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The AMC Javelin was a “pony car” built by the American Motors Corporation between 1968 and 1974.

Its production can be classified into two generations: 1968 to 1970 (with a separate design in 1970) and 1971 to 1974. Javelins competed successfully in Trans-Am racing and won the series with AMC sponsorship in 1971, 1972, and independently in 1975.

Javelins were assembled under license in Europe, Mexicomarker, and Australia, and sold in other export markets.

1968–1969

The Javelin was a production version of one of the AMC AMX prototypes shown during the 1966 AMX project nationwide tour. Intended to rival other pony cars such as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, it debuted in 1968. Available engines were a straight-six and three V8.

With its standard engine, the Javelin cruised at , while the V8 boosted top speed to .

The optional "Go Package" included a four-barrel carbureted V8, power front disc brakes, dual exhausts, and wide tires, that delivered the dash in eight seconds and a top speed approaching . Also available was the SST trim level that provided a greater degree of luxury.

In mid-1968 the AMX engine was offered as a Javelin option. Its impressive and of torque could send the Javelin from zero-to-sixty [ ] in the seven-second range. American Motors supported the AMX and Javelin with a "Group 19" range of dealer-installed performance accessories. These included a dual four-barrel cross-ram intake manifold, a high performance camshaft kit, needle-bearing roller rocker arms and dual-point ignition.

Road & Track compared the Javelin favorably to its competitors on its introduction in 1968, describing the "big, heavy, super-powerful engine" as "an asset in such a small vehicle", and the styling as "pleasant." The car was longer and roomier than its competition (Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Plymouth Barracuda), and the Javelin's styling was arguably the cleanest of the lot. With its exciting and beautiful shape, the Javelin sold like "hotcakes" with production of over 56,000 in 1968. However, the disc/drum brakes and the non-power-assisted "quick-steering" option were criticized, and journalists also complained about AMC’s safety-style interior, saying it was dull or bland.

1969

The Javelin's second year saw only slight changes, featuring revised striping, grille, and trim. The “Mod Javelin” Package was also introduced mid-year in 1969 and included an unusual roof mounted spoiler and twin blacked-out simulated air scoops on the hood. A “Big Bad” paint (neon brilliant blue, orange and green) option was available on Javelins starting in mid-1969 and through 1970.

Production - 40,675 units

Racing

American Motors was intent on changing the image of the company and its new pony car competitor. It formed a racing team and entered the Javelin in dragstrip and Trans-Am Series racing.

The Javelin's first Trans-Am attempt was in the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1968. Starting in January, two Javelins were prepared by Kaplan Engineering with engines by Traco Engineering. Power was provided by the basic V8 that was bored out to . Ronnie Kaplan recalls that "... we never had enough time to properly develop the Javelins because of our time factor and most of our testing and development took place at the race track." Starting with a 68-car field, only 36 cars finished, with Peter Revson and Skip Scott driving one of the Javelins to 12th overall and 5th in the O-class, a "remarkable" performance considering the program was initiated so quickly. For the 1968 season, although the Javelins finished in third place, AMC established a record by being the only manufacturer's entry to finish every Trans-Am race entered.

1970

The 1970 Javelins featured a new front end design with a wide "twin-venturi" front grille and a longer hood, as well as a new rear end with full-width taillamps and a single center mounted backup light. This was a one-year only design. Underneath the restyle was a new front suspension featuring ball joints, upper and lower control arms, coil springs, and shock absorbers above the upper control arms, as well as trailing struts on the lower control arms.

1970 "Go Package" 390 engine
The engine lineup for 1970 was changed with the introduction of two new V8 engines: a base and an optional to replace the 290 and the 343 versions. The top optional continued, but it was upgraded to new heads with 51 cc combustion chambers increasing power to ( . The code remained "X" for the engine on the vehicle identification number (VIN). Also new was the “power blister” hood with two large openings that were a functional cold ram-air induction system that was included with the "Go Package" option. The "Go Package" with the four-barrel engines was selected by many buyers and it also included front disk brakes, dual exhaust system, heavy-duty suspension with anti-sway bar, and performance tires with white letters on styled wheels.

The interiors were also a one-year design featuring a broad new dashboard and bucket seats with clam shell integral headrests.

