The AMX Files

 
AMERICAN MOTORING
VOL. 5 NO. 2
 
MARCH/APRIL 1981
 
Breedlove's AMX
American Motors' new AMX, a two-place sports speedster, smashed 106 American, national and international speed records just prior to public debut at the Chicago Automobile Show in 1968.
In a series of spectacular high-speed runs, a team of drivers headed by world land speed record holder Craig Breedlove, piloted the AMX to eight international, 16 national, 66 American Closed Car, 14 American unlimited and two national unlimited marks.

 The sleek AMX turned in lap speeds of almost 175 miles an hour in Class B, for cars with engines ranging from 305 to 488 cubic inches, and over 160 miles an hour in Class C, which includes 183 to 305 cubic inch powerplants.

 In Class C, the AMX established 90 new records, including every American Closed Car record for distances from 25 up to 5,000 kilometers and 4 times up to 24 hours.

 Sixteen records were rewritten by the larger engine Class B AMX, including three new marks for the 75-mile flying start at 174.295 m.p.h., and five new records for the 100-mile standing start at 173.044 m.p.h. The Borg-V.'arner automatic transmission failed in the Class B AMX, due to the high horsepower and extreme vibration after taking only 16 records. This failure lead the factory to bring out an improved heavy duty high performance transmission shortly thereafter.

 The team of Breedlove, one time holder of the world land speed record of 600.61 in a jet racer; his wife, Lee, former women's land speed record holder at 308.56 m.p.h., and Ron Dykes, who owned many track records in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) competition, averaged 140.790 m.p.h. driving an AMX around the clock in Class C.

 Their average speed exceeded the old 24 hour Class C record of 102.310 m.p.h. by more than 38 miles an hour and earned for the AMX the International Class C standing start, National Class C standing and flying start, and American Unlimited standing and flying start records.

 All records were certified by the United States Automobile Club (USAC), and by Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA), international record-sanctioning body.

 The record-smashing Class C AMX was equipped with a modified version of American Motors' 290 cubic inch V-8, bored out to 304 cubic inches, with a 4 speed transmission, for its assault on national and international marks.

 For Class B, a 390 cubic inch V-8 was "blueprinted" and bored out to 397 cubic inches.

 ''Driving the AMX was really like a dream," Breedlove said. ''In fact, I'd never driven a car quite like it. The steering and roll-resistance were excellent, and it ran and felt just about perfect."

 Breedlove, his wife and Dykes began the assault dn records February 4, 1968 on a circular five-mile track in Texas and methodically erased Class C marks for 25 through 5,000 kilometers as well as one, three, six, 12 and 24 hour records.

 When their marathon run ended a day later, they had pushed the 97-inch wheelbase AMX through 3,378.178 grueling miles at lap spceds of up to 162 miles an hour. Their average for the first 100 miles was a breath--taking 158.006 m.p.h.

 The Class B marks were set February 20, 1968 at the same Texas track.

 The cars used for the record runs were certified as stock by USAC inspectors and were prepared by Breedlove's "Spirit of America" crew and Traco Engineering Co. of Los Angeles.

 In addition to "blueprinting" the engines, numerous high speed safety features were added to the already excellently designed AMX's, including roll bars and rubber fuel cell gas tanks.

 "We began our discussions for this project with American Motors on December 1, 1967 and received our cars on December 17," Breedlove said. "We had less than six weeks for the actual preparation of the cars. The normal time to prepare cars for record runs like these is about six months."

 Breedlove said no attempt was made to lighten the weight of the AMX's.

 ''As a matter of fact, we were probably running somewhat heavier than stock because we were using a 37-gallon fuel cell-type gas tank," he said.

 The Breedloves, most famous husband-wife racing team in the world, have collaborated on records since November, 1965, when Breedlove regained his world speed title from Art Arfons, who earlier had set a new record of 576.553 m.p.h. Breedlove's 600.601 m.p.h. stood the world land speed record for any type of vehicle for a long time.

 Breedlove, and his wife, live in the Los Angeles suburb of Palos Verdes.

 Craig and Lee Breedlove toured the U.S. in a series of AMX dealer introductions in 1968. The AMX, which had an advertised delivered price of $3,245, was introduced on a regional basis over a period of six weeks.

Introduction dates include February 23 in Chicago; February 27 in Miami, March 1 in Atlanta, March 4 in Dallas, March 8 in Los Angeles, March 12 in San Francisco, March 15 in St. Louis, March 19 in Detroit, March 22 in Cleveland, March 26 in Philadelphia, March 29 in New York and April 3 in Boston.

 Approximately 50 Red, White and Blue Craig Breedlove 290 4 speed AMX's were made by the factory and sold to the public in in honor of the record run.

 
Thanks to Larry R. Daum

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