The AMC Javelin was produced from 1968 through 1974 intended as a 'pony' car for the American Motors Corporation. To fit into a wide variety of budgets, AMC offered the Javelin with a variety of engines that included the 232 six-cylinder variant all the way up to the might eight-cylinder power-plants. The 343 cubic-inch four-barrel V8 was a serious performance machine offering, with 280 horsepower and 365 foot-pounds of torque. Optional disc brakes and wide tires helped the driver keep the vehicle in control.
AMC had introduced the Marlin in 1965, right after the introduction of the Ford Mustang. The Mustang easily outsold the Marlin partly due to the Marlins large 112-inch wheelbase. There was seating for six with plenty of trunk space. The thing it lacked was the sporty image that the Mustang had capitalized upon.
AMC's chief designer Richard A. Teague quickly revised the design resulting in the AMX concept cars of the late 1960's. Pressured by upper management and those with financial interests in AMC, the Javelin production car was sent to market. It borrowed heavily from the AMX concept's design and was considered by many to be sporty and attractive. Its design was uncluttered and smooth with its split front grille and semi-fastback roofline. The interior featured front bucket seats and rear bench.
The six-cylinder engine offered 145 horsepower and adequate fuel economy. The 'Go' package, opted by many buyers, featured front disc brakes, tuned suspension with anti-sway bar, upgraded tires, and a choice of three potent V8 engines.
In 1969 a 390 cubic-inch engine became available. Its impressive 315 horsepower and 425 foot-pounds of torque could send the Javelin from zero-to-sixty in the seven-second range.
The standard suspension was comprised of coil springs and unequal-length wishbones in the front and semi-elliptic leaf springs and sold axle in the rear. The optional fast-ratio steering and handling package greatly improved the handling during aggressive driving.
In 1971 the Javelin was restyled and now included a roof spoiler, fender bulges, and arched fenders. The interior was given a stripe pattern.
During its introductory year, 55000 examples were produced. The AMC Company was not known as a company that could produce a performance machine. The Javelin, along with the help of Mark Donohue and Roger Penske, set a new reputation for the AMC Company on the Trans Am racing circuit. In nine races the duo scored seven wins and captured the Trans Am Series Championship. The Javelin repeated its success in the following two years.
The demise of the muscle-car era was mostly caused by an increase in government and safety regulations and fuel concerns. Javelin's sales creped along during the early 1970's but by 1974 production ceased.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2006
Introduced in 1967, the AMC Javelin was a pony car produced by the American Motors Corporation. Produced in two generations, the Javelin continued on until 1974, from 1968 through 1970 and from 1971 through 1974. The Javelin was available only as a two-door hardtop and either in economical versions or as a high-performance muscle car. AMC Javelins were manufactured in Kenosha, Wisconsin and assembled under license in Mexico, Venezuela, Australia and Germany along with various international markets. In 1971 and '72 the Javelin won the Trans-Am race series with AMC sponsorship and independently in 1976.
The Ford Mustang was responsible for establishing the 'pony car' market, and the Javelin was American Motors official entry into it. AMC was looking to branch out beyond their 'economy car' image and the Javelin would be the car to do it and appeal to the younger performance-seeking market. The Javelin's design was evolved from two AMX prototypes shown in AMC's 'Project IV' concept in 1966. One concept was a four-seat 'AMX II' and the other was a fiberglass two-seat 'AMX'. With the help of Richard A. Teague and the AMC designer team, the Javelin was created in one body style, a smooth semi-fastback roofline. AMC didn't have the resources to create two models, a separate fastback and notchback hardtop like the Mustang the Barracuda, so instead the team concentrated on unique offering that would set the Javelin apart from other pony cars.
Aiming for the more affordable car market, the Javelin was constructed on AMC's 'junior' or compact Rambler American platform exclusively as a two-hardtop model that was affordable, and also available in muscle car performance variations. Teague gave the Javelin the wet t-shirt look with plenty of sexy curves and sleek refinement.
Riding on a 109-inch wheelbase the Javelin was 189.2 inches long, 71.9 inches wide, had a height of 51.8 inches and a curb weight of 2,836 pounds. First launched on August 22, 1967 for the 1968 model year, the Javelin was available for sale for $2,743 from September 26, 1967. Today the equivalent of that starting price is around $19,000.
Various safety innovations were incorporated on the AMC Javelin included the industry firth of fiberglass safety padding in the interior windshield posts, and the flush-mounted paddle-style door handles, which would eventually become a permanent AMC Safety styling feature. To reduce glare on the inside the interior was completely lacking of bright trim. Other safety features included three-point seat belts and headrests for the front seats and exterior side marker lights.
The Javelin had plenty of room for both cargo and passengers and was roomier than many of its competitors. The trunk capacity of the pony car was an impressive 10.2 cubic feet. No side vent windows were available. Interior air was extracted through flow-through ventilation via apertures in the doors controlled by adjustable flap valves in the bottom of the door armrests. Passengers rode on thin-shell bucket seats and were treated to a fully carpeted interior. The SST model featured additional appearance and creature comforts like reclining front seat backs, a sports-style steering wheel and simulated wood grained door panel trim. The instrument and controls were ensconced deep into a padded panel while the remainder of the dashboard was set well forward, away from the passenger.
