AMC (American Motors Corporation)was created in 1954 with the merger of Nash and Hudson. Hudson's factory was shut down in Detroit, and the manufacturing was taken over at the Nash plant in Kenosha, WI. The Nash facility was larger and better equipped to handle the increase in production. The full size vehicles of both companies were selling poorly, but the Nash Rambler was starting to outsell every other model in their line. Hudson dealers started selling Ramblers in 1955, and by 1958 the name ‘Rambler’ replaced the Nash and Hudson names.
Classic AMC cars for Sale
AMC used the term Rambler for their carline based on the same platform, so they renamed each model the American, Classic, and Ambassador. The Rambler American was based on the original 1955 Rambler, a smaller model. The Rambler Classic was a bit larger, and the Rambler Ambassador was the flagship model of AMC, which it was also with Nash. The Ambassador was originally named the “Ambassador by Rambler”, but it never stuck. AMC or Rambler, whatever you want to call the company in the late 1950’s / early 1960’s, had an identity problem with their name. By the mid 1960’s, they solely used the AMC name.
By the early 1960’s, the Rambler line was a big seller, pushing AMC into the 3rd best selling car manufacturer in America. They did this by building conventional, well built cars that were a good value. Most regard AMC vehicles as nothing special compared to other auto makers. They were standard vehicles, with no exciting styling or engineering features.
Although AMC was playing safe with styling, they did have some firsts for car manufacturers, including the first A/C system completely under the hood. The 1954 Rambler was the first model – before this, the compressor and condenser were under the hood, but the cooling coils were in the trunk, with pipes running from each other under the seats. This system was also half the price of the older A/C systems. The Rambler was also the first vehicle to option seat belts in 1950. AMC was also one of the first to use dual master brake cylinder’s in the early 1960’s – the only other manufacturer doing this was Cadillac .
AMC Muscle Cars
AMC did not get into the muscle car or sports car business until 1968, which was probably too little, too late for the company. AMC debuted the 2 door sports car the AMX , and the larger Javelin model in 1968. By 1971, the AMX model was history, and the AMX became a luxury package on the Javelin line. The other true muscle cars would be the 1969 SC/Rambler, the 1970 Rebel Machine, and the 1971 Hornet SC/360.
Group 19 Performance Options
Group 19 parts were performance parts that could be ordered on most 1967 and up AMC models. They were ordered by the dealer, and then installed. Although these parts had genuine AMC part numbers cast on them, AMC did not produce these parts. Other aftermarket manufacturers produced them. Because of this, many customers bought the parts straight from the aftermarket manufacturer because it was cheaper. Many dealers also bought the parts straight from them when ordered by a customer, because they would have more profit with the healthy markup.
Group 19 parts did not catch on too well for a few reasons. One was that installation of these parts voided the 5 year / 50,000 mile warranty. That was a rather big warranty for this era, but AMC had to create customer confidence in their vehicles to keep up with the Big 3. These engines were sturdy, but they were built for passenger vehicles, not racing. Adding more powerful parts to the engines and vehicle itself will cause more wear and tear, and AMC engineers and management worried that mostly young drivers would be adding these parts. They thought that ‘improper’ driving by younger customers would cause more mechanical problems, and this was the age group that they did not want to get a ‘bad name’ with.
Another extremely irritating problem with racers was the fact that these parts had to be ordered from the dealers, and were not factory installed. Because the parts were not factory installed, they could not legally race in most stock class races, and could not keep up with the Camaro Z-28’s or Mustang Cobra 302’s, which had the performance options factory installed. This put the AMC vehicles in the modified or pure class race, where they would be burnt toasty racing against 427 Corvettes and the like. AMC vehicles could not race well stock, and it took a lot of money and work to reach a performance level in the pure class races.
The detailed list of parts catalogued in Group 19 were…
- Hydraulic Camshaft Kit (Crane)
- Blocker Heat Riser Intake Manifold Gasket
- 4 Bolt Provision (Donohue) for 1970-up 360 ci Blocks
- Cross Ram, Dual 4 Barrel, Medium-Rise, Open-Plenum - Aluminum Intake Manifold (Edelbrock STR-11)
- Single 4 barrel, Medium-Riser, Dual-Plenum, Aluminum Intake Manifold (Edelbrock R4B)
- Dual-Point Distributor with or without Mechanical Tach Drive (Mallory Double Life) with Hi-Po Coil (Mallory)
- Ring-and-Pinion Gear Sets 3.73:1, 3.91:1, 4.10:1, 4.44:1, and 5.00:1
- V8 Torque Link Kits (AMX rear axle traction bars)
- Rear Deck Wing Spoiler
- Front Underbody Spoiler for the AMX or Javelin
- Forged Cranks and Rods for the 290 and 343 ci engines
- Cast-iron Steel Single Four-Barrel Intake Manifold for the 390 ci Engine
- Capacitor Discharge Ignition System
- Adjustable Roller Rockers
- Positive Locking Differential (Detroit Locker)
- Rear Disc Brake Kit
- Rear Seat Shoulder Belts
The Death of AMC
AMC did well financially in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, but they then hit hard times. Their small size limited R & D and new model lines when they were strapped for cash, and in 1979 the French car manufacturer Renault bought a 5% stake in the company. Although this gave the company 135 million to work with, it actually in the big picture hurt the company more. At this time, AM General was a subsidiary of AMC, the most profitable part of AMC. AM General was a major military contractor, building Jeeps for the military. Unfortunately, AMC had to sell off their AM General division, since Renault was part-owned by the French government, and U.S. law dictated that no foreign government could own or control any part of a defense contractor. Soon after this, Renault had their own financial problems, and in 1987 Chrysler bought out all of AMC’s shares, and quickly chopped up the company. The only name/brand they kept was the Jeep brand, since the SUV craze was just starting to happen.