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USA TODAY’s Chris Woodyard talks to Bernard Carl about his 1970 American Motors AMX-3.
USA TODAY

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — You got to wonder what would have happened if some prototypes had actually become production cars. The 1970 American Motors AMX/3 is a perfect example.

It’s beautiful and sleek, the kind of car that would have made hearts race in the day. Could it have saved American Motors? Probably not, but it sure would have picked up a lot of fans along the way.

The AMX/3 was envisioned as a mid-engine, high-performance sports car. It had the power to back it up: Its 390 cubic-inch V-8 produced 425 horsepower.

Bernard Carl of Washington, D.C., brought the car to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance over the summer.

Carl says the engineering was done by BMW. The styling was a product of noted designer Giotto Bizzarrini, and the car was unveiled in Rome, according to its history prepared for the event.

“It was supposed to be their ‘halo car,'” Carl says, referring to the industry term for particularly stylish cars aimed at luring potential customers to dealerships, where they often end up other, more practical models. At the time of the AMX/3’s design, American Motors was involved in Trans Am racing.

Four AMX/3’s were built.

American Motors canceled the program when Ford came out with the Pantera,another sleek, exclusive sports car of the era, Carl says. But at least this AMX/3 specimen remains.

“It would have been a really competitive car,” he says.