4th of July Find: 1970 AMC Rebel Machine

1970-amc-rebel-machine-barn-find

It doesn’t get any more American than a red, white, and blue AMC Rebel Machine! The Machine was developed by American Motors with some help from Hurst and featured a 340 horsepower 390 under the hood. Patriotic paint, heavy duty suspension, alloy rims, and a Hurst shifter finished things off. The photos of this particular one are bad and we have our doubts that this is a real deal Rebel Machine, but you never know. Take a look at the listing here on craigslist and you be the judge. Happy 4th of July!

amc-390

We are guessing that this is the 390 we mentioned earlier. When new it was good for 430 foot pounds of torque! That made it AMC’s most powerful offering and a real contender at the drag strip right off the show room floor. That is exactly were AMC wanted it actually. They planned to stick one inside every dealer in a little bait and switch marketing scheme. We don’t mind though because luckily there are still a few of these beasts kicking around. You will want to see if this engine is seized up and what parts are missing. Remember, to make this much power the engine needed many special components including cam, intake, heads, etc. So, make sure everything is there before making an offer.

amc-rebel-machine-arm-rest

Here is some proof that this could be a real Rebel Machine. This red, white, and blue armrest was unique to the Machine and was a nice touch to an already unique muscle car. That alone doesn’t make this authentic though. The seller does include a photo of the door tag in their ad, but the characters are illegible. Verifying all the numbers shouldn’t be a difficult task though. Just call the seller up and ask if there is a “Y” in the VIN!

amc-rebel-machine

The hood scoop does look correct for a Machine. It may look lopsided, but that is because it houses a tach in that raised part on the driver’s side. The paint scheme doesn’t look right to us though. Well, from what we can make out from whats left of it. Perhaps a previous owner attempted their own interpretation of what a patriotic paint job should look like. From what we have read, the original red and blue stripes were actually reflective. This may not look like much in the photos, but these were impressive Machines when new!

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Comments

  1. Mike D

    It looks like it needs lots of work .. Mileage is probably accurate.. it happens to be about a 30 mi drive from my house .. If I had the $$$ I would save it

    • barry

      i bought this car – trying to find some more information about the history of it, if you can help, pop me a note please.

      • John Newell

        I can help you a lot with the details on this car if you’re interested.

        The Rebel Machine Guy – you can google that.

        Like 2
      • barry

        hi john, thanks – i mean the history of this particular car, not the Rebel Machine in general. i bought it from a guy in jordan new york, it has been in the area most of its life i believe.

      • Timohy

        Hey ,
        Barry would that 1970Rebel be for sale by any chase??/Tim

  2. DT

    Lesson, Dont ever buy a car sight-unseen, 19,000 miles, one owner

  3. Rick

    I’d rather have a S/CRambler. Has a patriotic paint scheme like the Rebel but is way faster

    Like 2
    • John Newell

      These days fast is defined by how much money you want to spend and mechanical skills, not by who made the model so much any more. As for way faster back in the day, in showroom condition SC/Ramblers ran 14.0 while Machines ran 14.4 with a repairable glitch in the Hurst shifter that cost every car half a second at least in all the runs made by the magazines.

      But with the V option Service Package installed Rebel Machines were tested at 12.81s by Super Stock and 12.73s by Rodder and Super Stock magazines. Very fitting because with the Service Package installed The Machine was equipped with an apples to apples cam instead of the same cam used in station wagons and mail trucks. The surprise was that Service Package equipped Machine that included an actual performance grind cam became the fastest car tested in 1970 with an engine anywhere from 35 to 65 cubic inches smaller than its competitors.

      Despite the humongous advantage in engine size – in pure stock competition the Michigan organizers still won’t let AMCs and Rebel Machines in particular race in dealer stock trim knowing full well that AMC did not have the factory floor space to install the dealer stock parts in house. They had to be installed at the dealerships. That tells you how paranoid the GM, Ford and Chrysler guys still are 50 years later of being totally embarrassed by tiny AMC with their tiny but very powerful small blocks.

