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The Rebel Machine Stripe Kit Program (Part 2)

Digitizing the stripe kits once the measurements were made was a lot of work and could not have been done without having the second run set on hand and the spare Rebel body parts to help ensure a correct fit.

It should be understood that since my stripe kits were based on the second run artwork, there are deviations from my first run stripe kits that even I could not anticipate..Since then I've acquired the original dyes that AMC and 3M used to make the original first run stripe kits that were very distinct from the second run produced in the late 80s.

There is no more complicated nor more difficult production automotive graphics out there that I know of. All of the dimensions are critical and there is little margin for error.

Predictably, after a few years of me successfully making the stripe kits, Phoenix Graphics suddenly decided it was worth their while to jump into the game. The rumour is that they paid a lot of money to get permission from Chrysler to produce the stripe kit. What they got for that money was permission and apparently that was all. No artwork, no colour specifications, no information and no help. Since no one at Phoenix Graphics had the slightest idea what Rebel Machine stripes are supposed to look like or even what the correct name of the stripe kit is when they started making the stripes, what they made were kits that were wildly incorrect. As of this date they still advertise their kits as being correct with an illustration of an incorrect kit. That's how much they care about getting it right for their customers. On the other hand from a marketing standpoint, how many kits are sold per year? There are only two to five cars in active assembly in a given year. There are only about three hundred Machines left and half of those are solid colour cars. Most of the Machines on the Registry are complete so to spend a lot of time and money fixing a product that could only lose money if you did doesn't make any kind of financial sense.


There is a saying in retail sales:

"It's a bad thing to pay too much. It's worse to pay too little because when you do, you find you have to pay once for the product that was defective and again to replace it with the product that is correct."

The whole reason I started making the stripe kits was because no one including Phoenix was making them. There was no intent and still is no intent on my part to transform the process into a business. What I wanted was a set of stripes for my second Rebel Machine. That's what set this whole thing in motion. But once rolling, each time I did a run, I sold out. Each time I saved a set for myself and each time someone came along at the last minute and made a case for why I should sell him my stripes for my car. So I did. This time it looks like I've finally achieved my goal. So the kits I have left may finally be the last of them. Those people are the people who taught me not to ship a set of stripes without first receiving the money. Not one of them ever paid.

The Machine (above) that started the Rebel Machine Stripe Program in modern times. My luck with this car was uniformly bad. Nothing went right no matter how hard I tried. I spent more money on this car and got less return on it than any other investment in my life. Some things are just not meant to be. The stripe kit on this car was made in a local shop from a poor photograph apparently.

This was the dream for my #2 Rebel. The yellow set of stripes were my first attempt at adding some variety to the Machine concept.

The stripes came out well but the car became a financial liability in too many ways to count.



This is the nightmare #2 ended up being due to absolutely horrible circumstances. Making the stripe kits is so far the only really good thing that has come out of owning that Machine for me. This shot is perfect for demonstrating that you don't attempt to move a car using the rad support and a front end loader. 

Tales from the Rear Quarter

There have been countless discussions about the stripes and the rear quarters. I thought I'd share some of the things with you that this rear quarter has told me. It's kind of beat up and the bottom of it is rusted off. You can't see that in the photo. It's been hit a couple of times but not hard. The stripes are interesting because they are from the first generation of stripes and factory installed when this unidentified Machine was first made. You can clearly see the centre stripe is far from the silvery white that appeared in the second generation of stripes over ten years later. But more interesting than that is the black outline. If you look closely, you can see that the black outline on the horizontal part of the red stripe is a different width on top - wider - than it is on the bottom, much thinner. In fact half the thickness.  The width of the bottom black outline varies from over 3/8th of an inch to a quarter of an inch.

That sort of discrepancy was not typical but it wasn't uncommon either and that has to do with the way the stripes were manufactured. 


The stripes were die-cut in 1969 and now they are cut by a computer-driven knife blade.  In 1969, they would have had material shifting in the dies. You can't see well through the pre-mask so placing it exactly in the dies must have been a challenge. 

