Home » Here’s The Unhinged Death Threat I Got For Calling The AMC V8 Engine A Piece Of Shit, Which It Is

Here’s The Unhinged Death Threat I Got For Calling The AMC V8 Engine A Piece Of Shit, Which It Is

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AMC 360 article” reads the subject line of an email that will forever go down in history as the most epically unhinged correspondence I’ve ever received. The message, from a Wisconsin reader named John, who used his actual email for some reason, is so unbelievably vitriolic and unhinged, one could argue that it’s traveled the full circle from low-quality junkmail to literary masterwork. Because for what it is, this threatening bit of hate-mail is actually beautifully written.

[Note: This article includes harsh and threatening language, which we at The Autopian take seriously. With that said, I’ve moved recently (and done some research into the email’s author), and don’t feel like I’m in any real danger. I also want to note that I don’t know what the author was going through at the time he sent this email; I wish him well.  -DT]

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Let’s Establish That I’m Not A Huge Fan Of The AMC 360 Engine

Back in April, shortly after the founding of this website you’re currently reading, I wrote an article titled Why The AMC V8 Engine Found In Some Of The Greatest Cars Of All Time Is Such A Humongous Pile Of Shit. Here’s a screenshot of the headline and top image, which shows an AMC V8, an equals sign, and a rather cute little poop pile sitting atop an American Motors Corporation logo:

Screen Shot 2023 02 15 At 8.15.31 Am

A little controversial? Sure. Maybe even provocative. But I have good reason for this; I’d owned multiple AMC 360-powered Jeeps, and they were all inefficient, underpowered, and not particularly easy to work on. Plus, in the case of my 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, the motor was actively ruining my life — a fact that, as I noted, factored into me writing that article:

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[Before I get started, allow me to just vent for a moment. I spent all of Sunday trying to get my 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle’s replacement AMC V8 engine running. Should I have been editing, writing, answering emails, researching, and hiring? Yes. But instead I was elbow deep inside what has to be the most poorly designed engine I’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with. The shittiness of the AMC V8 is severely jeopardizing The Autopian’s future outlook; that’s fitting, in some ways. Anyway, it’s not solely my frustration that’s leading me to write this article; the AMC 360 truly is a poorly-designed motor, as I will now show]. 

My article continues with me contrasting the unstoppable AMC inline-six and the rather-stoppable 360 V8, which was supposed to be an upgrade:

You may know American Motors Corporation as builder of the greatest Jeep engine of all time, the AMC inline-six, a motor that came primarily in 232 cubic-inc, 258 cubic-inch, and 4.0-liter displacements. This long iron-block motor, found in pretty much every Jeep between 1970 and 2000 — was absolutely unstoppable (If you want to be “in” with the Jeep crowd, just say “That foar leeter is bulletproof I tellya” anywhere near a gas station) thanks to its simple design, ease of serviceability, and plentiful low-RPM torque.

It’s surprising, then, that the same company that built that amazing off-road motor developed the AMC V8, a contraption whose only reliability was liability, and that was ubiquitous in AMC products for decades. The thing went in damn near everything as the “step-up” from the six cylinder, even though, really, it was a huge step down. Let’s take a look at some machines burdened with hauling around this iron menace.

From there, I point out the AMC 360’s suboptimal timing cover design. From a packaging/complexity standpoint, it is brilliant, but the fact that the engine’s oil pump has a tendency to eat itself and starve the motor of oil is just sad:

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AMC owners also complain about lubrication concerns with the rearmost cylinder, I have complaints about packaging making the engine relatively difficult to service, and of course there’s the fact that the 500 pound mill makes no power and sucks fuel like mad. Plus, parts aren’t that easy to find.

There’s a reason why so many Grand Wagoneer owners just yank their V8s and chuck in Chevrolet Small-Block motors.

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I realize it’s controversial, and plenty of folks in the comments took umbrage with my criticism, and that’s fair. Maybe I was a little harsh. I can see how this particular part of my article venting about an engine whose design I don’t like might have ruffled some feathers, even if it was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek:

I’m fairly sure fellow AMC-lovers are going to come out of the woodwork to defend the AMC V8, which came primarily in three variants: 304, 360, and 401. “Mine has driven over 200,000 miles,” some will say. “This guy just doesn’t know how to wrench,” others will claim. “It was a torquey, stout motor,” many will cry. “Some of these have been built into highly successful race motors” others will assert. And to them I say: Wake up.

I was a sheep like you once, having fallen head-over-heels for the American Motors way of life. The soulful designs; the charmingly weird blend of Ford, GM, and Chrysler parts; the generally-stout hardware; and just the bold, Smallest-Of-The-American-Automakers rough-and-tumble way of doing things. Like you, I used to see AMC vehicles, especially Jeeps, through rose colored glasses. Hell, I currently own seven AMC-era Jeeps, and I’ve owned many more in my past! I even visited Kenosha a few years ago solely to pay homage to AMC, and I recently snuck into the old American Center former headquarters in Southfield, Michigan. I’m a diehard AMC fan, believe me.

