On the day before Christmas Eve 1965 I took a ride with my Dad. Little did I know he was out to purchase a new vehicle. He was partial to Buicks but couldn’t make the deal he wanted. He was an excellent negotiator! Just before we headed home we stopped by the Rambler Dealer and he tried out a new 1966 2-door Ambassador DPL hardtop.
He told me, in later years, that he wasn’t planning on buying it but the dealer was so anxious to make a deal that he couldn’t pass it up. He liked the clean lines and it ended up being a great car. Three years later and it was time for a new car. This time he purchased a 1969 Chrysler New Yorker.
That’s me behind the New yorker with my very first vehicle, a 1970 Honda CT-70.
At 15 I thought I was pretty cool.
He didn’t trade in the Ambassador, I was just about to turn 16, and so the Ambassador became mine. It was a very calm Frost Green color, had a 283 V-8 and, believe me, was not the Muscle Car I had dreamed of. Still it was free and I had wheels! It had a few dents that I repaired and then decided to get a new paint job. All was fine with my Dad until I showed up at the curb with a Big Bad Green Ambassador. His jaw dropped, and he was kind but my judgement has been in question since.
Soon my best freind purchased a 1966 Pontiac GTO from a high school freind and after only a few months it was stolen and stripped and left to sit on a farm in a remote area in the California Delta. Stolenby two of his high school freinds, one was the former owner. He was so distraught by the whole ordeal that he no longer wanted the GTO. He found a 1969 Mustang fastback at a dealer in Sacramenmto so I worked a deal with him. We would trade in my Ambassador for the Mustang and I would get the GTO in return and he would get his Mustang. The GTO was mine!
It was a fun car with a 389, 4-speed and was in great shape. You have to remember that this was the early 1970’s and used muscle cars were pretty cheap. Eventually we both ended up in a street race and at about 120 MPH I noticed blue smoke coming from behind my car so pulled in behind him to save the motor. Too late! The second I pushed the clutch in the motor siezed. So I sold it to my freind and bought a motorcycle for the summer. A Honda SL-350.
Early in the fall of ’71 the motorcycle had to go and I came across a 1969 SC/Rambler.
It had only 2500 miles but had been hit in the rear. I picked it up for $250. What a blast! I thought the GTO was fast. I drove it for a while but in the end the rear body damage was a little too much for a 17 year old kid with no tools or experience. At the time I thought the stripe kit was a little much so I removed some of the decals and painted the hood scoop black. I sure did enjoy it while it lasted. I ended up trading it to a freind for his silver 1966 Mustang 2+2 Fastback with 289, auto. It wasn’t anywhere near the muscle car the SC/Rambler or GTO were but was still a great car and much more of a girl magnet than the red, white and blue SC/Rambler.
You may notice the drawn lines on the roof. I had toyed with the idea of a T-top. Luckily I never did it. I consider the 1965-66 Mustang fastback as one of the best, if not the best, design for American Pony cars. It was beautiful in its day and always will be because the basic design elements are timeless. A while later and it was summer again so I sold the Mustang and bought a newer Honda SL-350.
Same story. Summer passed and I found a 63 Ford Falcon Sprint with a factory V-8, 4-speed. The motor was bad but it ran. I bought a newly rebuilt, beefed up 289 and installed it. Unknown to me, and with my lack of mechanical experience at that time, the oil pump had never been primed and I quickly burnt that motor up. It was sold and I bought a Grabber Green 1970 Torino GT with 351 and 4-speed.
I owned it for almost a year then sold it. I found a 1968 Javelin in the East Bay that had been neglected and bought it for $250. The previous owner had removed the column shift auto and replaced it with a floor shift but the shifter worked backwards. I got the correct linkage, fixed it and had it repainted.
Needless to say my Dad was much more impressed with my color selection. I owned this car for about a year, graduated from High School worked for a year and headed off to Norway, land of my ancestry. If you’ve never been to Norway it’s the kind of storybook place were you could drive for days and never tire of the scenery. A couple years later I returned home and soon found a 1969 AMX with a 290, 4-speed.
When I went to look at it there was no front end on it but it ran good. My then girlfreind (and soon to be wife) thought I was out of my mind. I found all the parts I needed and soon had it back together. I was close to getting it to the paint stage when I interviewed for a sales job at Sun Valley Ford in Concord Calif. After the interview I noticed a Javelin in there used car lot. It was a 1973 Javelin SST with a 401 and 4-speed.
I traded in my AMX and drove it home. That was probably the nicest Muscle Car I have ever owned. Fast, fun, comfortable and I loved the styling. I liked the AMX body style better but couldn’t resist the Jav. I owned it for a few years, got married and eventually it had to go for something a little more gas stingy. But It was well worth it. She was a lot prettier than the car.
Two years after we were married my wife was 7 months pregnant with our first child and I bought a 1969 Hunter Green AMX from an original owner in Oakland CA.
