Ryan’s AMC AMX is more than just a cool classic car. This rare muscle car has now become Ryan’s most treasured possession – it reminds him of his dad and the memories they shared.
Ryan and his dad were never that close growing up and it wasn’t until they started working on restoring the 1969 AMX that they truly bonded.
Ryan’s dad, Keith, originally wanted a Corvette when he came back from the Vietnam war. However, on his way to the Corvette dealership, Keith caught a glimpse of a brand new AMC AMX sitting inside a showroom and didn’t even make it to the Corvette dealer. He immediately turned around to head to the AMC dealer and bought the AMX.
American Motors Corporation created the AMX (American Motors eXperimental) for a couple years to go up against the Corvette and other muscle cars of the era.
After years of having a blast racing the AMX and going on double dates to drive-in theaters, Keith sold his AMX to get a VW Microbus to accommodate his growing family. But selling the car was always one of his big regrets and and so when it was time for the kids to go away to college, Keith couldn’t wait to get another one. His search for an AMX went on for five years until he found another one.
Randomly one day, a friend of Keith’s spotted one sitting by the side of the road in California. The car looked horrible but the body had no rust on it and thus the neglected AMX became the restoration project that Keith and his family took on.
Keith was ecstatic to work on the car but during the project he was hit with some devastating news. He was diagnosed with cancer.
One of the best times of Keith’s lives also became his worst. But Keith was a tough man and he never let cancer slow him down or affect his day-to-day life. He was a Vietnam Vet after all and Ryan always perceived him to be one of the strongest people he knew.
The work continued on the car and so did the fun. Friends and family continued to help turn the original vision that Keith had for the car into reality. This was the end result.
Ryan and his dad have lots of memories of working on the car which is why the car has such strong sentimental value for Ryan. There’s no one specific memory that stands out. Keith and Ryan took the car to many car shows and won all kinds of awards.
Keith was an upholsterer by profession and so he enjoyed redoing the interior of the car. They added a stereo, but don’t be fooled by the looks and the number of speakers…as Ryan informed me, you can barely hear anything that comes out of them.
After many years of fighting, cancer ultimately took Keith’s life. The car that Keith put so many hours of blood, sweat and tears into led his funeral procession.
This carefully restored 1969 AMC AMX will likely be in Ryan’s family forever and so I could hardly believe it when he considered letting me drive the car! Now, that was an honor.
My first American classic car driving experience
Ryan (don’t know what he was thinking), allowed me to be the 4th person and the only person outside of his family to drive the car.
As you can imagine, a car that was built in 1969 has no computers, no anti-lock brakes, no side-view mirrors really (they were so small that they’re useless), no power seats or any creature comforts whatsoever. There was, however, power steering but that’s because Ryan’s dad needed it when his cancer worsened so that he could still drive the car. I imagine steering a car like this with no power steering is somewhat of a challenge.
I totally enjoyed driving this American classic. A loud-as-hell exhaust that could be heard a mile away combined with a super torquey engine made the experience intense and highly enjoyable. And I was quite surprised by how much everyone appreciated. Ryan and I received lots of thumbs ups, smiles, waves ..and my favorite moment?
A couple of kids in a Mustang pulled up and wanted to race us.
Of course, this was my first time driving something like this…let alone, Ryan’s cherished possession…and knowing that I have no electronic or computer assistance of any kind I didn’t want to risk potentially losing traction by gunning it. If I were to wreck the car and somehow was still alive, I’m sure Ryan would’ve ensured that I didn’t make it.
No – I couldn’t take that risk.
Every time I did floor it, I could feel the pull and, of course, was deafened by the roar of the engine. There were so many crackles and pops that they actually sounded like gunshots underneath my seat.
I couldn’t have enjoyed the experience more and will forever be grateful to Ryan for allowing me the opportunity to drive a car that represented one of the best moments of Ryan’s dad’s life.
The AMX on Seinfeld
Interestingly enough, Ryan got a call a while back from the guys over at Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee to showcase his AMX on one of his shows.
Due to logistical issues, etc., Ryan’s car didn’t get featured. However, they did find another AMX that Seinfeld and Jon Stewart drove in. Check it out here, if you wish.
Ryan, who is clearly, passionate about cars, brought his dad’s AMX down to Austin recently when he brought charitable road rallies down here and created Rallye Republic. The AMX was a part of many of the rallies from his home town in Des Moines, Iowa, and now it will be a part of Austin and Central Texas’ rallies. I’m excited to see what all Rallye Republic ends up doing down here. You can read all about Ryan and the history of his love affair with cars here.
Honestly, I don’t think I ever appreciated classic cars that much, but all I really needed to do was actually drive one. There’s just something magical driving these cars and unless you get behind the wheel of one, you probably won’t know what I’m talking about. So my advice to you? Find one to drive – it’s totally worth it.