What If?!

“For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”

John Greenleaf Whittier’s famous line resonates all over human history. Being a car nut I think of this line often in the context of great automobile designs never produced or produced but not successful because of exogenous circumstances.

No, this is not a picture of a first-generation Mercury Cougar:

As the caption reads this is actually a picture of the AMX II with more “traditional” styling than the AMX that was produced. (The resemblance to the first generation Cougar is striking, in my opinion.) Potential buyers may have claimed they liked the styling of the production car better, but only about 19,000 of the first generation AMX (1968-1970) were produced. In 1968 alone Chevrolet produced 235,000 Camaros and Pontiac produced 107,000 Firebirds. Yes, it is somewhat of a specious comparison given the relative sizes of GM and AMC, but it is what it is.

This picture and the ones that follow are shown here thanks to the gracious courtesy of Patrick Foster and the Patrick Foster Historical Collection. (Please do not use these photos without first obtaining permission.) The pictures are from Mr. Foster’s terrific book, American Motors Corporation – The Rise and Fall of America’s Last Independent Automaker. This book and others by Patrick Foster can be purchased here.

The red car was the AMX/2 and the yellow car was the AMX/3 that actually saw very limited production. The AMX/3 looks Italian to me, perhaps a little bit like the Lamborghini Miura. The Italian look is honestly derived as the exterior was designed by Giotto Bizzarrini.

Believe it or not USA Today ran a story about the AMX/3 in December, 2016 titled Just Cool Cars: AMX/3 could have saved American Motors. The text in the story actually contradicts the title, however.

OK, regular Disaffected Musings readers, you all know where this is going. For literally the n-hundredth time fewer automobile manufacturers means fewer sources of innovation for styling and for engineering. The consolidation of car companies also means fewer choices for the consumer and has led, with a big nudge from government regulation, to the homogenized group of automobiles sold today. (No, not all regulation is bad, but ALL regulation comes with a cost just like everything else in life. One definition of an ideologue is someone who refuses to acknowledge that the positions they advocate come with costs.)

AMC was late to the pony car market with the Javelin (one of my favorites) not being introduced until the 1968 model year. The AMX was a derivative of the Javelin. The Mustang was introduced in April, 1964 as a 1964 1/2 (1965) model year car. The Camaro and Firebird were introduced in the 1967 model year. That delay in entering a popular segment hurt American Motors. Still, perhaps it was inevitable that AMC would succumb to the Big Three. Remember, however, that I do NOT believe that what happened was the only thing that COULD have happened. All we can do at this point is simply to ponder what might have been.


Another ho-hum game for Patrick Mahomes in a 45-10 Chiefs’ blowout of the Cincinnati Bengals. He threw for 358 yards in 39 attempts with 4 touchdowns. Mahomes also set a record by throwing 22 touchdown passes in his first eight career games. The NFL has changed the rules many times in the last 40 years; almost all of those changes favor offense and the passing game. Still, Mahomes’ accomplishments so far are noteworthy.