Thursday, November 20, 2014

AUTOS: Florence Rods 'N Rhodies Car Show serendipitous Trans Am connection

Mark Donohue's Team Penske Javelin Trans Am machine. (Image source:
Continuing on with another mushrooming story; Hey, that's the way I tend to roll here in Nofendersville; Hya! As I simply cannot seem to write a short story, eh?

More Rods 'N Rhodies Highlights
Prior to reaching the never seen before Chevy Fleetline's, we came across another vehicle I'd never  seen in the flesh. As this black beauty immediately grabbed my Attenzione, due to its hunkered down stance, whilst the large round AMX badge*?) on its rear side windows flanks, known in car parlance as the C Pillar, leapt out at Mwah, causing me to ask Tacoma Bureau Chief Mary Ellen what it said? Oh, I think that those cars were raced in the Trans Am series by Penske and Donohue, to which she mused: Should we ask its owner sitting behind  I-T? To which I curtly said Nah and we kept going.

Yet, that black beast weighed on my mind, asking Mary Ellen to circle back to it after we'd looked at the first few vehicles on the opposite side of the street, for which I really didn't pay too much Attenzione to, other then when Mary Ellen asked 'bout the Hot Rod with no front cowling, fenders or hood - looking straight outta American Graffiti: What do you do when it rains? I chortled back, Drive Faster; Hooah!

Thus we gravitated back towards  the AMX which was pulling heavily upon my heartstrings now, where this time Mary Ellen chatted up its very amiable owner by proclaiming: My friend Tomaso here claims that the AMX was raced in the Trans Am series, is that correct?

Yes, they were raced by Roger Penske and Mark Donohue and set some 100+ speed records! Although I tend to remember more its sibling, the Javelin better, which I've seen Donohue's car being raced in Vintage Trans Am events multiple times by Kenny Epsmn, most notably at Pacific Raceways during SOVREN's annual Pacific Northwest Historics event held over the 4th 'O July weekend in Kent, WA.

He told me a fact unknown to Mwah, that the AMX's wheelbase is 96-inches, with the Javelin's being longer at 110-inches; to which I mused that sounds pretty short. Having now learned that the AMX's 97-inch wheelbase was just one-plus inches shorter than the Corvette's and hence garnered praise as an affordable option vs. the pricier 'Vette.

Yet the Javelin, which presumably competed against potential AMX buyers? Was American Motors Corporation's (AMC) answer to the then red hot "Pony Cars" war, being their two-door coupe version in this market segment. With the longer 'N larger Javelin owing its size due to having actual back seat room for passengers along with a fairly large trunk, as the Javelin was the four-seat version of the AMX.

He also proclaimed that in 1968-69 approximately 8,000 were produced each year, with only 4,000 being built in 1970, of which he owned two!

The particular example I was oogling over, or was that drooling? Careful Tomaso, Yuhs don't wanna make spots on  it; Hooah! Was a  beautiful, and NARLY 1970 "Raven" black AMX which he told us he'd bought from its original owner in 1972! And it had a 390cid V-8 motor mated to a 4-speed manual transmission, with the motor being slightly  "built," producing an estimated 425bhp...

As what I really enjoy about AMC's marketing of the AMX is that they could be ordered with the performance orientated "Go Package!"

Mary Ellen, as typical, asked the pertinent questions, i.e.; where are you from and did you drive here, etc. To which he told us he'd originally been from Albany but now lived in Stayton and that he'd trailered the car to the show, which later we'd discover where all of the trailers were parked.

Then she spotted a Deckle' (decal) on its rear window for the Stayton Car Show honouring Brent Strohmeyer, to which she asked: Who's 'Dat? Oh, he was a kid who got killed in a car accident when he went for a ride with his buddy in a Cobra 427 and his father wanted to do something in his honour, and since he loved cars...

It's a real nice car show and they had about 260 cars this year, its during summer and Y'all should check I-T out he told us before we said our goodbyes.

AMX Trivia
Otay, I'll confess, I don't think I ever knew about the AMX, confuzing it instead with its "big Brother," the Javelin, which I primarily know about due to its Trans Am association, with Mark Donohue winning the 1971-72 titles for 'El Capitano, nee Roger Penske.

True to his word, the AMX, Americres' first two-seat steel body production Sports Car since Ford's "Baby Bird," aka 1955-57 Thunderbird did indeed set some 106 Speed and Endurance records in the hands of Craig Breedlove, his wife Lee and racing driver Ron Dykes., with the heavily modified AMX's being breathed on by the renown TRACO Engineering Company.

'Whale, that's how I remember it being called, along with most notably being the company that "Massaged" that 'Uber  NASTY No. 6 Ferrari 512M that Roger Penske ran in Sunoco blue with Mark Donohue and David Hobbs at the keyboard...

1968 Playboy Playmate of the Year Angela Dorian receiving her 1968 American Motors AMX. (Image source:
On the lighter side, the AMX was affiliated with Playboy in a marketing agreement and was publicly launched at Daytona Speedway in February, 1968, with AMC having also produced a signature Playboy Pink chassis given to 1968 Playmate of The Year Angela Dorian, who's personalized vehicle included her  measurements of 36-24-35 as its Dashboard Number Plate!

Miss Dorian, whose real name was Victoria Vetri, originally was Playboy's playmate of the Month in September, 1967 before ascending to her crown in '68, where upon being named Playmate of the Year she was awarded $20,000 in prizes, most notably the AMX, along with a gold watch, skis, clothing, a guitar and an abundance of electronics

Born in San Francisco in 1944, Victoria pursued a modeling and acting career, along with singing and playing guitar, and landed the lead role of one of the original Perry Mason TV episodes along with movie work, mainly starring in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, (1970 where she refused to  die her hair blonde and her producer considered her a "Nitwit!"

Upon finally marrying in 1986 to Bruce Rathgeb, apparently life came crashing down in the fall of 2010, as she was arrested for the attempted murder of her husband, with bail being set at $1.53 million. After having the charge of attempted murder dropped to aggravated voluntary  manslaughter the  following year, she pleaded no contest in September, 2011; with the National Enquirer calling her "Slaymate!"

Her husband of 25yrs survived her attack, while Victoria is currently incarcerated for nine years, having just celebrated her 70th birthday in state prison...

For Part 3's conclusion of this Mondo' Car Show expose, see; AUTOS: Florence Rods 'N Rhodies Car Show - 'Vette's 'N More