A 'twin-venturi' look according to AMC, the front end of the Javelin had a recessed honeycomb grille and outboard-mounted headlamps. Identical turn signals were nestled in the bumper. Giving the Javelin a very sporty look, the windshield was raked at 59 degrees and a pair of simulated air scoops was placed on the hood.
The Javelin was met with very favorable press upon its introduction in 1968. Motor Trend placed the Javelin at the top of its 'sports-person' category in its annual 'Car of the Year' issue and considered it the 'most notable new entry in its class. Road & Track magazine found the Javelin to be excellent competition to current offerings and called its styling 'pleasant', and praised the 'big, heavy, super-powerful engine'. Lengthier and roomier than the Mustang, Camaro and Barracuda, the Javelin had a total production of 55,125 models in 1968.
The AMC Javelin was offered only as a two-door hardtop body style in base or more premium SST models. Powering the pony car was a 232 cu in (3.8 L) straight-6 or a 290 cu (4.8 L) two-barrel carburetor V8 engine. Buyers could opt for a 343 cu in (5.6 L) V8 engine in regular gasoline two-barrel or high-compression, premium-fuel four-barrel versions. Following a road test racing driver Gordon Johncock praised the Javelin for its plentiful features and roomy ride. He even 'wanted to take it home'.
The standard straight-six engine had a top speed of 80 mph when equipped with an automatic transmission while the small 290 cu in (4.8 L) V8 engine produced a top speed of 100 mph. Optional on the pony car was a three-speed 'Shift-Command' automatic transmission with a center console-mounted gear selector. Fully automatic, the forward settings included '1', '2', and a 'D' mode, and the driver could shift manually through all three gears at his leisure.
An optional feature, the 'Go Package' featured a four-barrel carbureted 343 cu in (5.6 L) AMC V8 engine, heavy-duty suspensions, power front disc brakes, dual exhausts with chromed outlets and wide body-side stripes. The 'Go Package' rode on E70x14 redline tires mounted on chrome-plated 'magnum 500' styled road wheels. With a top speed of 120 mph and ability to achieve a quarter mile in just 15.4 seconds a 343 Go Pac Javelin could run 0-60 mph in 8 seconds. During the first few months of 1968 production the largest engine produced was a 5.6-liter V8 engine produced 284 SAE bhp; a formidable car indeed.
Offered as a 'Go-package' option in mid-1968, the new AMX 390 cu in (6.4 L) engine came with a floor-mounted automatic or manual four-speed transmission. This option produced a dangerous 315 hp and 425 pound force-feet (576 N•m) of torque that equipped the Javelin to go from 0-60 mph in merely 7 seconds.
A variety of factory-approved 'Group 19' dealer-installed performance accessories were available for the AMX and Javelin muscle-models. These accessories included popular extras like high-performance camshaft kits, needle-bearing roller rocker arms, dual four-barrel cross-ram intake manifolds, and dual-point ignition.
Popular with the 25 to 30 aged crowd, the average age for the first 1,000 Javelin's was 29, which was a decade younger the 'median for all AMC customers'. Mary Wells Lawrence of Wells, Rich, and Green Inc., was responsible for the Javelin's innovative and unique marketing strategy. Incredibly daring, the campaign used comparisons of the Ford Mustang and the AMC Javelin side by side along with the Mustang being beaten to pieces with sledgehammers.
Updates in 1969 included trim upgrades, an altered grille with a bull's eye emblem and modified side striping. Optional this year was a side-stripe package that consisted of a C-shaped graphic that began behind the front wheel openings. Though standard with the 'Go-Package', the five-spoke Magnum 500 steel road wheels were optional and came with a stainless steel trim ring. On the inside, the Javelin received new door panels and updated carpeting. A 0-8,000 rpm tachometer now matched the speedometer in style. A cowl over the instrument panel in front of the driver was added near the end of the model year. Total productions numbers for 1969 peaked at 40,675 units.
Halfway through the 1969 model year AMC introduced the 'Mod Javelin' Package. This package included a 'Craig Breedlove' roof-mounted spoiler, twin blacked out simulated air scoops on the hood and simulated 'exhaust' rocker trim. Buyers could opt for 'Big Bad' paint in colors like neon brilliant blue, green or orange) from mid-1969 and came with matching front and rear painted bumpers along with two vertical rubber-faced painted bumper guards for the back and a special bright lower grille molding for the front bumper. Through 1970 these optional colors were available on all Javelins.
The Go-Package came with the option of the four-barrel 343 or 390 engine. This package continued to feature disc brakes, 'Twin-Grip' (limited slip) differential, redline performance E70x14 tires on 'Magnum 500' styled wheels, heavy-duty suspension with meatier sway bars and various other updates. Four-speed manual transmissions came with a Hurst floor shifter after January of 1969.
Changes in 1970 included a newly designed front-end with a wide 'twin-venturi' front grille that featured the headlamps and a longer hood. The rear of the Javelin now had full-width taillamps and a single center mounted backup light, a design that would only last for one year. Various other AMC models also shared side marker lights. A new 'aero' design that sometimes matched the car's body color was featured in the exterior rear view mirror. Continuing as an option for 1970 models, the three 'Big Bad' exterior paints now came with regular chrome bumpers. Under the hood was a new front suspension with ball joints; upper and lower control arms, coil springs, and shock absorbers above the upper control arms along with trailing struts on the lower control arms.
