AMC became famous for its line of enconomy cars, but made some critical mistakes that caused the company to lose millions and be sold to Chrysler in 1986. The first one was the Marlin, designed as AMC's answer to Ford's Mustang in 1964. But management decided to build it on a large car frame, which made it bigger and more expensive than the Mustang, and not as quick or economical for teenagers and young adults. The Marlin was a poor seller, but was a extremly good looking car and now very collectable.
In 1968 AMC rolled out the Javelin, which was the best car AMC ever built. Sleek, sexy and powerful it gave the Mustang, Camero, Firebird, Charger and Barracuda a big run for thier money and at the dragstrip. It lasted until 1974 when it was dropped from the lineup and replaced the poor selling (and ugly) Madador coupe.
In the 1970's you could call AMC the "Alternative Motor Company" - they put out some of the strangest American cars ever built. The first one was the Gremlin, which was basically a AMC Hornet with the back cut off and replaced with a hatchback. With a light body it was a very quick, fun and responsive car, even with an straight 6 motor. It was a fun ponycar challenger with the optional and rare V-8 option.
In 1975 AMC rolled out which must be the strangest car ever and the one they're known in pop culture history for - The Pacer. This car was as wide as a full size auto but as short as subcompact with lots of glass. Once you saw it, you never forgot it. The Pacer sold briskly in the mid 70's but sales fell off quickly by the late 70's when people became tired of the looks.
In 1980 AMC released The Eagle - essentully a AMC Hornet/Concord wagon with 4 wheel drive. Some car/truck historians say this was the first true SUV. It lasted until 1988.
In the early 80's AMC was almost bankrupt. The company had wasted most of its cash on the Matador Coupe and Pacer and had no money to upgrade its aging line of cars. A buyout from French automaker Renault proved disasterous for AMC with bad quality economy cars that sold poorly.
The only thing that was keeping AMC alive was its Jeep line, which they bought in the 1960's. In 1983 they downsised the Cherokee, making it lighter and smaller. It became AMC's best selling product in the 1980's and remained in the lineup until 1991 when Chrysler replaced it with the Jeep Liberty.
In 1986 Chrysler Corporation bought AMC.
The only things from the AMC legacy still around are the classic Jeep Wrangler, and it's legendary 4.0 "power tech" Straight-6. This is not a modern engine by any means. It was designed in 1964 for the AMC Rambler and still being made today in Kenosha WI at the original AMC factory, built in 1919!
Though AMC is now history, the marquee is still fondly remembered by car collectors and fans. Cars that were once considered "junk" have now become cool and highly collectable.