Capitalizing on the Javelin's successes in racing, AMC began advertising and promoting special models. Among the special models during 1970 was the Mark Donohue Javelin SST. A total of 2,501 were built to homologate the Donohue-designed, and emblazoned with his signature, rear ducktail spoiler. These were designed to prepare the Javelin for Trans Am racing. The original plan was to have all Donohue Javelins built in SST trim with the special spoiler, as well as the "Go Package" with Ram Air hood, a choice of a four-speed or automatic transmission on the floor, and a engine with thicker webbing that allowed it to have four bolt mains. The cars could be ordered in any color (including "Big Bad" exteriors) and upholstery, as well as with any combination of extra cost options. However, AMC did not include any specific identification (VIN code, door tag, etc.) and some cars came through with significant differences in equipment making it easy to replicate yet difficult to authenticate a "real" Mark Donohue Javelin.

An estimated 100 Trans-Am Javelins were also produced. The cars not only featured the front and rear spoilers, but were painted in AMC racing team's distinctive matador red, frost white, and commodore blue paint scheme.

1971–1974

The AMC Javelin was restyled in 1971. It became longer, lower, wider, and heavier than its predecessor. The second-generation Javelin incorporated an integral roof spoiler and sculpted fender bulges. The new body departed from the gentle, tucked-in look of the original. The media criticized the revised fenders (originally designed to accommodate oversized racing tires) as "...like the Corvette, but less graceful..." The car's dashboard was asymmetrical, with nearly every component facing the driver, unlike the symmetrical interior of the economy-focused 1966 Hornet (Cavalier) prototype.

AMC offered a choice of engines and transmissions. Engines included a I6 and a four-barrel AMC V8 with high compression ratio, forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods engineered for 8000 rpm.

1973 AMC Javelin


Racing versions competed successfully in the Trans-Am Series with the Penske Racing/Mark Donohue team, as well as with the Roy Woods ARA team sponsored by American Motors Dealers. The Javelin won the Trans-Am title in 1971, 1972, and 1975. Drivers included George Follmer and Mark Donohue, the latter lending his name and signature to a limited-edition 1970 Javelin-SST model with a special rear spoiler of his own design.

From 1971 the AMX was no longer available as a two-seater. It evolved into a premium High-Performance edition of the Javelin. The new Javelin-AMX incorporated several racing modifications and AMC advertised it as “the closest thing you can buy to a Trans-Am champion.” The car had a stainless steel mesh screen over the grille opening, a fiberglass full width cowl induction hood, and spoilers front and rear for high-speed traction. The performance-upgrade "Go Package" included the choice of a 360 or 401 4-barrel engine; also "Rally-Pac" instruments, handling package for the suspension, limited-slip “Twin-Grip” differential, heavy-duty cooling, power disk brakes, white-letter E60x15 Goodyear Polyglas tires on 15x7-inch styled slotted steel wheels) used on the Rebel Machine, T-stripe hood decal, and a blacked-out rear taillight panel. The 3244-pound 1971 Javelin AMX with a was able to run the quarter-mile in the credible mid-14s at around on low lead, low octane gas.Honoring the 1971 and 1972 Javelin Trans-Am victories, a special Trans-Am winner sticker was available for any trim level.

1972

American Motors achieved record sales in 1972 by focusing on quality and including an innovative “Buyer Protection Plan” to back its products. This was the first time an automaker promised to repair anything wrong with the car (except for tires) for one year or . Owners were provided with a toll-free telephone to AMC, as well as a free loaner car if a repair to their car took overnight. One commentator has said that “[d]espite the Javelin's “great lines and commendable road performance, it never quite matched the competition in the sales arena ... primarily because the small independent auto maker did not have the reputation and/or clout to compete with GM, Ford, and Chrysler.”

Pierre Cardin

The optional Cardin interior in a 1972 Javelin
1973 AMC Javelin AMX Pierre Cardin edition


During the 1972 and 1973 model years 4,152 Javelins were produced with a special interior option designed by fashion design Pierre Cardin (official on-sale date was March 1, 1972). It has a multi-colored pleated stripe pattern in tones of Chinese red, plum, white, and silver on a black background. Six multi-colored stripes, in a tough satin-like nylon with a stain-resistant silicone finish, run from the front seats, up the doors, onto the headliner, and down to the rear seats. The fabric for the seat faces was produced for AMC by Chatham Mills, a veteran maker of interior fabrics. Cardin's crest appeared on the front fenders. MSRP of the option was US$84.95. The trend for fashion designers doing special interiors goes on, but Cardin's continues to be the “most daring and outlandish.”

