American Motors Corporation won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award for its Rambler line in 1964. From that point on, AMC realized that success depended on the emerging youth market. The ’65 Marlin was a nice first step, but it just didn’t catch America’s fancy. But AMC’s response to the Mustang caught the attention of America like no other AMC model: Enter Javelin and AMX.
The Javelin was AMC’s “proper” return shot to the Mustang, but it was the AMX that captured the enthusiasts’ imagination. It was basically a Javelin with a shortened wheelbase and its rear seats removed. This was a clever, cheap way for AMC to create a buzz for the brand.
George Barris contributed his own version of buzz with the AMX-400 in 1969. The AMX was no stranger to customization since you could find companies in the back of buff magazines who were selling custom AMX kits; Barris himself even offered a bolt-on kit that was marketed through AMC dealers. The AMX-400, however, was an official Barris Kustom creation.
Barris first chopped the top over four inches and reduced the angle of the windshield. Up front, he extended the nose 15 inches and added a louvered grille hiding custom rectangular headlights. Similarly, the rear was extended eight inches and the rear window was frenched to accent the flying buttress motif.
The louver theme was replicated with a row of 15 that started at the top of the rear window and continued to the rear valence. For the hood, twin scoops (looking like a less aggressive precursor to a 1970-72 Olds W-25 hood) mimicked the motion of the redone front end.
Typical of customs at the time were radiused wheel wells, and front wheel flares matched the stock character line of the rear. Dummy fast-fill gas caps (replacing the AMX logos on the C-pillars) and wild sidepipes completed the modifications.
Engine remained a stock 390/315. The saddle interior also remained basically stock with the addition of Naugahyde to complement the leather, console automatic, tilt steering, and air conditioning.
The AMX-400 toured the ISCA circuit for a number of years and later made a cameo appearance on the a TV show called Banacek before disappearing. Mike and Lin Geary rescued the car in 2003 with just over 3,000 miles and had it restored to the condition that you see here, one of the few surviving relics of contemporary show car culture.