But I have no choice but to call a boat-anchor a boat-anchor…

So now that we’ve gotten that established, let’s get to the death threat:

The Death Threat Email

Three months after publishing that article, I received the aforementioned “AMC 360 article” email. I’ll just paste it in its entirety, and then go through it line-by-line afterwards:

Your article about the AMC 360 is wrong and you’re a complete dipshit. The reason your engine failed is because you didn’t do routine checks and preventive maintenance on it before it failed.
You’re a fucking ass clown for blaming the engine for the problems that you yourself created after you failed to perform the maintenance an old vehicle needs to prevent problems with it in the present day!
Nope… You probably bought an old vehicle and just kept driving it instead of properly sorting it out. So then, after this mess you caused for yourself, you being the overly accomplished writer you are, took it upon yourself to write an article and trash an entire line of engines that is known for beating the Big 3 on the drag strip and in many other racing outlets from it’s inception until present day.
Oh and let me guess. You probably weren’t even using oil designed for flat tappet camshaft engines too! Right? Haha. You were probably using some bullshit oil you bought from a gas station down the road because it was good enough! Right? Or was it the same oil you like to use in all those Jeep Cherokees you have rotting away in your back yard. Yeah. Yeah. I know your kind of people. Those are all the “some day” projects. You know. The projects you’ll eventually get to “some day” after you finally strike it rich with your whimsical writing ability!!! Right??
You sir fancy yourself as a Jeep aficionado but you are not. You’re some clown that buys old Jeeps and parks them in your back yard… or seeing that you’re from Florida… front yard… so you have something to tinker with then write about or make videos about with your buddies to try to make money from with your new stupid website!
Here’s the bottom line dude: You’re just a garbage wanna be journalist out there getting attention for himself to sell merch and making a living. That’s all you are. A pathetic little man with a big stupid mouth.
So this is what I’m going to tell you right now. If I ever run across you in public, I’m going to make sure you never write another thing about an AMC v8 engine ever again. That’s a promise dude.
Now if you can please go properly fuck yourself, I’d really appreciate it. You miserable piece of shit. Fuck you!
????????????

My lord. Okay, let’s just go through this a bit, because it’s just so gloriously juicy.

Your article about the AMC 360 is wrong and you’re a complete dipshit. The reason your engine failed is because you didn’t do routine checks and preventive maintenance on it before it failed.

John comes out swinging with a strong opening line. He establishes that I’m wrong and a dipshit — honestly, from a journalistic standpoint, this is a strong lede. He then claims that my engine’s struggles are my fault, not AMC engineers’ fault. But before we go too long without some spice, he follows that up with this:

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You’re a fucking ass clown for blaming the engine for the problems that you yourself created after you failed to perform the maintenance an old vehicle needs to prevent problems with it in the present day!

A “fucking ass clown”! Let’s continue:

Nope… You probably bought an old vehicle and just kept driving it instead of properly sorting it out. So then, after this mess you caused for yourself, you being the overly accomplished writer you are, took it upon yourself to write an article and trash an entire line of engines that is known for beating the Big 3 on the drag strip and in many other racing outlets from it’s inception until present day.

Here John sarcastically pokes fun at my writing skills, and notes — as I predicted in my article — that the AMC 360 has some race wins under its belt. Then he gets seemingly belligerent, laughing about the oil I use and making fun of my Jeep “collection”:

Oh and let me guess. You probably weren’t even using oil designed for flat tappet camshaft engines too! Right? Haha. You were probably using some bullshit oil you bought from a gas station down the road because it was good enough! Right? Or was it the same oil you like to use in all those Jeep Cherokees you have rotting away in your back yard. Yeah. Yeah. I know your kind of people. Those are all the “some day” projects. You know. The projects you’ll eventually get to “some day” after you finally strike it rich with your whimsical writing ability!!! Right??

Well John, I’ll have you know that I use Shell Rotella, which has over 1,110 parts per million zinc — it coddles those flat tappets like a mother coddles a newborn! Plus, I’ve mostly kicked my Jeep hoarding problem!

Let’s keep going:

You sir fancy yourself as a Jeep aficionado but you are not. You’re some clown that buys old Jeeps and parks them in your back yard… or seeing that you’re from Florida… front yard… so you have something to tinker with then write about or make videos about with your buddies to try to make money from with your new stupid website!

What?!

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This whole Florida part about a front yard is so absurdly strange that I don’t even know what to say. Who in this situation is from Florida, and what does that have to do with which yard you park your cars in?

Also, don’t call The Autopian stupid! Me? Sure, but not The Autopian. You’ve taken this too far, John! Too damn far! But he goes farther:

Here’s the bottom line dude: You’re just a garbage wanna be journalist out there getting attention for himself to sell merch and making a living. That’s all you are. A pathetic little man with a big stupid mouth.

