But so many others were so close.
A third-generation AMX concept car, the AMX/3, debuted at the 1970 Chicago Auto Show. Engine-less and fashioned in fiberglass, the original AMX/3 prototype was a show car only.
American Motors placed an order for 30 operational cars. The AMX/3 body mold was sent to Italian grand tourer maker Giotto Bizzarrini, whose Turin facility hand made drivable mid-engined, steel bodied cars. Built on a 105.3-inch (2,675 mm) wheelbase, the Bizzarrini prototypes used the AMC 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 and an Italian OTO Melara four-speed transaxle. The AMX/3 is considered one of Bizzarrini’s car-masterpieces.
The steel Italian cars differed from the original AMC design in having fewer but functional rear decklid louvers, louvered hoods, and, in some cases, hood scoops to direct fresh air into the heating-A/C system. Further engineering improvements and road testing was done by BMW, which declared the AMX/3's chassis one of the stiffest having a 50% higher stiffness compared to a benchmark Mercedes-Benz model. The car’s steel semi-monocoque chassis design with its welded on steel body provided a strong overall structure while the top speed was verified to 160 mph (257 km/h), with reports indicating the AMX/3 could go faster if it was not for the tendency for the font end to lift at those speeds, but BMW found the car to be most neutral handling they had ever tested. The BMW engineers also refined numerous components of the AMX/3 into “a world-class contender among the mid-engined super car elite of its time.” One of the cars became “known as the Monza after it achieved a top speed of 170 mph in testing at the famed Italian race track.”
Five completed cars were produced before the US$2,000,000 program was cancelled. The original projection by AMC called for building 5,000 AMX/3s per year, but the estimated retail price kept increasing. The AMX/3 was “beautiful and sleek, the kind of car that would have made hearts race in the day” and was to be a “flagship or halo car” to lure customers to AMC dealerships, “where they often end up other, more practical models.” However, escalating costs and pending bumper regulations put a stop to the mid-engined AMX/3.
Some remaining parts from the canceled, second group of five cars were used by erstwhile Bizzarini collaborator Salvatore Diomante to assemble a sixth car, named and marketed as Sciabola. Additionally, an open two-seat Spider featuring no weather protection was built in the 1990s using an unfinished AMX/3 modified chassis and the 7th AMX/3, on display at the Autoworld Museum in Belgium, were both finished by Giorgio Giordanengo.