AMC Muscle Car History

AMC takes on the big automakers for muscle car dominance

The "Big" automakers of Detroit were building muscle cars in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but little AMC (American Motors Corporation) was not sitting idly by in Kenosha, WI. While none of their models had the wild success such as the Ford Mustang (1.5 million models sold in the first two years), AMC produced some of the most collectible muscle cars today.

1968 saw the launch of two new models, the Javelin and AMX. The Javelin was a smaller car, and could be powered from a small V6 to the 390 V8 in 1969. This is technically a "pony car" since it is on a smaller frame, but many clump the terms pony cars (small models) and muscle cars (mid size models) in the same group. The Javelin model line ended after the 1974 model year.

The AMX was basically a two seat version of the Javelin, sharing some of the same body parts keeping the cost down. The 390 V8 was also available in the AMX, giving it some serious "street cred" at the raceline. The AMX however is technically a "sports car" since it is a two seater, and sales never reached the goals of AMC management, and the model line ended after 1970. The AMX badge did continue on as a trim and sports package on the Javelin in 1971 and throughout the 1970s on other AMC models.

The true muscle cars came from 1969 through 1971 The 1969 AMC SC/Rambler ended the Rambler line, which had been running since 1958. AMC decided to end this simple and cheap sedan model, but not without giving it the true respect it deserved, by gutting the car and adding some serious racing equipment. There were no options other than the AM radio, and all models included the 390 V* producing 315 horsepower, beefed up 4 speed transmission, a functional ram air hood scoop, heavy duty shocks, an anti-sway bar, and Bendix front disks, which it truly needed to stop properly. 1,512 SC/Rambler models were built, and there were two paint schemes produced, "A" and "B". The first 500 were "A", consisting of a thick red line down the side of the car, but this was changed to a thinner red, white, and blue line for the next batch "B". The most likely reason was that this was an easy target for police, and it was possibly too intimidating for racers, knowing what this car could do in a race. The last batch reverted back to the "A" paint scheme.

AMC decided to end the Rebel line in 1970, and once again decided to have a muscle car model, and the "Rebel Machine" was born. A 390 V8 producing 340 horsepower was standard, but unlike the 1969 SC/Rambler, AMC offered other options on the Machine, including a manual or automatic transmission. "The Machine" emblems were on the front fenders, and the first 1000 produced had reflective red, white, and blue striping on the side. After the first 1000 were produced, any color AMC sold was available on The Machine, and the red.white, and blue striping became a $75 option. This was a fast car, but it's main drawback was that the Rambler station wagon rear coils were used on this model, causing the nose to be very low while the back was high in the air. It was hard to keep control from spinning out due to the weight imbalance.

The last muscle car AMC produced was the 1971 Hornet SC/360, but this model line would stay alive after 1971. The 390 V8 engine produced 245 horsepower, or for $199 more you could get the "Go" package, bumping the horsepower to 285 with a 4 barrel carb, dual exhaust, and a functional hood scoop. This was some serious power in a smaller car! Only 784 Hornet SC/360's were built, and it's believed only around 80 still exist today, creating this one of the most hard to find muscle cars out there today.

AMC had some memorable and noteworthy muscle cars, but could never truly compete with the bigger Detroit automakers. However, things could be different on the racetrack.

AMC Muscle Car Images

Click thumbnail to view full-size
1968 AMC Javelin1972 AMC Javelin1968 AMC AMX1969 AMC SC/Rambler A and B paint schemes together1969 AMC SC/Rambler A paint scheme1969 AMC SC/Rambler B paint scheme1970 AMC Rebel "The Machine"1971 AMC Hornet SC/360
1968 AMC Javelin
1968 AMC Javelin
1972 AMC Javelin
1972 AMC Javelin
1968 AMC AMX
1968 AMC AMX
1969 AMC SC/Rambler A and B paint schemes together
1969 AMC SC/Rambler A and B paint schemes together
1969 AMC SC/Rambler A paint scheme
1969 AMC SC/Rambler A paint scheme
1969 AMC SC/Rambler B paint scheme
1969 AMC SC/Rambler B paint scheme
1970 AMC Rebel "The Machine"
1970 AMC Rebel "The Machine"
1971 AMC Hornet SC/360
1971 AMC Hornet SC/360

Comments 15 comments

rtrdpenguin profile image

rtrdpenguin 7 years ago from NC

Nice article! AMC was small but they did make some nice cars in their day :)

wetard profile image

wetard 7 years ago from Illinois

Nice Information. I like all of the pic's


Bentley Fan profile image

Bentley Fan 7 years ago

Muscle cars are awesome, shame they aren't too popular now a days.

Mattzcat 6 years ago

I saw no mention of it but I'm pretty sure that for a while, you could buy an AMC Gremlin, with a 406 cu. in. motor.

uyuguh 6 years ago

this is cool

JUSTIN 6 years ago


Mercredi profile image

Mercredi 6 years ago

Thanks for the great info about AMC. They were pretty common but sure are an oddity today!

jeremy spedgcoff 5 years ago

I love muscle cars, just installed two turbo on my 95 impala ss

Hugh Williamson profile image

Hugh Williamson 5 years ago from Northeast USA

Great Hub on the AMCs. I remember them holding their own nicely at the local track.

Mico 5 years ago

Detroit has given the world a lot of good cars.

USHISTORY4YOU profile image

USHISTORY4YOU 4 years ago from Lemoore California

great story

Perry 4 years ago

The AMC 390 produced 315 hp and 425 ft lbs torque


Travis 2 years ago

My neighbour had a white, w/the red/white/blue decal on The Machine! Nice car, but in 74 having "The Machine" on the side of your car, I thought, was a little boisterous! Esp.when I had a GMC pick-up w/a 454 that could smoke The Machine, anywhere! Still, The Machine brings back good memories of a great time in automotive history!

Fotheringham 77 2 years ago

Im an AMX Freak.....have been since i was a lil kid....i would LOVE TO HAVE AND RESTORE (AMX; javelin; Rambler; rebel; or my favorite the 1971 HORNET!!!!

Lonnie Miller 15 months ago

I'm putting a 1974 amx javlen back on the road ,its going to be a sweet ride

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