1973

The 1973 Javelin was updated slightly. Most noticeable changes were to the taillights and grille, though the AMX grille remained the same. A new roof stamping this year gave the Javelin a completely flat roof without "twin-cove" indentations, meaning a full vinyl top was now available. Also, front seat design was changed. Gone were the "Turtle Back" seats of 1970-72 in favor of a more slim design which was not only lighter than the previous seat, but also more comfortable and gave more rear passenger leg room.

1974

By 1974, the automobile marketplace had changed. Chrysler abandoned the pony car market. Whereas Ford replaced its original Mustang with a smaller four-cylinder version, and other pony car manufacturers also downsized engines, the Javelin's big engine option continued until the production of the model ended in October/November 1974 amidst the Arab oil embargo and overall declining interest in high performance vehicles. American Motors also needed a manufacturing line to build its all-new AMC Pacer. Nevertheless, the 1974 Javelin production reached its highest point among the second-generation models with 27,696 units, of which 4,980 (about 15 percent) were Javelin AMX models.

Police

Javelins equipped with the engine were used by the Alabama Highway Patrol beginning in 1971 and ending with the last ADPS Javelin's retirement in 1974. They were the first pony cars to be used as a normal highway patrol police car by any U.S. police organization.

Export

AMC Javelin by Karmann 1968 ad


Javelins were also in Europe, primarily because they had the largest and most usable rear seat of the American pony cars.
  • German coach builder, Wilhelm Karmann GmbHmarker assembled 280 CKD (Completely Knocked Down) Javelins between 1968 and 1970 that were sold in Europe. This deal was very significant because it was a completely American designed car that was made in Germanymarker. Karmann’s “Javelin 79-K” came with the . 90% of the parts and components used came in crates from the USA. At Karmann’s facility in Rheinemarker the cars were assembled, painted, and test-driven prior to shipment to customers.
  • Right hand drive versions of both the first and second generation models were assembled in Australia by Australian Motor Industries (AMI) from CKD kits. The right hand drive dash and other required components were locally manufactured.
  • VAM assembled Javelins in Mexico.


Collectibility

Chicago Sun-Times auto editor Dan Jedlicka says that the Javelin, which he describes as "beautifully sculpted" and "one of the best-looking cars of the 1960s", is "finally gaining the respect of collectors, along with higher prices." The first generation Javelin has also been described as a "fun and affordable American classic with a rich racing pedigree and style that will always stand out from the omnipresent packs of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler pony cars." The basic version of the car does not command the high prices of some other muscle cars and pony cars. However, in its day the car sold in respectable numbers, regularly outselling both the Plymouth Barracuda and Dodge Challenger so popular today.

1971 through 1974 AMX versions command higher prices, according to collector-car price guides.

There are many active AMC automobile clubs, including for owners interested in racing in vintage events. The Javelin shared numerous mechanical, body, and trim parts with other AMC models, and there are vendors specializing in new old stock (NOS) as well as reproduction components.

References

Inline
  1. "How AMC Cars Work" by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, 07 June 2007, retrieved on 24 March 2009.
  2. "1970 AMC Javelin" conceptcarz.com, undated, retrieved on 2008-09-22.
  3. "Trans-Am Racing 1968", AMX-perience, undated, retrieved on 2008-09-06.
  4. "The 1970 Mark Donohue Signature Edition Javelin", AMX-perience/Trans-Am Javelin, Undated, retrieved on 24 March 2009.
  5. "1971-1974 AMC Javelin AMX 401" by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, 22 June 2007, retrieved on 24 March 2009.
  6. Historic Trans Am, retrieved on 2008-05-14.
  7. .
  8. Foster, Patrick. "Pierre Cardin Meets the Javelin" Hemming's Classic Car #31, April 2007.
  9. "1974 AMC Javelin AMX 401" by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, 22 June 2007, retrieved on 24 March 2009.
  10. Rosa, John. "AMC Javelin Highway Patrol/Pursuit cars" 09 January 2006, retrieved on 24 March 2009.
  11. Jedlicka, Dan. "AMC on target with the Javelin" Chicago Sun-Times, May 28, 2007. page A2.
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