New safety features for 1970 Javelins included Corning's new safety glass, a much thinner and lighter glass than standard laminated windshields. In addition to being thinner, this special glass featured a chemically hardened outer layer Produced in Blacksburg, VA in a refitted plant that included tempering, ion exchange, and 'fusion process' in brand new furnaces that Corning had developed so they could supply the big automakers.
The engine lineup was revamped this year to include the introduction of two new V8 engines: a base 304 cu in (5.0 L) and an optional 360 cu in (5.9L) that replaced the 290 and the 343 versions. The optional top engine was still the 390 cu in (6.4L) which was upgraded with new cylinder heads featuring 51 cc combustion chambers, which bumper power to 325 hp. The code remained 'X' on the VIN for the engine. Another new feature this year was the 'power blister' hood, which featured two large openings as part of a functional cold ram-air induction system that was also included with the 'Go Package' option.
A popular package, the 'Go Package' was available with the 360 and 390 four-barrel V8 engines. This package continued to include front disc brakes, a dual exhaust system, improved cooling, heavy-duty suspension with anti-sway bars, 3.54 rear axle ratio, and wide Goodyear white-lettered performance tires on road wheels.
On the inside of the 1970 Javelin, a special one-year design was offered. The design featured a broad dashboard with wood grain on SST models, a brand new center console and updated interior door panel trim. Tall 'clamshell' bucket seats with integral headrests were available in corduroy, vinyl or optional leather upholstery. Brand new this year was a new two-spoke steering wheel with a 'Rim Blow' horn.
Popular Science tested four 1970 pony cars and placed the Javelin on top with the roomiest interior and good visibility except for a small blind spot in the right rear quarter and the hood scoop. Popular Science also praised the Javelin for its spacious trunk with 10.2 cubic feet of room. The Camaro came in a close second when it came to ride comfort according to the magazine. The 360 cu in (5.9 L) engine offered 'terrific torque' according to the poll. The 4-speed manual Javelin ranked the quickest of the four pony cars, accelerating 0-60 mph in just 6.8 seconds.
AMC contracted Kaplan Engineering in 1968 to run two AMC Javelins in the SCCA's Trans-Am Series. Ron Kaplan and Jim Jeffords constructed three cars; two for racing and one for shows and demonstrations. The following year Jeffords left the team and Kaplan was contracted to run the program. Pulling from his development the previous year Kaplan produced three more cars, two for AMC, and one for his own uses with his own finances.
The original drivers chosen for 1968 were George Follmer as #1 and Peter Revson as #2. Unfortunately Revson was soon let go following a disagreement with management. Lothar Motschenbach was picked up by the team for the next two races in Canada.
Racing was an immediate success for AMC during the first year. The team was called a 'Cinderella' team after quickly establishing a record as the only factory entry to finish every Trans Am race entered placing third in the over-2-liter class of the 1968 series. The AMC team continued to improve and for 1968 they suffered only one DNF from an engine problem. Many of the engine problems that year were quickly corrected by Kaplan and his professional staff. Kaplan was proactive about correcting problems and fixing the engine oiling problems. Halfway through the season Kaplan began development of a dual-carb cross manifold and a new engine casting.
First Watt's link rear suspension was developed before the front anti-dive modifications were next. Kaplan was in quite a rush to meet AMC's timing schedule so the basic design of the inner fender components were actually copied from a Mustang. Two more degrees of anti-dive was added to the Mustang's 4 degrees. Kaplan finished the drawings and sent them to the factory before the manufacturing of the parts was then contracted to Central Stamping. Unfortunately there wasn't capacity to fit the components to the unibody on the '69 assembly line, so Ron had to incorporate them into the cars once they arrived in his shop as bodies in white.
The team began the 1968 season with two engines from TRACO, but the single carb layout and the basic two-bolt-main block carried serious limitations for generating power. Kaplan went to Vic Edlebrock for assistance in developing a cross-ram manifold. Edlebrock personally assisted Kaplan in addition to loaning him a pattern maker. Champion Sparkplugs also assisted Kaplan and allowed him to use their dyno room to tweak any design issues.
Dan Byer, a retired engineer from AMC helped Kaplan develop a new block casting towards the end of 1968. More mass for 4-bolt mains were added to the original AMC 390 drawings and improvement for the oiling system. Central Foundries in Windsor (ON) was contracted for a very small production run of only 50 blocks. Kaplan was responsible for cleaning up the blocks from the sand casting, hone the various passage before sending them to AMC's 'Parts Central' in Kenosha. All of the blocks were painted bright orange so Kaplan could identify them easily on the transfer line. 12 of these special castings were drawn on during his development program while two were eventually sold to customers.
