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Rebel MACHINE Clones

Photo by Chris Wawro, Aero-Photografik, Wisconsin, USA at Volvo Auto Mall September, 18, 2018

Just my opinion but here goes starting with the accepted definition of a clone:

A clone is when you take a standard, base model car and add options and equipment to make it into a copy of a rare, original muscle cars using the same options such as trim, decals, hood scoops, and motor that the higher optioned cars had originally from the factory.

Rebel Machines all started out as the standard base model car using what was the Series 10 body style: a two door hardtop. A historic fact.

Then the frame rails were added to the body with no VIN in place yet. We know that because of how poor a job was done punching the numbers by hand into the frame rails. No one would do so poor a job or make so many mistakes in doing so if the frame rails were punched on a bench.

So there you have the structure of the car, devoid of any identification ready for what would transform it into the final product ordered by the customer.

At this point, the body is a part identified as Series 10. End of story. A perfect body unadorned. Ready for add on parts. Parts that can be added by anyone capable of using a couple of wrenches and almost no automotive experience

From there the VIN was probably added to the car which is still a standard base body.

The VIN identifies the future use of the formerly unidentifiable, indistinguishable shell known only as a Series 10 from the multitude of body shells coming down the line.

Fast forward to now, 2017 and you have before you a Series 10 body shell with, no front clip and no VIN on it anywhere or any other identifiers. You have no idea what the car was in a former life. It is a car part. Nothing more, nothing less.

At this point you can choose what you want to do with it. You can build a base Series 10 and put a 6 cylinder motor in it and spend 20 grand transforming it into a shining example of a Base model Rebel that would fetch $12,000 tops on the market. OR, you could step up and build a Rebel SST. And still have a car worth $12,000. No one will claim these cars are clones.

On top of that, both cars's value would not be due to their value as they are but for their potential for becoming Rebel Machines worth a lot of money.

So just what is the difference between the two Rebels above and THE MACHINE?

Simply put, the, hood, ram air scoop tachometer with wiring, intake manifold, the exhaust manifolds and the exhaust pipes between the intake manifolds and the mufflers. That is it. All stuff that was added to the car as it was built and stuff anyone can add to the car as long as the engine is turned off.

The Y in the VIN was not added until the dash was installed and that didn't happen until the car was painted. Before that the special paint jobs were identified on a piece of paper glued to the roof that said SPEC PAINT in magic marker. The paper was not attached to the body in a permanent way. So the body was still just the body.

From there all the other parts that went towards transforming the body shell into a titled automobile were added as the car went down the line

Today there are more Rebel Machines out there without the intakes, exhaust manifolds and tail pipes than there are with them. A number of them don't have the correct motors installed

Essentially, right now what makes a Rebel Machine a Rebel Machine is the Y in the VIN on the removable dash and the Y on the decal of the removable door. All easily changeable and available from reputable sources

Now take three body shells, completely stripped. One a former Machine, the other a base Rebel and the third a SST.


Show them to someone knowledgeable and identify which is which. None of them have front left frame rails since all were involved in accidents. A week later you've changed the positioning of the bodies and you ask the same person to identify which was the Machine. Unless there are identifying scratches or dirt, there is no way the person could tell the difference. So on that basis, all three are Machine candidates to be built from scratch just as the factory built those same bodies from scratch in the first place.

When complete and assuming all three are built to factory specs which ones are the clones? Which is a "REAL" Machine?

As far as I'm concerned, they all are

Rebel Machines are not like cars made by GM, Ford or Chrysler. Those cars had parts welded into their structure that defined them as specific performance models.

AMC did things very differently. AMC bodies and particularly Series 10 bodies were ALL manufactured to the same specs. That is all of them were capable of being the performance car the MACHINE was. There was no difference.

GM, Ford and Chrysler cut corners with their cars. To clone one you have to add non-optional structure in most cases.

A Series 10 body requires nothing of the kind.

So when you build a Series 10 body up, the result will be no different than a factory build as long as the VIN is correct. And the VIN is pretty easy to correct.

Lastly, most Machines and most other Muscle cars in general were thoroughly thrashed in their day. That is what they were built for after all despite what today's law makers might think. So any muscle car that has been rebuilt skillfully from the ground up is going to be in most cases a better car than it was when it rolled out of the factory.

In my case, I have two builds going on and one car mostly done

The first is my #1 Machine that had it's front clip changed completely. It still requires the VIN be restamped on the frame rail. The second is Johnny 5 which started life as a SST. Johnny 5 is in the process of having every part of it that was not originally a Machine changed to formerly Machine parts or new Machine parts courtesy of my new body panels. When done it will have steering and brakes from a Machine, a Machine motor, transmission and rear end. It will also have a Machine interior. It already has the correct hood. It will have the correct intake and exhaust manifolds as well as correct as I can get them exhaust pipes. It will be more Machine than most Machines out there. It will be more Machine than my #1 Machine.

I will not be calling it a clone. By the same token, I won't conceal its origin either which is why I have the Rebel Machine: Johnny 5 Facebook page anyone can look at and read any time.

My #4 Machine has the prototype 401 in it that was cast in 1969. It was never installed in a car until it was put in #3. When I swapped #3 for #4 the 401 engine went with me to #4. That car has a torquer intake and Doug Thorley headers on it. So no correct exhaust manifolds or tail pipes or intake. But it is still a Machine and worth a lot of money.

The bottom line is the word COPY. When you build a Machine using a naked shell from the ground up, you are not copying anything. You are building a Rebel Machine if you use the correct parts. Not factory built but not a copy either and certainly not a clone because you aren't adding anything. You are installing new parts or Machine parts. Because those parts are now on a new body does not suddenly transform all those genuine Machine into non-Machine parts.

By the way, the original colour of Johnny 5 was Tijuana Tan same as the Machine doors, fenders and trunk lid. About the only thing that will be left of this car once done will be the top of the rear quarters around the trunk opening, part of the transmission hump tunnel, the axle housing hump, firewall and glass.


Photo by Chris Wawro, Aero-Photografik, Wisconsin, USA at Volvo Auto Mall September, 18, 2018

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