By on March 3, 2011

Sales of the Gremlin-based AMC Spirit in the United States were pretty dismal, but perhaps that was just the result of the suits in Kenosha choosing the wrong ad agency. Let’s head south of the border to see how VAM, which built certain AMC models under license for the Mexican market, pitched the ’81 Rally AMX.

You still see a fair number of VAM-built AMCs in Mexico these days, as I discovered during a visit to Nayarit last year. Sadly, Renault ended up taking over VAM and shutting down the operation in the late 1980s, which is why you don’t see ’03 Javelins.

Yes, it’s a pair of VAM Rally AMXs terrorizing a once-peaceful Mexican village, while Satan saws at his fiddle and chickens flee in terror!

Let’s compare that excellent piece of marketing to what Los Norteamericanos got in their ads for the Spirit: a tedious comparison to the Chevette, a machine that can hardly be called an automobile.

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6 Comments on “El Diablo Went Down To Georgia: The 1981 VAM Rally AMX...”

  • avatar

    The Mexican ad offered character, while the American ad offered reason.
    When the Gremlin appeared, it was sold on character because there wasn’t anything else to sell it. Within four years, the Gremlin’s character appeal worked and sales were at their best. It was a car you could buy that even offered Levi interiors. It was cool.

    The car was utterly obsolete by 1981 and everyone knew it. Those who bought the car during it’s boom years didn’t want another one, and those who didn’t buy one had no new reason to change their minds. After a decade of being a sawed-off Hornet, the gimmick ended and all AMC had left to sell this car was a reasoned plea.

    Comparing itself to a Chevette? That is little better than comparing the Gremlin to a Schwinn.

  • avatar

    A friend of mine in high school had a Spirit. A more laughably crude car would be hard to imagine.

  • avatar

    Hmm.. the iron maiden or burned alive, the iron maiden or burned alive, tough choices for 1979

  • avatar

    Interesting coincidence: today’s Curbside Classic:

  • avatar

    Wow imagine if ad agencies were as bold as that Mexican ad agency was 32 years ago! Can you imagine two Honda Civics facing off on a farm somewhere? The lawyers would go ape!
    OTOH, a Spirit with A/C for that kind of money in inflationary 1979 prices isn’t too bad. To compare, my brother bought a fairly stripped (no air for sure) Mercury Zephyr (Ford Fairmont clone) for about $4400 in 1978. To put that in perspective, my father bought a nicely equipped Mercury Montego for about $4000 in 1975.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I owned 3 AMC Grand Wagoneers ,actually 5 , because  the  CHrycos were virtually  identical.  By current  standards  the  build  quality is  terrible. But  compared  to  big 3 cars  of  the  same age, AMC  comes  out  rather ok . I miss  AMC . Their muscle cars  are undervalued  compared  to other  muscle cars of  the  era.

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