AMC – Everything You Need to Know | Up to Speed
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AMC – Everything You Need to Know | Up to Speed

(engine revving) – It’s the indecisive underdog
that couldn’t figure out what kind of car company it wanted to be. While the big three was running Detroit, this little indie outfit
quietly made (beep) cars in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Any Kingfish fans in the building? Yeah dude, I love heading
out to Simmons Field, grabbing a brew and a
brat at Uncle Mike’s Pub, don’t cha know? I do know. And you know what else? These guys made better cars than their motor city competitors, from sick muscle cars, to the original all-wheel
drive crossovers, to revolutionary hour-long T.V. dramas. This is everything you need to know to get up to speed on AMC. (upbeat arcade music) (horse whinnying) (intense dramatic music) – Hey James. What are you doing? – Trying to open this can of
NOS Energy Drink with my mind. (rising intense dramatic music) (can tab popping) And that, is how you use your brainpower to get your baby boy Nolan to open your can of NOS Energy Drink. Now, back to the show. (intense dramatic music) (electronic beeping) American Motors formed in 1954, when Hudson Motors and Nash-Kelvinator did the fusion dance and joined forces. Hudson made good cars,
but they couldn’t afford to redesign everything every year like all the bigger
auto makers were doing. Nash-Kelvinator made refrigerators. And those little metropolitan cars. So, it seemed like a good
idea for the two of them to team up and make
smallish cars together. It was a huge corporate merger, I’m talking the biggest in the history of history at this point. (playful jazz music) We definitely underestimated
how big of a story AMC has, so if I miss anything
and you wanna know about another AMC car, let me
know in the comments. Anyway, after the merger the two companies started
calling themselves American Motors Corporation. Fancy. And for the first few years their cars were badged and
sold as Hudson’s and Nash’s. They started combining platforms and they debuted a new
Hudson Hornet and a Wasp. You know the Hornet from that
adorable cartoon car movie, what was it called? It had, it had all those cars with eyes. Uh, Transformers? No, no, uh, it was like, cars. Uh, Herbie: Fully Loaded? It’s cars. It’s literally cars. Uh, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Cars! Why are you telling at me? I don’t know! I don’t know either! I’m sorry! Thank you! Now back to the show? Yeah, back to the show! Apparently, they thought
people wanted cars named after terrifying
bugs, like that movie… Herbie: Fully Loaded? (James shushing) And I guess that people
were more okay with Hornets than they were Wasps because the Wasp was dead by 1956. Have you guys ever had wasp honey? It tastes like Sriracha. You could buy a Rambler model at either a Nash or a Hudson dealership. Just like you could buy an identical Neons at both Plymouth and Dodge dealerships. The companies CEO George W. Romney, yup, Mitt Romney’s dad, realized this arrangement was dumb and decided to brand all the
cars as Ramblers in 1958. Except for the tiny metropolitan that was imported from England. That was deemed weird enough to stand on its own as a Metropolitan. The first all-new car AMC
produced following the merger was the Rambler Rebel in 1957. It had a 255 HRSPR, 327 cubic
inch V8, and dual exhaust. (engine rumbling) There’s not gonna be any
leaders in this episode Euros, because, this is America,
and American car company. With a 17 second quarter mile, the Rebel was advertised
as the quickest 4-door to hit 60 miles per,
in America at the time. The Rebel was supposed to come with this brand new
electronic fuel injection called the Bendix Electrojector System. But, it had some bad bugs
that couldn’t be worked out and the feature was
dropped before production. With a name like Bendix,
it’s probably for the best. In 1958, they also launched
the Rambler American Which was actually the 3
year old 1955 Nash Rambler. That is the only time that an old car was successfully reintroduced
and sold as a new car again. Good job, Romney. There were also a couple of big cars called the Classic and the Ambassador. ♪ The brand new ’61 Rambler Classic ♪ ♪ The compact car most useful to you ♪ In 1959, AMC hired Dick Teague. There’s nothing funny about that. (snorts quietly) So, Dick Teague, talented
guy with a not funny name had worked at GM, Packard, and Chrysler. He was known for designing
incredibly good-looking cars with tiny budgets, something AMC really needed because they were always broke. You don’t hear much
about these cars today, but at the time, Rambler was the best-selling
name plate in the state. And remember, these guys are independent. AMC was taking on the big three. Around 1965, the company decided to start changing direction a bit and started making more large cars. The 2 door Rambler Marlin was developed to be a fancier, bigger
alternative to the Ford Mustang or Plymouth Barracuda. It had a really, really cool badge too. You know I have a soft
spot for buff horses, but that’s one buff fish. In 1966, they decided to move away from the Rambler moniker altogether and finally started badging cars with their patriotic family
name, American Motors. 1968 was the start of AMC’s glory years, when they started making 2