Is it bad that my biggest concern with the quote above is the lack of parallelism? If you’re going to write “sell” you have to write “make,” not “making.” Parallelism matters!

Anyway, let’s get to the part that seems an awful lot like a death threat:

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So this is what I’m going to tell you right now. If I ever run across you in public, I’m going to make sure you never write another thing about an AMC v8 engine ever again. That’s a promise dude.

Now, there’s a chance that by “I’m going to make sure you never write another thing about an AMC v8 engine ever again. That’s a promise dude,” what John means is that he’ll sit me down, and present a slideshow that irrefutably extolls the virtues of AMC V8s — a slideshow that will forever change my view on the engine that I called an “iron menace.” It’s either that, or he plans to injure me in such a way that my writing abilities are severely compromised. Though really, if we’re being honest, this is a death threat.

All this over an article about an engine that hasn’t been in production for over 30 years, by a company that hasn’t existed in over 35 years, and built in a plant that no longer exists! This whole thing is nuts, though I have to applaud the way John concludes, because — like that lede — it’s quite effective, journalistically speaking:

Now if you can please go properly fuck yourself, I’d really appreciate it. You miserable piece of shit. Fuck you!
????????????
Such a strong conclusion.
As alarming and unacceptable as I find this email, as cofounder of this website devoted to championing car culture, I have to admit I’m thrilled by John’s passion for cars. He cares, and that’s what I like to see. Plus, from a sheer content/entertainment standpoint, as far as vitriolic death-threat-containing hate mail, this is a 10 out of 10.
If only AMC engineers had executed their motor as well.

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Dan Owen
Dan Owen
6 months ago

I wish the author had been more clear. Is the problem specifically with the 360, or with all AMC V8’s?

ScottyB
ScottyB
6 months ago

Amazing but typical, about half the population right now thinks that if you don’t 100% believe the exact same thing they do, you have no right to continue living.

Ricardo
Ricardo
1 year ago

Well that was a fun read.

I would not fear anything this keyboard clown threatens to do.

You survived Australia after all.

Sgtyukon
Sgtyukon
1 year ago

Dear John,

I have to disagree with David that you deserves a 10 out of 10 for your missive.

Telling someone to “go properly fuck yourself,” strongly implies you think they actually can do that. Many people would take that as a compliment. Therefore, it’s a phrase I try my best to avoid. I think you should avoid it too.

Brockstar
Brockstar
1 year ago

I love that this idiots letter was posted on here. Not only does he look like a lunatic, you were able to monetize the page with ads. That my friend is beautiful and I love it. Im sure there is a litter box at an animal shelter with his name on it.

Kenneth Hogue
Kenneth Hogue
1 year ago

Whoa, whoa, whoa; I don’t know the age or era of John’s beginning fanaticism with an AMC engine, but I’m of the age when their mention was only an eye blink away from the image of a “Rambler” station wagon sitting a neighbors driveway. Thank gods dad was a Chrysler man.

Crisis
Crisis
1 year ago

Am I the only one that misread this as AMG engine and thought that David was getting death threats from highbrow Mercedes owners?

eric504
eric504
1 year ago
Reply to  Crisis

I too am guilty of said misread and had pretty much the same thought

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
1 year ago
Reply to  Crisis

AMG owners would be threatening to send their au pairs and gardeners to murder David. You know, the au pair shakes him to death and the garden hides the remains.

Roustabout Stanton Carlisle
Roustabout Stanton Carlisle
1 year ago

Didn’t AMC make an engine called the “Vigilante” ?

Patrick McMahon
Patrick McMahon
1 year ago

Three things David is that John isn’t:

* an engineer
* a professional writer
* sane

Jake Baldridge
Jake Baldridge
1 year ago

Are we totally sure about the sanity point?

Don Mynack
Don Mynack
1 year ago

Disagree. David is not a COMPLETE dipshit.

Todd Beauchamp
Todd Beauchamp
1 year ago

Your writing is too high brow.
Make it easy for him
360 = Bad
AMC = Good
4.0L = GOAT

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
1 year ago

This feels reminiscent of when people reply to an author on Twitter telling them they need to read the book they actually authored, or a writer from a TV show (remember one where someone asked a creator or writer of The Wire if they had seen it).

Turbeaux
Turbeaux
1 year ago

Saw one recently about the Velma series where a guy responded with the Michael Scott NO NO NO gif from the office. Mindy Kaling (who created Velma) replied “I wrote that episode of the office!”

eric504
eric504
1 year ago

https://preview.redd.it/tta9mmkuqc671.png?width=960&crop=smart&auto=webp&v=enabled&s=0bc988957e9325de41d6e4aed824f0f2dcfeb73a

Sadly, can’t post the image, but yep, he’s had a few people dig at him about something about Baltimore and ask if he’s seen the Wire.

Another: https://www.reddit.com/r/TheWire/comments/utf1t1/has_david_simon_seen_the_wire/

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
1 year ago
Reply to  eric504

That short, simple “Have I seen The Wire?” reply is the one that always pops into my mind first.

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