The 1970 AMC Rebel Machine has long been one of the most underrated muscle cars. The Machine featured a 390 cid V8 engine that produced 340 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque, and it was a fantastic budget muscle car which screamed patriotism with its red, white, and blue paint theme. Sadly, the Machine was only for 1970, with AMC essentially replacing it with the 1971 AMC S/C Hornet 360. Let’s take a few minutes and look back at the 1970 AMC Rebel Machine and the three years that preceded it.
1967–1970 AMC Rebel Overview
The AMC Rebel only lasted a total of one generation and four model years. For the first two years, they branded it the Rambler Rebel as the successor to the defunct Rambler Classic. From 1969–1970, they branded it simply the AMC Rebel. AMC priced it at just $2,294 for the cheapest model or $2,872 for the top line SST convertible. Comparatively, the Rebel was above the standard Rambler but below the AMX.
Through 1969, engines ranged from a 232 inline-six at just 145 horsepower, to a 343 V8 that produced 280 horsepower. In 1970, the Rebel began using larger 360 and 390 V8s, which produced as much as 290–340 horsepower, respectively. AMC only put the high-output 390 in the Machine, which is still one of the best but most underrated muscle cars of the era.
Sales were quite good year-over-year, though they dropped considerably from a high of 95,000 in its inaugural year down to just 50,000 by 1970. They made less than 2,000 versions of the Rebel Machine, making it exceedingly rare today.
1967 AMC Rebel
The 1967 AMC Rebel debuted as the successor to the Rambler Classic. It rode on a new longer 114 inch wheelbase, and was a complete redesign of the prior year Classic. The body had relatively smooth lines, the “coke-bottle” style appearance, a semi-fastback roof on the two-doors, and obviously, new badging. AMC made three trims available, the 550, 770, or SST. The SST stood for Super Sport Touring, and was the highest performance version. AMC gave the SST Rebels simulated air intake scoops over the rear wheels which distinguished them from other trims.
There were four body styles available: A four-door sedan or station wagon, a two-door hardtop coupe, or a two-door convertible. Only convertibles were available with the SST option, and the hardtop coupe was only for the 770 or SST.
There were three engines available at five different power levels. The lowest was the 232 inline-six, which made either 145 horsepower with a single-barrel carb or 155 horsepower with a double-barrel. The next step up was the 290 V8, which produced 200 horsepower through a double-barrel carb. The top of the line option was the 343 V8. This made either 235 horsepower with a double-barrel or 280 horsepower with a quad-barrel carb.
1968 AMC Rebel
The 1968 AMC Rebel was pretty much unchanged from the year prior, with only minor cosmetic upgrades. They redesigned the taillights and door handles, while eliminating the body side moldings. The SST was still the top of the line option, and only came with the 290 or 343 V8s. Engine options were unchanged from the year prior, offering the same output. This was the final year for the SST convertible.
1969 AMC Rebel
The 1969 AMC Rebel dropped the Rambler moniker for good. It got about an inch longer, and the convertible was no longer an option. Revisions from the year prior included a new grille, deck lid, and wraparound tail lights. The SST models lost their simulated air scoops, which became chrome strips instead, and were no-longer V8 only. The SSTs did however get a custom steering wheel and dual horns.
No longer available were the 550 and 770 trims, as only the base and SST remained. Station Wagons had a secret and lockable rear storage compartment and dual hinged tailgate. Once again, engine options remained the same with no change in output.
1970 AMC Rebel
In the 1970 AMC Rebel, things changed for the better. Visually, the rear bumper got much bigger and there was new rear quarter panel styling. The tail lights once again were new, with dual designs that said Rebel between them. There was now the base, SST, and top of the line Machine.
Engine wise, the base versions lost the 290 and 343 V8s, but also got the 360 V8 and 390 V8 — with the latter only available in either the SST or Machine trims. The 360 V8 made either 245 horsepower with 8.5:1 compression and a double-barrel, or 290 horsepower with 10.0:1 compression and a quad-barrel carburetor.
For the Rebel SST, the 390 V8 made 325 horsepower with a quad-barrel carburetor. The 390 engine is known for having high-nickel content, forged connecting rods and crankshaft, and heavier main bearing support webbing for improved strength. The 1970 version was a one year only improvement over the 1968–1969 blocks, and it was stroked to 401 cid in 1971.
1970 AMC Rebel Machine
The cream of the crop for the 1970 AMCs was the Rebel Machine. They first brought out the Rebel Machine to the public in October 1969 at the NHRA World Championship drags in Dallas. It was basically an SST, but had high-back bucket seats, a heavy-duty cooling system that used a Power-Flex fan, a functional Ram-air hood scoop, upgraded suspension and a handling package.
Compared with the 390 inside the SST, the Machine’s 390 made an additional 15 horsepower for 340 horsepower total. This was due to the ram-air system, high-flow dual plane intake, and high-flow dogleg cylinder heads.
It also had a dual-exhaust system, front and rear sway bars, power-disc brakes, a limited-slip differential, and a Detroit Locker with up to 5.00:1 ratios. For a transmission, a Borg-Warner T10 Hurst floor-shifted four-speed was one option. A pistol-grip shifted automatic was also available.
For the first 1,000 units sold, only a red, white, and blue color scheme was available. The body was white and there were red stripes from the fender back and a blue section on the hood where the scoop and hood-mounted tachometer were.
It’s unfortunate the Rebel Machine only lasted one year, but that somewhat adds to its mystery and charm. The next year, AMC replaced it with the S/C Hornet 360, which was nice, but not quite on the level of the Machine.
1967–1970 AMC Rebel Engines
|1967-1970||232 I6 (1bbl)||145 horsepower||215 lb-ft|
|1967-1970||232 I6 (2bbl)||155 horsepower||222 lb-ft|
|1967-1969||290 V8 (2bbl)||200 horsepower||285 lb-ft|
|1967-1969||343 V8 (2bbl)||235 horsepower||345 lb-ft|
|1967-1969||343 V8 (4bbl)||280 horsepower||365 lb-ft|
|1970||304 V8 (2bbl)||210 horsepower||305 lb-ft|
|1970||360 V8 (2bbl)||245 horsepower||365 lb-ft|
|1970||360 V8 (4bbl)||290 horsepower||395 lb-ft|
|1970||390 V8 (4bbl) (SST)||325 horsepower||420 lb-ft|
|1970||390 V8 (4bbl) (Machine)||340 horsepower||430 lb-ft|
1967–1970 AMC Rebel Production Numbers
|Model Year||Body Style||Production Total|
|1967||Rambler Rebel 550||26,215|
|Rambler Rebel 770||51,982|
|Rambler Rebel SST||16,973|
|1968||Rambler Rebel 550||29,893|
|Rambler Rebel 770||38,733|
|Rambler Rebel SST||10,699|
AMC Rebel FAQ
The AMC Rebel was a solid if unspectacular offering from 1967–1970. The SST trim was the top of the line version, and had tasteful upgrades. The best was the 1970 AMC Rebel Machine, which made 340 horsepower through a huge 390 cid V8 engine. It was by far the best AMC Rebel ever built.
The 1970 AMC Rebel Machine and AMC Rebel SST were the only Rebels that can be considered muscle cars. They both used a powerful 390 cid V8 engine, and had suspension and handling upgrades to make them very formidable at the track and on the drag strip.
According to official literature, they produced 1,936 versions of the 1970 AMC Rebel Machine.