of their best known models. The Javelin and the AMX. (engine revving) (tires squealing) Dick Teague used his mad skills to
design the first-gen Javelin as a sleek, semi-fastback coupe
everyone could appreciate. AMC just didn’t have the funds
to make multiple body styles like you could get with
the Mustang and the Camaro. But, they made up for it
by making a dang good car. The Javelin was a roomier,
totally respectable, and affordable competitor
in the pony car market. And you can still get ’em for cheap. (computer errors chiming) It also had a really cool badge. The closest thing we have
to a really cool badge now? The stingray on the Corvette and the stinger badge on the Kia Stinger. Honestly, two coolest badges
in the game right now. Fight me in the comments. You can get a Javelin with a straight six but the one that you wanted, was the one with the V8, baby. The appropriately named ‘Go Package’ got you a 343 cubic inch V8, making 280 Horse Powers. (engine revving)
(tires squealing) The AMX was released 6 months later, along with the new 390 cubic inch V8 you could get in either car. Making 315 HRSPRS. (engine revving) (tires squealing) The AMX had only two seats
and one foot less sheet metal between its front rear
wheels than the Javelin. That meant it was extra sporty. AMX stood for American
Motors Experimental. (yells aggressively) (unified voices shouting)
(faint flute music) Since no other US car companies were making two-seater sports cars, the AMX was actually
considered a direct competitor to the ‘Vette. And the ‘Vette didn’t really
have another competitor. It still doesn’t. We made a whole episode
of Wheelhouse about it, I’ll put the link in
the description below. The Society of Automotive
Engineers even named the AMX Best Engineered Car of the Year. It featured cool new safety stuff like 3-point seatbelts and
thinner, lighter safety glass that shattered into tiny
little pieces in an accident so your windshield didn’t
slice your face off. Neat! AMC was keen on making
the AMX a performance hit even before it went on sale. The AMX broke over 100 land-speed records, driven by racer Craig Breedlove. Yes! That name rules. (vehicle revving) Famous drag racers Lou Downing and Shirley “Drag-On Lady” Shahan drove ’em at the Strip. Yes! Cool names. And AMX almost won an FCCA Championship. And another came in 5th
in the Cannonball Run. You can even rent one from Hertz. Hey Nolan, can you come here? – Hey James. – Hey do you want a Hertz donut? – Yes! (fist punching) Ow. – Hertz, donut?
– [Nolan] Yeah. – Penske racing did well with Mark Donohue driving the Javelin Trans-Am well enough that AMC homologated a special
edition Mark Donohue Javelin to legally get a rear
spoiler onto the race cars. To bump up the cars profiles
even more on the street, AMC added the big bad, the
highlighter tone paint options on the AMX and Javelin. Big bad orange, big bad blue, and big bad green. These are some of the rarest
and most collectible AMCs in the world right now. Everyone at AMC was so
stoked on the AMX and Javelin that they went full force and built a mid-engine concept car, (yells loudly) the stunning AMX/3
debuted in Italy in 1969. The lucky folks who got to
drive the handmade prototype said the performance was world-class. The company brass authorized
production of thirty cars as the brand’s new flagship model. But the cost to build
them kept getting heavier for the small auto maker, while the corporate piggy
bank kept getting lighter. So, (sighs heavily) we didn’t get that
mid-engine American supercar. We did get some other sick,
super rare AMC muscle cars. The ’69 Hurst SC/Rambler was a sleeper in every sense of the word. Except for the red,
white, and blue paint job, the big, old hood scoop with the vacuum-operated butterfly valve, and the fact that it’s
really, really, really loud. Colby? (loud engine revving) The regular Rambler was
never a performance car, but this one had the
buff 390 cubic inch V8 pushing its compact body around. AMC built around 1,200 of ’em. And they turned out to be the quickest cars
that the company ever built. They were so quick, that people started
calling them ‘Scramblers’. People are clever. Then came the 1970 Rebel Machine. The same big V8 went in
the AMC’s mid-size 2 door. Only this baby made 340 buff
horses and 430 TUERCKSPRS. That was even more than the AMX. The Cold Air package added
a big nostril-ed hood scoop with a tachometer mounted on the hood, facing the driver. Around 2,300 of these were made. And most of ’em were painted
in red, white, and blue. By 1971, the muscle car market
was already in steep decline, and so were AMC’s profits. But they didn’t want to give
up on making performance cars. Their answer was to raid the parts bin to build the understated Hornet SC/360. The Hornet was their new compact car, so they dropped in an
existing 360 cubic inch V8, then added a hood scoop,
and a little white stripe to let people know
something was different. AMC hoped to build 10,000 of these, but things were so bad,
that they only made 784. As a a guy who’s owned a bunch of golfs, I want one of these. Around this time, AMC took
over production of Jeeps, Including their military
and postal contracts, that meant they also acquired
all of Jeep’s profits, which would help the
independent company stay afloat. Meanwhile, the two-seater
AMX was killed off and the second gen Javelin
debuted with bulging fenders and even more muscle bound looks. The AMX name became a high-performance
