Building the Engine
Not knowing anything about this engine, I had it flux tested and completely gone over by a local machine shop.  The cylinders were bored 30 over and the block, heads, connecting rods and the crankshaft were the only original items used.  The rods and crank in the AMC 390 are forged, so very desirable parts.  The exhaust seats in the heads were hardened so that current fuels could be used.  Valves, lifters, push rods, pistons, and all bearings  were replaced.  There are fortunately performance parts available for the AMC motors such as roller rockers by Cat, double timing gear and chain, new oil pump/timing gear cover, and a 280 Competition cam.
The motor compartment was sandblasted, and then painted.  I have decided to do the AMX in red, white and blue, in the likeness of Craig Breedlove's car, which took many land and endurance speed records which may still stand to this day.  The radiator was changed to 3 core, which was a recommendation for the 390 engine.
The engine is in, and the new Edelbrock Air Gap intake in place.  New chrome valve covers are added and wiring in progress.  This was to be the day the engine was to fire, but alas....another delay.  As we put the coolant in the radiator, we saw a drip...drip.. and to our dismay we discovered a cracked head that was somehow overlooked when the heads were checked.  Off came the head and back to the machine shop for repairs.  Fortunately, the machine shop was able to repair the head, and so the delay ended up to be only two weeks.
"Lets see now , the do-dad goes on the flig-a-ma-jig..." Rod Massengale, from Grinnell, Iowa, is shown putting the electric choke on the 850 Carter 4 bbl carburetor, as I was looking on helplessly.  I came to respect Rod not only as an excellent mechanic, but he was also very patient and a perfectionist.  He was my main mechanic that did all of the engine assembly, and was also my advisor on the what components to put in the engine to obtain maximum horsepower with what aftermarket parts were available for AMC engines.
The engine is complete, and we were able to find a few chrome goodies to add to the fire truck red engine.  Again, we were delayed when the new electronic ignitor in the distributor failed.  Not to be denied this time,  we  dug out the old distributor with points, made the change, and Mercy!  Fire up date was finally on September 22, 2002, and oh, what a sound.  We fired up with the exhaust coming straight out of the headers with a sound I had been looking forward to for many months!  The 390 sounded strong, loud, and idled wickedly.  The group that was gathered to witness this special event beamed!!  And me......I'm still trying to get the smile off my face!  All that's left to do is bundling the wires and a few minor mechanical adjustments and we'll be ready to go!