About this same time, Jimi was involved with the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) as race director. The concept was to create an event that would take the best show cars and put them on the track to see if they could perform as well as they looked. As Jimi worked with Cam Douglass to develop the details of OUSCI, the specifics of how his AMX would be built and what would be expected of the car in terms of performance evolved. That’s also when Randy Johnson of D&Z Customs got involved. Together, Jimi and Randy hatched a plan that would put Jimi’s vision into metal and rubber.
That vision included a car that had plenty of modern power for acceleration, very big brakes to slow the car as it came into corners, and completely reworked suspension to get an AMC through the corners like no other since 1971 when Roger Penske and Mark Donahue campaigned a Javelin in the SCCA Trans-Am series. In true Pro Touring spirit, the car had to be built to perform at its best in all of these areas, but also look good and have modern conveniences like air conditioning and tunes that can overpower the Hooker mufflers.
The body was left mostly original....
The body was left mostly original. Turnkey Restorations took on the challenge of making sure the sheetmetal was perfect and sprayed the car in muscle car–appropriate PPG Porsche Guards Red and Innsbruck White. A thin blue pinstripe completes the classic AMC red, white, and blue color combo.
This is when things got interesting. You can’t just flip through a catalog and buy everything you need to create a dead-flat handling AMC. Instead, Randy at D&Z got very creative, adapting a Heidts Camaro front subframe and suspension, and custom-building just about everything that makes up the rear suspension. RideTech coilovers are at all four corners to allow for height adjustments and relatively easy spring-rate swaps and weight jacking for serious corner tuning. Wilwood 14-inch rotors with six-piston calipers were employed on the front of the car, while only slightly smaller 13-inch rotors and four-piston calipers slow the rear. Being a bit unconventional, the car relies on Wilwood non-power master cylinders for braking. That’s genuine race car technology. The rotors are covered by 18-inch Rushforth Night Train wheels, wrapped in BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW tires.
After figuring out the suspension, installing a GM drivetrain wasn’t too difficult. The engine is a GM Performance Parts LS3 crate motor with an LS7 cam from COMP Cams. The combo is good for 557 hp at the flywheel and 453 hp at the rear wheels on a stingy Mustang eddy current dyno. One of the coolest features on the engine is that the coil packs have been moved off of the valve covers with D&Z Customs relocation brackets. They now rest below the spark plugs, hidden next to the engine block. Behind the engine is a Keisler five-speed, interrupted with a Centerforce dual-disc clutch.
The interior is a cool collection of requisite race car equipment and luxury items. The massive Auto Meter Phantom II gauges sit in the factory AMX gauge cluster. The center stack is trimmed in carbon fiber, and Vintage Air controls replace the original heat and defroster levers. The five-point RideTech harnesses (OK, technically they’re only four-point because the crotch strap is missing) slide through leather-covered racing seats. A Hertz amp and subwoofer ride below the RideTech TigerCage. You get the idea. Business first, but comfort and style are a close tie for second place.
The interior is a decided...
The interior is a decided mix of new and old. The 5-inch Auto Meter Phantom II speedo and tach look as though they belong in the original AMX instrument panel. A stainless steel RideTech TigerCage helps stiffen the AMX and protects its occupants from injury if things get out of hand.
Will this be the final form that Jimi’s AMX will manifest itself in? Probably not. It took 21 years for him to achieve ownership, and the car has already seen three very different stages in just 10 years. We expect that this car will be reinvented over and over again, but one thing will remain the same: It will always be a two-seater with a nasty V-8 underhood!
“The goal was to make adjustments to the suspension, drop in a GM LS3, and go racing.” —Jimi Day
Type: GMPP LS3 crate motor
Oiling: Accusump system with remote oil filter and cooler
Rotating assembly: GMPP forged crank, steel connecting rods, hypereutectic pistons
Cylinder heads: GMPP aluminum heads with 2.165/1.59-inch valves
Camshaft: COMP Cams with 230/242 degrees at .050 and .572/.593-inch lift