1 of 5 AMC AMX/3 Prototype Discovered!

This gorgeous 1970s supercar isn’t a Lamborghini or Maserati; no, it’s an AMC, the same company that brought you the Matador and the Pacer. There’s just a slight difference, namely that this concept car was built by legendary designer Bizzarrini, and just five examples were made. While some cars have made their way to auction, the whereabouts of the others isn’t readily known. This example was discovered in a Michigan barn, and the full store is here on WXYZ.com.

I’ll admit I didn’t know much about this obscure concept car before coming across the story, but a quick Google Image search of completed chassis reveals just how achingly beautiful this slice of exotica was. Stories of finished cars that have gone to auction show how dramatic of a departure this experiment was from the traditional AMC product. A 390 resided under the hood, mounted midship in the chassis. The proportions are perfect – dare I say, better than a Pantera?

With just five produced by the Bizzarrini factory, finding one of these cars in any sort of condition would seem a miracle; this one, however, despite languishing in barns across the midwest, has somehow survived relatively unscathed. The history seems vague, with the article simply saying it bounced around with different owners after being shipped to the U.S. from Bizzarrini. The article also indicates that the 390 mill was installed later on, after it arrived stateside.

A complete restoration is planned for what some would call one of the rarest American sports or racing cars ever built. With its slippery shape capable of hitting an indicated 160 m.p.h., it still delivers compelling performance by modern standards. Although a total restore may seem like a threat to its originality, there’s simply too few of them to let any one car go to ruin (in this author’s opinion). I can’t wait to see what it looks like when the restoration is complete.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. poseur Member

    Unbelievable.
    Had no idea these existed.
    Does look like a Pantera crossed with a Mangusta.
    Gorgeous flowing lines with little overhang.
    How the heck this beauty managed to emerge from AMC’s island-of-misfit-cars design house is beyond comprehension.

    Like 55
    • RayT Member

      You can thank Dick Teague for that.

      I think this is the best-looking of all the ’70s supercars. I saw one in person — I believe Teague’s own example — and have always wished it could have made production, even though I doubt it would have “saved” the company.

      If any car deserves a full restoration, this is it. Originality is nice, but I believe this is certainly one of those cases where shiny and fully functional is essential.

      Like 48
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Spot on, Ray. This really made a splash in the car magazines, but like the ORIGINAL mid-engine designed Corvette (rotary powered!) it very unfortunately never came to fruition. Could it have saved AMC? Don’t think so, as these “flagships” rarely sell in volumes that return the cash necessary to keep a sinking ship afloat.
        Wonder why they didn’t use a 401 instead of the 390?

        Like 12
      • Dave

        In this case, the use of a 390 instead of the 401 may help to establish the timeframe in which the car was built. IIRC, AMC was about to pull the trigger and produce these but the Feds began dictating emissions and safety requirements and the project died on the vine. Then along came the 1973 Arab oil embargo and suddenly performance cars became millstones.

        Still…wouldn’t it be cool if someone at FCA “discovered” the AMX and build an updated version?
        Can you imagine this with a Hellcat motor and all-wheel drive?

        Like 16
      • That AMC guy

        Certainly those would have been factors, but another reason the AMX/3 never went into series production was the cost. As I recall it would have had to sell for over $10,000 which was an astronomical amount at the time. AMC management got cold feet about venturing into supercar territory. It’s amazing that the same company whose bread and butter in the late 1960s was the Rambler American (complete with with vacuum wipers and trunnion suspension) even commissioned the AMX/3 prototypes in the first place.

        This really is an incredible find. Talk about finding a unicorn in your barn!

        Like 18
      • Paul

        Teague does own one, Red i believe

        Like 6
      • Grandpa Lou

        I think AMC made the right choice. Cars like this would never have sold in the numbers to make a profit, much less production costs. People in an AMC showroom, are not going to look at this and then buy a Hornet, not their style. Besides, no mater how good the car was, the kind of people who could have afforded it would thumb their noses at it, not snooty enough of a name. The boys at the country club would have laughed. In this league of cars, prestige matters just as much if not more than performance. Am I wrong here?