As a result, they had differences in the width of the black outlines in various places - particularly as shown on the rear quarter and across the trunk lid. Because of that the stripes could not be counted on to line up exactly. This was the reality throughout the automotive graphics industry, not an AMC specific issue. It wasn't remarked on back then because in those days the cars were not gone over with a microscope to look for flaws as they are today. In fact today, processes are so good that to appear period correct, flaws have to be built back into the restoration process to appear original when it matters.


You can see from this image that the rear edge of the blue stripe parallels the seam of the rear quarter and sits back about 1/8 th of an inch. That is not the case as the stripe crosses the top of the rear fender and descends towards the trunk. The gap increases and varies according to how much of a gap there is between the stripe and the end of the quarter on the vertical side.

On the left you can clearly see the variation in the width of the black key line. If I or anyone else were to produce stripes that were that out of true, there'd be complaints. So there's a limit to how original a modern part can be. Especially in this case because every set of stripes was different. Mine are too but not to this extent.

The Original Grille Stripe

To settle another controversy once and for all, below is a shot of an original first run grille stripe. One piece, not three. A very creamy beige in the centre - not white. In this shot note that the decal folds up the rear wall of the venturi opening by about 1/16" and folds down the front face. The chrome trim is installed with clips on top of that.

Three piece grille stripes were part of the second run kits after AMC had lost the original artwork. The three pieces were run that way to save money. These "mistakes" could be considered stock. But what they aren't is the original design which is THE stock design. This is the same sort of thing as happened with the side marker lights which had square corners. When stock ran out, the replacements had radiussed corners. And the centre cones on the wheels: When they ran out they were replaced by cones with curved side walls. The replacements in both cases were really for the 1971 model year but they fit the 1970 year. No effort was made to re-supply the correct part in any of the three cases. People who make it their business to make certain correct parts are used spending the extra money to get the correct part or in this case the correct stripes. It's an order of magnitude harder to complete a car correctly, but when you do it, the results speak for themselves and when it comes time to sell, attention to detail pays off at the bank. Rebel Machines in any condition now are too valuable to screw around with.



No excuse - a 1/4" - 3/8" space should be between the bottom of the stripe an the kick back of the fender as shown in the original American Motors ad for THE MACHINE


The car in the ad is the prototype Rebel Machine. This car was the benchmark car from which all production Machines were subsequently built. The important detail here is the black 1/4" stripes used to separate the Electric Blue from the Frost White.

This is the only Machine that the black stripe was installed on as far as anyone knows. The prototype Machine still exists and is awaiting restoration. So we know there can be no stock appearing Rebel Machines in original condition before or after restoration with black tape anywhere on the car.

Rebel Machine Trunk Stripes

Wiggly Lines, No Spacing

Lots of spacing errors and in the shape of the stripes.

We have two trunk lids here - both on cars that were for sale for over $40,000 big ones.

On the first one the black outline was supplied as a separate part. This is just so wrong on every level. There is no way to line the chevron outline up properly like that. But in this case it didn't matter because the chevron shape itself is nowhere near close to being correct. In fact the stripes actually run into each other! Imagine paying 40 grand for a mess like this?

On the second trunk lid, no attempt was made to separate the chevron stripes from one another. Now it's one thing to suit yourself when you're restoring a vehicle. People make choices counter to stock all the time for taste, expediency, convenience and most importantly financial considerations.

Value in having Original Stripes and Correct Detailing

Today, Rebel Machines are beginning to command respectable dollars. They're climbing into the big leagues as prices go up. In the past, a job such as you see below could be passed off to personal taste. But when there is big money attached to the deal, that can unexpectedly enter the realm of fraud.

All of a sudden it's worth it to hire a lawyer and to explore inferred claims of originality. In other words you could get your ass sued off for flogging a car with a set of stripes like either of these two despite the good work that may have been done on the rest of the car.


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