Again it was a 290, 4-speed car but in very nice original shape. A day or so after we got home my wife was looking inside the car and, being a few months from delivery, said ” Where’s the back seat?”. Apparently she didn’t realize it was only a 2-seater. I did keep it for some time but eventually had to get serious about the need for a family vehicle. About 4 years later I was looking for a truck. I had started building homes and needed a vehicle for towing. I happened to be in Sacramento on day, visiting my parents, and noticed a Canary Yellow ’72 Gremlin X with a 304 V-8 and 3-speed.
I had fallen in love with Gremlin X’s back in High School. It was still in very nice shape. It had a tow hitch and I already had a trailer so I figured it could do the job. It was a great car! As time went by I had to get serious and sold it to a freind and bought a new truck. In time I did get it back in a trade from my freind but eventually sold it. About a year later I came acroos another ’66 Mustang fastback with a built 289 and 4-speed. A didn’t keep it long. Why I’m not sure but I’d love to have it back. I sold it and bought a ’71 AMX 401, auto from a new found freind in Sacramento. We had just moved there and I had always wanted one.Story of my life, I sold it and bought a Trans Am Red 1979 Spirit AMX. The following years were followed by purchases of many cars and many regrets for not having kept some of the prized ones. Awile later I spotted a grungy ’73 AMX driving down the highway and noticed it was a 401 car. I followed the guy until he pulled over and ended up purchasing it. It was a 1973 AMX Go-Pak car with 401 and auto and loaded with options but very rough.
This would become my first full blown restoration and boy did it need it! It was an original Maxi Blue with black interior and Domino fabric seats. Factory A/C, PD/B, P/S, front spoiler option, go pak and AM/FM 8-track stereo. It was alot of work but great fun.
The finish product was beautiful!
Being my first full out restoration I could hardly get myself to take it out and drive it. It was too Perfect! I was afraid something would happen to it. Have any of you ever had that happen? So, as you can guess, I got rid of it. I found a guy who had a ’72 V-8 Gremlin X just like the one I used to own and he was interested in the AMX. We worked out a deal and I picked up the Gremlin. To my surprise it was the exact same Gremlin X I had owned before and the same guy I had sold it to five years earlier. So I had it back for the third time.
Not long after I had it finished I found a rare 1982 AMC Concord Sundancer Convertible in Concord CA. Up to about a year previous to this I didn’t even know these cars existed. There were only about 200 of these ever built they wer built on the AMC Concord and Eagle 2-door models. AMC had entered into a contract with the Griffith Company from Florida in 1980 to do the conversions. Many auto makers had stopped building convertibles in the 70’s because of liabilities and new regulations. AMC hoped this would bring more people into their Dealers. The convertibles were to be ordered at the dealer, built in Kenosha WI. then shipped to Florida for the conversion, shipped back to Kenosha for final inspection and then shipped to the dealer. The conversion was expensive and most were ordered by dealers to bring people into the showroom. I will blog on these rare cars later.
This had been a bit neglected. The top was worn out and had been left out in the rain. It came out of New York, were it was purchased new, and had some rust in the frame. A new top, tires etc. and it was beautiful again.
This car currently resides inthe Aurther LeMay Collection in Seattle Washington. This next purchase was a good one. A towing company in Sacramento had pulled in a Trans Am Red ’73, 360 go-pak AMX and had it for sale. I went to see it and it had been sitting in a barn for several years and did not run. The interiorwas o.k. but the smell was unbareable.
I purchased it for $150 when I was there checking it out I found severel NOS AMX parts in the rear seat and trunk. Although I hadn’t planned on and didn’t keep the car I couldn’t pass up the deal. In 1993 we moved to Idaho and I moved the Maxi Blue 73 AMX, the Concord Sundancer and my ’78 2-seater Concord custom that I had built. It is featured on my other Blog “pacertruck.wordpress.com” so I’ll just post a few photos here.
I owned this car for 13 years, the longest I had ever owned a car and believe me, with the second makeover and a new 401 V-8 and a T-5, 5-speed it was a blast to drive. It could keep up with or fly by most sports cars on the road.
I bought and sold so many cars in the next 5-6 years that I’m not sure which order they came in but here’s a list.
A 1976 Pacer X. I bought this for my son but he didn’t want it. A few years before it was all he wanted.
I found this ’78 Pacer DL Coupe with a factory 304 V-8 sitting at an old gas station with a flat tire and in need of a little work. I paid $500 for it polished it up, put new wheels and tires on it ad did some interior work. It ended up being a nice car and went through two teenagers. The last thought it was cheaper to not put oil in it when it was low and burnt up the motor. it sat for a few years when I decided to do a complete restoration with a 401 in place of the 304 V-8.
It turned out pretty nice but I lost interest in it because of other projects and sold it prior to completion. In 1996 I purchased a boat load of NOS AMC/Rambler parts and alot went into this car.
Here is the Pacer after the teenagers and before restoration along with a ’71 Hornet SC/360, a ’74 Hornet X and a 1969 AMX 390 auto Big Bad Green with tan leather.