        Like 3
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Paul, it appears Teague DID one at least one-this one, according to Ms. Dawkins, as she said her husband worked with and was mentored by Teague. I think it says something about this forum when we hear from a gracious lady like her and validates the editors findings.

        Grandpa Lou, Cars such as these have never been intended to be anything but a flagship for the company, as a demonstration of their engineering prowess-even if it’s not entirely THEIR team on the development level. These kind of cars are dream cars to most of us but it pulls us into the showroom.
        Insofar as “the boys at the country club” turning up their noses at machines without a big dollar sign name, many do the same thing amongst and to their own kind so who cares? It’s the gal or guy that buys one and really drives it to enjoy it that counts in the end, so yes I think it’s a shame we and AMC missed out here. Would it have saved them? Very few agree that it would have helped as their financial woes were coming into full swing by then-but what a finish it would have been!

        Like 3
      • Charles

        This would truly have been America’s answer to the Italian behemoths! Imagine an AMC competing with DeTomaso, Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini!

        Like 1
    • Paul

      you must be a youngster, lol

      Like 1
    • Ed Montini Member

      I recall a red one popped up about 3 months ago over seas…….was said to be the designers personal car.

      Car was offered to my customer.

      Like 3
    • Wayne

      I wish they would have gone into production

  2. RayT Member

    Nevadahalfrack, would that be the Two-rotor or Four-rotor Corvette?

    The Two-rotor was a gorgeous little car, and should have gone into production immediately, if you ask me. I would have given it a SBC, because the rotary project at GM never seemed all that serious to me. The Four-rotor was good looking, but seemed a bit too big for my taste.

    I can imagine a face-off between the AMX III and Two-rotor Corvette. Wouldn’t that have been nice!

    Maybe some AMC expert will weigh in on 390 versus 401. It seems to me I’ve heard of more high-performance work done with the 390, and that might have been a consideration. I wonder if the AMXes got — or were supposed to get — anything special, such as alloy blocks/heads or other then-exotic tweaks?

    Like 8
    • AMXBrian

      The AMX/3 debuted in 1970 and at the time the 390 was their biggest motor. The 401 debuted in 71 and they’re basically the same casting with a larger bore.

      AMC moved to the taller deck block for 1970 with the 290 becoming the 304, the 343 becoming the 360 and the 390 was retained(Due to provenance?) with a special bore and stroke combination to retain the 390’s cu and the new deck height.

      Performance-wise the 401 would have been the better choice because of displacement, but both had the same forged parts with it’s better flowing dogleg exhaust ports over the 1969 390’s.

      Like 3
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        That answers that question-thank you, AMXBrian!
        Nevadahalfrack

        Like 1
      • Lee Malaspina

        Correction, the 401 has the same bore (4.165) with a longer stroke (3.680). The 390 is 4.165 X 3.575.

        Like 1
  3. RayT Member

    Oh, and by the way, Jeff: I notice you wrote that there were five AMX III prototypes built. I’ve been scrounging around various sites a bit, and have found references to “six” and “fewer than 10.”

    Not that it’s terribly important in the overall scheme of things, but part of me really, REALLY hopes the “fewer than 10” is accurate, if only because it’s cool to have that fantasy of finding another in some out-of-the-way barn!

    Nothing below a four-digit total would be enough, of course!

    Like 7
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Great recall, RayT.! I didn’t realize there were two Wankel Corvette concepts, but the 4 rotor motor is the one I recall-it was absolute HERESY to suggest anything but a Chevy V-8 in a Corvette according to most of what I was reading at the time.

      Hemmings did a terrific research story on the AMX/3; somewhere there was mention of 12-15 prototypes, though 2 were “test mules” and may or may not have been figured in the overall numbers…

      https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2017/01/08/the-untold-story-amx3-giugiaro-and-bmw/

      Very cool story, Jeff-how’d you find it?

