The Classic 1970 AMC AMX Muscle Car
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When it comes to classic cars, plenty of people recognize the greats, such as the 1964 Pontiac GTO, the 1965 Shelby Mustang GT-350, the1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88, among a few others. Mention the AMC AMX and most people will simply stare at you perplexed.
But don’t get it twisted, because this rare classic muscle car sells for between $35,000 and $85,000 depending on the refurbishing job. If you’re lucky, you might find one that looks like it belongs in a junkyard for around $6,500.
It’s this kind of value that ends up making classic cars like the AMX a target of theft.
How does such a hot car get lost in car history?
What’s the background behind this manual classic car?
The American Motors Corporation’s (AMC) AMX is a two-seat GT-style muscle car that was produced between 1968 and 1970. The AMX was originally intended to be a direct competitor to the Chevy Corvette, making it one of just two American-built two-seat models of its kind.
Not only had AMC wanted to compete against Chevy, but it also aspired to compete against the “Big Three.”
In January 1968, two-track-worthy AMXs driven by world land record holder Craig Breedlove and Ron Dykes set 106 new world speed and endurance records at the Goodyear Proving Grounds in San Angelo, Texas.
Of course, these performance trials were primarily a promotional gimmick intended to spark interest in the car before it officially hit showrooms.
On top of being a record-setter, the AMC AMX was named the “best engineered car of the year” by the American Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in 1969 and 1970.
The SAE cited the car’s injection-molded single-piece dashboard, which was an industry first. The AMX was also the first automobile to feature tempered glass windshields that crumbled into small granules rather than large shards.
Despite offering a powerful V8 engine and a sporty look for an affordable price, it never experienced thriving sales. However, thanks to an enthusiastic initial reception by auto aficionados and the media, AMC succeeded in bringing younger buyers to dealer showrooms.
The two-seat AMX’s signature badge was later handed off to the Javelin, a high-performance four-seat sibling.
Interestingly enough, despite classic car prices steadily declining, certain models like the 1969 Javelin by the now-defunct American Motors Company saw consecutive gains in the past few years — even during the pandemic.
One owner’s amped-up AMX is worth nearly $80,000
The founder and CEO of Cast Management, Jeff Castelaz, loves to drive his souped-up 1970 AMC AMX muscle car all around Los Angeles.
Besides being fun to drive, Castelaz probably gets a kick out of always being asked “What is that thing,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The article states that he purchased his first AMX for $2,500, selling later on down the line for $30,000.
“Right before the pandemic, I bought my second AMC AMX from a vintage dealer in Sioux City, Iowa. I bought it for $40,000, and have probably put that much into it. At the beginning of the pandemic, I started rebuilding this car,” Castelaz told The Wall Street Journal.
Whatever the music executive put into his 1970 AMC AMX muscle car that was worth $40,000, it’s apparently a head-turner in Los Angeles — not an easy feat.
Rare and expensive classics are a favorite target of thieves
With classic manual cars like the AMX valued at $30,000 on average and $100,000 on the high end, they’ve become targets of car thieves.
Most stolen classic muscle cars likely get hacked to pieces at chop shops where the spare parts are sold online to honest collectors. Another portion is driven around by joyriders who either can’t or won’t spend that much money.
Not only that, but classic cars are usually easier to steal than the newer computer-driven models.
Gone in 60 seconds is a literal possibility when all a potential thief needs to steal your classic is a flathead screwdriver. And with how fast your car can be chopped up for parts, police would have a hard time recovering it.
It’s not to say there aren’t a few lucky owners who have gotten their pride and joy back. One Ohio resident named Tom Laskowski is a perfect example of someone who was just that lucky.
In 2012, his 1968 Pontiac Tempest was stolen by someone driving a tow truck — the entire tragic event caught on CCTV. But the surveillance footage did little in the way of helping law enforcement locate the vehicle.
Laskowski had put in a 650-horsepower engine, as well as a Turbo 400 transmission with a trans-brake. None of that was for show, either; he raced the car regularly. In addition to that, he added hundreds of accessories which led to him investing $100,000 into the car altogether.
Laskowski and those who knew him never gave up looking for his car. In November 2020, that persistence paid off when a friend of his saw a 1968 Pontiac Tempest sitting in someone’s driveway. Upon closer inspection, they knew it was his because of all the unique modifications Laskowski made.
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