Another pic of the AMX. I had every intention of restoring this one but the price of parts vs. what AMX’s were going for at the time didn’t make any sense. I sold it to a local AMX collector here in Boise and he still owns it today.
Another pic of the ’71 Hornet SC/360. I paid $800 for it but it needed “alot” of work. More than I wantedto tackle.
Here’s a deal for you. I picked up this 1977 V-8 Hornet AMX for $150. It was sitting on a farm in pretty good shape but had a bad tranny.
I fixed the AMX but came in contact with someone who had a very rare 1978 Gremlin GT and traded cars. The GT is one of the cars I wish I had back. I was in the middle of restoring it but traded it for a ’75 V-8 Hornet X.
The Hornet X I sold. Surprise! Just about that time I was talking with another AMC buff in Reno and he mentioned there was a lady that would drive by occasionallyin an Eagle Sundancer convertible. It took him about a year to find out who owned it and another two years for me to talk the lady into selling it She was an elderly gal who purchased it new in her home town of San Francisco at the local AMC dealer “Falore AMC“. It was a 1981 AMC Eagle Sundancer Limited convertible in very good condition but was getting older and showing some wear.
I never should have sold this car. It was a beautiful car on and off the road and was in great condition. During this period I had also purchased a very interesting 1973 V-8 Gremlin X. It had been sitting but needed some work to get running. It was originally Fresh Plum metallic with gold stripes but had been painted blue. What was interesting was that it was titled 1973 but had the 1974 body and interior. I soon discovered that AMC did this several times, introducing the new body style towards the end of the model year. In the parts book the parts would be listed as a “Type-2”. The only picture I have of it is here behind the Pacer X. in the shed with all my car parts stacked in crates.
I also traded some parts for a Maxi Blue ’73 Hornet X that I just turned around and sold.
At that point I had far too many cars sitting around to ever restore so I started selling some and this was one that went. I really wanted a true 72-73 Gremlin X again. I also picked up and fixed up a 1979 V-8, 4-speed AMX.
It had been sitting for 10 years and needed alot of work but was a low mile, one owner car and a diamond in the rough. After I had it finished I found a 1973 Hornet X with a factory 360 V-8.
It also needed tons of work but when done was one of most beautiful cars I had ever owned. A few years before our 16 year old son had totaled our van and I had just purchased her, not two months before, a 1994 Mustang Cobra Indy 500 Convertible.
It was the Dealership managers car and only had 2500 miles on it. When the van was history my wife said, “I’m not buying another car so we either sell the Mustang or it becomes the family car”. Needless to say it became the family car. Not long after that I came across a 1973 Gremlin X with the Levis package and 304 V-8 and 3-speed.
It had an optional exterior color, Trans Am Red. It also had factory A/C, P/S, PD/B, Roof rack, rear window deflector and a whole bunch of other options. The body and paint just needed some polishing except for the right rear lower quarter. I did a complete mechanical and interior restoration and just cleaned up the exterior and repainted the quarter and grille. I also installed a built 401 and 5-speed, torque links and rear sway bar and a ton of NOS and new parts. Unfortunately I don’t have many pictures as my computer crashed last year and I lost most of my digital pictures. It was a great carand extremely rare. As mentioned before I am in construction and bad times forced it’s sale. I would have loved to hang on to it.
Here it is on the trailer ready to head over to the muffler shop.
l tried to salvage part of the sale by purchasing a ’73 360 Hornet X. It was a decent car but just not very thrilling to drive. Again I lost alot iof pictures of this car and My white ’79 AMX. There were a few other cars that I had purchased over the years that I either bought to resell or just never did anything with them. Among them were an original owner Black ’79 AMX with V-8, 4-speed, a 1978 Pacer wagon with V-8 and literally every option listed in the sales brochures, a 1975 Hornet X with a 304 V-8, a ’75 Pacer parts car,
Well that’s almost it to this point. Times had gotten worse and I had traded a freind a set of plans for an addition to his home for a 1978 V-8 Pacer wagon.
I had always wanted to build a Pacer pickup and finances being what they were I couldn’t hang onto the Hornet and still have any funds to build the Pickup. The Pacer is now the only car I have left. It is almost complete and you can read about it on my other blog pacertruck.wordpress.com.
Since my last post here I have picked up a few more cars. A 1972 V8 Gremlin X, a 1974 V8 Levi’s Gremlin, a 1974 Hornet X, a rare 1981 Eagle Sundancer convertible and a 1971 Hornet 2-door SST. It’s nothing special but would make a great hot rod.
Update: the last four cars pictured are sold. I’ve since purchased and sold a 1973 AMX, 401, 4-speed with Pierre Cardin interior, a 1979 V8 AMX and’74 Javelin that both got parted out and a 1972 Javelin SST, 360, auto. I’ve also purchased, and still have, a very rare 1973 Javelin SST, with a 401, 4- speed, a rare 1973 AMX, 401, auto with Pierre Cardin interior and a 1973 Hornet X Hatchback with the Levi’s interior. All in need of restoration. The Hornet was the easier of the three and is almost done. The ’72 Gremlin X is also nearing completion.