Also part of Project IV, the Cavalier demonstrated the uses of interchangeable body panels - right front and left rear fenders were identical, as were their opposite panels, and doors, bumpers, hood and deck lid also interchanged. Many of its styling touches found their way into the Hornet, which also featured interchangeable door skins and bumpers, yielding significant cost savings. In its last years AMC made extensive use of this technique, building the Hornet, Gremlin, Concord, Spirit and Eagle lines, in all of their many variations, from a very limited number of basic stampings.
NEW YORK, June 20 – American Motors today unveiled four unique “idea” cars which will be shown in major cities to test reaction to new design concepts in the sporty and smaller car fields.
The experimental designs include the 108-inch wheelbase Cavalier, a fresh design approach using interchangeable components for quarter panels, doors, hood and rear deck; the Vixen
, a sporty two-door version of the Cavalier with the same features of interchangeability; the AMX
, an advanced fastback design; and the AMX II
, representing the second evolutionary phase of the AMX program.
The design developments were presented to newsmen, businessmen and community leaders at a showing called “Project IV.”
In introducing the cars, President Roy Abernethy said that changes in the car market have placed greater emphasis on advance testing of consumer opinion, “particularly in evaluating the growing interest in specialized and personalized vehicles.”
“While these car concepts are not being shown as actual prototypes, we expect reactions to the innovations presented will have substantial bearing on future design and engineering decisions,” he said.
Following the New York presentation, “Project IV” will be shown in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Detroit.
The Cavalier presents an ingenious concept of automotive design which permits the interchange of body panels from front to rear and from side to side.
Right front fender and rear left fender are identical, as are their opposite quarter panels. Hood and deck lid are the same, permitting production from one set of dies. The four doors are produced from two sets of dies rather than four. Front and rear bumpers are identical and may be interchanged.
“The high degree of interchangeability offered by the design of the Cavalier could provide savings of 25 per cent or more in body tooling costs,” Abernethy said.
“The Cavalier design experiment offers interesting possibilities for the world market where parts inventories and body repairs are a consideration,” he added. He noted that the compact dimensions of the Cavalier are ideally suited for overseas markets, with trimness comparable to popular foreign makes.
The Cavalier wheelbase is 108 inches. It has an overall length of 175 inches. Height is 50 inches, and width is a trim 65.5 inches. The low silhouette is enhanced by thirteen-inch mag-type wheels.
Safety is further explored in the Cavalier design. The cantilevered roof panel has a built-in roll bar. Exterior door handles are eliminated; flush push-type door buttons are used.
Wrap-around rear safety lights flash alternate warning signals in green, yellow and red.
The similarity of body panels is not evident to the eye in the Cavalier’s overall appearance which conveys fleetness and well-balanced configuration. The refined grille treatment and ingeious rear styling dispel any impression of sameness between front and rear.
The swept-back roof panel is covered in black vinyl, further enhancing the rich, deep metallic red body.
The grille contains deeply recessed headlights in squared housings. The grille wraps around the front fenders and contributes an illusion of width by means of narrow, brushed aluminum horizontal bars with alternate bars in black.
Versatility of the Cavalier design is carried out in the unique rear deck lid which can be opened to normal position or elevated to the height of the roof panel for carrying large, bulky items such as small trees or high-standing boxes and furniture. This expanded cargo capacity is made possible through the use of dual-action scissor type hinges on the deck lid.