CAR FEATURE: The Grand Touring AMC Rebel Machine

photos by: the author

A Resurrected Parts Car Rebel Machine Earns a New Lease on Life in a Controversial Way

If you were to rewind the clocks back to 1970, you would find a plethora of muscle cars to choose from. There were more models, more engine offerings and for more trim choices. Heck, there were even several more makes that no longer exist today, that offered at least a few different cars to wrap yourself in, to take on the would-be Boulevard Warriors.

One often overlooked and forgotten marque, is AMC. Formed as a result of a merger by Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson in 1954, American Motors Corporation would produce some rather interesting and unusual vehicles. Initially a manufacturer producing small, and economy-minded vehicles like the Rambler in the late-50s and early-60s, AMC held off on jumping onto the musclecar bandwagon for as long as it could.

It wouldn’t be until around 1968, where they could no longer ignore the sales success of the Ford Mustang and Pontiac GTO. It would be at that point where they would get themselves fully-involved in the muscle car wars, by offering entries like the Marlin, Javelin, AMX, and hopping-up their halo car with the help of Hurst, with the SC/Rambler.

For a very brief time, there was a mid-sized coupe in the Rebel, that offered the SST and the one-year only Machine performance packages. The 1970 Rebel Machine was available in the standard colors off of the AMC palette, as well as a super patriotic red, white and blue color scheme. The latter is what you’re looking at here.

Although this particular example started out in life with the AMX-sourced 390 cubic-inch mill packing 340hp and 430 lb-ft of torque, it’s no longer doing so these days. To put it into context, what you’re looking at here is a former parts car turned grand-touring, as we’d like to call it.

What’s grand touring? Basically, in our opinion, it’s a car that’s been modified and retrofitted to handle, stop and perform much like a pro-touring car, but is actually built to take on the real world — the open road. That includes 1,000-mile road trips, the daily grind, and in some cases, inclement weather. Where most pro-touring cars could technically do the same, many of them are so track-focused to the point that you really wouldn’t want to.

However, the sum of this car’s parts aren’t solely the reason why we’ve elected to shoot it for this publication. Nope. In fact, we love not only the uniqueness of what it is, but also the owner’s story as well.

As the car’s owner, Bunt Geary tells us, his dad Steve, had given him the car when he was just 13 — over 28 years ago. Being a dyed in the wool AMC man himself, he was determined to instill some of that passion for the brand into his son. Having built and restored several AMCs over the years, the Rebel was what was left of a parts car when Bunt acquired it.

By the time we caught up with Bunt and his Rebel, it was a the finished product you see here at LS Fest 2018. We had intended to shoot the car back then, but scheduling conflicts and a rainout on one of the days simply wouldn’t allow it. Another year would pass, but this time we were determined to set some time aside to tell his story.

As it turns out, Bunt has been working on the car, in various stage and in different formats, since he was around 16 years old. It still had a 390 until recent years, but after a few costly rebuilds he decided he wanted to try something different for the car.

Starting with the obvious, a 6.2-liter LS3 from a 2013 Corvette now sits between the flanks. Although it looks completely  stock from the outset, it has been modified with a COMP Cams bumpstick. It features a 225/238 duration, 612/585 lift and a 113 lobe-separation angle. It’s also equipped with a Holley oil pan, and a set of Hooker headers.

The exhaust modifications continue, with a custom fabricated X-pipe and MagnaFlow mufflers. The 2.5-inch tuning was bent by Hoovers Hot Rods. The pipes exit out of each side, just before the rear tires, and unless you’re really paying attention you’ll probably miss them.

Bunt shifts the car with a Lokar shifter, though a 4L60E. The 450-plus horsepower is sent to the rear’s 3.54 gears. Mr. Geary credits Terry Hohimer for the engine work, and ShorTuning for getting the ECU dialed in, for the perfect balance of performance and reliability. An Optima yellow top battery helps keep all of the electrical systems running perfectly.

Inside the cockpit, it’s pretty much standard issue Rebel Machine, with the exception of the aforementioned Lokar shifter, Edge Insight monitor and KP Components air management controllers. Twenty-inch diameter Eagle 225 alloys, with 8-inches of width in the front and ten in the rear, give the car an even more menacing stance, while helping the Rebel stay in the corners on the back country roads. They’re wrapped in Nitto Invo rubber.

Speaking of, the suspension has also been outfitted with Ridetech front and rear shocks, and Slam Specialties air bags. These components allow Bunt to raise and lower the car according to the road surface, as well as nearly putting the car on the ground when parked, if he chooses to. The handling is much improved over the factory setup.

If you’re wondering where Bunt had the bodywork handled, he didn’t have to travel too far. He enlisted the help of his Dad, Steve Geary’s Body Shop in Hartford, Kentucky, to handle the final finish. According to Bunt’s tech sheet, PPG DBU and base coat/clear coat in the factory hues were laid down.

It should be noted that between the first time we spotted the car in 2018, to just a few weeks ago, there have been thousands of miles set on the AMC. Most notably, the 1400-mile trek from Kentucky to Biloxi, Mississippi’s Scrapin’ the Coast with his 65-year old dad and his 5-year old son, Bentley riding shotgun.

As Bunt tells us, the car performed flawlessly and provided an awesome experience, while laying down decent fuel economy and excellent comfort. The suspension isn’t too stiff, the car isn’t too loud and it was reliable as a top.

We call it, grand touring.

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Rick Seitz

Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of AutoCentric Media, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles; GM, Ford, Dodge, imports, trucks -- you name it! When he isn't clacking away on his keyboard, he's building, tuning, driving or testing his current crop of personal projects!

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