Any car enthusiast will gladly excuse you for thinking the American Motors Corporation (AMC) was the red-headed stepchild of the motoring world.
Not to make a long story even longer but AMC came about with the merger of the Hudson Motor Car Company and the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. Nash-Kelvinator was even an oddity. It was a merger between Nash Motors and the Kelvinator Appliance Corporation.
AMC had a successful run, riding the popularity of its economical Rambler models. While the Big Three automakers focused on manufacturing large cars, AMC concentrated on the compact and fuel efficient, to the extent Ramblers gained enough market share to be ranked third among domestic car sales.
Unfortunately for AMC, keeping up with the Big Three took its toll. By the mid 1960s, AMC was struggling with quality control issues for some of its new models and dealing with a decline in sales of the dated Rambler.
In 1967 a new management team took over AMC tasked with turning the company around and regaining some lost market share. With a younger buyer in mind, AMC entered the muscle car era with the AMX and Javelin. Ford launched the “pony car” with the introduction of the Mustang and AMC needed to take advantage of the new performance minded buyer.
And with that, the idea of the AMX was born. Gerald Meyers, the new vice president of automotive development and manufacturing, headed the push towards performance with the idea of developing a mid-engine sports car. The job of fleshing out an idea went to Richard Teague, who was the head of design, and Bob Nixon, the chief designer. Their creation was called the AMX/2.
Upper management at AMC liked what they saw but wanted to take it a step further. A final design would come from the result of a design competition between Teague’s team and Giorgetto Giugiaro. Yes, that Giorgetto Giugiaro, the hottest car designer of that era and recent founder of ItalDesign. Whether or not Giugiaro was fully vested in the project is another matter. He presented a Styrofoam model in November of 1968, only to be easily outdone by AMC’s design team, which created a fiberglass replica of their creation, the AMX/3.
Hemmings Daily has a more complete story about the AMX/3, which further chronicles BMW’s involvement from doing initial quality checks to a full partner in developing the car. A fascinating story that bears a full read.
The 1969 AMX/3 pictured will be offered at the Gooding & Company auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, January 20-21. The Gooding auction is part of Arizona Auction Week, with enthusiasts visiting the sunny southwest for a break from winter cold and take in some great automotive auctions and events.