Saturday, March 21, 2009

AMC Week: Graphics

The American Motors brand of the '70's, straightforward, practical, honest. AMC was one of the few car companies to thoroughly revamp it's identity during the decade, resulting in an identity more modern than the big three. I feel that the visual identity of the AMC brand related most with the simple, eyes-open design of the Pacer resulting in an almost perfect combination.

Ironically for a company getting so much distance from being an American car company, the brand has firm roots in swiss design. The Swiss-designed Helvetica typeface was a fresh idea at the time - the typeface was barely thirteen years old. AMC's treatmet of the typeface appears to be tracked a little tighter than usual, imparting a cohesiveness to the logotype. By cleverly constructing a graphic A from the negative space between the two colored shapes, the mark manages to to identify the company and tap into patriotic feelings with the absolute minimal detail.

The print materials continued with the simplicity. Using the Ogilvy print ad formula of a photographic image and a large white field with black type, the ads hint at future advertising that including Volkswagen's New Beetle, and Apple's iMac campaigns.

The mark was also used for Jeep, which today uses the same helvetica type as it did in the '70's. The look was continued to the physical dealerships using the skinny slab signage.

Whenver I see the American Apparel brand today, I see American Motors. Same stripped-down sensibility, different decade.

AMC Week: 1971 Export Brochure

AMC Week is not over yet, just AMC a momentary interruption for a bit of vintage modern shopping. We're back to the original program with a look at the 1971 Hornet Export brochure cover. Just part of the excellent brand system of modern Helvetica in black against white. How clean can you get! I realized today my fondness for AMC could stem from the proximity of the local dealership to my childhood home. Literally down at the end of the street. I must have salivated over the straightforward design of the dealership at 7 years old!


I've been obsessed with Claim Jumper for years, but haven't been able to get back to one since 1994. I don't know what it is about this place - there are things about it that remind me of my most-hated restaurant, Cheesecake Factory, like the overly large portions, and notably the wait times and crowds for what is obstensibly a family style casual dining chain, which I think is rediculous. I think I hit the sweet spot betwen lunch and dinner today, walked right in and was seated. But somehow, Claim Jumper puts it together right, at least for my brain. It was everything I expected for a quick lunch on the way home from Glendora and after 15 years.

Still thinking...

Echo Saarinen

Momentarily Considered

This beautiful Eames (not Eames-style, Eames) chair is available at Foothill 5 Fifty in Glendora Ca. It's possibly the most amazing place I've ever seen. Theres a giant showroom packed to the ceiling, and then a 1 acre lot / warehouse out back filled as well. Furniture in all stages of wear and restoration, and not at prohibitive prices, even for the perfect pieces. Casual modern collecting as it should be - fun again.

They constantly have Craigslist ads, so take a look at some of their current offerings there, and you'll be able to see the contact info, and address on each ad.

Bill is a nice guy who actually forced me to sit on this amazing lounge (there was a sign "do not sit" and I'm a stickler about respecting signs.) In the end I worry about the color being wrong for me, I think I need a black one instead. But having only seen knock-offs before, I was quite impressed with how beautiful this chair was. The visible edge of the plywood has got to be seen to be appreciated.

Theres so much there it's overwhelming - I think I need to look more carefully though their ads and go up again with a plan to buy.

Friday, March 20, 2009

AMC Week: 10 cars WAY uglier than a Pacer

The poor AMC Pacer finds itself at or near the top of more ugly car lists than a Corvair, but it didn't take me long at all to build a list of 10 uglier cars. I give you the internet's first Pacer and Corvair-free list of 10 WAY uglier cars:

10. Nissan Murano

I have some shoes that look just like this.

9. Mercedes R Class

Left out in the sun too long.

8. 2005ish Chevy Monte Carlo

My friend Ariel reminded me about Monte Carlo's thyroidal trunk and wavy plastic bumpers. This shot makes it look too cool and abstract.

7. LTD II based Ford Ranchero

HUGE! Half Ford LTD II half Ford F150, this monolith is popular among collectors, and hardly anyone else.

6. Chevy Aveo

This screams unfortunate rental.

5. Pontiac Le Mans

It looks just like a little Pontiac Aztec! Le Mans did have one thing going for it - heritage as a variant of the Opel Kadette / Chevy Chevette / Isuzi Gemini.