Javelin package instead, and Penske racing took the
updated car to back-to-back Trans-Am Championships. Trans-Am cars are by far my
favorite looking race cars In 1971, the mid-size
Matador was introduced with 2 door, 4 door,
and wagon body styles. It was advertised as an all-new car, but it was really a gussied up Rebel with a bigger front end and an Ambassador back end The 2 door was called the “Flying Brick” because it had terrible
aerodynamics for racing. Even though the Matador
wasn’t truly brand new they were good cars, that
buyers tended to overlook. And they still tend to overlook them, there’s a few on Craigslist right now. I think they’re pretty slick. They look like cartoons. Dick Teague. (electronic beeping) It’s not funny. It’s not funny. What are you doing? You’re like… 34 years old, grow up. Now back to the story! Just do it. Now back to the story! You got it. Okay, you got it. Dick Teague (snorts loudly) Mister Teague and Mark Donohue redesigned the frumpy 2 door “Flying Brick” into a sleek and sexy
second gen Matador Coupe. It looked so good, that it
won Best Styled Car for 1974 from Car and Driver. Then, came the AMC with possibly the
greatest name of all time, the Gremlin. It was America’s first
domestic built sub compact car. The backseat was optional
and only big enough for kids. It was weirdly nose heavy
despite being rear-wheel drive, but that’s probably ’cause
it had a real flat butt. Just like me. (faint coughing) In 1975, the Mirthmobile was introduced as the first wide small car. Did I say Mirthmobile? I meant Pacer. Wayne’s World was one of
my first favorite movies. It looked like a fishbowl, and was originally
designed to run a rotary. Which AMC had contracted
to start building in 1973. But rotaries hit the gas tank hard, and the oil crisis put
the kibosh on that plan. So instead, the Pacer used
a couple of inline 6 engines and a couple of flames made it cool enough to be Garth Algar’s ride. Again, Wayne’s World reference. I know a lot of you guys are too young, but I love that movie. You wanna be like big bro? Watch Wayne’s World. In the late 70s, things weren’t going great for AMC. They replaced the Gremlin and Hornet with the Spirit and the Concord. But it had to recall over 300,000 cars at a cost of 3 million dollars. So they decided to partner with Renault, and started selling Renault
5’s as Le cars here in the US. In exchange, Renault
got a 22.5 stake in AMC. That helped spike sales
and profits back up even though the economy was turning down. But AMC was still building their own cars in their inefficient
Kenosha, Wisconsin Plant. For the 1980 year, they
launched AMC Eagle versions of the Spirit and Concord as their new 4-wheel drive line. (engine revving)
(tires squealing) – [Cameraman] Much Better. – There was a coupe, there was a hatchback, there was a sedan, there was a wagon. So many sport-utility
crossovers to choose from. You want a sick FWD-er no one else has? Find yourself an old AMC Eagle, kids. They’re still cheap. For some reason, things quickly
took a turn for the worse, and sales plummeted. Renault took a controlling
stake in the company, which made American Motors
Corporation a lot less… American. The Spirit and the Concord
were done by the end of 1983. AMC started building Renault
Alliance sedans in Kenosha, in that year. Surprisingly, the Alliance was
Motor Trends’ Car of the Year and at the top of Car and
Driver’s Ten Best list. It launched so successfully
that the dealer network wasn’t prepared to deal
with that kind of volume. Then, the cars started to fall apart. And they were done by 1987. Luckily, AMC still owned Jeep. The new Cherokee and Wagoneer
were really taking off, as SUVs started to become a thing, customers weren’t buying
AMC cars anymore though. They made an agreement to let Chrysler use some of the empty
space at the Kenosha plant for some extra cash. AMC’s workers were mad
about not getting raises, and there were rumors that
they were sabotaging cars on the line. Then, the Pentagon got mad, because they were still
making Jeeps for the military but now they weren’t
American, they were French. But AMC couldn’t kick
their French step-parents out of the house, and had to sale that profitable business. AMC’s longtime hero, Dick Teague (electronic beeping) You told yourself… You would not laugh at
stuff like this anymore. Dick Teague left the company. – Some of the cars that
these kids are doing, and you know a few years back, just a few years back, you look at those and say “God you’re impossible, I’ll never build anything like that,” so the future is just a, gosh, I just wish I could live to be a hundred years old. To see some of those things
that are gonna happen. – [James] Renault was having
their own problems at the time, including the assassination of their CEO by French anarchists. So, they weren’t so confident
about their prospects in the US market anymore. The fact that the 3 companies were already making each others’ cars in the same plant made it easy for Renault
to sell their AMC shares to Chrysler in 1987. And that, was the end of AMC. And , it really sucks that
AMC isn’t around today, but, I think we should be
grateful that we had ’em at all. Dad. (dramatic retro music) (soft electronic music) – Uh, Gus. Uh, Johnson. – Tapes his mic to his finger. (men laughing) – This sucks. – It’s so tight. (tape ripping) – I love a you. – He’s very scared of this.

