The Mighty Mite: 1965 AMC M422

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Here’s a vehicle I didn’t know much about before today: an AMC Mighty Mite, also known as the M422, here on eBay. Basically a limited production military vehicle, the Mighty Mite packed tons of innovation into its small, light-weight frame for the short time that it was viable. The seller has a $6,500 Buy-it-Now posted and bidding is light for this non-runner. 

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The Mighty Mite was designed from the start to be swallowed up by the era’s premier helicopters. As the next generation of troop and cargo-carrying choppers began to roll out, the Mighty Mite’s compact size and low weight was made near irrelevant due to increased cargo capacities in the new Huey aircraft. Nevertheless, the M422 featured shift-on-the-fly 4WD, a 65 m.p.h. top speed and the ability to carry 6 people, thanks to a clever tailgate. The front and rear LSDs were significant innovations as well.

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Continuing the theme of being over-engineered, the Mighty Mites could also tackle deep-water fording if need be, rounding out a list of engineering feats that also pushed the price to $5,000 per vehicle. With its short-lived production cycle, only about 4,000 were made. The seller says this example was last registered in 1973, and judging by the license plate and the seller’s mention that he acquired it out of California, this Mighty Mite has done a fair amount of globe trotting despite its early retirement from the roads and trails of America.

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The seller also has not run the vehicle, citing concerns over a recommendation that the head be removed first and the cylinders inspected. He has added new tires, but other than that, this M422 is a blank canvas. Personally, given the rarity and the potential cool factor when it is running again, the BIN price doesn’t offend me – but it’s still a big bite for an unusual project with lots of trick features to test and inspect for proper operation. Have any of our readers ever driven one?

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Comments

  1. JW

    Never driven one but sure would like to tackle this project but looking at a pickup Saturday so toys are out for now. Nice find IMO.

    • Jim

      I had one and drove it. The cylinders are chrome lined and it is an air cooled V-4. Originally was designed for a Porsche engine but the military required an American engine which is why it is an AMC. This is not a bad one, still has the boxes behind the seats which are usually cut out to make more room. Someone will have fun if the price is right.

  2. Rancho Bella

    I am a fan of small four wheel drive vehicles. But, where on earth do you find parts for this gem.
    All knowing? please chime in.

    • Bill

      Surplus city in Oroville California

  3. Steve B.

    Didn’t clowns drive these in circuses back in the day?

    • Gary Oliver

      Steve

      We drove these in the Marine Corps during the early 60s. I remember these and the Mules fondly. We weren’t in a circus, we were serving our country and we certainly weren’t clowning around.

      Like 2
      • Bobsmyuncle

        Best response on the internet EVER. LOL.

        Like 1
      • Wayne S.K.

        WORD Gary, and God Bless you… ;)

        Like 1
      • Ed

        TVs Industry On Parade 1953 Military counterpart featured the Mule. I love to hear I real critique of it
        Ed

        Like 1
  4. DavidLMM

    The ergonomics are awful if you’re over 5’7″ or so. The relationship between the seat, wheel, and pedals are just not right. It was designed by American front-wheel drive pioneer Ben Gregory, and the prototypes used a Porsche-designed air-cooled flat four.
    http://www.lanemotormuseum.org/collection/cars/item/amc-m422-mighty-mite-1960

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Given that description I’m curious about the suspension design.

      • Smokey

        I had one for several years, they had independent leading and trailing arm suspension riding in teflon bearing trunnions. Went all over Baja California, Mexico many times. Great for that, smoothest ride ever for a 4×4 and the air cooled V4 engine never overheated. One problem, the trunnion bearing holders were cast aluminum and broke after some hard use, solved this by machining my own out of steel pipe and replacing the original ones. Sure wish I had kept it.

  5. Peregrine Lance

    I will trade pink slips (mine belonging to my ’95 Sidekick–in pristine condition) with anyone who can drive a roadworthy Mighty Mite into my driveway.

  6. Dan

    I believe one episode of Pawn Stars featured a restored one, they were mostly built out of aluminum, made for the Marines.

    http://lasvegasbadger.blogspot.com/2011/12/pawn-stars-review-december-19-2011.html

    Season 5 Episode 8 “Pony Up”

  7. jimbosidecar

    The motor sure doesn’t look to be a 4 cyl

    • Bill

      V-4 air cooled

  8. AMC STEVE

    These are much sought after from the Jeep crowd. That price is pretty fair from what I’ve seen. They are getting really hard to find and this ones in great condition

  9. Peregrine Lance

    No, Steve! You’re goin’ the wrong direction. You’re supposed to say: “What a notorious piece of junk! Better swap it for that guy’s Suzuki, while you have a chance.”

  10. AMC STEVE

    Haha, oh yeah sorry

  11. Bill

    Yes I have driven one and they are great! My Brother has owned one for years. They are air cooled V4 engines. Most likely the warning about removing the head before starting the engine again is because they have the special lining in the cylinders like Porshe 928’s. Sorry I do not remember the materials name right now but it can separate if the engine sits for long periods causing big issues on restart. Best to inspect first

  12. Mike

    The M422 was designed for the U.S. Marine Corps to fill the requirement of a small, lightweight, low profile, highly maneuverable vehicle. What the Marines got was a vehicle that did just that, and gave incredible off-road performance as well. The Mighty-Mite was developed by Mid-America Research Corp., but was perfected and produced by American Motors from 1959-63.
    My Uncle was a Marine for most of his adult life it seems, he retired in 1993 with 35 years service. He actual bought one of these while still in the service, and other than the fact it was slow as a snail, I think the top speed with a good wind pushing you down hill was like 50mph, but it would go anywhere he wanted it to and with the snorkel it could cross a pretty deep river or creek, of course the people in it would get wet!!!!.
    Sadly after he passed away a few years ago, my cousins sold it cheap, and it was in great shape, but they did not care about the family valve it had to my Dad and Aunts or the rest of the family.

  13. Mike Platzer

    Had one it was the best little Mite ever never failed and always tuned heads sold mine of over $10k about 9 years ago whish I had kept it !

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