The AMC Rebel Machine was an answer to the muscle cars of the late 1960s being produced by America’s Big Four automakers. Power is provided by a mighty 390 cubic inch V8 producing 340 bhp and 430 lb ft of torque.
The Rebel Machine never quite caught on in the same way as the high-performance versions of the Mustang or Camaro, but it’s now becoming a major collectible and a rare one at that – with just 2,326 examples made.
Fast Facts – The AMC Rebel Machine
- The AMC Rebel Machine was introduced in 1970 as a high-performance version of the AMC Rebel. It was developed as a response to the muscle car trend of the late 1960s and was intended to be a competitor against other big names in the market like the Mustang and Camaro.
- The most recognized version of the Rebel Machine was initially available in a patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme. It had a bold white body with blue and red stripes wrapping around the base and over the trunk. By mid-year, it was also available in other single body colors.
- Under the hood, the Rebel Machine had a 390 cubic inch (6.4 liter) V8 which churned out 340 bhp and 430 lb ft of torque. As a result, the car would do the 1/4 mile dash in 14.4 seconds and it did the 0 – 62 mph run in 6.4 seconds.
- The Machine came with a functional hood scoop, a tachometer mounted on the hood for easy viewing while driving, and heavy-duty suspension components for improved handling. The vehicle also featured front disc brakes, a four-speed manual as standard, and a special rear axle to handle the torque being sent back by that prodigious V8.
Building The AMC Rebel Machine
The AMC Rebel Machine was introduced in 1970 and would only be available for a single model year, the basic concept of “The Machine” had been around since 1967, with the initial prototype featuring a black body, black wheels, and wide tires – with no stripes, scoops, or spoilers.
The Machine was the result of a collaboration between Hurst Performance Research (led by V.P. David L. Landrith) and American Motors (led by Vice President of Marketing R.W. “Bill” McNeeley).
The marketing value of a halo car like the AMC Rebel Machine was well understood as a tool to get people into showrooms – many wouldn’t actually buy one, but they could be convinced to buy something a little more practical with four doors and better fuel economy.
A key design criteria for The Machine was to make it one of the best showroom stock drag racers that money could buy. As such, AMC fitted it with their 390 cubic inch, 340 bhp V8 with 430 lb ft of torque, and a 10.0:1 compression ratio which requited the use of high octane fuel.
This engine was fitted with special heads, a modified valve train, a high-performance cam, a redesigned intake and exhaust, and a 690 cfm Motorcraft four-barrel carburetor was bolted into place atop the engine. At the time of the model’s launch in October of 1969 this engine was said to be the most powerful production AMC engine ever used up until that point in history.
This engine was mated to a T-10 manual transmission with a Hurst floor shifter as standard, though AMC did also offer a column shift automatic as an option should the buyer so wish.
AMC debuted The Machine in Texas at the National Hot Rod Association’s World Championship Drag Race Finals in Dallas. The car qualified for the NHRA F-stock class and was factory-rated at 10.7 pounds per horsepower – a remarkable figure for the time.
For marketing purposes ten Rebel Machines were created, five manuals and five automatics, they were all driven from the factory in Wisconsin to the drag strip in Dallas, then raced in standard trim. These cars were raced heavily, in Dallas and around the country, they were then apparently sold to customers as used vehicles – though hopefully with a good warranty in place given their hard early lives.
Fresh from the dealer floor, The Machine could manage a 14.4 second 1/4 mile at 104 mph, and it could manage the 0 to 62 mph dash in 6.4 seconds. Not many factory-built cars could match these figures, and it would be years till similar numbers became commonplace.
Over the single year of production just 2,326 Rebel Machines were built, and they’re now seeing escalating interest from collectors as they much rarer than many of their contemporaries from the same era.
The 1970 AMC Rebel Machine Shown Here
The car you see here now looks a little different to how it did when it first left the factory. It was originally painted in Bittersweet Orange (79A) and was then repainted in the classic Rebel Machine white, red, and blue under previous ownership.
It’s important to note that this is an original Rebel Machine, they were offered in color schemes other than the white, red, and blue, but this is the livery the car is now best known for.
The car rides on gleaming 15″ Weld Draglite alloy wheels which are fitted with Cooper Cobra Radial G/T tires. The original brakes have been replaced for the sake of safety, it now has four-wheel disc brakes and a Wilwood master cylinder, with slotted and cross-drilled rotors up front.
The springs and shock absorbers are said to have been replaced under current ownership also, given the car a significant refresh considering its ~50 year age. Inside the car you’ll find a largely black interior with split front bench seat features a fold-down center armrest with tri-color accents.
Vintage Air climate control has been installed to keep things comfortable during the warmer (and colder) months, and the car has a push-button AM radio and a Hurst shifter.
The car is now being offered for sale out of Grain Valley, Missouri on Bring a Trailer with a Missouri title in the seller’s name. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.