Classic Car Archive Specs, Facts, & History
Following the release of the 1969 SC/Rambler “Scrambler, AMC came back in 1970 with The Machine. It was another recognizable muscle car as the first ones were painted white and featured bold red, white, and blue reflective stripes (made by 3M) on the body sides that wrapped over the trunk lid. What you might not know unless you are an AMC collector is that The Machine was first proposed in June 1968, and it was to have been a 1969 Rebel coupe finished in black with authoritative black wheels and fat tires, without any stripes, scoops, or spoilers, but with an aggressive, street-fighting stance.
The proposed model included “The Machine” decal on the rear as well as a “fab gear” logo on the front fender. However, after considerations were made, The Machine was finished in AMC’s trademark red, white and blue color scheme, although the color breaks were not the same as on other AMC-backed or -developed race cars.
American Motors’ high performance “halo” vehicle made its official debut 25 October 1969, in Dallas, Texas; the site of the National Hot Rod Association’s World Championship Drag Race Finals. The Rebel Machine was factory rated at 10.7 pounds per horsepower, positioning the car for the NHRA F-stock class.] The introductory marketing campaign consisted of ten vehicles (five with automatics and five with four-speed manuals) that were driven from the factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin to Dallas, Texas and raced in the condition they arrived in. There were four cars on the track “in bone-stock trim” that ran solid mid-14s during the press day at the now-defunct Dallas International Motor Speedway. All these cars were subsequently campaigned at numerous other drag strips, and subsequently sold as used vehicles according to AMC corporate policy. The automaker’s marketing objective was for each AMC dealer to have one colorful Rebel Machine on display in their showrooms to lure non-AMC potential customers so they could be introduced to the other models. The most successful dealers actually raced the cars at local drag strips.
The Machine was developed from a deal between Hurst Performance and AMC, but unlike the compact SC/Rambler, there was no official connection between the two parties once production commenced. The standard engine in The Machine was AMC’s 390 cu in V8 engine with 340 hp and 430 pound force-feet of torque @ 3600 rpm. It came with special heads, valve train, cam, as well as a redesigned intake and exhaust. This was the most powerful in any AMC vehicle while retaining features required for normal street operations, as well as components to assure outstanding performance characteristics without incurring high-unit cost penalties. The engine was fed by a 690-cfm Motorcraft 4-barrel carburetor, and pumped up a 10.0:1 compression requiring high-octane gasoline.
The Machine features a large ram-air intake hood scoop that was painted Electric Blue (code B6) with a large tachometer visible to the driver integrated into a raised fairing at the rear of the scoop. This hood-mounted tach came from the same vendor as used on competing makes with only different dial faces. Early production hood scoops were fiberglass, while those installed on Machines after 1 January 1970 were injection molded and of higher quality. The heavy-duty suspension was augmented by station wagon springs in the rear, giving the car a raked look. Standard were a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission with a Hurst floor shifter backed by either 3.54:1 or 3.91:1 rear axle gear ratios in the “Twin-Grip” differential, as well as power disc brakes, wide E60x15 Goodyear Polyglas white letter tires mounted on “Machine” mag-styled steel 15-inch x 7-inch wheels, and a black interior with bucket seats and a center armrest upholstered in red, white, and blue vinyl.
Among its standard performance features, all The Machine models included a special set of wheels with the appearance of a cast alloy wheel. Painted silver metal-flake with a rough texture, they have a mag-style appearance. AMC described them as “15-inch styled road wheels” in brochures and catalogs. Enthusiasts call them “Machine wheels” and the wheel’s came with a chrome center cap adorned with a blue trim disc featuring a gear icon in the center and the words American Motors around it. The wheels were made by Kelsey-Hayes. They have five narrow cooling slots positioned atop risers stamped around the center of the wheel. The trim ring is unusual because it does not overlap the rim (to allow for attaching wheel balancing weights) and it is permanently press-fit.
Numerous other upgrades were standard to make each Machine a potent turnkey drag racer. In contrast to the lack of options on the SC/Rambler, Machine buyers could order numerous extras from the factory. These included substituting the manual for a center console mounted “pistol grip” automatic transmission for $188, adding cruise control cost $60, an adjustable tilting steering wheel cost $45, and even air conditioning was available for an additional $380. Furthermore, American Motors dealers sold numerous performance parts over the counter, such as an incredibly steep 5.00:1 gearing “for hardcore drag-racer types.” An optional “service kit” for $500.00 increased horsepower to well over 400 hp and lowered its quarter mile drag strip times from 14.4 with the factory Autolite carburetor to 12.72 seconds.
American Motors Vice-President for Sales, Bill Pickett described that the Rebel Machine was “another youth-oriented car.” The company described, "The super car buyer is usually young, relatively affluent and has a “critical awareness” of exterior styling. At the same time he wants to be treated as an individual and stand out from the crowd. The Rebel Machine’s distinctive paint job, rakish nose-down attitude and obvious performance characteristics lets the super car buyer express his identity, or, in the words of today, ‘Do your own thing’. Being different from the crowd today does not necessarily mean being against something, but rather in reinforcing certain specific ideas. We anticipate that the Machine will identify with this new brand of rebel, who demonstrates for something." The automaker claimed in its marketing promotion that “The Machine is not that fast,” but that the car was capable to “give many muscle cars from the big three (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) a run for their money”. According to a retrospective Motor Trend article, The Machine is the most strip-ready car of the group they tested. The Machine could spring from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 6.4 seconds, a creditable showing even today. The Machine’s top speed was 127 mph.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) price was $3,475. After the initial run of 1,000 units with its distinctive and easily recognizable identity, The Machine was available without the stripes in other colors with a blacked out hood. A unique paint schemes for the Machine is Frost White with a flat-black hood (paint codes: 72A-8A), with only three made. Another exclusive version came in “Big Bad Green” with only one known factory documented original car remaining. The original trim scheme became a $75 option. There were a total of 2,326 Rebel Machines built in 1970.
According to the former editor of Motor Trend magazine, before BMW took “The Ultimate Driving Machine” moniker for itself, American Motors dubbed its high-performance model that could hold its head high in fast company simply “The Machine” and it deserves to be considered among the Greatest Cars of All Time.
The Machine was discontinued after one model year. It was replaced by the 1971 Matador with an optional 330 hp 401 cu in “Go Package.”
|Engine||0 to 60 MPH||Quarter Mile||Source|
|390ci||6.4||14.44 @ 104 mph||Road Test Magazine|
|390ci V8||390ci||1x4bbl||340 hp||430 lb-ft|
Ask Rebel Machine expert Richard Ehrenberg