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The AMX in Mexico - Alternative Performance (Read 1504 times)
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The AMX in Mexico - Alternative Performance
11/22/09 at 04:46:54
 
Here is a resumed piece of VAM history that I think many board members would be interested in, the Mexican AMXs, all models. It takes a while to read but I hope you enjoy it. I am sorry I am not including any pictures, I might do later on but so far I can't guarantee it.  
 
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The two seater AMX made by AMC from 1968 through 1970 was not available in Mexico by VAM. The company had introduced the Javelin in 1968, this being the first time it ever had more than two product lines in a year, which always were the Rambler Classic and the Rambler American. Government regulations as well as market size and restrictions made it impossible to have the two-seat model available locally. It wasn't even possible to import it because of the 1962 decree which banned most of automotive importation.
 
American Motors performance in Mexico came with the name Javelin, which had no designation of any kind. Through years, the Javelin became the most well-known, desired and respected VAM (and AMC) car of all times, the one for both marques are most remembered for.  
 
However by 1973 VAM needed a free space and an assembly line to introduce the Gremlin. They already had a car line restricted to three body styles, the Rambler American (Hornet, all except hatchback); they already had a car line restricted to two body styles, the Classic (Matador); and finally the line with only one body style, the Javelin. The Gremlin was a one-body-style line and with the upcoming introduction of the 1974 Matador coupe, VAM considered it could use this model as a replacement for the Javelin as the top-of-the-line performance model and image maker. So the decision was made, VAM discontinued the Javelin after the 1973 model year and for the next, introduced two new products: the Gremlin and the CLASSIC AMX.  
 
That's right, Classic AMX. Because the names "Rambler Classic" and "Classic" had a very good image in the Mexican auto market VAM decided to keep them for the Rebel and Matador lines, the same idea went to the Hornet which kept the Rambler American name. Thus, the Matador coupe would be granted the Classic name, but also it would be the first model in Mexico to have the AMX designation.  
 
The Rebel hardtops were known in all years as Rambler Classic SST, and so were the 1971 Matador hardtops. However, sales of the hardtop plummeted in 1970 and 1971, VAM had to offer something new to keep the line going. For 1972 VAM launched the hardtop as a completely new version called Classic Brougham. This edition is what I consider to be the Mexican equivalent to the 1970 Rebel Machine and 1971 Matador Machine. It came standard with the 200 bhp 282 cubic inches inline six cylinder with 9.5:1 compression ratio, automatic transmission with Javelin console and shifter, power steering, power brakes (disks in the front, drums in the rear), front sway bar, factory heating and ventilation system, multiplex AM FM stereo radio, reclining bucket seats, sports steering wheel, wide tires and vinil top. Only 300 units of the Classic Brougham were produced, which unfortunately didn't work for VAM. That meant that it would not return for 1973. In fact, there was no Matador two-door for 1973, just the four door now called Classic DPL.  
 
The Matador coupe was intended at all means to become VAM's new performance image after the Javelin, as well as a come back in the intermetiate size two-door market. Thus, to give model a NEW appeal they gave it a new designation, AMX, the height of AMC perfomance.  
 
The Classic AMX wasn't alone, it was accompanied by a new Classic Brougham also on the coupe model, which was completely different from the 1972 version. The Classic AMX was very similar and comparable to the AMC Matador X; it came standard with five spoke wheels with trim rings and full center caps, sport side stripes, individual high back bucket seats (no reclining available), power front disk brakes, power steering, 282 cubic inches six cylinder engine with 8.5:1 compression ratio and double barrel carb., front sway bar, dashboard clock, 200 kilometers per hour speed-o-meter, sports steering wheel, center console with armrest/compartment and spaces for the seat belt locks (the same as the humpster Javelin), automatic transmission on floor with the same shifter and selector as the Javelin. Here, the Classic AMX inherits several items from the second generation Javelin. One curious thing, however, was that the door panels and door armrests were the same as the 1974 base model and Brougham AMC Matador coupes.
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Mauricio Jordán Márquez

