- Written by webmin
Any AMC enthusiast with half an interest in the history of the company can tell you that the landmark two-seater AMX grew out of the Project IV group of four concept cars, one of which was the so-called Vignale AMX, with its working Rambleseat. But what of the other three cars in the group? Though they didn’t directly become production cars in their own rights, they did help shape styling and direction for AMC products over the next several years, yet they tend not to get equal billing with the AMX.
Fortunately, while digging through the Special Interest Autos archives, we came across not just the full press release announcing the Project IV cars, but also a full set of press photos for all four cars, which we’re sharing here today. We know the Vignale AMX today is in the good hands of an AMC collector – what about the other three? And does anybody recognize the building in the background of these photos?
FOR P.M. RELEASE MONDAY, JUNE 20, 1966
NEW YORK, June 20 – American Motors today unveiled four unique “idea” cars which will be shown in major cities to test reaction to new design concepts in the sporty and smaller car fields.
The experimental designs include the 108-inch wheelbase Cavalier, a fresh design approach using interchangeable components for quarter panels, doors, hood and rear deck; the Vixen, a sporty two-door version of the Cavalier with the same features of interchangeability; the AMX, an advanced fastback design; and the AMX II, representing the second evolutionary phase of the AMX program.
The design developments were presented to newsmen, businessmen and community leaders at a showing called “Project IV.”
In introducing the cars, President Roy Abernethy said that changes in the car market have placed greater emphasis on advance testing of consumer opinion, “particularly in evaluating the growing interest in specialized and personalized vehicles.”
“While these car concepts are not being shown as actual prototypes, we expect reactions to the innovations presented will have substantial bearing on future design and engineering decisions,” he said.
Following the New York presentation, “Project IV” will be shown in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Detroit.
The Cavalier presents an ingenious concept of automotive design which permits the interchange of body panels from front to rear and from side to side.
Right front fender and rear left fender are identical, as are their opposite quarter panels. Hood and deck lid are the same, permitting production from one set of dies. The four doors are produced from two sets of dies rather than four. Front and rear bumpers are identical and may be interchanged.
“The high degree of interchangeability offered by the design of the Cavalier could provide savings of 25 per cent or more in body tooling costs,” Abernethy said.
“The Cavalier design experiment offers interesting possibilities for the world market where parts inventories and body repairs are a consideration,” he added. He noted that the compact dimensions of the Cavalier are ideally suited for overseas markets, with trimness comparable to popular foreign makes.
The Cavalier wheelbase is 108 inches. It has an overall length of 175 inches. Height is 50 inches, and width is a trim 65.5 inches. The low silhouette is enhanced by thirteen-inch mag-type wheels.
Safety is further explored in the Cavalier design. The cantilevered roof panel has a built-in roll bar. Exterior door handles are eliminated; flush push-type door buttons are used.
Wrap-around rear safety lights flash alternate warning signals in green, yellow and red.
The similarity of body panels is not evident to the eye in the Cavalier’s overall appearance which conveys fleetness and well-balanced configuration. The refined grille treatment and ingeious rear styling dispel any impression of sameness between front and rear.
The swept-back roof panel is covered in black vinyl, further enhancing the rich, deep metallic red body.
The grille contains deeply recessed headlights in squared housings. The grille wraps around the front fenders and contributes an illusion of width by means of narrow, brushed aluminum horizontal bars with alternate bars in black.
Versatility of the Cavalier design is carried out in the unique rear deck lid which can be opened to normal position or elevated to the height of the roof panel for carrying large, bulky items such as small trees or high-standing boxes and furniture. This expanded cargo capacity is made possible through the use of dual-action scissor type hinges on the deck lid.
The Vixen is a sporty, semi-fastback adaptation of the Cavalier design principle with many of the same features of interchangeability. Dimensions are the same as those of the Cavalier, but with the windshield moved back to make the hood line 12 inches longer.
The long hood and short deck proportions of the Vixen follow the basic “envelope” design concept, with the blending of the upper and lower body forms to complete the one-unit shape.
The sports grille design incorporates a “quad Venturi” look with deeply recessed rectangular headlights contained within an outer perimeter to give the front end an appearance of boldness and individuality.
The sleek hood displays a functonal air-intake “blister” to further promote the Vixen’s sports-car look.
The landau-type roof has a series of canted vents on the rear portion. The vents are angled at 45 degrees for see-through visibility when parking or backing up. A sliding glass quarter window under the surface-mounted vents permit flow-through ventilation when desired.
The Vixen’s deeply recessed rear window is concave and non-reflective. Its unique shape and positioning make it appear invisible from inside or outside the car.
Non-glare black paint in the trunk area maintains the low light refraction of the concave window to add to the illusion of invisibility. The balance of the car is finished in bright, sun-yellow paint.
AMX (American Motors Experimental)
The AMX fastback is operational and powered by American Motors’ recently introduced 290 cubic-inch V-8 Typhoon engine. It offers three-wat seating – full bucket seats flanking an aircraft type console; a “Ramble-seat” which is activated by a push button control inside the car; and fold-down contoured rear seats which may be used when the Ramble seat is not in use. Seats are trimmed in glove-soft beige leather.
The roof panel is the cantilever type and includes a built-in concealed roll bar. The self-supporting roof permits the use of extremely thin windshield pillars for a broad, panoramic field of vision.
Taillights and backup lights are designed to emphasize the width of the car, and are set high for maximum visibility and safety.
A competition-type steering wheel of walnut wood adds to the fine sports car interior of the AMX.
The sporty fastback has a wheelbase of 98 inches. It is 179 inches long, 72 inches wide and 48 inches high.
The AMX II is a modified version of the fastback theme introduced in the AMX. Its more generous dimensions permit additional features, including a full trunk.
Wheelbase of the AMX II is 110 inches. Overall length is 187 inches, width 72 inches, and height, 51 inches.
Side and front window glass are curved. The rear window offers a unique modified “V” appearance to compliment the rear deck sculpture.
Finished in a deep metallic green paint, the four-passenger AMX II has a double pin stripe in gold accenting the lower body. Sides are free of ornamentation except for the brushed aluminum edging on the ribbed rocker panels.
Wide dual reverse air scoops are recessed into the hood. Windshield wiper blades are concealed by a panel which raises when wipers are activated.
The grille has a horizontal multi-bar theme with retractable headlight covers in the same design for added appearance of width. The massive front bumper turns up at both ends to provide protection for the forward-thrusting front fenders.
Large 7.75×14 inch tires are mounted on mag-type wheels.
Safety features showcased in the AMX II design include doors which will lock automatically when the engine is started.
New safety-designed taillights are divided into three color sections. Green lights will indicate the car is in motion. Amber lights will show when the driver removes his foot from the accelerator, and red lights will appear when braking. Rear fenders contain rectangular reflectors on the sides for added safety.
UPDATE (18.April 2011): Thanks to Caught at the Curb, we see that there were color photos taken of all four Project IV cars. Interesting that the Vignale AMX was at one point painted blue, and at another painted orange.