      Like 11
      • MorganW Morgan Winter Member

        Great link, thank you. Now I have to go look through my Hot Wheels survivors, I’m pretty sure one was an AMX III.

        Like 6
      • Brian

        Great find, amazing car! It would have blown away the competition.

        Like 5
      • JoeNYWF64

        You can relax – the 4 rotor car still exists(at the GM Heritage Center – no u can’t see it in the flesh as an individual) & it runs & the 4 rotor motor has been pulled & a plain jane small block & carburetor has been fitted into the dream car. THAT’S heresy! Even the name was changed to Aerovette.
        You wana bet it & all new vettes become electric cars in the future?
        I believe the 2 rotor vette is across the pond & lost its 2 rotor motor too, & may now have a Mazda rotary motor in it!

        Odd no one has made a kit car of the above AMX III. Imagine if Dynacorn made a body & how many they could sell! Yet, i would not wana drive this very low cars today with all the SUVS & people distracted.

        Like 3
  4. AMCSTEVE

    Going to see it at MCACN tomorrow. This is one of five that Giugiaro redesigned in Italy so it’s a bit different than the rest of em. NO HELLCAT MOTOR OR ANYTHING THAN AN AMC POWERPLANT. It’s not needed and just a stupid statement.

    Like 11
    • Dave

      I agree with you, don’t change anything at all *on this car*. It’s a piece of history.
      But if FCA decided to build a modern concept car, what would they power it with?
      The traditionalist in me says “Hellcat”, but perhaps a hybrid or Tesla fighter full-electric works here? After all, it’s tough to beat an electric car for sheer brain-slamming acceleration.

      Like 3
  5. Bruce

    I believe that the 15 Comment for production was correct but not all were running cars a number were just fiberglass shells that they sent to dealers for public reaction and to draw in crowds. It worked as I was one of them. Truly beautiful but better than the Pantara, maybe but most certainly a different feel. Much more delicate a design. Similar blind spots and I never saw one with an exterior mirror which would have been a critical addition. I have an Esprit Turbo and it is bad enough this would be terrifying on the highways without mirrors.

    For the 15 year old however this could have just as well been a space ship from Mars. The beauty of the ball and most certainly that showroom. Painted in the same yellow color that just screams out ARREST ME I AM SPEEDING. LOL but a memory worth having.

    Like 10
  6. Gunner

    Morgan, Hotwheels issued “Warpath”, as a AMX II in 1975. It is a very close resemblance to this AMX III. They had some variations of it through 1983.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/NXtX9CSyyi5vk4Qv5

    Like 8
  7. TimM

    The post information is great!! Never saw this car and never heard of it!! I thought it was a pantera as well when I first saw it!! But I agree with most of you on the panel!! It should be restored back to original condition!! I always have a hard time with that cause there are just so much more out there that’s better than in the 1970’s!! Considering its rarity though there should be no other choice!!!

    Like 5
  8. Kathryn Dawkins

    My husband purchased this vehicle from Dick Teague back in the early 70’s. I do not know the specific date, as I did not come into the picture until 1978. Chet and Kyle are the now the 3rd owners (after AMC). The vehicle spent time in an outbuilding in Potterville, MI until 1981 at which time it was loaned to Gilmore’s Car Museum in Hickory Corners. We took the vehicle back around 1998 and it was in our barn in Northport, MI. We then purchased a home in Leland, MI in 1999 and it has been in our garage until it went over to Chet and Kyle’s building in Northport in November, 2018.

    My husband, Scotty Dawkins, worked at AMC, part of the time with Dick Teague. Dick was both a friend and mentor.

    As Dave stated in his comment above, the AMX3 was shelved due to new federal emissions and safety policies, along with the fuel embargo. A shame as AMC was hoping that this would bring them into a different era of customers.

    According to my husband, our vehicle is #1 of 6. I see that there are other counts out there, but again, I am relying on what he observed while working with Dick on this vehicle.

