MotorCities National Heritage Area

By Robert Tate, Award-Winning Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of Hot Rod Archives, Motor Trend Archives, and Chrysler Archives
Published 1.24.2024

1970 AMC Rebel Machine ad Chrysler Archives 3A 1970 AMC Rebel Machine ad (Chrysler Archives)

The 1970 Rebel Machine from the American Motors Corporation (AMC) was a muscle car that many automotive fans really admired. These models had an impressive design along with a great high performance engine package.

At the dawn of the 1970s, AMC was facing difficult times, including ongoing UAW labor disputes, quality control issues, and major shake ups in its top management. However, its advertising agency, Wells Rich Greene, recognized a new buyers’ market -- young adults who were interested in high-performance intermediate fast cars like the earlier successful Hurst SC/Rambler.

1970 AMC Rebel Machine introduced at the NHRA World Championship October 1969 Motor Trend 1The 1970 AMC Rebel Machine introduced at the NHRA World Championship, October 1969 (Motor Trend)

The 1970 AMC Rebel Machine was introduced at the NHRA World Championship drag racing event in October 1969. The first 100 models were delivered from AMC’s Kenosha, Wisconsin plant with a 390 cubic inch/340 hp engine and a very popular Hurst shifter.

1970 AMC Rebel Machine pamphlet Chrysler Archives RESIZED 2The cover of a 1970 AMC Rebel Machine pamphlet (Chrysler Archives)

Some automotive historians have reported that the Rebel Machine was a joint venture between AMC and the Hurst Company. The project came together led by Hurst Performance Research Vice President David L. Landrith and AMC Vice President of Marketing R.W. “Bill” McNeeley.

1970 AMC Rebel Machine promotional photo Chrysler Archives 4A 1970 AMC Rebel Machine promotional photo (Chrysler Archives)

The Rebel Machine emblems were located on the front fender side along with a rear trim panel’s right hand side emblem as well. Some Rebel Machine models offered a red, white and blue paint scheme enjoyed by many auto enthusiasts. Many solid colors were also offered.

1970 AMC Rebel Machine Motor Trend 5The 1970 AMC Rebel Machine (Motor Trend)

The Rebel Machine cartoon logo on the side of the vehicle proved to be very popular. The logo was illustrated by the artist Johnny Hart, creator of the “BC” comic strip. The cartoon sticker could be ordered through AMC for 25 cents and subsequently became collectors’ items (if you can find one). The early Rebel Machines with their great graphics, were designed by Hurst’s Gene Baker, who had previously designed the popular Hurst SC/Rambler models.

1970 AMC Rebel Machine RESIZED 6Another view of the 1970 AMC Rebel Machine (

For the 1970 model year, the rear end received new styling. AMC wanted to make a styling splash for 1970 with the young adult market, so advertising campaigns were run in popular automotive magazines like Car Craft, Hot Rod, and Motor Trend in December 1969. The advertisement said, “Introducing the Rebel Machine.”  

At the time of its introduction, the Rebel Machine came with a price tag of $3,475. Despite a limited production schedule of only 2,362 units, the Rebel Machine proved to be very popular in 1970.

1970 AMC Rebel Machine side door logo 7The 1970 AMC Rebel Machine side door logo (

Today, the 1970 Rebel Machine models are in great demand by collectors. A restorable model would cost a collector more than $10,000 as is. The 1970 Rebel Machines came equipped with an automatic or a manual transmission for the consumer package when purchasing.

1970 AMC Rebel Machine Hot Rod Archives RESIZED 8The 1970 AMC Rebel Machine at a race track (Hot Rod Archives)

In conclusion, the early 1970s were a time when AMC overcame a tight budget to introduce an imaginative, great-looking, high-performance muscle car called the Rebel Machine. Today, the Rebel Machine is still very popular among automotive enthusiasts and will always be included as a part of muscle car history.


Kowalke, Ron. “Standard Guide to American Muscle Cars 1960-1995.” Krause Publications, 1996.

McClurg, Bob. “Red, White & Fast 1970 AMC Rebel Machine: Giving AMC’s performance intermediate a second look.” Motor Trend, July 31, 2015.

Frumkin, MJ. “Classic Muscle Car Advertising: The Art of Selling Horsepower.” Krause Publications, 2002.