  4. AMCFAN

    Interesting this car was posted on ebay and ended with a buy it now @$8500 on June 30

  5. Rebel Guy

    This car is a REAL rebel machine A9M190Y2077XX red white and blue paint was removed late 70s, car last driven 78 have all docs 1 owner 8-10 persons came to verify true car, was reposted on ebay and sold with buy it now to a collector …car is going to Cananda

    • John Newell

      Any idea where in Canada it’s going (gone)?

  6. Rebel Guy

    3195529 block intake # ends C AoM190Y207734 (typo)

  7. Jim-Bob

    The original stripes would have been adhesive tape stripes, not painted. I imagine that they became very difficult to source once the original paint failed, so they weren’t put back on. I imagine that you could get them reproduced today if you could find a correct one to take dimensions off of.

    Also, if memory serves, the heads are indeed special, but not special to the Machine’s 390 only. They are first year dogleg heads and as such have the vastly improved exhaust port that debuted in 1970. However, the thing that makes them unique is the 1970-only 51cc combustion chamber. The heads were also used on other 360 and 390 powered applications that year. Later AMC engines went to a 58cc chamber (and later still went to a larger chamber but I forget the exact size.) However, the 390 and the later 401 engines did have a stronger bottom end than smaller engines as they had forged cranks. All other AMC engines used cast cranks. Another unique feature of AMC engines is that, unlike other low cost American brands, they used high nickel engine blocks which led to longer intervals between overhauls than, say a small block Chevy. The only other average brand to do this at that time (that I am aware of) was Datsun.

    • John Newell

      Mostly correct. I make the OEM Red Streak Rebel Machine stripe kits. Made from the original first run art, not the second run others use. My colours unlike the others are factory correct and the manufacturing process is correct in every respect.

      No point in spending big dollars on a paint job and then putting an incorrect set of stripes on is there? They are not that easy to get off and the process takes a long time. Plus buying the stripe kit twice is no fun either.

      THE REBEL MACHINE GUY
      gullyfourmyle@gmail.com

      Like 2
  8. JP

    Posting removed from Craigslist. Maybe he was swamped with questions from Barn Finds fans… ;-)

  9. rjc Member

    It’s July 5th your system is delayed.

    • DT

      Eat more roughage

  10. jim s

    was it bought to restore, for parts or for the vin plates for a clone? it would be nice if the buyer would keep us updated. nice find.

  11. rjc Member

    @ DT good one! LOL

  12. AMCFAN

    Jim-Bob I couldn’t have said it better myself. Chevrolet did have a high nickel block but think it was reserved for their high performance applications and possibly for trucks.
    Chrysler Corp used high nickel in the 426 Max Wedge engines and would think Hemi as well.
    The AMC 390 and 401 did use a forged crank AND forged rods. Back in the day I saw an early 70s Ambassador in the local shop that the owner had ran out of oil. Amazingly the block was unhurt it was honed and put back together. Many people overbore the 390/401 and often don’t need to.

    JP the craigslist posting you can’t find dont worry. You are not missing anything. Looks to me the seller wrote the ad by copy and paste from Barrett Jackson past auctions and a Wiki article thrown in. Nothing about what is missing and or needed. Has aftermarket floor pans and is a bad sign (they are of poor quality) The hood and fenders are not right as well. Someone seriously interested should pull the steering box. The partial vin is stamped in the frame. Don’t see an X. Stay away. Many clone and swap frame rails too. Look for body work that is not consistant.
    If thinking about an AMC specialty vehicle such as a Machine,SC/R or Donohue Javelin you really need to do your homework. There are specific parts that make these very unique. When missing even your wallet can’t help. This combined with almost no aftermarket support.
    For instance the pics of the Machine the specific “Machine” wheels are not pictured. A nice set if you can find them will set you back $4K The trim rings are non removeable. Tire shops liked to try anyway. They held moisture and rotted out the rim. Very hard to find. Were an option on the Javelin and AMX in 70-71. Matador and SC/360 Hornet in 71. Very hard to find.
    Don’t be the poor collector car speculator. DO YOUR RESEARCH
    Recently a 70 Machine was sold at Mecham for $40K. The car shows up on ebay a few weeks later priced at $48K. The car was a solid color and claimed to be one of 3. Sounds good. NO. Rare does not equate value. Car was an automatic. No premimum. The original intake/armrest and Machine wheels were missing. Sad in two ways. The car was obviously owned by a AMO member who consigned the car. Who should know better that instead of going on about how rare tell the truth at what specific items were missing. And to the poor dealer who forked over $40K and fees.

