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Vehicle to be offered for Auction sale January 27th – 31st, 2016 at Russo and Steele’s 16th Annual Scottsdale Arizona Auction. Please contact us for more information.
Anxious to shed its stodgy reputation during the 1960s, American Motors launched a daring assault on the fast-growing and lucrative youth market with a series of prototypes and exciting show cars. While a sporty “ponycar” which became the Javelin was envisioned, a bold two-seat version to challenge Chevrolet’s Corvette was also in the works. Developed at AMC’s advanced styling studios in October 1965, the first AMX prototype – short for American Motors experimental – was developed under Charles Mashigan, a leading contributor to Ford’s original Thunderbird and Chrysler’s Turbine. A fiberglass-bodied, unpowered “roller,” the AMX joined “Project IV,” a touring group of show cars, and wowed spectators at the February 1966 Chicago Auto Show with its taut bodylines, sleek fastback roofline, and rumble seat, dubbed the “Rambleseat.” Next, AMC commissioned a steel-bodied, running AMX prototype from Italian coachbuilder Vignale for display at New York just three months later.
As the first prototype AMX continued to generate enthusiasm at it toured the country, AMC management was suitably encouraged to approve further development, enlisting outside contractors Smith Inland of Ionia, Michigan to build a small group of the distinctive fiberglass bodies differing in fine details from the original AMX show car. While the number of fiberglass AMXs that were built remains unclear today since AMC’s proving ground archives were purged following Chrysler’s late-1980s takeover, it is believed that just two were ultimately created. However, it is known that these fiberglass-bodied prototypes were fitted with powertrains and tested at the AMC proving grounds. This fascinating vehicle is one of those cars.
While exciting and fast, the AMX test program ultimately discouraged AMC from continuing with fiberglass bodywork and steel panels were utilized on the production models. Safety concerns overruled the rumble seat as well. Once the AMX progressed to the assembly line in 1967 for its highly anticipated launch for 1968, the fiberglass prototypes – which were never intended for road use – were slated for destruction. One is reported to have been unceremoniously burned and the other, the car offered here, was spared, thanks to Domenick Jiardine, Jr., an assembly line worker at American Motors’ Kenosha, Wisconsin Lake Front Plant in 1971.
Dubbed “The Plastic Prototype,” this 1966 American Motors AMX Prototype is an amazing artifact with a truly fascinating story. Having heard about the cars and the destruction of one of them, Jiardine decided to try and alter their destiny. Boldly, Jiardine walked right up to the visiting William Luneburg, then-president of American Motors, and inquired about the cars. His request was that if the cars were indeed sitting on the chopping block, that Luneburg should instead just give one of the cars to him. To Jiardine’s amazement, he received a call a week later letting him know that the surviving car was his if he still wanted it at a purchase price of $50. An entire, complete and functional car for $50! Needless to say, Jiardine was stunned. The sales receipt stated, “…one (1) scrap fiberglass body… without title or serial number.” Not listed on the document is the experimental and unstamped 343 cubic-inch V-8 engine and four-speed manual transmission that were housed inside the “scrap body.” Other features include dual exhaust and power brakes, a fire extinguisher, chrome mirrors, and a Trans-Am Red paint finish – one of about seven coats of varying colors applied to the car during its early prototype days.
With a sensational piece of American automotive history in his possession, Jiardine did what most would under the circumstances and kept it for years under wraps in his garage. However, he could not resist adding a few miles to the odometer during his time with the car. Following the eventual passing of Domenick Jiardine in 2012, the prototype has remained with his extended family. As the sole surviving fiberglass AMX prototype, it stands as a unique and formative specimen of one of the most exciting performance cars ever designed and built in America during the 1960s and a fitting testament to the man who saved it from destruction so many years ago.
SOLD ON BILL OF SALE