1969 AMX/2 Concept Car and 1970 AMX/3

1970 AMX/3 Development
This sketch shows designer Dick Teague's initial design for the 1970 AMX/3.
This sketch shows designer Dick Teague's initial design for the 1970 AMX/3.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Evolved partly in response to high interest in the 1969 AMX/2 concept car, the 1970 AMX/3 development program was directed at delivering a limited production sports car in 1970-1971. If all went according to plan, the 1970 AMX/3 development program would result in an image-building $10,000 replacement for the Javelin-based AMX.

Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro's team duly produced a full-size mock-up in lightweight foamcore that was shipped to Detroit for "comparison competition." Never publicly shown, it bore the low, angular lines then typical of Giugiaro, but looked lumpy next to the league group's model, which resoundingly carried the day.

Yet despite its all-AMC design and engineering, the resulting AMX/3 was quite European in many ways. For example, noted race-car engineer and builder Giotto Bizzarrini supervised chassis development in Italy, and BMW assisted with testing.

The four-speed transaxle in the first AMX/3 came from ZF in Germany, though OTO Melara of La Spezia, Italy, was later tapped for a new gearbox and final drive that could better withstand the hefty torque of the installed AMC 390 V-8.

Per mid-engine practice of the day, that V-8 mounted longitudinally behind a snug two-seat cockpit, with the transmission trailing behind.

Suspension was by classic all-around double wishbones and coil-over-shock units, with dual springs at the back and an anti-roll bar front and rear. Brakes were big four-wheel vented discs from Germany's Ate.

Also like many midships contemporaries, the 1970 AMX/3 used different-sized front/rear rolling stock: 205-15 Michelin X radials on 15x6 1/2 Campagnolo alloy wheels fore, 225-15 tires on massive 9-inch-wide rims aft.

Dimensions were quite compact: 105.3-inch wheelbase, 175.6-inch overall length, 74.9-inch width. Tracks were fairly generous at 60.6/61.2 inches front/rear. Overall height was just 43.5 inches, yet ground clearance was a respectable 5.9 inches.

This well-developed mock-up shows the final form of the 1970 AMX/3. It was photographed in AMC's design showroom.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Despite weighing some 3,100 pounds, the AMX/3 had an estimated top speed of 160 mph, thanks to its 340-horsepower engine and fairly short 3.45:1 final drive. Unfortunately, high-speed stability was none too good.

Teague later recalled that Bizzarrini drove an AMX/3 on the demanding Nurburging in Germany and "became nearly airborne at 145, so that kind of slowed him down. . . . It did get very front-end light."

So was the 1970 AMX/3 development program successful? Learn all about the car's debut in Rome in 1970 on the next page.

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