You probably never heard of the AMC Amitron, but we’re here to tell you about it

The Tesla Cybertruck seems to be a revolutionary pickup at first glance. It features a unibody construction, a tri-motor drivetrain option, and a really awkward polygonal exterior design. The Cybertruck looks more like a UFO than a truck, but it’s not the first electric vehicle to feature this shape. In 1967, American Motors Corporation (AMC) unveiled the Amitron concept, a subcompact car that looks like a miniature Cybertruck.

A tiny EV ahead of its time

The Tesla Cybertruck's polygonal design may be weird, but it's not the first EV with this shape
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While electric cars started to become mainstream only a decade ago, they have been around since the early days of the automobile.

As the industry grew bigger in the 1960s, carmakers started toying with the idea even more, but most projects didn’t make it past the concept phase. One such vehicle is the AMC Amitron, a concept cars unveiled in 1967.

Developed by AMC, which was eventually purchased by Chrysler in the 1960s, in cooperation with Gutton Industries, the Amitron was a small hatchback that measured only 85 inches in length and tipped the scales at just 1,100 pounds.

As an experimental electric car, the AMC Amitron featured advanced technologies such as regenerative braking and two lithium-nickel-fluoride batteries with a total capacity of 22.5 kWh.
The Tesla Cybertruck's polygonal design may be weird, but it's not the first EV with this shape
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The motor and the batteries provided the Amitron with a range of up to 150 miles and a top speed of 50 mph.

A strange appearance for the 1960s, when muscle cars and gas-guzzlers dominated the market, the Amitron also featured a relatively strange design. Designed to minimize power loss through reducing rolling and drag resistance, the Amitron ended up shaped like a polygon, a design now revived by the Tesla Cybertruck. The angular design was also ahead of its time, as carmakers didn’t adopt wedge-shaped bodies for production cars until the early 1970s. The traditional doors were replaced by a canopy-style roof that opened up to provide seating for three people.

The Tesla Cybertruck's polygonal design may be weird, but it's not the first EV with this shape
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Development was halted due to technology issues and the high cost of batteries, but the Amitron eventually inspired the designs of the iconic AMC Pacer and Gremlin.

The concept resurfaced with minor modifications in 1977 as the AMC Electron, but it no longer had a drivetrain.

A similar design more than 50 years later

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Granted, the Cybertruck doesn't share much with the Amitron, but the exterior design reminds me of the tiny EV concept.

But it’s safe to assume that Tesla shaped the front end like this for the same reasons that AMC did back in 1967. Aerodynamics and drag resistance are critical for electric cars, which need a low coefficient in order to provide a higher range. With the Cybertruck’s range rated at up to 500 miles, it’s safe to say that EV technology has improved dramatically since the 1960s.

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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