During this period Kaplan's race program contact was replaced by AMC with two new men: John Voelbel and Chris Schoenlip. Unfortunately these two men didn't have a background in the automotive industry and were inexperienced with racing. These men were responsible for not submitting homologation papers and failing to enter the parts to the official AMC parts system. Unfortunately this mistake cost them when Kaplan sent the first car, an older 1968 car with a new engine, to run at the first race of the '69 season at Jackson, MI. Because they were late, and hadn't qualified, the team had to do some consensus building with other racers to permit them to enter. The SCCA eventually agreed to let them run, but they started last, within 10 laps, but within ten laps they were chasing Donohue down and the time differential was rapidly narrowed. SCCA requested to see the AMC engine but the car had been sent home already. The SCCA wanted to tear down the engine before the race started at Lime Rock, but Kaplan argued that the same should be down to the Mustangs and Camaros also. The SCCA chose to allow the AMC's to run though this would only be temporary until the parts could be homologated. AMC eventually assigned a part number after the SCCA program and two blocks were sold later to customers.
The 1969 season began with John Martin as #3 and Ron Grable as #4. Martin was released midseason and replaced by Jerry Grant. Kaplan approached AMC management at this time and proposed that the whole concept behind the 1969 contract be modified. Kaplan requested that AMC rather than competing in actual races instead that they go to the tracks on the subsequent Mondays and run a developmental program using Sunday's winning times as the benchmark. AMC did not agree and Kaplan was left to run the year with the current engines on hand, even though the old engines weren't competitive and the new engines weren't recognized. Results were poor since the older style engines weren't competitive. Budget cuts were also in effect.
Kaplan dropped all of AMC's material at their zone office in El Segundo, California and took a month of person time to collect his thoughts. Unfortunately once he returned it was too late and a deal had been brokered with Roger Penske. Kaplan was out of a job.
All of the team cars and equipment were picked up from the El Segundo offices by Penske and shipped to his Pennsylvania shop. Penske used the #3 Jerry Grant car for developmental purposes through the latter half of 1969. After receiving the 1969 cars, Penske learned the Kaplan had done much suspension work but still believed more improvements could be made. Several months of development were made before Penske felt that the team had a car that was ready to perform. Penske built brand new cars for his own team at this time and sold all of the earlier Kaplan cars and equipment. Mark Donahue was now in charge of selling off the inventory.
Surprising many in the racing industry was the news in 1970 that Penske Racing had taken over the AMC Javelin program. The Camaro Trans-Am program was left to Jim Hall. AMC contracted Penske and driver Mark Donohue to heavily campaign Javelins in SCCA Trans-Am Series. This occurred at the same time that the Trans-Am rulebook allowed manufacturers to de-stroke preexisting corporate engine. AMC's 390 cu in (6.4L) engine was used at the starting point to meet the 5 L (305 cu in) displacement rule that was still in place. In the 1970 series AMC finished in second place in the Over 2-liter class. Following their success on the race track AMC began heavily advertising and promoting their special models.
One of these special models was the 'Mark Donohue Javelin SST'. Carrying his signature on the right hand side of the car, a total of 2,501 of these SST models were built to homologate the Donohue-designed rear ducktail spoiler. Built for Trans Am Racing, the rules required factory production of 2,500 spoiler-equipped vehicles. The special models were built in SST trim and included a special spoiler and the 'Go Package' with Ram Air hood. Powering the Donohue Javelin was a 360 cu in (5.9 L) engine with thicker webbing that allowed it to have four bolt mains and a choice of a four-speed or automatic transmission. The special model was available in any color including 'Big Bad' exteriors and upholstery along with any combination of extra cost options.
Another special model produced by AMC were 'Trans-Am' Javelins that replicated Ronnie Kaplan's racecars. An estimated 100 of these models were produced. Powering the 'Trans-Am' was the 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 engine. These Javelin's had heavy-duty and performance characteristics, front and rear spoilers and were designed to commemorate AMC's entry into SCCA racing. With a retail price of $3,995 the 'Trans-Am' Javelins were painted in AMC racing team's distinctive Matador Red, Commodore Blue 'hash' and Frost White paint scheme.
In 1971 the second generation of the AMC Javelin was introduced with styling updates. The redesign was considered eccentric by some, but the new 'sporty' look gave the Javelin some 'individuality' according to fans. Growing in height and width the new Javelin even weighed more than its previous generation. Riding on a 110-inch wheelbase, a 1-inch growth over its predecessor, the Javelin was the first pony car to be used as a normal highway patrol police car utilized by any U.S. organization.
The Javelin now featured revamped more sculpted fender bulges and an integral roof spoiler. The car lost the gentle, tucked-in look of the original model and now featured an 'intricate injection molded grille'. The design of the Javelin was much more driver-friendly with an asymmetrical dashboard and functional instrument gauges that wrapped around the cockpit.
Powering the 1971 model was a choice of engines and transmissions that included a 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6 and a four-barrel 401 cu in (6.6 L) AMC V8 with high compression ratio. The crankshaft was forged steel and the connecting rods were engineered to bear 8000 rpm. A Hurst floor shifter came with the BorgWarner T-10 four-speed manual transmission.
