Fans of AMC gather for car show

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AUBURN, Ind. — Standing out from the crowd makes American Motors Corp. cars appealing to Ian Webb and his fellow enthusiasts.

Ian Webb (from left) of Fort Wayne, Ind.; Manny Angareti, of Long Island, N.Y.; and Bob Hodson, of Orlando, Fla., stand by Angareti's 1974 AMC Gremlin outside the National Auto and Truck Museum in Auburn, Ind., for a gathering of the Hoosier AMC Club.  DAVE KURTZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS
DAVE KURTZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Ian Webb (from left) of Fort Wayne, Ind.; Manny Angareti, of Long Island, N.Y.; and Bob Hodson, of Orlando, Fla., stand by Angareti's 1974 AMC Gremlin outside the National Auto and Truck Museum in Auburn, Ind., for a gathering of the Hoosier AMC Club.

“You’re the only one of these at a show,” he said. “I think that’s what guys really get out of AMCs and when they like to collect them.”

More than 200 car owners who enjoy being different gathered recently in Auburn with the Hoosier AMC Club, a chapter of the American Motors Owners Association, according to The Star of Auburn.

On July 18, the AMC owners were showing their cars at a cruise-in on the courthouse square in Auburn. Two days later, they staged a car show at Auburn Auction Park.

Webb, of Fort Wayne, works for Auctions America, which owns the auction park. He serves on the board of directors of Hoosier AMC Club.

Between 200 and 250 cars had been expected for the AMC show, but days before, Webb saw that his estimate might be low.

About 50 owners already had arrived for a welcoming event at the National Auto and Truck Museum.

Webb said owners brought cars from as far as Oregon.

“I would imagine we’ll have almost every state represented,” he said before the show.

As though to prove the point, Manny Angareti drove up in his 1974 AMC Gremlin as Webb was talking, freshly arrived from Long Island, N.Y.

Angareti explained how he bought his car for $750 in 2006 in Montana and drove it back to New York in frigid conditions.

“I had one of these when I was a kid in 1970,” he said. The car debuted in April 1970 and ran through the 1978 model year. “The minute I got behind the wheel, I felt like I was 20 years old again.”

Angareti was just getting started with going to great lengths for his passion. Next, he bought a 1976 AMC Pacer in Fairbanks, Alaska, and made a seven-day drive back to Long Island.

When he bought his first Gremlin, “I liked it because it was different,” he said.

Bob Hodson, of Orlando, Fla., listened as Angareti talked. He owns five AMC models and said he fell in love with the 1964 Rambler American hardtop.

“I have not been able to move past that car” in the half-century since then, he said.

“When I go down the road in my AMC, I don’t see myself coming or going, and I can find it in the parking lot,” Hodson said of the vehicle’s uncommon styling.

Webb’s connection to AMC cars goes back even further than his teenage years.

“I came home from the hospital in a ’69 AMX, and I’ve been going to these shows since I was in a stroller,” he said. The AMX was a two-seat coupe cut from the Javelin, AMC’s response to the pony car craze started by the Ford Mustang.

Webb’s family owned a business in Huntington selling auto restoration parts. He drove his racy 1978 AMX to the museum at last month’s show. His first car was an identical twin to it, he said.

Webb is eager to show off his 1971 Gremlin this weekend, though. He just finished with a 27-month restoration of the car.

“I’m pretty excited to be able to debut it here in the ‘home’ show,” he said.

Webb said he encouraged the club to come to Auburn for this year’s gathering.

“Auburn’s such a car town,” he said. “I think people are really going to get a kick out of coming to Auburn for this show.”

HISTORY OF AMC

In 1954, the Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson companies merged to compete against the major carmakers.

The Nash and Hudson marques disappeared in 1957, but Nash’s compact Rambler survived. In 1970, Rambler was dropped, but the name for an old Hudson model, Hornet, was revived, according to the Encyclopedia of American Cars, by the auto editors of Consumer Guide.

That same year, the subcom­pact Gremlin debuted to compete with Ford, Chevrolet and Volkswagen. Gremlin was a Hornet with a shortened wheelbase and a chopped-off tail. It died after 1978.

In 1970, the company had merged with Kaiser Jeep, and in 1979 with Renault – after which some wags christened it “Franco-American Motors.”

In addition to selling U.S. versions of the French cars, it brought out four-wheel-drive Eagle cars. In 1987, the company was sold to Chrysler, which wanted Jeep. AMC and Renault cars came to a halt.

– Glynn Moore, staff writer


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