4. Zimmer Golden Spirit

Lurking deep inside is a late 70's mustang. You see it around the middle, peeking out from the unchanged doors, door glass, and windshield. Hideous.

3. Pontiac Transsport / Chevy Lumina

I have a little one of these on a handle I use to clean messy crumbs.

2. Pontiac Aztec

It looks just like a bloated Le Mans!

1. Toyota Solara

This takes top honors in part because it's most often driven by unattractive people made highly visible by their convertible. It's almost a performance art piece - watch as they drive oblivious to how disturbing they are in their ugly vehicle. This is the best angle, and it's still 100% ugly.

AMC Week: Collier Motors - the last remaining dealership

Photos above by Wigwam Jones
see more pictures and read about it here

Photos above by Donnie of
See more of his Collier AMC photos here
(look, in the last shot, a Corvair!)

Stuck in some time other than our own, the AMC dealership in Pikeville North Carolina continues to operate and sell cars and parts. Some of the cars still have their original stickers in the windows. Apparently when AMC began retailing Renault in the late '70's/early '80's, Robert Collier didn't agree with this new direction and decided to concentrate only on AMC designed and built cars. It's an amazing sight.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

AMC Week: Collections

Rambler Ranch in Denver covers 50's (Nash, Rambler) through the 80's AMCs. 360 cars and an appliance collection. Visit by reservation, start at "Tour Info" on their web site.

The Rambler-AMC museum in Berlikum, Friesland, The Netherlands. 55 cars including Ramblers and AMCs Oh, and dear to my heart, some Corvair Greenbriar vans, apparently!

AMC Week: 1965 Cavalier

While I'm focusing on the 70's and 80's, which I consider the "Helvetica and Abstract-A" glory days of American Motors, I can't resist this! Before the name Cavalier became a disappointing replacement for GM's Monza, it was applied to a styling exercise on symmetry at AMC.

All about it's interchangeable parts, the Cavalier's front right fender could be exchanged for it's rear left , and front left for rear right. The hood and deck - interchangable, while the suicide hinged doors and door glass were symmetrical too. A flying buttress C pillar gave the Cavalier a more conventional long hood / short deck profile, despite the strict symmetry.

I love the door handles in the side view - and cant help but wonder what modernist building this was photographed at - maybe something at an AMC facility. The styling of this car totaly works when contrasted with the other similarly sized offerings out there at the time - Corvair and Falcon. There's something so absolutely familiar and 'Corvair' about the proportions.

Richard Teague would go on to style the similar production Hornet, as well as Pacer and Gremlin.

AMC Week: Eagle Sundancer

In 1981 and '82, a convertible version of the AMC Eagle (based on the Concord, based on the Hornet) was available by order from AMC dealerships. It was converted by the Griffith Company, in Fort Lauderdale, who also made the Celica Sunchaser, as well as conversions for Camaro and Corolla.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AMC Week: The '70's and '80's Commercials

A snapshot of the final 15 years of American Motors. Energy crisis through eighties excess. Pacer! Gremlin! Eagle! Le Car! Rebates! American Motors Buyers Protection Plan!

AMC Week: 1972 Gucci Hornet Sportabout

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AMC Week: Pacer

AMC Week: Armitron & Electron

In 1968, AMC showed an electric car, the Armitron, a three passenger vehicle powered by Lithium-Nickel batteries. To save weight and provide more hauling room, the seats were inflatable.

With subtle styling changes the Armitron was shown again as the Electron in 1979 as part of AMC's Concept 80 show, featuring four other forward looking prototypes.

AMC Week: Concept Cars

Illustration: Steve Stanford
April 2008, Hot Rod magazine published an article about AMC's return to the market with a full like of compelling retro-styled cars, which of course was later revealed as a perfect April Fool's joke. Article | Gallery

Monday, March 16, 2009

AMC Week: Cardin Javelin (1973)

From Amerian Motors internal memo to dealers dated December 15, 1971:
"Pierre Cardin, the world-famous French designer, has created a unique, bold interior trim theme for the 1972 Javelin SST... it will be priced at $84.95 ADP. The "Cardin" interior is expressed in Black with bold multi-color pleated stripes on the custom fabric seat upholstery (100% Nylon with Silicone finish) which is repeated on the headliner and siumlated on the door panel inserts."