2011 SEMA: Centerforce’s LS-Powered ’69 AMC “AMXess”

Touring the SEMA show floor leaves you with a different kind of feeling. Every sense is inundated with over-the-top bravado that would be hard to top, regardless of pocket depth. The sheer volume of top-shelf vehicles makes it tough to enjoy the rarity of many of these machines. How many Lamborghinis does one need in the same room? That is what makes finding that special car all that much more meaningful.

If you just dismissed this as your run-of-the-mill AMX, you would be sorely mistaken, especially sitting at a stoplight.

We happened across a super clean little AMX in the Centerforce booth. At first glance, it may seem like just another trailer queen that some rich guy owns and keeps in a climate controlled garage along with the rest of his collection, but dig a little deeper and you find it is something else entirely. This is not only a cherry AMX, but it is bonafide road racer to boot.

Owned by Jimi Day, AMXess is a 1969 American Motors AMX. Jimi, who also happens to be one of the co-founders of the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational, bought the car in 2002 with the intent of a restoration.

The interior features a well-hidden Tiger Cage from RideTech. The cage was built for Jimi on spec without ever seeing the car. It fit perfect.
The custom AutoMeter gauges and Keilser 5-speed stick let you know that this one means business.

“I wanted to relive my childhood fantasy of driving an AMX,” Day told us. “I began the resto and drove it for a couple of years; then I got into road racing.”

That is where it all changed. In 2008, Day helped create the OUSCI, and the AMX was built from that inspiration. “I saw these cars coming into the OUSCI, and I thought that it should be possible to couple form with function, and that is how we have ended up here” said Day. Jimi brought in D&Z Customs to complete the build.

Finding parts for the AMX was not easy, many of them were either fabricated or re-engineered to fit.

Building the car was not just an exercise in catalog shopping. With a very limited aftermarket for the AMX, there is a lot of fabrication work in the car. The front suspension was custom designed by Heidts with air suspension from RideTech.

The rear suspension is a 4-link from D&Z Customs and the braking is handled by 14” Wilwood rotors and 6-piston calipers. The Rushforth 18” wheels are wrapped in BFGoodrich KDW2 rubber.

A departure from the AMC heritage, the LS3 under the hood pumps out 550hp, thanks to the Comp Cams LS7 camshaft and Hooker headers. Putting that power to the ground is a Keisler RS500 5-speed with a Centerforce DYAD twin-disc clutch spinning a Speedway Engineering 9-inch full-floating rear with a Randy’s Ring and Pinion aluminum third member, Detroit TrueTrac and 3.60 gears.

Inside the AMX is an incredibly clean interior designed by Lake County Customs and includes a RideTech Tiger Cage roll cage system and custom audio gear from Hertz Audio.

The just isn’t used on the track either, it gets driven. Once the SEMA show is over, the car will be driven to Prescott, Arizona, then to Phoenix, to San Diego and eventually end up San Francisco following the last three Goodguys events of 2011.

The LS3 is putting over 460 horsepower to the wheels, making for quick blasts around the road course.

About the author

Jefferson Bryant

It is almost terrifying the breadth of Jefferson's technical abilities. A fabricator, master technician, engine builder, paint and body guy, dirt track racer, road course driver, or a glossy magazine reporter, Jefferson can do it all. Oh yeah, he's also a YouTube hero.
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