“We only got it a year ago, but it seems like it’s been in our life forever,” says Jim Ring, who bought it from a guy who purchased it new in 1972 and hung on to it all these years.
“I was never an AMX guy. I always thought they were cool cars – who wouldn’t? – but I never owned one. One day I was cooking fish at a Friday night fish fry at my church and the original owner was there and of course I asked him if he still had the car. He said, ‘Yeah, in my basement. You want to buy it?’ and that was it. We had to have it. He was aware of what we do and was excited to see it come back to life.”
“You could walk around G-Code [the award-winning ’69 Camaro that’s probably their best-known car], and not even notice all the things we did to it – that used to happen all the time. People didn’t catch a lot of the details – they just knew they liked it.”
That just doesn’t happen with this car, dubbed “Defiant.” It’s anything but subtle. The front axle is moved forward 6-1/2 inches, and instead of remaking all the sheetmetal for the extended wheelbase, the Ringbrothers team scanned the car and used Solidworks 3D digital design software to recreate the fenders, machining them from chunks of Styrofoam and then hand-laying everything in carbon fiber. Everything from the windshield forward – the fenders, hood, grille, and valance – is 100% carbon.
“We tried to take some cues from the Dodge Charger and some of the old ‘Cudas with the styled grille,” Ring says.
The hood had to be completely redesigned anyway to accommodate the supercharged Hellcat that’s stuffed into the engine compartment.
“We hid the extra height needed in the hood a little with a color combination so didn’t come out like a ‘trashcan’ hood but still looks like an AMX. We didn’t want to just stick another LS in a car like this, and there’s no old school AMX engine really worthy of it.”
Instead, they went with a brand-new Wegner Motorsports-built 6.2-liter Mopar Hellcat fitted with a 4.5L Whipple supercharger that puts out more than 1,000 horsepower.
To monitor and control all the Hellcat horsepower and make it something that’s a joy and not a chore to drive, Jim and Mike relied on a complete Holley Dominator EFI system.
“All the Holley EFI components turned this thing into a gentle giant,” Jim says. “You’d never know the engine has almost 1,100 HP … until you put your foot in the gas and the tires practically explode. Holley EFI made the car drivable, predictable, and just a pleasure to drive.”
Unveiled at the 2017 SEMA Show, Defiant was completed in less than a year – it had to be to make the SEMA Show deadline.
“It takes so much time and money to build something like this. We knew we were really biting off a lot with this project – more than once we wondered if it was too much, and at times it was pretty stressful. Most guys who attempt something like this take two or three years and spend two and a half or three million dollars. We didn’t spend anything close to that, but I can tell you how many man-hours went into this project: 5,000.”
The car was bankrolled by Prestone to commemorate their 90th anniversary and when it made its triumphant debut in Las Vegas in November, it was a smash hit, drawing constant attention from show goers all four days.
“AMCs use components from Ford, GM, and Chryslers, so it was the perfect vehicle to show how their stuff works in everything,” Ring says. “We’ve built a lot of cars over the years, but this one got more attention than anything we’ve ever done.”