    Like 64
    • Don Crane

      I visit Northport a couple times a year to visit my mom. Hopefully I can stop by and check out the progress. Fairly certain I know where to find it.

      Like 4
    • schooner

      Thank you for the back story, Ms. Dawkins.

      Like 19
    • Lee Malaspina

      How did the car get into such a poor state of being? It blows my mind to see such a rare gem look so bad.

      Like 2
  9. 433jeff

    Wow it really looks good , lamborghini or maserati must have cost more than 10 grand, i say charge 30-40 grand each with mild 375 390 and 50-60 for a worked 401. This in turn will pull AMC out of the red while the big 3 look on with envy. Yuh- No?

    Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey

      433jeff,
      I suspect AMC realized that placing this car into production, would not save them. They may have looked at Studebaker as an example, as the Avanti was intended to do exactly the same job as the AMC III had it gone into production. We all know what happened to Studebaker.

      But then again, had the AMC III gone into production, perhaps after AMC closed a dealer with $ could have bought the rights to make the AMC III, as did Newman & Altman for the Avanti!

      Like 2
  10. hatofpork

    Well, it’s no Marquis Brougham, but it is truly Teague’s finest hour. Then again, I’d be afraid of tearing my double-knit Haband Sans-a-Belt slacks getting into one!! : ^ )

    Like 10
  11. Fulm

    Front end has that Mach 5 vibe.
    I like it

    Like 7
  12. Will Irby

    Okay, now I have to dig through my old magazines; I know I have at least a couple of articles on this car.

    Like 3
  13. Jay E.

    It appears to me that this car would generate some serious front end lift at speed?

    Like 2
  14. Greg Millard Member

    Magnifique, thanks for the great writeup, retrogreg

    Like 1
  15. Vince

    Wow what a piece of art

    Like 1
  16. Andrew Franks

    Thank you Jeff and Mrs. Dawkins.Because I am an enemy of social media and refuse to use it I cannot follow the restoration, technology is destroying us, I am sure one of the many car magazines I subscribe to will get a hold of the story at some point and I’ll see it that way. The car is absolutely stunning and I’m sorry it wasn’t built for consumption. I’d really like to see a specialty car company built for the manufacture of this sort of automobile and never mind the stupid and incompetent Government rules.

    Like 3
  17. scottymac

    Overgrown Lotus Europa.

    Like 1
  18. Nick G

    The Penske Trans-am 304 V8 might have been a good candidate at 450hp and equal ft lbs.

    Like 5
  19. Scott

    The bronze Monza car #4 sold at Gooding for $891,000 in 2017.

    https://www.goodingco.com/vehicle/1969-american-motors-amx3/

    Such a great looking car.

    Like 3
  20. Eddie Stakes

    There were six AMX/3s produced, all six exist. Here is Mark Donohue standing with one example at Michigan International Speedway http://www.planethoustonamx.com/press_photos/70amx3-mark-donohue-mis.jpg One was “found” in a Detriot basement 10+ years ago. Here is photo shoot of one in Rome, Italy early 1970 http://www.planethoustonamx.com/press_photos/70-amc-amx-3-rome-italy.JPG and this is photo of AMC Cheif Stylist Dick Teague with Giotto Bizzarini at the Rome photo shoot in early 1970. http://www.planethoustonamx.com/press_photos/amx3-teague-bizzarini.jpg the “fuel crisis” was later. AMC had huge strike that cost them 36,000 calender production vehicles early in 1970 production in Autumn 1969. They also bought Jeep from Willys for $40 million then. But imagine if every one of those lost production 36,000 cars was say, loaded 70 Ambassador $5500 each. Gremlin launched April 1, 1970 and base $1998.00 for one they sold well. So much, West Line in Kenosha usually reserved for larger Ambos, Rebels, Matadors opened up. 1970 busy yrar. Neat to see this car. No, no LS, Hellcat stuff,keep it AMC. Eddie Stakes Planet Houston AMX http://www.planethoustonamx.com

