Patrick R. Foster and Iconografix have put together a very nice historical photo archive of the high performance AMC cars. No that is not a oxymoron. AMC did build some real high performance cars. Most people think of AMC as builders of small, ugly, low performance grandma cars. From an owner of several let me tell you their reputation is undeserved. Sure they had some cars that meet that criteria but they also built some really hot cars.
Even AMC’s predecessor, the NASH Company built some fast performance cars. NASH was the IMCA Champion for 1950 and 1951.
Can you believe that NASH even built a 2 seat sports car, pictured above a full two years prior to Chevy’s Corvette and four years prior to Ford’s Thunderbird!
The Table of Contents for this book only hints at the valuable content to be found inside.
About the Author
Chapter One – The 1950s
Chapter Two – 1960s
Chapter Three – The 1970s
Chapter Four – The 1980s
Although there is cool and valuable information contained within the book the real value is in the photos. After all, the book is called a photo archive and it pulls images from a lot of areas. There is a wealth of photos of famous race cars and racers. You will not believe all the famous names associated with AMC.
Craig Breedlove in a record-setting AMX. The car ran 175-plus mph!
There was a time when AMC was racing in NASCAR and had some pretty big names at the wheel. Did you know that Roger Penske campaigned an AMC Matador in 1972-73? Who drove for Penske? Mark Donohue and Dave Marcus. The underpowered boxy Matador was not competitive.
The 61 Matador was Mark Donohue’s ride and David Marcus drove number 16.
If the Matador was not a good fit for NASCAR, the Javelin made up for it on the Trans Am tracks. George Follmer and Mark Donohue tore up the road courses and actually won the series championship in 1971 over the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Mopar Barracudas and Challengers.
George Follmer at Lime Rock
In an ad from that period describing the Javelin’s performance: “It’s been clocked at 175 mph, goes from 0 to 60 in under 5 seconds, does the quarter-mile in under 11 seconds.” (This was the race car and not the street version.)
Back in the Day there were events that made car folks drool. They were called “Thrill Shows”; cars jumping ramps, driving on two wheel, crashing through walls of fire and more. One I never saw but read about in this book was remarkable.
Using precise mathematical calculations, they would drive an AMC Javelin over a specially designed ramp at a speed they determined would be sufficient to make it corkscrew in flight, turning completely upside down and around in midair before landing upright on all four wheels.”
The Astro Spiral Javelin was born.
This “Thrill Show” stunt was later recreated and made a part of the James Bond movie The Man With the Golden Gun. This was not computer generated, it is real stunt driving from back in the day!
The Matador did have some good times in NASCAR, in 1975 with Bobby Allison behind the wheel. At the opening race at Riverside International Raceway in California in the Western 500 it was the fastest qualifier and won the race beating David Pearson in his Purolator Mercury. A few weeks later Allison won his 125 qualifying race at Daytona and placed second in the Daytona 500.
Bobby Allison in a Matador at Riverside International Raceway, California.
Mark Donohue Matador
Not all performance was limited to the street, here is the Rebel Machine.
Did you know NASH built a two seat sports car two years before the Corvette and four years before the Thunderbird?
Without financial problems this would have become the AMX2 in the early 70s. What would Corvette have done?
Before you look down you nose at that little AMC built car next to you at the next car show make sure you know your facts. That AMC might just dust off your pony car or muscle car the next time you are on the street. This is a great book check it out.