    • Jim-Bob

      It just goes to show that auctions can be the WORST place to buy a collector car (but the best place to sell one!) I don’t feel too bad for the dealer though as most of them screw enough people to be able to deal with a loss now and then. Then again, it’s an irrational market right now and I am pretty sure he/she will somehow find a greater fool to buy it.

      The Machine wheels never made much sense to me because of the trim ring issue. I just don’t see the benefit in making the trim rings non removable. The only thing AMC did that stands out as worse was not painting the control arms on the front suspension of the original Javelin and AMX.

    • John S

      I was thinking of checking out the Machine at this dealer since I live in the same state. Not being familiar with AMC products, I have to rely on forums such as this for information. Napoli Classics was listing this car for $48,000 then tried to sell it at Mecum where it obviously didn’t meet the reserve price. Now they have it listed for $45,000. I’m not a big fan of all the stainless/chrome under the hood. Looks as though someone may have put a dual snorkel air cleaner on with no rubber gasket to the hood scoop. Also hood scoop flap looks to not be working as there is no vacuum line attached. Another red flag is the exhaust exits at the rear end housing instead of at the bumper. Any ideas as to what a fair price would be for this car? Thanks.

    • John Newell

      First of all, there is no such thing as one of three among Rebel Machines of any colour. Second, solid colour Machines that were four speeds came without armrests. Automatic Machines came with a console, no armrest. The trim rings are not non-removable. They pop off using a carpet knife. There are good aftermarket floor pans. You just have to know where to look. Only one Rebel Machine had an X in the VIN and that was the prototype. The rest all had a Y. There is plenty of after market support now but some things cannot be duplicated. These include exhaust manifolds, Smog equipment and grilles. Intake manifolds aren’t reproduced either but there are still quite a few of them around. The exhaust manifolds can be replaced with Doug Thorley style headers since they were a Group 19 Service Package item.

      Cloning a Machine is still a rare event. There are ways to spot a clone and the frame rail is one of them. However, The Machine was more than a car. It was a concept that AMC developed specifically so that non-Rebels could be transformed into Machines. The only difference need be in the VIN and that difference is found only on the door tag, the windshield trim VIN on the driver’s side and on the ownership. All other parts to make any Rebel into a Machine could be bolted onto the car by anyone skilled with a wrench.

      That means, the only way to really tell if a Machine was an original Machine is by the VIN and the frame rail stamped numbers behind the steering box.

      Like 1
      • Lee Malaspina

        John Newell, automatic transmission Rebel Machines came with an arm rest on the console. 4 speeds had the arm rest with a lower cushion that sat between the bucket seats. Both of my past Machines had one and my present solid color Machine has one. They were the color of the upholstery like any other Rebel with an automatic. Red-White-Blue automatic Machines got the tri color arm rest like all Red-White-Blue Machines.

        This picture is of an automatic, Red-White-Blue machine’s console and arm rest. My present solid color, blue, automatic transmission Machine has the console and arm rest. It is upholstered blue as the rest of the interior.