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Re: The AMX in Mexico - Alternative Performance
Reply #1 - 11/22/09 at 04:48:13
 
For 1975, the VAM Classic AMX started gaining an identity of it's own, moving away from the VAM Javelin ties and getting closer to the AMC Matador X. For this year changes were numerous. The clock was replaced by the Vacuum gauge. The Javelin shifter and console were replaced with the correct Matador coupe console and shifter. Electronic ignition appeared as standard equipment, which lowered the 282's compression ratio to 8.0:1. The door panels and armrests were changed to the correct Matador X units. One particular and unique characteristic of the VAM models is the etching of the "AMX" name on the top right corner of the door panel's vinyl. Virtually, there are no other differences with the 1974 models.  
 
For 1976, changes were very few. The Classic got the new grille and parking lights design of the 1976 AMC Matador coupe. The mark of the speed-o-meter went down to 160 kilometers per hour. This car is the first Mexican AMX to incorporate reclining front seats (as standard equipment). Also, the design of the seats for this year changed to a modified version of the AMC Oleg Cassini Matador. This seat design was standard equipment and was also available on the 1976/77 VAM Pacers. As far as I know, there were no other changes this year.
 
Unlike VAM expected, the VAM Classic AMX failed in its dual missions of succeeding the Javelin as an image builder and as the company’s top of the line performance. While the 282-equipped mid-size coupe did not perform badly, it was not extraordinary. After the Javelin was discontinued, it was the Mexican equivalent of the Hornet X/Rallye X, the VAM Rambler American Rally and later VAM American Rally, who took the performance scepter for the company as well as the orb of image building. Sales always were below the Javelin. Today, for every VAM Classic AMX you find, there are three first generation VAM Javelins to be found and six second generation VAM Javelins. It is also one of the most unknown and forgotten VAM products, which is a testament of company image-making. Due to slow sales and aging image, the whole Classic line was discontinued at the end of the 1976 model year.  
 
This meant the “AMX” designation was gone too; VAM performance was now marked by the American Rally and Gremlin X models from here on. The “AMX” designation was not used for 1977 but it would return for the next year. For 1978 VAM would expand the American (Concord) line to four body styles. How the company would be able to do this and if the government regulations allowed it to happen is still unknown to me. The thing is that for 1978 the hatchback body style would be available for the first time in Mexico. The new body would be the replacement of the American Rally, which became the AMERICAN RALLY AMX, the second Mexican AMX. This model was none other than the AMC Concord AMX for 1978.  
 
The 1978 American Rally AMX was very similar to the AMC Concord AMX, but it had several of its own characteristics. The car was restricted to the 282 cubic inches six cylinder engine with 8.0:1 compression ratio and a Motorcraft two barrel carburetor. It came standard with the TREMEC 170-F four-speed-manual transmission with Hurst linkage. The car had a T-shaped Hurst shifter. The three speed automatic transmission was available as optional equipment. The car had wood grain panels on the dashboard instead of the brushed aluminum panels. The tachometer was a VAM-designed digital unit instead of the AMC analog unit. The speed-o-meter was rated at 140 kilometers per hour instead of the 90 miles per hour speed-o-meter. Power disk brakes and power steering were standard equipment, as were the reclining individual bucket seats with a VAM design. Some units had the original AMC-designed Concord AMX grille incorporating round parking lights but others had a VAM designed grille incorporating vertical rectangular parking lights over a smaller mesh grille having some lines on top. Both grille designs incorporated the AMX center emblem, but it did not come in red-white-blue. It came in chrome edges and the internal part of the letters was painted black. The paint scheme was the same as the Concord AMX with minor differences. The “Hornet AMX” hood decal was not present in the Mexican car. The AMC-designed side stripes were accompanied by VAM-designed “Rally AMX” decals located below the rear side windows. The door panels were the same as all 1976-1978 base model VAM Americans (Hornets and Concords), also the wheel designs were inhouse VAM.
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Mauricio Jordán Márquez

