Pleasant Ridge-based  attorney Joe Papelian owns a 1970 American Motors Corp. AMX. The car was fully restored over a nine-year period, and it was recently featured at the  Detroit Autorama.

Pleasant Ridge-based attorney Joe Papelian owns a 1970 American Motors Corp. AMX. The car was fully restored over a nine-year period, and it was recently featured at the Detroit Autorama.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Behind the Wheel: 1970 AMX goes from ‘bucket of bolts’ to showstopper

By: Jennifer Sigouin | C&G Newspapers | Published September 5, 2019

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Photo by Donna Dalziel

When Pleasant Ridge-based attorney Joe Papelian was 12, the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette came out, and he told his mom that he was going to buy one when he got to college. 

“I’m a little bit of a car buff,” he said. 

Now, more than 50 years later, he not only owns a Corvette (a 1967 model), but he also recently finished restoring a 1970 American Motors Corp. AMX, which was the precursor to the popular AMC Javelin. Papelian noted that the first AMX came out in 1968, when he was in high school, but it “didn’t sell very well.” Within a few years, the two-seater AMX was discontinued in favor of the Javelin, which had a back seat and a longer wheelbase. 

Papelian’s AMX — painted in its original “Golden Lime” — was featured earlier this year at the Detroit Autorama, and its moment in the spotlight was a long time coming. The restoration took nearly nine years to complete — an endeavor that Papelian refers to as “the project from hell.”

“It was a bucket of bolts,” he said, adding that “everything” needed work, from the engine and body to the transmission and interior. 

According to Papelian, only 4,116 AMXs were produced, and his model is one of 1,632 that came with the “Go Package,” which included a 390 engine and other special features. In addition, his is one of just 98 to come with leather seats. 

“I think it is fairly rare,” he said, explaining that parts for the car are difficult to find now,   which led to the long restoration time. 

Since the AMX’s restoration, which was primarily completed by a professional in Monroe, Papelian has only put 35 miles on it, including his visit to the Woodward Dream Cruise. However, he said he plans to drive it a bit more over the coming months. 

“I like the styling and I like the fact that it has the 390 engine,” he said. “It’s a real interesting car.” 


1970 AMX at a glance:

• Engine: “Go Package” with 390 CID V-8, 4 BBL, 325 HP. 

• Transmission: 4-speed T-10V. BorgWarner “Close Ratio” manual with 3.54 “Twin Grip” rear.

• Color: P90A Golden Lime with shadow mask hood.

• Updated power steering.

• Electronic ignition.

• Black leather seats.

• “Go Package” front-disc, four-piston brakes.

• “Go Package” heavy-duty cooling and ram air intake.

• Stainless steel exhaust.


SHARE YOUR STORY
Do you own a vehicle that has an interesting history? Contact Staff Writer Jennifer Sigouin at jsigouin@candgnews.com or at (586) 498-1052, and you could be featured in an upcoming edition of Behind the Wheel.