Rare 1968 AMX a prized possession for Rusk

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Norm Rusk has an eye for anything unique, especially if it bears an American Motors decal.

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This article was published 03/12/2021 (302 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Norm Rusk has an eye for anything unique, especially if it bears an American Motors decal.

His 1968 AMC AMX — American Motors Experimental — is a prized possession in his garage.

“I like tinkering with them, but I’m not a mechanic,” Rusk said. “I’ve always liked cars. I’ve always had a hotrod type of car. I was into trucks for a while, too.”

Chelsea Kemp/The Brandon Sun Norm Rusk’s 1968 AMX.

He has owned seven AMC products and describes himself as a Mopar kind of guy.

The AMX is a rare vehicle to behold because 6,715 were made. It has a unique look, boasting two seats and an all-metal body.

“It’s a 1968 car, and it rides and sounds like one,” Rusk said with a chuckle.

Before finding his AMX, Rusk had a 1971 Javelin he drove for more than a decade. He originally found it in 2009 in Winnipeg. He eventually decided to sell the Javelin to a guy in Edmonton and away it went.

At the time, he was looking to transition to something new and was hoping to get his hands on a 2011 Challenger Inaugural Edition — but, only 392 were available in Canada.

“I’m getting to the point I’m more into polishing cars than I am in trying to do a lot of works for them,” Rusk said with a laugh.

The Inaugural Edition Challenger proved hard to come by; Rusk would often come close to securing a ride only to see it sold before he could get behind the wheel.

Luckily, he had kept in contact with a guy he connected with when he first bought the Javelin. Rusk heard through the grapevine he was selling his AMX.

Rusk moved quickly and was able to get his hands on the car.

“If I hadn’t have had that contact, I probably wouldn’t have known this was available.”

The previous owner was meticulous in his restoration of the vehicle.

Rusk has photos of the car torn apart and stripped down to the bare metal by the previous owner, along with every document, receipt and piece of paper related to the car.

It took the previous owner about 15 years to fully restore the AMX and make it road-worthy.

Chelsea Kemp/The Brandon Sun Inside Rusk’s 1968 AMX.

It came with around 1,500 kilometres on it, but Rusk and his wife, Gail, have put more miles on it in the year they have owned it.

“The guy I bought [the AMX] off of, it was kind of a retirement project for him. Every nut and bolt has been taken apart on that car. Nothing has been overlooked.

“He took everything apart. When I got it, I didn’t have a lot to do.”

The ride required some minor maintenance over the winter, but for the most part, it was ready to ride in the summer.

Rusk has added beauty rings, a new muffler, touched up the headlight bezels and made other minor changes. He also placed decals on the vehicle.

It has the original 390 engine with 315 horsepower sitting on a short wheelbase.

The only aspect of the car that is “not technically” correct is the carburetor, Rusk said. It was in rough shape, so he added an Edelbrock to it, which was compatible. He noted he kept the carburetor and saved it in case the next owner wants it to be 100 per cent to spec.

It can be challenging to source parts due to the rarity of American Motors, but it is important to Rusk to maintain the original specs of the car.

He sourced most of its parts from Texas, after finding the car in Brandon in the fall of 2020.

It is an interesting vehicle, he said, since the AMX is a numbered car, but the digits do not mean a lot because, at the time the cars were built, they were not carefully tracked. Each car for the AMX made from 1968 to 1970 has a number on the dashboard, but it has technically no relation to the car itself. The engine also has a unique number.

“I have the correct motor, everything is correct on the car.”

The model of the AMX is the GoPack edition. GoPack was an option for the car that included the 390 engine, posi-track, dual stripes over the hood, a heavy-duty radiator, heavy-duty bars and other add-ons to create a complete package.

Most people when they first bought the car would have been looking “to get up and go,” Rusk said, making the GoPack the most popular version of the AMX.

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He has enjoyed the car in the year he has owned it, taking it to car shows across the province.

He added that he and his wife are looking forward to visiting shows in the United States when it is allowed, and hope to attend more shows in the summer if COVID-19 public health measures allow.

One of their favourite shows has been the event at Lake Metigoshe. The car show was started by a friend of Rusk and proved to be a great time for connecting with people from across the Prairies, seeing new cars and getting together with like-minded gear heads.

He and his wife have been going to car shows for years and have been to Minot, Bottineau and Devils Lake in North Dakota and all over Manitoba.

They attended the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit, Mich., with their Dodge Magnum in 2011. It was an epic show, he said, boasting 40,000 cars and a million people.

The big day was on a Saturday, and he happened upon a lot where he spotted a group of Mopar cars. Rusk was able to connect with a guy during the event because he was looking for parts for his Javelin, and wound up being invited to a separate car show just outside the city called the Great Lakes Classic 25th anniversary of the AMX car club.

He was able to secure his parts at the Great Lakes Classic and was amazed to see 100 AMC vehicles in one group — a sight that would be unheard of in Manitoba.

“When I go to a car show, mainly, I’m the only one pretty much with American Motors, and definitely the only one that’s an AMX,” Rusk said with a grin.

» ckemp@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp

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