1981 VAM Rally GT - 185 HP 282 Six, Hurst Four Speed, Power Brakes, Power Steering, sway bars,
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Re: The AMX in Mexico - Alternative Performance
Reply #2 - 11/22/09 at 04:49:24
 
The car was a better performer than the Classic AMX, even becoming the NATIONAL CHAMPION of the Comisión Nacional de Rallies of the 1978 season. This is possibly the reason why VAM carried it over for 1979, with major changes that moved it away from the original AMC Concord AMX. The new 1979 American Rally AMX got the dual quad headlights with chromed plastic bezels and the single piece parking lights below the two headlights. The grille design for this year was also VAM’s design. The paint scheme changed completely. Bumpers were now blacked-out instead of body-colored. The paint scheme was changed to a new VAM design incorporating three-tone stripes that housed the designation “AMX” over the word “Rally” at both sides of the car below the rear side windows. These stripes were partially covered up by the wheel flares. In the interior, the car incorporated the 1979 AMC Spirit AMX full-length console with armrest, back passenger ashtray and rallye pak, replacing the compartment-based console and the independent rallye pak cluster. The T-handle Hurst shifter was replaced by the AMC four-speed shifter with a brown resin knob with the blacked out gear indicator on top. Door panels were changed one again to another VAM design, this time incorporating low carpeting. The side armrests were changed to the new ones for 1979. One of the unique characteristics of the 1979 American Rally AMX is the antenna, located on top of the passenger side rear quarter panel.  
 
The Concord hatchback body style was dropped at the end of the 1979 model year just like AMC did, VAM was looking forward to move the sports model to a new body style for 1980, the Spirit coupe. This way, the Mexican AMX changed from being a separate body style inside the American (Concord) line to its own separate line for 1980. The name changed from American Rally AMX to just Rally AMX, the THIRD AMX for Mexico.  
 
The 1980 Rally AMX kept the same standard equipment as the prior two years plus the new items for the body style: factory power brakes, factory power steering, front and rear sway bars, stiffer shocks, 282 inline six cylinder engine with double barrel Motorcraft carburetor and 8.0:1 compression ratio, new model TREMEC 176-F four speed manual transmission with Hurst linkage, individual reclining bucket seats with headrests, split rear seat back, light group (courtesy, glove box, ashtray and hood), dashboard with wood grain panels, 180 kilometers per hour speed-o-meter, heating and ventilation, digital tachometer, sports steering wheel, AM Radio, roof-mounted antenna, center console with Rallye Pak and armrest with rear ashtray, blacked-out dual remote mirrors, blacked-out B pillars and door window frames, blacked-out rocker panels, electronic ignition, five spoke wheels, blacked-out bumpers, electric trunk release and side scuff moldings.  
 
1980 optional equipment included automatic transmission, rear spoiler, reading dome light, three speed wipers, rear defroster, air conditioning, eight spoke steel wheels, AM FM stereo radio, electric antenna and trunk cover.
 
This was the base of all VAM Spirits from 1980 through 1983 with some accessory changes from 1981 onward. The 1978-1983 VAM AMXs were the highest factory oriented performance models of AMC for Mexico as the 1979-1980 AMC Spirit AMX and 1981-1983 AMC Eagle SX/4 were not available. They also were the cars with the strongest image building of the company since the demise of the Javelin. In the present-day AMC hobby in Mexico the Javelin is the grand all-time favorite of the marque, but the Mexican AMXs (along with the non-AMX Rally models) are the most abundant in the hobby on par with real volume sellers like the Concord-based VAM American and the Spirit-sedan-based VAM Gremlin.  
 
This is a short story on the Mexican AMX models launched by VAM, which made a hybrid between the performance history and tradition of AMC and that of the Mexican auto industry of the second half of the 20th Century.  
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Mauricio Jordán Márquez

1981 VAM Rally GT - 185 HP 282 Six, Hurst Four Speed, Power Brakes, Power Steering, sway bars,
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Re: The AMX in Mexico - Alternative Performance
Reply #3 - 11/22/09 at 13:36:58
 
Thank you.  
Ralph
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