100 thoughts on “AMC – Everything You Need to Know | Up to Speed

  1. My late step dad had an AMX which he basically rebuilt from the ground up,that car was frickin cool as hell,i remember the looks we got from folks in that car ,it was like being a celebrity or something,great memories,also my best friend curtis' dad was an AMC fan,wouldn't own anything else,I remember as a kid going on day trips in the old green Matador,think it was a 75,wish i could go back in time and relive those sweet sweet days.

  2. My first car was an AMC Matador station wagon. It had a weak straight six, we drove it like crazy, wrote “draggin wagon’ on the windshield, towed a boat with it for years. It was a beast

  3. I like the up too speed videos, I know up to speed is mostly on individual cars or manufacturers but…….. What about a Up To Speed on NASCAR. From the Moonshine Runners of old, too NASCAR today.

  4. PLEASE do my RSX type S, I’ve owned it for awhile and I’m completely in love with the car (hate/love). Unfortunately I don’t have time to research it as much as I’d like

  5. I've hit a wall. While I like this channel, i can't take Pumphrey yelling and other volume spikes anymore. Also, really tired of "Hrsprs" which was pretty annoying the first couple times, and now has become intolerable. I hope James finds another way and otherwise will be avoiding his pieces.

  6. Bendix makes air brake components for big rigs now. Just an fyi. Also, do one on freightliner, Kenworth and peterbuilt

  7. Can we see : Everything you need to know | Up to speed : Mercedes-Benz 190e the "other " great German sport sedan from the 1980s. #W201 #Cosworth #2.3-16 #2.5-16 #Ayrton Sena11 Yeah Ayrton Senna! Rip. Yeah that Formula 1 driver McLaren named that mid mounted twin turbo 4.0L V8 McLaren called: SENNA

  8. Looks like Thurl Ravenscroft at 4:57. Tony the Tiger, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", and various Disneyland rides.

  9. Hi, kinda made me shit my pants at 10:14 because I wasn’t paying attention and then all of a sudden someone calls out my name in an empty apartment besides myself. 😂

  10. "AMC made better cars than their Motor City competitors." Baloney. No, they most assuredly did not. AMC made quirky niche cars with limited market appeal and they made Jeeps. Not enough to keep them in business. They tried merging with Renault which was a fucking disaster for them. Something Nissan should have learned from and unfortunately did not.

    They really pushed the craptastic Renault 9 & 11, as the Alliance and Encore. It was a bit too small. They also sold the Renault 18, sedan in 81-2 and station wagon till 86. But only with the 82hp four. Might have had better sales had that sold it with the 130hp PRV V6 used in the Delorean. With minimal advertising. A better choice would have a a sedan variant of the Renault 20/30 with the 130hp PRV V6. The Fuego was interesting but under powered for the US market. The 25 was marketed too late to matter.

  11. This show helps me appreciate cars even more. I learn about so many car models I once never even knew about. Thanks for putting out continuous great content.

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