After 1971 the AMX grew into a premium high-performance edition of the Javelin and no longer as a two-seater vehicle. Advertised as 'the closest thing you can buy to a Trans-Am champion', the new Javelin' AMX featured various racing modifications. The AMX had a fiberglass full-width cowl induction hood that added 100 pounds of down force. The car also featured spoilers front and rear for high-speed traction. The performance model also received a stainless steel mesh screen over the standard Javelin's deep openings per Mark Donahue's instructions.
The 'Go Package' performance-upgrade offered the buyer the option of a 360 or 401 4-barrel engine. Other features included 'Rally-Pac' instruments, 'Twin-Grip' limited-slip differential, a handling package for the suspension, heavy-duty cooling, power-assisted disc brakes, a T-stripe hood decal, a blacked-out rear taillight panel and white-letter E60x15 Goodyear Polyglass tires on 15x7-inch styled slotted steel wheels. The 1971 AMX model could achieve the quarter mile in 14 seconds with a top speed of 93 miles per hour when powered by a 401 cubic inch V8 engine.
The following year in 1972 the Javelin was updated once again with a new 'egg crate' front grille design with a similar pattern that was repeated on the chrome overlay over the full-width taillights. The AMX version retained the flush grille. Side stripes were available with a total of 15 exterior colors.
More standard comfort and convenience items were offered in 1972 in an attempt to offer more value to customers and reduce production costs. The engine power ratings were downgraded to the SAE net hp figures. Sourced from Chrysler, automatic transmissions were now the TorqueFlite units, called 'Torque-Command' by AMC.
Record sales were reached in 1972 when AMC focused on quality along with an innovative 'Buyer Protection Plan' that stood by its products. This plan was the first time that an automaker was offered to repair anything on a vehicle for a year, or 12,000 miles. A toll-free number to AMC was provided to the car owner, as well as a free loaner car if the repair took more than a day. Unfortunately the pony car market was declining in popularity.
A special model was produced during 1972 and 1973 with optional interior design by fashion designer Pierre Cardin. A total of 4,152 of these Javelins were officially on sale by March 1, 1972. The interior design featured multi-colored pleated stripes in plum, red, white and silver against a black background. From the front seats, up the doors, onto the headliner, and down to the rear seats were six multi-colored stripes in a nylon fabric with a stain-resistant silicone finish. The fabric for the seat faces was produced by Chatham Mills. The front fenders bore Cardin's crest. The Pierre Cardin cost $84.95, or $451 in 2014 dollars. The design was called 'daring' and 'outlandish' in a 2007 magazine article.
In 1973 the Javelin was revamped with the most obvious design change being the taillights and grille, though the AMX grille remained the same. The Javelin and AMX were fitted with a non-telescopic design that had two rigid rubber guards, while all other AMX models sported bumpers with telescopic shock absorbers. These guards allowed the cars to withstand 5 mph front and 2.5-mpm rear impacts without damage to the engine, lights and safety equipment. Other safety updates included stronger doors that complied with new U.S. National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety standard that they withstand 2,500 pounds of impact for the first 6 inches of a crash. Other changes this year included the 'twin-cove' indentations in the roof being removed, and the addition of a full vinyl top. A slimmer, lightweight, more comfortable design with plenty of legroom for passengers in the rear replaced the 1970-1972 'Turtle Back' front seats.
New emissions controls were incorporated on all engines in 1973. Rated at net 255 hp the 1973 401 cu in (6.6 L) V8 engine had a top speed of 115.53 mph and could accelerate 0-60 mph in just 7.7 seconds. Road Test magazine tested a 1973 Javelin SST with the 401 cu in (6.6 L) 4-barrel V8 engine and 4-speed manual transmission and achieved the quarter mile drag strip runs of 15.5 seconds at 91 mph.
AMC comprehensive 'Buyer Protection' extended warranty continued and now included food and lodging expenses of up to $150 if the car needed overnight repairs and the owner was more than 100 miles away from home. 'We back them better because we build them better' was the AMC motto referencing their improved product quality. 1973 sales were at an all time high with 30,902 units sold, and 5,707 of these being AMX units.
In both the 1971 and 1972 seasons the Javelin's driven in the Trans-Am snatched the racing title for American Motors. AMC introduced a limited run of 'Trans Am Victory' edition models following the back-to-back SCCA championships. These packages were offered on any models built between October and December 15, 1972, on any Javelin SST, except ones with the Cardin interior. The special package was advertised by a single magazine advertisement that featured the winning race drivers George Follmer and Roy Woods.
Any Javelin's ordered with the optional visibility group, insulation group, light group, protection group, and sports-style steering wheel also received a large 'Javelin Winner Trans Am Championship 1971-1972 SCCA' fender decals valued at $167.45, but at no additional cost. These decals were on the lower portion behind the front wheel openings, as well as 8-slot rally styled steel wheels with the E70x14 Polyglass raised while letter tires and a 'Space-Saver' spare tire. These Trans Am Victory cars were usually featured more options than standard production Javelins.
The automotive market was growing and changing and halfway through 1974 Chrysler abandoned the pony car market. Ford replaced its original Mustang with smaller four-cylinder versions, other pony car manufactures downsized their engines, and Javelin's big engine option continued until the production model ended in the late fall of 1974. The Arab oil embargo and overall dwindling public interest in high performance vehicles worked against the pony car market.