    Like 10
  21. Eddie Stakes

    I believe some of the confusion is in 1966/67 was a prototype Javelin station wagon called AMX III years earlier. A AMX/3 restored by a customer of mine in Germany won Pebble Beach a few years back. Only AMC to ever win this prestegious event. No AMX/3s ever made in Bittersweet Orange, was owner’s preference. That is my NOS wiper knob on the car, shipped to his team in California while car in container passing thru Panama Canal, cool story I wrote about! Hemmings takes it from here in blog https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2016/08/25/refreshed-amx3-becomes-the-first-amc-to-win-its-class-at-pebble-beach/

    Like 8
  22. Louis Chen

    These cars were beyond beautiful. Restoring one of these will require a deep pocket to do a complete restore. Good luck to whoever buy this rare gem and I hope they have lots of money…would any of rich guys over there in Abu Dhabi like to buy it?

    Like 1
  23. Paul. R

    Looks a lot like a Matador to me. Design elements came from the same guy I bet, just lower and pointier.

    Like 1
  24. Michael Float

    AMC’s Avanti?

    Like 2
  25. Ian Evans

    There was one in the Temecula, CA area I saw probably 20 years ago. Red if I recall.

    Like 1
  26. Paul

    I think automobile mag did a story about these cars a few years ago??

    Like 1
  27. Chris Londish Member

    Is this a tilt at Lemans to boost the bottom line, it reeks of GT40

    Like 1
  28. JoeNYWF64

    Apparently, judges are not too picky about prototypes, even at Pebble Beach! If this AMX 3
    http://www.hemmings.com/blog/2016/08/25/refreshed-amx3-becomes-the-first-amc-to-win-its-class-at-pebble-beach/
    was a production car, judges at any car show would deduct points on those wipers not parked properly. A mechanic adjusted my friend’s old rusty beat up junky ’68 nova’s wipers in like 10 min. lol
    Maybe the restorers were afraid to “dig inside” the unique wiper mechanism for fear of breaking it?

    The AMX 3 prototypes happily have FRAMELESS side glass, tho I’m stumped why at least TWO do NOT!! have that PHONY european vent window in the door! The yellow one above DOES.
    However
    http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2017/10/first-time-ive-seen-blue-amx-3.html
    & 1 red one(scroll approx halfway down) in the bible
    http://amx3.weebly.com/
    do NOT have the phony vent window.
    Hmmh.

    I have a theory why domestic FULL door glass styling stopped in the late 80’s. For cars that have frameless glass with the mirror bolted to the door SKIN, like modern camaro, mustang & chally (& even 3000gt & NSX), i they put that ugly plastic triangular piece in front of the door where there should be glass, so as to EASILY run wires or a cable or a rod to remote mirrors!!
    Now that i think about it, not only is it amazing how a 2nd gen camaro’s/firebird’s huge long & deeply curved FULL GLASS side windows(with no ugly plastic piece) can roll down into their doors, but it’s even more amazing to try to figure out how they ran the cable for the remote driver’s mirror – it must run all the way to the bottom & up the other side of the glass ! I think. lol

    Of interest:
    http://www.amx390.com/0.html
    &
    http://www.amx390.com/amx3.html !!!!

  29. Dave Mazz

    Chris Londish did offer the opinion, “it reeks of GT40”.

    Some former AMC owners might say was *inspired* by the GT40. :-)

    Also FWIW, a $10,000 1970 MSRP (see That AMC Guy’s comment above), would be equivalent to about $66,000 in 2019 dollars, close to the (base) price as the 2020 mid-engine Corvette. Maybe Chrysler should consider re-introducing the AMX 3, as a modernized companion to the new Viper.:-) :-)

    Like 3
  30. scottymac

    When you say “Chrysler”, you really mean Peugeot, right?

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/30/another-merger-of-equals-fiat-chrysler-peugeot-tie-up-comes-with-risks-rewards.html

    First Mickie-Bentz, then FIAT, now Pigout. Who’s in line next, Trabant or Wartburg?

