Sadly, although you’ll find a few AMCs on the road these days, physical remnants of the company are rare, even the dealerships that tried to persuade a reluctant market to at least test-drive a Hornet compact or Gremlin subcompact. But some sleuthing by YouTube channel Stapleton42 discovered one AMC dealership still exists, now documented by a field trip to the location in a video released early in March.
AMC Dealership Claimed By Nature
The dealership, Collier Motors AMC in Pikeville, North Carolina, isn’t much to look at. Absent from the premises are buildings containing showrooms, a sales office, even a functional garage. Instead, roughly 200 AMC vehicles rusting away from the elements sit in a fenced lot, much of it reclaimed by nature.
“I used to mow the grass when I was a kid here,” said Robbie Collier, who’s in charge of the estate of his late father, who ran the dealership. Many of the cars on the property had since lost the war against the surrounding vegetation, which shrouds a few of them from view. “That’s blackberry vines,” noted Collier pointing at one car buried under brush. “It just happens within a couple years, it grows up that bad.”
Collier still calls the lot a dealership in that he still deals with folks interested in buying an AMC for restoration purposes. The cars remain intact, but their constant exposure to the elements over time means a tough job waiting for anyone willing to tow their purchases off the property. That includes those novelty Pacers, still retaining a glint of their spherical glory, with roughly a dozen of them scattered about the lot. Another 10 or so Pacer wagons share real estate with the rest of the fleet.
Ambassadors Had AMC’s Biggest Engines
One vehicle that looks roadworthy is a 1969 AMC Ambassador 343 sedan, which Collier dubbed the automaker’s top-of-the-line car. Collier pointed that Cadillacs, all Ambassadors featured air-conditioning, which would have come in unlike handy in North Carolina’s climate. Nearby, another Ambassador, a 1970 edition, sports a 390 engine, one of the larger motors AMC produced with a cylinder head ideal for drag racing. “Those heads are worth at least $400 or more,” he added.
Nearby, Collier later gestured towards another Ambassador, that some just bought but hadn’t moved it out yet. It’s a wagon with a 401 engine that could easily be transferred into other AMC vehicles like the Wagoneer and the Javelin. At the time, the automaker built that engine to be compatible with a Chrysler “bulletproof” transmission. “It’s the biggest motor AMC made,” added Collier.
Javelins Used In Trans Am Races
Collier heads towards a Javelin nestled between two trees, an AMX offshoot that AMC created to compete with Camaro and Corvette muscle cars as early as 1968. “The weight proportion on the front to rear was just optimal to drag race with,” he added. Collier recalled the dealership selling a few to Alabama’s state trooper detachment as well an international racing team based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Javelins also competed in Trans Am road races at the time, with AMC even convincing racer Mark Donohue and team owner Roger Penske to try out their models. “They had been winning in Chevrolets and Camaros,” recalled Collier, “so in around ’68 or ’69, they came over to AMC and started doing really well.”
This particular Javelin had parts easily interchangeable with an AMX, including the spoiler and side door panels that still remain on the car. A fiberglass hood covers the engine bay, while the interior included a 140-mph tick tock-tach gauge set with a tachometer and clock built into it. “This one’s been picked over some, but we’ve had dozens and dozens of javelins, but we’re down to about 12 parts cars now,” Collier said.
Barry Goldwater Drve An AMC
Inside a building that remains on the lot, Collier shows off an old AMX candidate once owned by Republican and US Presidential Barry Goldwater. Once he it, the politician named it “Spot” and added several features purchased from a third tail light and a cell phone caddy (long before convenience thoses became available) to fighter plane gauges for exhaust temperature, wind speed and even altimeter. “He bought this AMX new,” added Collier, “He had altered the card and done 60 different things to it.”
Almost every vehicle on the premises has some value, whether it’s for parts or a total restoration. And as Collier indicated on the video, almost every AMC car had a story to tell, including some he might share with anyone willing to go through the plethora of vehicles he plans to unload. More information on what’s left is available on the Collier Motors AMC page on Facebook.
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