Alongside the new Camaro, Firebird and the downsized Mustang II, all of which saw increased sales, the 1974 AMX didn't fare well. Javelin production however reached a second-generation high of 27,696 units, with 4,980 of these being Javelin-AMX models produced for the final model year.
New safety features for 1974 included an all-new seatbelt interlock system that prevented the car from being started if the driver and a front passenger were unbuckled. After 1974 the functional cowl-induction fiberglass hood wasn't available any longer. Some late-production models came with hoods made from steel. The output of 401 cu in (6.6 L) V8 engine was dropped by 20 hp.
Unfortunately the end of the AMC Javelin was nearing. Many factors including the economic climate at the time, and new stricter front and rear bumpers all led to the demise of the Javelin model. AMC estimated that it would cost around $12 million in engineering and design work to revise the bumpers to meet the new standards for 1975.
An all-new Matador coupe was introduced in 1974 by American Motors. Popular Mechanics applauded the new coupe as a formidable rival to the Javelin with its 'muscle-car styling'. Also new from American Motors was the all-new AMC Pacer and a manufacturing line was needed. More cars were built during the final year of Javelin production than any other second-generation years with a total production run of 27,696 units built, 4,980 of these Javelin AMX models.
The AMC Javelins had a successful racing history in both the Trans-Am Series with the Penske Racing/Mark Donohue team and the Roy Woods ARA team sponsored by American Motors Dealers. In '71, '72, and '76 the Javelin won the Trans-Am title and the drivers included Mark Donohue and George Follmer. One Javelin model that began its life as a 1970 model with an update to 1971 sheetmetal had the auspicious honor to have different sponsors and being piloted by Mark Donohue, Vic Elford, Peter Revson, George Follmer and Roy Woods. Today the racecar has been restored to its 1972 livery and is driven at Vintage Trans-Am events. A Javelin AMX in the Touring Car Masters in Australia was raced by Jim Richards and came second in the overall 2012 series.
The Alabama Department of Public Safety (ADPS) was searching for a cheaper alternative to the traditional large-sized police cruisers. They took a basic 304 cu in (5.0 L) V8 as a test vehicle, but unfortunately found its lack of power disappointing. The ADPS next sampled a vinyl roofed AMX powered by a 401 cu in (6.6 L) engine from the local dealer, Reinhart AMC in Montgomery. Javelin's equipped with this 6.6 L engine proved to be a lethal adversary on the road and the Alabama Highway Patrol used them for pursuit and high-speed response calls. The 1971 police cruisers had a bid price of $3,047 and rose in 1972 to $3,242. A total of 132 Javelins were purchased during 1971 and 1972 and would be the first pony cars to be used as a normal highway patrol police vehicle by any U.S. police organization. In 1979 the final of ADPS Javelins were retired with one of the original cars today being part of the Museum of ADPS headquarters.
The name AMX was later applied to other cars: the AMC Hornet, the AMC Concord, and the AMC Spirit, much like with the Plymouth Road Runner and Dodge Charger Daytona. Today the Javelin is highly collectible among AMC fans and well loved over the years. Starting out as a 'fun and affordable American classic' the Javelin has grown to 'Finally gaining the respect of collectors, along with higher prices' according to Chicago Sun-Times auto editor Dan Jedlicka. Though the Javelin doesn't fetch the high prices of other muscle and pony cars today, it still remains a muscle car legend. Today many AMC automobile clubs are available for the Javelin enthusiast.
Both the first and second generation Javelin models were assembled in right hand drive versions by Australian Motor Industries (AMI) in Victoria, Australia fro CKD kits. Locally manufactured was the right hand drive dash, interior and soft trim along with other components. These right hand drive models were marketed under the historic Rambler name. The only American 'muscle cars' of that era to be sold new in Australia the AMI Rambler Javelins came with top trim and features. The AMI Rambler was powered by the 343 cu in (5.6 L) 280 bhp (210 kW) V8 engine, three-speed 'Shift Command' automatic transmission, and 'Twin Grip' limited-slip rear differential. These Ramblers had more power, a higher pricetag and more luxury than the contemporary Holden Monaro.
Since they had the largest and most usable back seat of the U.S. pony cars the Javelin was built in Europe by German coachbuilder, Wilhelm Karmann GmbH. 280 CKD (Completely Knocked Down) Javelins were assembled between 1968 and 1970 and marketed in Europe. This business relationship was significant since the Javelin was a American-designed car that was made in Germany. The Javelin 79-K could be bought with the 232 cu in (3.8 L) six, the 290 cu in (4.8 L) 2-barrel or 343 cu in (5.6 L) 4-barrel; V8 engines. Nearly 90 percent of the Javelin's parts and accessories were delivered from the U.S. in crates. The cars were assembled, painted and test-driven prior to shipment to customers from Karmann's facility in Rheine.
From 1968 through 1973 Javelins were assembled in Mexico under license and partial ownership by Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos (VAM) and AMC. These models were equipped with various locally made components, trims and accessories than the equivalent AMC-made models. The Mexican Javelins were only available in one version and had more standard equipment compared to U.S. and Canadian models.
