When the 400 in Erik Dorwart's '69 Dodge Charger threw a connecting rod out of the block, the Feasterville, Pennsylvania, resident decided his next project would be a little different. As it turned out, a friend of his uncle had two '70 AMXs (both in need of restoration) plus a couple of garages full of parts he needed to get rid of because he was getting married. Seeing a real opportunity, the Charger was sold and the new AMC goods filled Erik's garage...and then some. Even the better of the two cars was in need of a lot of work; the car had been sitting in the driveway for about eight years and the floors and rear quarters were in bad shape. There were also plenty of other rusty areas around the rear window and trunk floor. The AMX was disassembled until the only thing left was a body shell with a suspension.
The body was given to a local AMX club member, Dave Keller, who happens to be in the auto body profession. Almost every Saturday and Monday night for the next eight months the men worked on the car in Dave's father's garage. All of the paint was stripped off and the engine compartment sandblasted, then Dave hung a set of new quarter-panels and made the body arrow-straight. Just before Christmas 1999, the car was ready for paint and trailered over to Cliff's Autobody in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Two days before Christmas, the car came home in Sherwin Williams Urethane Black, and the next two weeks were spent in the garage wet-sanding and buffing the pigment to perfection.
The goal was to get the car together for the last week in July, which was the American Motors Owners' Association National Meet in Connecticut. The 390 engine was treated to a .030 overbore and filled with forged aluminum pistons, while the rest of the rotating assembly was factory stock performance. The heads, mid-'70s versions for unleaded fuel, were ported and polished by United Auto in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, with a conservative (.499/.509-292/298-degree) Crower cam working the valvetrain. Topping off the combination is a rare dealer option: an Edelbrock crossram topped with a pair of Holley 600 cfm double pumpers. To ensure the engine lasts for a long time, an external Milodon oil pump and an 8-quart oil pan with a swinging pickup keeps everything smothered in oil. From there, the ponies travel through the Borg-Warner super T-10 transmission rebuilt by Ronnie Dicks of Pipersville, Pennsylvania, to a Dana 60 filled with 3.55 gears. The body is supported on all four corners by a set of 16-inch polished Torq-Thrust wheels with Dunlop 255/50-16 rubber.
The interior features a carbon-fiber dash overlay, which Erik made, and a pair of Recarro buckets confiscated from a mid-'80s BMW. Legendary Auto Interiors supplied the new carpet and door panels. Since its completion, the black AMX has won numerous First Place and Best of Show awards, including a Gold level award at the national meet in Connecticut (the show where he finished assembly of the car on the showfield).
Erik recently made a couple of blasts down the quarter-mile and posted a 12.43 e.t. at 113 mph while on those Dunlops and Torq-Thrusts. Did we mention he drove it to the track then home again?
"I wanted to have a car that, when done, I would not have to work on; I could just get in and drive," says Erik. With this kit-bashing project, we'd have to say he achieved that goal quite handily.