Like most members of classic car clubs, those in Jacksonville, Florida's First Coast AMC Club are truly passionate about their classic cars, even though you don’t see that many restored AMC cars out and about.
But among car collectors, none are more dedicated to the pursuit than American Motors Corporation vehicle owners, a dedication that stems from a combination of patriotism, nostalgia and the thrill of the hunt, since AMC vehicles are quite rare.
American Motors Corporation was formed in 1954 when Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Car Company merged in what was then the largest corporate merger in U.S. history. For the next three decades, AMC produced cars for the American market that were reliable and affordable and, in many cases, powerful muscle cars that appealed to teenagers.
“Most people who collect classic cars do so because it provides them with a connection to their childhood,” said Cliff Danley of the First Coast AMC Club. “When I was 18, I bought a 1971 Javelin. It was a sports car and the price was low, which is important to an 18-year-old in the market for a car. It was a good-looking car but also different from other muscle cars of the day.”
He added, “AMC vehicles are extremely rare, which is very appealing to me. Rare, however, does not necessarily translate into monetary value. But it is a novelty and I appreciate that aspect of AMC ownership."
The 1981 AMC Spirit GT that Danley owns was originally equipped with a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine, since improving gas mileage was very important in 1981. Danley added, “It now has a 401-cubic-inch V-8 built for drag racing. It wasn't produced in large numbers, so the car is very rare. Younger people today have no idea what it is, and aren’t even familiar with American Motors. But it’s 100 percent American-made in Kenosha, Wisconsin.”
Steve Berg, president of the club, owns a few AMC vehicles, including an AMC Spirit, a 1978 AMX and a 1967 Rambler Rebel. “The first vehicle I owned as a kid that was actually operational was an AMC Rambler,” Berg said. “You just don’t see many AMC models these days, even at car shows. You'll see plenty of Chevrolet, Ford and Chrysler classics. Those are great cars but they are common. If you see an AMC at a car show, that’s unusual.”
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