VAM introduced the Javelin until April 1, 1968 which made the model a '1969 and half' similar to the February 1968 debut of the two-seat AMX. For the first time and the first regular production sports-oriented model the Javelin signified a third line within VAM's product line. Eventually the Javelin would become the only AMC muscle car offered in Mexico. Other AMC muscle cars were equivalents constructed by VAM or as special editions. Many firsts for VAM, the Javelin brought with it many innovative features like a standard four-speed manual transmission and the option of a three-speed automatic transmission. These transmissions were the only ones available on the Javelin and only with floor-mounted shifters like the two-seater AMX. Javelins with the automatic came with a center console with locking compartment and power drum brakes.
The Mexican-made 1968 Javelin produced 155 hp, 8.5:1 compression ratio 232 cu in (3.8 L) six-cylinder engine with two-barrel Carter WCD carburetor and a 3.54:1 rear differential gear ratio. Other features the VAM Javelin had 30-inch heavy duty clutch, manual four-wheel drum brakes, electric wipers, electric washers, quick-ratio manual steering, 8,000 RPM tachometer and 200 km/h speedometer. Other interior features included a locking glove box, courtesy lights, cigarette lighter, front ashtray, day-night rearview mirror, padded sun visors, two-point front seatbelts, rear ashtray, dual C-pillar-mounted dome lights, dual coat hooks, low-back reclining bucket seats, sports steering wheel, driver's side remote mirror, side armrests, vinyl door panels with wood grain accents and much more. The AMC Javelin rode on 7.35x14 tires with wheel covers, protective side moldings and front fender-mounted Javelin emblems.
The VAM Javelin equivalent carried standard trim and features that made it exact to the U.S and Canadian AMC Javelin SST. Options that were factory installed were power drum brakes with manual transmission, a center console for the manual transmission, power steering, heater, passenger's side remote mirror, remote controlled driver's side mirror, rear bumper guards and custom sport wheels. Options that were installed by the dealer included light group, side decals, map pouches, vinyl roof, locking gas cap, mud flaps, license plate frames, AM/FM radio, front disc brakes and heavy duty adjustable shocks among many other options.
VAM had a special 'Go Pack' that was a special dealer-installed option that featured manual front disc brakes, heavy duty suspension with front sway bar and rear torsion and traction bars. Other features included aluminum four-barrel intake manifold with four-barrel Carter carbs, headers with the same length tubes and dual final outlets, dual exhausts, heavy-duty springs and ported head with larger valves. The 'Go Pack' also featured 302-degree camshaft, 'Rallye Pak' auxiliary gauges on dashboard, Hurst linkage for the manual transmission, a unique one-of-a-kind steering wheel, exclusive turbine wheels and special dual remote mirrors. This option bumped up engine output 40 percent which pushed the VAM Javelin into a much more competitive edge against V8 rivals from Automex (Chrysler de México), Ford de México and General Motors de México. Though it didn't have a V8 engine the VAM Javelin was considered quite a success in the auto market.
The following year the heater became a standard feature rather than optional as prior years. Other changes for 1969 included the foot pedals receiving bright trim while the accelerator was transitioned into a firewall-mounted unit. On the passenger's side dashboard was now a support pull strap above the glove box and a wood grain unit replaced the center cover with the radio speaker grid. The 1969 Javelin retained the same gauge configuration the 1960 models, with a larger 8,000 RPM tachometer and a clock on the smaller left pod.
On the outside the VAM Javelin featured bright trim with new moldings that began at the corners of the taillights that ran on the side all the way to the lower rear corner of the side glass and drip rails, along with around the rear glass and top edge of the C-pillars. The 1969 VAM Javelins were much more luxurious even without the factory vinyl roof. Flanked by red-white-blue bulls eye emblems the front fender emblems were moved to the base of each C-pillar. A third Javelin emblem was added to the lower right corner of the grille. This would be the first year for the VAM's first self-engineered engine, the 170 hp (127 kW; 172 PS), 9.5:1 compression ratio 252 cu (4.1 L) six-cylinder engine and a two-barrel Carter WCD carburetor and a new VAM-engineered 266 degree camshaft. This engine was incredibly powerful in both standard and Go Pack versions.
In 1970 the VAM Javelin underwent numerous visual changes yet only slight technical changes. The VAM model received the same changes as its AMC sibling, like new grille and headlight bezels, larger tail lights minus wraparound portions and a single central back-up light, smooth front fender extensions and bumpers lacking divisions, larger side marker lights with both light and reflector sections in red and amber, and new wheel cover designs that were similar to Magnum 500 wheels.
There were two available hood designs; one with the Ram Air-type scoops at the front and the second was a smooth design with two rectangular stripped bulges. A fourth Javelin emblem was added to the right corner of the trunk lid since the central rear reflector was replaced with the back-up light. At a factory level no Ram Air system was offered for the Javelin. New in the interior for 1970 was a collapsible steering column with built-in ignition switch with anti-theft lock and a new simulated three-spoke sports steering wheel with a central bulls eye emblem. Floor-mounted shifters linked to the ignition switch regardless of the type of transmission added a secondary anti-theft mechanism. Full wood grain surfaces were used in the new dashboard design with a new center console and shifter design for the automatic transmission. Also new in 1970 was new door panels.
