True American Motors buffs can especially appreciate the rarity of the '69 AMX. For starters, American Motors produced only 8,293 cars that year, and it was also the first year for the factory Big Bad Colors. By selecting the additional $34 factory option, any AMX could be the talk of the town with its skin and bumpers fogged in a bold orange, blue, or green. Best of all, an AMX could be ordered with any engine and transmission configuration, and you even had access to the Go-pack option that would give you the choice of either black or white stripes. Mix all that together and you have the makings of a rare AMC.
Meet James Seitz from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and his Big Bad Orange-optioned '69 AMX. We first met James at the Street Machine Nationals in Lima, Ohio. American Motors set out to make a bold statement, and it certainly accomplished its mission. The Big Bad Orange has a brilliance and luster that literally makes the car glow in direct sunlight.
At 16, James was originally headed in a more mainstream street-machine direction, but the elder Seitz had worked for AMC and Chrysler, and that may have played a part in the outcome. When James and his father saw this particular AMX, they agreed that this was the car to own.
It was during his senior year in high school that James began his first modifications. That coincided with a grenaded engine. While James wouldn't divulge the gritty details, he said that it happened on a late-night excursion. To further aggravate the injury, James opted to pull both the engine and transmission that night, only to dump 11 quarts of ATF as he was hoisting it out of the engine bay. Try explaining that one to your father as he walks out in the middle of the night to discover a major oil spill on his driveway.
After James left for college, the AMX remained at home taking up space in his father's garage. A few years later, his father was transferred to Chrysler, and the AMX finally made its way back under James' care where it sat in the garage for another 10 years. It wasn't until the beginning of the new millennium that both James and his wife Deb decided to get the AMX into rehab. After a good stripping, the body assumed its original factory hue. By this time, the effort had become a joint venture as Deb handled most of the interior work.
A little less than a year later, the car was complete, and the Seitzs have been enjoying local cruise nights ever since. But if you're wondering just how often they cruise the AMX, James said it best: "It really depends on the price of gas."
Car Craft Q&ACar Craft: When did you first realize that you were a gearhead?James Seitz: Hmmm, probably when I was five. I was the neighborhood kid who would wrench on everyone's bicycles.
CC: What do you like best about the AMX?JS: It's unique and not your typical cookie-cutter car that you see on every street corner. Whenever we go to car shows, we're lucky to see one or two, and sometimes we're the only ones participating.
CC: Is there anything you would change?JS: I'm actually in the process of tossing the automatic for a Borg-Warner T10 four-speed conversion. Other than that, I may purchase a set of aluminum Indy heads, but that's if Deb lets me.