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Wyatt Armstrong is a sixteen-year-old classic car addict who can blame his healthy obsession with vintage iron and muscle rides on no other than his dear old dad. “He’s got a ‘65 Belvedere that he’s been working on since he was my age. Like father, like son,” states Wyatt.
Living near Lancaster Pennsylvania, Wyatt grew up near both Hershey and Carlisle, making it easy to get out to some of the major east coast collector car roundups. However, it was a local car that first caught his eye. “I was on my way to the family business, and I spotted a ’72 Javelin sitting behind someone’s house. I asked my dad what it was and he ID’d it for me. I looked it up online and instantly became my dream car from that day on. I guess that’s how I got into AMC’s in general,” he said.
From there, Wyatt kept researching the American Motors brand, learning about their models and buying up any literature he could find at swap meets. “I have become pretty obsessed about AMC’s,” he told us.
The AMX was sitting at the famed Collier Motors AMC dealership in Pikeville, North Carolina and is believed to have been out of commission since about 1990. The AMX is a bit crusty due to decades of sitting outside in the hot and humid North Carolina climate.
Through his research, Wyatt read about the famed Collier’s Motors AMC dealership in Pikeville, North Carolina. “I figured I’d never get to see this place, since it’s a good 400 miles away”. However, much to Wyatt’s surprise his grandmother decided to plan a trip to South Carolina, with the route going close to Pikeville. “We set up a visit with Robbie Collier, the owner. He showed us around the dealership and that’s when I spotted the car. It was a custom ’69 AMX with a 390,” states Wyatt.
Right away Wyatt knew he wanted the car, but it took some work to convince his dad. “He told me it was a bad idea because of how long it sat and how far away it was from the house. During the week of vacation, I finally convinced him to let me buy it. When we headed back, we looked at it one more time, and then put a down payment on it. The title work took a while but finally it got squared away.” The AMX was then shipped back to Lancaster so Wyatt could see what he got for his hard-earned cash.
The paint scheme here was probably a pretty wild one before the sun and weather got to it. Remnants of yellows, aqua blues and vibrant oranges still exist in sections, and much of the side murals seem to be there. “When I restore the car I want to duplicate this paint job,” states Armstrong.
What Wyatt bought is certainly an interesting ride. It seems to have been some kind of custom show car over the years, built up with a flamboyant interior and some interesting paint on its flanks. “The exterior paint has some murals added on and the interior is definitely over-the-top and was pieced together to catch your eye. Unfortunately, most of that paint has burnt off over the years. It was also born with dual buckets and a center console with shift command, so it came well equipped from the factory, “states Wyatt.
Under the hood lies the original 390 engine and three speed automatic Borg Warner transmission. Vintage, period perfect Keystone wheels are at the corners and there are factory disc brakes up front. Shackles and air hocks helped give this bad-boy a little rake where needed and four-into-one headers and Cherry Bomb mufflers gave this ride a tonal warning to anyone in earshot of this wild AMX. The interior is nothing short of bizzarro, with diamond button tufting designs covering the panels and headliner.
Well, someone got creative here. The diamond-button interior was all the rage in the 60’s and 70’s. Even the headliner has a cool pleat to it. The rest is pretty much there, including the shifter and even the radio. Some aftermarket 80’s looking electronics were installed at one time as well. It’s in super-rough shape but it can make a comeback.
Wyatt has now added rear window louvers to the mix as it’s an option that he wanted. One of the Keystone wheels recently rusted through and would not hold air so for the time being he’s put another wheel and tire on to move it around. Other plans are to add a four-speed and to get the car running good enough to take to high school.
“We are going to make it safe and road ready. I really would like to drive it for a while. Right now, my future daily driver is a ’64 Rambler.” Since Wyatt is still a few months away from getting his full-time driver’s license, he’s got time to get some of the work done.
The AMX still has the 390ci V8 it left the factory with. "It took some work, but my dad and I got it running," Armstrong says. The original Carter AFB carburetor is long-gone, replaced with this Holley.
What’s down the road for this AMX. “One day it will get a full restoration. Right now, I want to restore it to its show car days, with the wild paint and everything. But first, like I said, I want to get it on the road and I definitely want to swap out the automatic and put a four-speed in it.”
Now that the car is safely snugged away at Wyatt’s home, he is now researching the cars history. “The last owner stated that he believed the car came out of Florida. Clues here include an Air Force base sticker on the bumper (which is very rough), as well as a few Air Force patches that he found inside. “That has led us to believe a serviceman owned this car at one time. The 98 Rock sticker on the bumper was another clue. There is a 98 Rock in Tampa, which is close to McGill Air Force base, so the Florida residency could be possible.”
One of the AMX's newest additions are the rear window louvers. Other period-correct modifications, like the early 1980s electronics in the interior, have worn well. One of the Keystone wheels, however, didn't survive...it was so rusted that it couldn't hold air anymore.
However, Wyatt also found some receipts stuffed in the interior from Minot, North Dakota. “There is Minot Air Force base there as well, so maybe this car traveled with the owner as he relocated.”
While the history of the AMX is still plenty vague, it is good to see that the car's future is shining brighter than ever!
Between the Department of Defense sticker on the bumper and several Air Force patches found inside the car, it is safe to assume that one of the former owners of the AMX served. Wyatt is trying to track down the history of the car, and suspects that previous haunts include Tampa, Florida (McGill AFB) and Minot AFB in North Dakota.