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Markings, Tags and Build Codes

Follow the Trail...

American Motors was pretty crude when it came to matching paperwork with parts or even the entire car. Their records were very basic and this situation was made immeasurably worse when Chrysler bought AMC and when they took over, ordered the files disposed of, the design drawing tossed, and the dies and jigs used to make the parts all destroyed. When you take a car apart for the first time, you find bits of paper in unlikely places. Dabs of paint that appear meaningless. They all mean something to the guys on the line. Not much to anyone else unless you've shared information and talked to other owners. Having done that your ownership experience is much deeper and rounder.

Owning these cars today is no longer about transportation. They're about a lifestyle that's passing into history and the cars that remain are milestones. That's why it's my contention that being an owner it's not a bad idea to record some of the things you've done with your car. The adventures you've had. Fun, sorrow, all part of who we of our generation are and were. These cars represent an era in human history like no other. Cars designed from 1967 to 1973 were designed as personality cars. They were intended to reflect the personality of the new owners.

All of the two door hardtops and sedans were also intended as street racers almost without exception. A far cry from the attitudes of corporations and the general public today. That attitude was inspired by AMCs competitors who made cars with powerful engines that had terrible brakes, poor suspension and the weight of their big blocks meant that none of them could stop or corner very well compared to a Rebel Machine.

None of that shows of course in those little slips of paper, metal tags, decals, labels and daubs of paint that should be scattered about in your car, but that's how the information was transmitted to transform your Machine from raw material into one of the very best cars built by anyone in the last fifty years of the twentieth century.


The underside of my Rebel Machine #1's roof before it was acid dipped.


In Rebel Machine circles, 25A is mantra. It's not noted anywhere in the Parts Book 1967 - 1972. The instructions for applying the paint scheme and the graphics are vestigial. Except here when I post it. I have all the information the factory should have had before they built the cars. Or maybe they had it and it got thrown out like so many other important things. 

As the bodies came down the line, scraps of newsprint (not even real newsprint) stuck to the underside of the roofs told the painter(s) which cars were to be painted with the 25A scheme. That is the B-6 and P-72 hood and the body below the lowest body crease. 

You only find these scraps when the roof liner is removed. At that point parts of the note to the painter come fluttering down in jagged pieces. if you don't know to save them, they end up in the garbage. And what exactly do we save them for?

After all, they rightly end up stuck back in the headliner where they will never be seen again. By anyone alive today most likely.  But we do it to preserve originality in the hopes that someday, the car will become impossibly valuable with it and worth much less without it. It's a great dream but it represents documentation to the anally adjusted

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