You had plenty of memories with the Javelin if you grew up in the ‘60s. Even if most of us weren’t grown-ups by that era, it’s still interesting to know the rise and fall of this unique muscle car.
The beginning and end of the Javelin
The documented history tells us that the American Motors Corporation has been struggling in the market and their best opportunity to sell a handful of cars was to target a specific slot to gain loyal customers. A series of trial-and-error was made during its run. The Nash Metropolitan subcompact that’s intended for female drivers ended up with mixed outcome.
The Rambler American platform was a shot for entering a bigger market of midsized family cars. Their shot for entering the muscle car business was first fired using the 109-inch wheelbase Rambler platform. It was in the late 60’s, when AMC transformed it from being a grocery grabber into a two-door fastback powered with a larger engine.
The production of the first generation Javelin was started in 1967 and ended in 1970. With a favorable number of sales, AMC redesigned the sheet metal and released the second generation Javelin in 1971.
A limited edition Trans Am-Victory model was released in 1973 by AMC. Some of the notable characteristics of the car are special fender badges, sport-style steering wheel and 8 slot rally wheels. This effort was made to broadcast the back-to-back victories of the Sports car Club of America (SSCA).
Sadly, because of the increasing Government regulations for impact protection, crumple zones and bumper standards, 1974 became the death year of the Javelin. After the loss, the remaining resources of AMC were poured into the newly introduced Matador and AMC Hornet. These cars are meant to qualify for the strict Government policies. Apparently, these cars are the best selling vehicle of AMC in ‘70s.
AMX as “The Contender”
AMC offered a special version of the “Go Package” in 1968. Named as AMX, it was powered with the debuting 6.4L, 390 CID big block engine that can produce a satisfying 315 HP. Its performance was in the position to challenge the well-established Pony cars like the Chrysler built Plymouth Barracuda, Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang.
To provide their young customer’s need for speed, the company offers the factory-authorized bolt on performance parts for the 390 CID V-8. A number of add-ons are also presented like the High lift camshaft kits with roller rockets, a cross ram air intake manifold that is ready to accept two 4 barrel carburetors and high-performance exhaust headers.
The AMX became more powered in the 1969 model with a limited slip differential characterized by an insistent 3:55 gear ratio and the pairing of four-speed manual transmission with a Hurst shifter.
While in 1970, the 390 powered models were highlighted with a new set of cylinder heads resulting to a 325 HP, in 1971, the 401 CID produced 335 HP.
The escalating power results in a disheartening downfall as the AMX saw it’s conclusion by 1972’s major decrease in performance with only 225 HP.
Things you didn’t know about the Javelin
During its run, Javelin was majorly outshined by the well-advertised cars of that era even if this car was able to pull off satisfying results on the race tracks. Roger Penske was the man behind the Javelin Racing program and he put Mark Donohue to test-drive the AMX. A red, white and blue AMX won the SSCA two years in a row (1971 and 1972).
This car was also the first pony car to be used by the State Law Enforcement as a pursuit vehicle. Alabama Police Officers made some modifications resulting to an increased top speed of 153 mph.