Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review: AMC Muscle Cars Interchangeable Parts, 1968-1974

AMC Muscle Cars – Used Parts Buyers Guide of Interchangeable Parts, 1968 - 1974
By Lawrence J. Culberson
PAH Publishing International, 2007, $20, 265 pages

Reviewed by Mel Stanley

This is a spiral bound, 8.5 x 11 inch soft cover salvage yard buyers guide.  It may not be very pretty, but it is a well researched and effective guide to swapping parts between models of AMC cars of that specific era. 

As some of you know, I own a ’70 AMX with 390 cid engine and 4-speed transmission.  I bought the car new and know its inner workings fairly well.  But there are a number of things I’d like to do to the car, and that is why I bought this book.  As you well know, finding 40-year old AMC parts (and parts expertise) at a salvage yard is not an easy task.  Arming yourself with knowledge found in this book increases your chance of successful hunting and potentially saving some $$.  A part off a Gremlin may sell for less than the same part off a Javelin though they share the same part no.

There are eleven chapters, covering the following:  Engines (V-8 only), fuel systems, exhaust & emissions, cooling systems, transmissions, suspension systems, steering systems, rear axle & driveshafts, brakes, electrical systems, and wheels & wheelcovers.  Two pages of index helps further breakdown the search.

An introduction chapter explains how to use the guide.  Basically, the author assigns “Interchange Numbers” to all parts.  This number is then used to match a part no. used on one model of car to other models using the same part.  The example used in the intro is for an AMX wheel, 1969, 14X6 late production (after a production change); it is assigned the interchange no. of 2.  First pages of each chapter list models, and under each model the name of various parts and their interchange number.  After the list of models and parts come the pages of interchange no. definitions. 

For the AMX wheel, we find the following:
Interchange Number 2:
Part Number: 3194995
Wheel Size:  14X6----Description of part usage: 1969 SCRamber, except spare; 1970 early 72 Hornet, Gremlin.  1969 – 70 Rebel; 1971 – early 1972 Matador; 1969 – early 1972 Ambassador; Late 1969 – 70 AMX; Late 1969 – early 1972 Javelin V-8
Notes: special instructions when applicable.

With this info, “we now know that we can look for our wheels on a host of other models and not just be looking for those from a 1969 AMX.”

My AMX was specified with quick ratio power steering, which involves heavy steering effort.  Now that was not a problem for me when the car and I were young, but now we have some years and miles on us, the heavy steering effort has gotten old and I find myself wanting power assist.  So I will provide another simple example of how to use the book.

1970 AMX power steering pump is found to have two “versions” – with and without emissions pump.  Now my car has not had an emissions pump for a very long time, but it was delivered with one, so I will look for a pump for that configuration.  The guide gives me the interchange no. of 4 which indicates a part no. of 4488077.  Usage: 1970 AMX, Rebel; 1970 – 71 Javelin, Hornet, Gremlin, Ambassador; 1971 Matador all with a V-8 engine and air emissions pump.

I have used this book little so far, but I have noticed a number of typo mistakes, most of which are due to inadequate proof reading – punctuation errors and such.  The above paragraph reads correct, but it is wrong in the guide as it reads “without air emissions pump.”  After careful reading of some other passages, I’m confident that I have made a correct interpretation.  But this illustrates that the guide is not without flaws.  (This is the only one I have found so far, but as I said, I’ve actually used it little.)

Most chapters have useful text sections describing parts and any special info needed to remove and/or replace the parts and what to guard against when buying a used part.  For instance, it tells me that my quick ratio gear box has a ratio of 16 to 1 and is 4 turns lock to lock.

One quibble I have is that it would be easier to page through and know where you are if each page had a header with the chapter no. and title.  As it is you need to refer to the table of contents to find the first page of each chapter before you can go there.

All in all, it is a very handy guide if you have a project car in the year range noted in the title.  It is recommended in spite of the little flaws; hopefully there will be a second printing and the effort will be made to correct the typos and such.

This book can be purchased online from The Motor Bookstore,

— Mel Stanley