The 1968 AMX was a smaller sibling of the Javelin and had plenty
of punch for a “little brother.”
The goal was to attract young car buyers who were scooping up high-performance models from other automakers. In the attempt to do this, designer Dick Teague created the first steel-bodied, two-seat American production model since the ’57 Ford T-Bird.
From its inception as a prototype in ’66 through its 2-1/2-year production run, to its ever-rising status as a collector muscle car today, the two-passenger AMX has always blazed new trails for its gets-no-respect corporate parent.
The first AMX was a non-running fiberglass concept car that let auto show attendees know that ultra-conservative AMC could design a car with pizzazz. A later running model had a "Ramble seat" in place of the rear deck.
The AMC Javelin pony car bowed in the fall of 1967 as a 1968 model. The two-place AMX — which was a foot shorter in wheelbase and length — came out as a 1968-1/2 model. It bowed to the press at Daytona Beach, Fla., and the Chicago Auto Show on Feb. 24, 1968. Along with it came a 390-cid Gen II AMC V-8, which was rated at 315 hp.
The short 97-inch wheelbase cut the 390-powered AMX’s curb weight to 3,205 lbs. That gave the little coupe a 10.8 lbs.-per-horsepower ratio when equipped with the 315-hp version of the 390-cid V-8. Car and Driver found this combination good for a 6.6 second 0-to-60 mph time. The 390 AMX did the standing-start quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 95 mph. Top speed was an estimated 122 mph.
Reclining bucket seats, carpeting, wood-grain interior trim and E70 x 14 Goodyear Polyglas tires were standard. Also included were a four-speed gearbox and heavy-duty suspension. Many buyers were happy with the performance of the standard 290-cid 225-hp V-8 or the one-step-up 343-cid 280-hp V-8, but the “390” was the most muscular engine option.
The ’68 AMX was base-priced at $3,245, but Road & Track estimated the price of the 390-cid version at $3,500. Each AMX built in calendar year 1968 had a metal dashboard plate bearing a special serial number from 000001 to 006175. However, the first 550 cars, which were assembled in 1967, did not have this feature. That means that total production was 6,725 units.
In February 1968, on a test track in Texas, race driver Craig Breedlove established 106 world speed records with an AMX. About 50 special red-white-and-blue “Craig Breedlove” editions were then built. They had 290-cid V-8s and a four-speed manual transmission.