rumble of the engine that soars through my body like an electrical current and I’m one with the car, it feels like I’m riding a motorcycle," he said. "There is a sense of freedom that consumes me. It feels like nothing else.”

Though Al doesn’t attend cruise nights or car shows, he has won numerous prizes in the past and enjoys the attention the AMX draws from the public. The sight of the car is like a quantum leap back in time as viewers reminisce about once owning one or knowing a friend or relative who had one.

“I’m too busy fixing up my cars," Al said, explaining why he doesn't show the car. "I also own two other ’74 Javelin AMX’s, one being from Germany, a white 1972 Lincoln MK4, a 1956 Ford panel van, a 1982 Ford F150 with an 8-foot stepside, and a 1976 Triumph Bonneville 750 show bike that I rebuilt to its original condition.”

But there have been few other automobiles that have even attempted to blend American-style power with European-style handling, and do it at family car prices. As a side note, the 1970 AMC AMX muscle cars are some of the most sought-after classic cars by collectors.

“My dad would have a different GM car almost every year," Al recalled, "so it’s no surprise that I grew up being a car guy, learning mechanics since I was 13 years old. I’ve noticed that my generation of classic cars – the muscle cars – are starting to thin out and that the future for them is a tenuous one, especially when it will become harder to get proper gas for them. I suppose all good things come to an end. My all-time favourite collectible car is an AMX 3, built in Palm Beach with only a few remaining in the world.”