A new front suspension design was implemented this year with dual control arms and ball joints. Previously only available with the optional Go Pack package, units with four-speed manual transmissions utilized a Hurst linkage as factory-installed equipment. Halfway through the year the imported Borg-Warner T10 manual transmission was replaced with the Querétaro-produced TREMEC 170-F four-speed model. This was all in an attempt to comply with the percentages of both local and imported equipment as authorized by law.
1971 was the year that big changes were made to VAM. The Javelin was restyled as a new generation as the new Camioneta Rambler American based on the Hornet Sportabout was debuted and the Rambler Classis obtained all features of AMC's new Matador. The Javelin looked identical to its AMC sibling from the outside with the only exception being the wheels and the lack of decals and factory stripes. The second generation VAM Javelin did feature a special round porthole opera window mounted on the C-pillars produced by some VAM dealerships either with or without vinyl roofs.
The base engine for 1970 was the new 200 hp 9.5:1 compression ratio 282 cu in (4.6 L) six-cylinder engine with Carter ABD two-barrel carburetor. This 200 hp was VAM's second self-engineered engine and one that raised the Javelin's performance level even higher. The car was taken to the max performance when the Go Pack was added to the engine. Two '4.6' emblems on the side of both front fenders indicated the new engine. The new version had a 3.07:1 rear differential gear ratio for units equipped with automatic transmission.
Changes on the inside of the 1971 VAM Javelin included all-new non-reclining high-back bucket seats with built-in 'J' emblems on the back of the seats. This emblem was also found at the center of the back of the rear seat. The dashboard was limited to the unit with wood grain overlays only, but the instrument cluster was now completely revamped from previous models. A clock and tachometer hybrid with the same design and look as the US Rallye Pak units, tuned for six cylinder engines was found in the right pod. The pod in the center housed a 240 km/h speedometer, which was a range equivalent to AMC's 140 MHP unit of the Rallye Pak; though the dial graphics, colors and typography were the same as the standard gauges. This differentiation created a high contrast on plain sight betwixt the clock/tack hybrid and the speedometer. Fuel and water temperature gauges were on the left pod. This version did not have oil pressure and ammeter gauges. The VAM Javelin featured a single dome light at the center of the headliner and a new brake pedal design for units with automatic transmission just like the AMC Javelins.
The same upgrades made on the AMC models were also made on the Mexican models in 1972. The VAM Javelin received considerable enhancements in both performance and sportiness in 1972. Added to the standard equipment list was heavy duty springs and shocks, front sway bar and power front disk brakes and power steering regardless of transmission. Javelins with the four-speed manual transmission were upgraded to rear differential gear ratio of 3.31:1 and included a center console with locking compartment as standard equipment. New Torque Command' Chrysler-built A998 TorqueFlite replaced the 'Shift-Command' Borg-Warner automatic transmissions. The same chromed grille on the tail light lenses and the new rectangular grid front grille from the AMC Javelins were brought over for the VAM ones.
For the first time the exterior included factory stripe in-house designs. On the inside the VAM Javelin featured a new seat pattern design along with a new three-spoke sports steering wheel with an 'American Motors' legend on the transparent plastic cap of the horn button. The mechanism blocking the shifters to ignition switch was replaced with a new steering column design with a built-in safety lever that engaged the steering lock.
Cosmetic updates were made in 1973 that included a new smaller rectangular grille design with integrated rectangular parking lights and mesh grille. Other updates included open-air vents beneath the front of the fenders for cooling the brakes, new original seat patters and 'TV screen' tail light design with a bigger central bulls eye emblem between them. The VAM Javelin didn't feature many technical updates this year except for a new engine head design with larger valves and independent rockers without flute-type shaft. These engine heads were identical to the ones used in the Go Pack engines except for the lack of intake porting. In stock condition these VAM Javelins were the most powerful models produced. The second-generation Javelin's were similar to the Mexican original models in the sense that they weren't available with cowl induction hoods as the AMC Javelins in any form.
Sales in 1973 dipped quite substantially and in addition to government mandating of engine emissions the following year would affect all high-compression gasoline engines produced in Mexico. This wouldn't just affect the Javelin, but all performance cars produced in Mexico. The VAM Company believed that the new Matador coupe model could effectively take the place of the Javelin. One year before AMC's production of the Javelin ended in the U.S. VAM discontinued the Javelin at the end of the 1973 model year production.
A subsidiary of AMC was Constructora Venezolana de Vehículos C.A in Venezuela. This company assembled AMC Javelins from 1968 through 1974 in its facility in Caracac, Venezuela. Powered with the 290 cu in (4.8 L) V8 engine, the Venezuelan 1968 Javelin first arrived with the 343 cu in (5.6 L) with automatic or four-speed manual transmission. Two years later the Javelin produced 360 cu in (5.9 L) automatic or four-speed manual, while the 390 cu in (6.4 L) was optional and available only with the four-speed transmission. The only powertrain available for the Venezuelan market for the second-generation Javelin was AMC's 360 cu in (5.9 L) with 4-barrel carburetor mated to the Chrysler automatic transmission. In Venezuela the Javelin was the fastest production vehicle and quite popular for drag and road racing.Sources:
By Jessica Donaldson