American Motors is remembered today mainly for plain, boring economy cars. But in the AMC styling studios, at least, there was plenty of excitement. MCG takes a long look back at American Motors design with a big photo gallery.
Regulars here at Mac’s Motor City Garage are familiar with the Dreams and Nightmares schtick. In this series, we look back at both the best and worst from the manufacturers’ styling studios, but mainly without judgments. Dream or nightmare is often in the eye of the beholder. And either way, good or bad, automotive design is usually interesting.
And this is for sure: The dream cars and concepts that came out of the design studios at American Motors (and before AMC, Nash and Hudson) were interesting. No doubt about that. As the smallest of the Big Four, as the major domestic automakers were then called, AMC had to innovate or die.
The AMC strategy was actually formalized in the company’s “Philosophy of Difference” as defined by CEO Roy Chapin, Jr. The little automaker had no hope trying to copy or compete with Plymouth or Pontiac with their massive economies of scale. AMC had to go its own way, inventing its own market segments in order to survive. The AMX two-seater and the Pacer were both products of this hit-’em-where-they-ain’t approach to car design.
Well, we know how this turns out: American Motors was slowly strangled to death by market forces and absorbed into Chrysler in 1987. But in the meantime, the company produced some wonderfully creative and original designs, both with its own talented stylists, including Chuck Mashigan and Richard Teague, and in collaboration with the industry’s top independent designers—Richard Arbib, Battista Pininfarina, and Brooks Stevens, to name but a few.
Dreams or nightmares? In each case, we leave that for you to decide. But either way, AMC produced some memorable auto designs. Gallery below.