Friday, July 13, 2007

AMC products on display in Colorado

Category: General
Posted by: Editors
Associated Press AURORA, Colo. - Car owners from as far away as Mexico City, Finland and Sweden gathered in the Denver area this weekend for a show featuring everything from the classic Nash Rambler that outran a Cadillac, at least in song, to the muscle car AMX.

They were all products of the now-extinct American Motors Corp., which was based in Kenosha.

And that's part of the allure for AMC enthusiasts, hundreds of whom gathered for the three-day International American Motors Owners Association show and convention.

"They're different," said Terry Gale, who shows his 600 cars at his "Rambler Ranch" in Elizabeth, southeast of Denver. "Fords and Chevys in the mid-50s are gorgeous cars, but they're everywhere."

He restored his father's 1954 Ambassador that sat behind the house for 18 years.

"I was just basically trying to save a piece of family history," Gale said. "And I thought, `You know, you never see these at car shows.'"

After three years of work, Gale started taking the Ambassador to shows and the response was "overwhelming."

American Motors was formed in 1954 by the merger of Hudson Motors and Nash-Kelvinator. The Nash Rambler was memorialized in the song "Beep Beep (Little Nash Rambler)" about a driver of a Cadillac speeding to 120 mph so the much smaller Rambler, which he thought was trying to race him, couldn't pass.

The punch line was the Rambler driver rolled down his window and yelled at the Caddy driver: "Hey, buddy, how can I get this car out of second gear?"

American Motors folded in the late 1980s after attempts by Renault and Chrysler to shore it up. Products of its 34-year run were on display in a lot at an Aurora hotel Saturday. Two 1959 gleaming green and white, two-seater Metropolitans sat side by side. Ramblers, Rebels, Marlins, Javelins, Pacers stretched for rows and rows.

Joe Fougerousse of Indianapolis drove to Colorado in a 1967 Rebel SST convertible that he restored with parts from two other cars. He said he gets more attention than other people at local car shows when he drives his AMCs in.

"Owning an AMC is like owning a diamond; not everyone actually has one," Fougerousse said.

This year's international convention, held for only the second time west of the Mississippi River, drew people from across the country, Canada and Mexico, said Bob Kenworthy, head of the Colorado American Motors Club and the convention organizer.

"I've got people here from Finland, Sweden, Mexico City and a couple from Costa Rico," Kenworthy said.

Like the others, Kenworthy became interested in AMCs in part because they're not as common as other makes. He restored a 1970 "Big Bad Green" and black AMX, one of only 25 made and once clocked at 180 mph. He also displayed his 1967 black Rebel.

Luis Guzman and Carlos Gochicoa left their cars at home. They flew, rather than drove, to Denver from Mexico City.

"I don't know why, but you get it. You don't want to get it, but it's like a disease," said Guzman, explaining his fascination with AMC cars.

Guzman has an AMX and is looking for more cars.

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