In the mid-1960s, the Chevrolet Corvette dominated the domestic two-seat sports car field – easy to do considering it had been essentially the only game in town for almost a decade. And then came along American Motors with its AMX concept, first exhibited at car shows as a non-running mockup in early 1966 and then as a Vignale-bodied runner in the latter half of the year.
A steel-bodied runner, that is. And if, all else being equal, performance came down to weight, wouldn’t it make sense to explore bodying the AMX in fiberglass? As Chris Zinn, author of AMX Photo Archive: From Concept to Reality, wrote, AMC’s chairman of the board, Robert Evans, believed so. In fact, he believed in fiberglass so much he took his ideas to at least a couple companies already working with the material – Bradley Automotive and Borg-Warner’s plastics division – before tasking the construction of a couple prototypes to a third company at about the same time that Vignale was working on that steel-bodied AMX.
As to how many of the fiberglass prototypes Smith/Creative built, some sources, including Zinn and Dixon, claim two. However, the current owners of one of the prototypes, Austin and Lee Hagerty, suggest it was three. Everybody seems to agree that the prototypes were sent to AMC’s proving grounds in Burlington, Wisconsin, where one was crash tested rather spectacularly. “The car just flew apart on impact and Mr. Evans said, ‘We can’t build a car like that – it’s unsafe,'” Zinn wrote.
The prototype has remained in Jiardine’s family since then, passing on to Jiardine’s nephew-in-law, Lee Hagerty, and Lee’s son Austin after Jiardine’s death in 2012. The next year we featured the prototype in the pages of Hemmings Classic Car, and now the Hagerty family has consigned the prototype to Mecum’s Chicago auction. Mecum has yet to release a pre-auction estimate for the car.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Daniel Strohl.