    Like 2
    • Fiete T.

      The “Dumpster Trifecta” will be Renault/Nissan joining into said fray. While I like old Mopars, they haven’t been “American” since ’97. Thought it was hilarious when I saw FIAT/Abarths in the “Mopar Performance” catalog in about 2010-2011…”Mopar American Muscle?’ Where is the corporation’s title head- in France or Italy nowadays?
      Mopar died years ago

      Like 3
      • DayDreamBeliever Member

        Yea, I think there is a bit of brand snobbishness going on here.

        I live in the Detroit area, and my part-time job has me going to some of the manufacturer’s proving grounds on a decently regular basis. Anyone who thinks that many cars from traditionally American named car companies are not engineered and developed in the USA is misinformed.

        The car business is global. Manufacturers draw from all over to save money and improve the product, as in maintaining a competitive stance worldwide. But much is done here in the USA, and to deny that and say that the Chrysler brand cars are not American anymore is an inaccurate assessment.

        Like 3
    • Dave Mazz

      Scottymac did offer, “When you say “Chrysler”, you really mean Peugeot, right?

      I did hear Chrysler, Renault, AMC, and Peugeot tried to enter into a merger but the obvious acronym that would result was a deal breaker :-) :-)

      • scottymac

        Why not go for it? You know the acronym for Toyota Racing Development, right?

  31. Johnny

    There’s a transaxle for one behind a Jaguar v12 in a corvair In St. Louis. True story

  32. Fiete T.

    This car wasn’t “Unknown” or “Recently discovered.” Even I heard about this car over 15 years ago- had a friend who was huge into AMC’s and well known in that circle, he told me about this car

    Like 2
  33. Little_Cars

    I have had the Hot Wheels or Matchbox of this car in purple. I remember it more closely depicting the AMX II with louvered panels over the engine area that had tiny handles for my tiny fingers to lift. Never thought I’d see a real one up close in photographs. It’s got the Barn Find special exterior treatment of dirt, dust and just a tad bit of body damage. Nice!

    Like 1
  34. Jim Rice

    https://amx3.org/

    Better photos and the history of all the AMX/3 cars.

  35. AMCSTEVE

    Ok I went and saw this car at MCACN yesterday and met the previous owners son who was there to field questions. Ironic that it was in the barn finds section of the show.

    This car is titled as a 1968, yes it has a title, and was a running driving test mule that was rode hard and blew out the transaxle. It is the 1st production prototype and the drivetrain is long gone. Car is rough but really amazing as it has unique marker lights and no scoops like the later ones.

    The reason that this car was never restored is money. It has been sold to the new owners that have the resources to get it done and you can follow the build here…
    http://AMX3.ORG

    I can’t wait to see this finished and at another show.

    Like 1
  36. AMCSTEVE

    Forgot to mention that it was pes green and the previous owner painted it yellow.

  37. AMCSTEVE

    PEA green

    Like 1
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Steve, if you took some pictures of the car and what them posted here, please email them to pra4snw(at)gmail.com.

      – Dennis

      Like 1
  38. eddie stakes

    Seriously folks not a ‘barn find’ many of us have known about this car 20+ years. Look in my AMX & Javelin facebook group for the photos I posted from 1999 including prototype title. Good to see it will be restored, but no so secret to a few of us hee hee https://www.facebook.com/groups/950867441658093/

  39. seth gordon

    The main obstacle to production of the AMX/3 was price, not “gubbermint” regulations. Ford could absorb losses from the Pantera but AMC was in no such position. Eddie Stakes accurately points out labor problems and the purchase of Jeep from KW. The AMX/3 is usually thought to have had the “Machine” 390 which had a factory rating of 340 bhp. Giotto Bizzarrini could be considered the greatest car engineer and is reported to have asked the visiting “Rambler” executives if 160 mph was good enough before a track demonstration.

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