      • Lee Malaspina

        Don’t forget also that Red-White-Blue paint was AN OPTION that cost $75.00. Not everyone wanted Red-White-Blue paint as I do not want it now. The “Rebel Machine specific” components along with the “Y” VIN character defines the car, NOT the paint and stripe option!

        Like 1
  13. John S

    Yes, that’s the one. Supposedly only 1 of three done in seafoam aqua.

    • John Newell

      There is no documentation to support this. It used to be said that there were only 6 white Machines. Right up until I counted 7 seven of them in 1996 in the space of about five minutes using the registry. More have turned up since. Sea Foam Aqua is a rarer colour than most but to say there were only three is a fiction.

    • Lee Malaspina

      That mysterious information as to how many of what color were built does not exist. This is the only document that I have been able to find relating to “how many of what,” body trim codes and engines.

      Like 1
      • Barbara Schmidt

        Where did you find this engine production sheet for July (what year 69 or 70)??

      • Lee M.

        Barbara, it is 1970. Rebel Machines are a 1970 only model.

  14. AMCFAN

    Yes that is the very car I mentioned. Lots of stuff doesn’t add up on this 59K mile wonder.
    Almost all the Machine specific items are missing from this car.
    The Machine Wheels
    The Nickel plated valve covers with the aluminum engine data tag. Covers on the car are cheap after market that will be sure to rust in no time.
    The Air cleaner assembly. The dual snorkle looks to be from a 71 Javelin incorrectly chromed.
    The R/W/B center armrest
    The Grille is a stock Rebel. It is missing the R/W/B insert
    The guage pod shouldn’t be there . They were used in an AMC but not untill the 77 Hornet AMX. Also used in the 78 Concord AMX Gremlin GT 79/80 AMX
    Lots of incorrect Chrome work. The chassis has been blasted with undercoat. Correctly restored you should see body color on the pans. The exhaust dumps right in front of the rear end. Didn’t spend a little extra to run them out the back like the factory did. Great to breathe exhaust when the windows are down.
    The part that gets me about this car and I do not mean to be going on and on but it was owned by an AMC person (see the two AMO badges in the grille?) and obviously dumped at Mecham. Where Napoli bought it for $40K. It was on TV. Almost every real AMC person I know is honest and would give you the shirt off their back. Why would you do such an incorrect restoration then pass it off on someone? It comes down to the quick buck. The correct parts are out there. There is always someone on the AMC Forum who has that one rare part who would be glad to help a person out.
    So John, If you like the Auqua Velva Machine it would be very safe to say the guys at Napoli would like to have their money back. To have a real Machine to burn up the street this would be a fun car but not at that money then try to add the missing parts. Several questions. Would you want a solid color car? Would you want an automatic trans? When Machine is mentioned the image is always the Red White and Blue. When navigating that 340HP 390 the choice is a fourspeed. These are the cars of choice and hold the greater value and have the wow factor. Several nice Machines have sold in the $25-$35K on ebay. They are out there. Good luck.

    Like 1
    • John S

      Thanks for the info. I agree with you- a red white and blue 4 spd is the way to go with a Machine. Guess I’ll keep looking.

      Like 1
    • Lee Malaspina

      4 speed was base on the Machine. Not everyone likes them (mostly show offs with underpowered cars.) Needing a clutch or brake torque to break tires loose is the sign of a crappy power train.

      Solid color was also base on the Machine. Not everyone wants the RWB so it can look like all the other ones out there.

      The real question is Why does everything have to be a RWB 4 speed? How boring and indicative of no individuality. My Machine is a fine example of this rare vehicle and I wouldn’t change a thing for anyone.

      Like 5
  15. G J STEVENS

    I got a pair of exhaust manifolds and an intake if anyone cares ?

    • John Sch

      Hello GJ Stevens, Do you have the Rebel Machine exhaust manifolds for sale?

      Thanks,
      John Sch…..

  16. Dave T.

    Maybe the AMO badges were just put on to give that “it was owned by a club member so it must be trustworthy” look.

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