1960s AMC Concept Cars

AMX II and AMC Cavalier Concept Cars
The AMX II concept car was among the Project IV trio of 1965 AMC concept cars.
The AMX II concept car was among the Project IV trio of 1965 AMC concept cars.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The AMX II and AMC Cavalier concept cars were slight deviations from a formula that had AMC concept cars predicting production models of the near future.

As we know, the production AMX was a clever section job on AMC's new-for-1968 Javelin ponycar. Even so, it owed much to its one-off forebears in style and character. In fact, when the time came to name it, Teague insisted on keeping AMX even though the initials had originally meant "American Motors Experimental."

His logical argument: People already recognized the basic concept by that name, so why change it? But though exciting in itself and downright startling for AMC, the production AMX wasn't all that popular: Just 19,134 were built over three model years.

The other members of Project IV were noticeably less radical than the concept AMXs, yet no less interesting. The least predictive of this forward-looking trio was the AMX II, a smooth notchback hardtop coupe that looked nothing like the Ramble Seat cars-doubtless because it was created under Vince Gardner, an outside consultant.

Features included hidden headlamps within a big bumper/grille, pointy front fenders, clean flanks, a rear window vee'd in plan view to match deck contour, and "safety taillights" that glowed green, amber, or red to signal going, coasting, or stopping. At 187 inches overall, AMX II was eight inches longer than "AMX I." Most of the extra inches showed up in wheelbase to provide full four-passenger seating.

The AMX II concept car was longer than the original AMC AMX concept and included hidden headlamps.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

It's a shame that something like the attractive AMX II didn't wind up as one of AMC's post-1969 Hornet compacts, though Teague did manage a nice Hornet hatchback coupe for 1973. He certainly might have remembered it when shaping the swollen 1974 Matador coupe, arguably his least distinguished effort after the pudgy-looking late-1970s Pacer.

On the other hand, Teague did himself proud with the only sedan in Project IV. Called Cavalier, it looked good for a compact four-door, measuring 175 inches long, with gently curved sides, jaunty "flying buttress" rear-roof quarters, full wheelarches, and minimal "gingerbread." In general form the Cavalier predicted the future Hornet save a shorter hood giving equal-length front and rear decks.

Those proportions were not accidental, for the Cavalier was basically an exercise in interchangeable body panels, an idea that had also lately occupied Brooks Stevens with his "Familia" proposal as a last-gasp salvation for Studebaker.

Designed by Dick Teague, the 1965 AMC Cavalier concept car included interchangeable body panels.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Though less extreme than Stevens's design, Cavalier promised similar savings in production costs. Its hood and trunklid, for example, were completely identical, as were bumpers at each end. Fenders could be swapped left-front to right-rear and right-front to left-rear. Doors apparently did not interchange, though they looked otherwise. Perhaps just for fun, Teague hinged the rear ones from the back, "suicide-style."

AMC's following round of concept cars would include two losers and one winner. Go to the next page to find out which was which.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out: