The Impressive story of Amc Javelin

 AMC was the last major independent American automobile manufacturer to survive past the 1960s. While it was eventually absorbed by Renault and then Chrysler over the course of the 1980s, the Wisconsin-based brand had its moment of muscle car glory alongside Detroit's best during the golden age of horsepower.

The Impressive story of Amc Javelin

In fact, the AMC Javelin (and its AMX spin-off) from 1968 to 1974 was the last high-performance gasp from a company that had always operated outside the Big Three's borders.The American Motors Corporation's Javelin is a fine alternative choice to the Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Camaros, and Plymouth 'Cudas it battled on both the street and the track. It's sleek, fast, and has a race-winning history that many modern collectors overlook.

Pony Car

AMC had been experimenting with a small coupe since 1966, when the popularity of the Ford Mustang demonstrated that buyers were willing to get behind a stylish, reasonably priced, and occasionally quick two-door.

The so-called 'pony car' market was hot, and American Motors wanted in, developing a pair of concepts under the 'AMX' banner that displayed different seating configurations, both of which eventually made their way to the market.

Facts About The AMC Javelin

The first-generation AMC Javelin was born from the AMX project and built on the Rambler American chassis, and it quickly established itself as a threat to the established pony car order when it arrived in showrooms in 1968.

The Javelin was available with a variety of engines, but the most popular were its two V8s: a 258 cubic inch, 225hp unit in the base car, and a 343 cubic inch upgrade good for 235hp and a significant increase in torque.

The Javelin (which was slightly larger inside than its competitors) proved to be well-balanced and enjoyable to drive, especially given its low price, and its engines were a good match for entry-level and mid-range Mustangs and Camaros.

AMC didn't stop there, introducing the 'Go Package' (suspension upgrades, dual exhaust, power brakes) for the 343 cubic inch car, as well as an optional 390 cubic inch engine that produced 315hp and 425 lb-ft of torque. The latter arrived midway through the first model year and elevated the Javelin above its competitors, establishing it as a serious muscle car contender.

Of course, the Javelin had limitations, which were mostly due to AMC's limited development budget. There was no convertible version available, putting it at a disadvantage when compared to Detroit's best, but the company compensated by going all-in on an accessories campaign that included a long list of spoilers, paint colours, and other add-ons designed to entice buyers looking to stand out from the crowd. It also created its own sub-model, the AMX, a unique two-seat version of the Javelin that rode on a short wheelbase version of the coupe's platform and could only be ordered with a V8 engine.

Then there was the racing programme at the company. Beginning in 1968, American Motors launched the Javelin into SCCA Trans-Am competition, where it competed against cars such as the Mercury Cougar and the Ford Mustang Boss. A third-place finish that year was as good as a win for a team working on such a small budget as AMC's. After a less-than-stellar 1969 season, the programme was taken over by Roger Penske, who had left Chevrolet's Camaro team in the same series.

The Impressive story of Amc Javelin

The factory also introduced new small block V8 engines (a 225hp 304 CID and a 345hp 360 CID design) and redesigned the 390 to produce 10 more ponies for 1970, with a slightly different look. Penske destroked the 390 to create a bespoke 5.0L motor specifically for Trans-Am, which resulted in the team (led by driver Mark Donohue) finishing second that season. With their red, white, and blue livery, the cars were impossible to miss on the track, and Donohue would even get his own special edition of the street car to sell to fans in the know.

The Design Of The AMC Javelin

The AMC Javelin was redesigned for 1971, and its attitude was similar to that of the also-new Mustang, especially when viewed from the front. AMC continued to position the Javelin as a 'class above' in terms of size (it was larger in almost every dimension compared to other pony cars), and this philosophy eventually influenced engine specs as well: the 360 cubic inch motor was increased to 285hp in 1971, while the 390 was replaced by a 330hp 401 cubic inch V8.

The pocket-rocket AMX no longer had its own miniature model. Instead, AMC incorporated it into the Javelin's trim level lineup. The 'Go Package' was still in play, and despite being heavier than before, the Javelin continued to deliver in a straight line, remaining competitive with all but the big block V8 muscle machines that saw their horsepower peak in '71.

Even more impressive was the revised Javelin's performance on a road course. Penske and Donohue propelled AMC to back-to-back Trans-Am championships in 1971 and 1972, an incredible achievement given how much better endowed their Blue Oval, Bowtie, and Pentastar grid mates were in terms of finances and engineering resources. In 1973, AMC commemorated the victories with a special edition Javelin (the Trans Am Victory model), which helped conceal the fact that the performance rose's bloom was fading.

The Impressive story of Amc Javelin

American Motors, like Detroit, faced the same insurance and smog-related pressures to reduce the horsepower in its muscle cars. The SAE's 'net' engine ratings were reduced across the board in 1972, and the emissions controls implemented in 1973 reduced things even further. AMC would try to divert attention once more by producing unusual editions of the Javelin (including a long run of cars 'designed' by fashionista Pierre Cardin), but by 1974, it was clear that the coupe had reached the end of its run. Despite the fact that production ended at the end of that year, the car continued its Trans-Am campaign, winning a third title in 1976.

The AMC Javelin is a stylish and rare Mustang

The AMC Javelin is now rarer than a Mustang—but then, what isn't? —but that doesn't make it difficult to locate. There's a healthy community supporting these fast and fun cars, and if you happen across any of the radical interior and exterior paint combinations that were available from AMC's forward-thinking designers and collaborators, the Javelin delivers an extra dose of in-period authenticity and style.

The Impressive story of Amc Javelin

Another advantage when it comes to restoring or maintaining a Javelin: due to AMC's limited budget, many of its parts had to be shared across its entire vehicle line-up, resulting in standardised replacements and knowledge across the American Motors ownership base. The Javelin is a classic car that deserves a second look, whether you're looking to build a Trans-Am replica or just a solid cruiser.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post