But once a year, there is a show where they can proudly display their Ramblers, Gremlins, and Matadors, without muscle car owners laughing at them or confused spectators asking "what year Plymouth is this?" The American Motors Owners Association National Convention is a place where AMCs get the respect they deserve.
Most car shows aren't that interesting to me. Once you've seen one split-window Sting Ray with an old guy in sitting in a camp chair next to it, you've seen them all. I also feel this weird sort of tension, as if these men all secretly want me to start an argument with them, so they can prove why their car is harder/better/faster/stronger than all the other ones there. However, I found the 2015 AMO Convention to be quite the opposite.
The sense of machismo and rivalry typical of classic cars is seemingly absent, replaced with a feeling of "we're all in this together." The owners seem happy just to have each other, as if there is some unspoken bond that unites them all. Considering that in 1968 Ford built over 100,000 more Mustangs than AMC built total cars, they may be right. As one man put it, "All AMCs are rare; we have to stick together!"
Speaking of the young, it seems AMC is attracting a new generation of enthusiasts. Disgusted by the ridiculously high prices of other classics, millennials have taken to snapping up Hornets, Gremlins, Pacers, Spirits, Concords, and Eagles for only thousands (or even hundreds) of dollars on Craigslist. Many of collectors are younger than the cars they drive, drawn to them simply because they are unique, yet affordable. It seems the values AMC touted long ago are still holding true today.
Of course, nobody ever accused AMC owners of being normal, and the most enthusiastic of them are quite interesting. I was introduced to a man who owned no less than 15 Gremlins. I saw countless people with AMC hats, shirts, coats, and even tattoos. I met a Pacer owner who drove all the way from North Carolina, bringing with him half the drivetrain of an Eagle in back of his car, who then proceeded to install woodgrain trim on the show field just hours before the judging started.
They shared their time and their stories with me. They answered my dumb questions, and didn't insult me for asking. They told me how much they enjoyed my YouTube videos, and invited me to come film their cars. I was blown away by their genuine kindness and generosity. By the end of the weekend, I felt like I was part of the AMC family.
Eventually, the show ended, cars were packed up, boxes of parts were stowed away, and the people sadly went their separate ways. Driving home in my Subaru, I already could hardly wait to start making more AMC videos. There is such a rich history here that is just begging to be told. Meanwhile, I'm keeping an eye on Craigslist, too...