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 232 cu in (3.8 L) straight-six and three V8s.
With its standard engine, the Javelin cruised at 80 miles per hour
(129 km/h), while the 290 cu in (4.8 L) V8 boosted top speed to 100 miles per
hour (161 km/h).
The optional "Go Package" included a four-barrel carburetted 343 cu in (5.6 L)
V8, power front disc brakes, dual exhausts, and wide tires, that delivered the
60 miles per hour (97 km/h) dash in eight seconds and a top speed approaching
120 miles per hour (193 km/h).
Also available was the SST trim level that provided a greater degree of
In mid-1968 the AMX 390 cu in (6.4 L) engine was offered as a Javelin option.
Its impressive 315 hp (235 kW; 319 PS) and 425 lb·ft (576 N·m) of torque could
send the Javelin from zero to 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) 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
1969 Javelin SST -
This two-door hardtop is finished in blue with the optional white vinyl covered roof. This car also has the factory optional "Magnum" styled wheels.
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 "Craig Breedlove" roof mounted spoiler,
simulated "exhaust" rocker trim, and twin blacked-out simulated air scoops on
the hood. An optional side stripes consisted of a C-shape that started behind
the front wheel openings. A “Big Bad” paint (neon brilliant blue, orange and
green) option was available on Javelins starting in mid-1969 and included
matching painted bumpers. The paint option continued on all Javelins through
The Go-package option was available with the four-barrel 343 or 390 engines,
and included disk brakes, Twin-Grip differential, red-stripe performance tires
on wide wheels, heavy-duty suspension with thicker sway-bars, and other
Production: 40,675 units
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 290 cu in (4.8 L)
V8 that was bored out to 304.3 cu in (4.99 L). 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.
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.
The engine lineup for 1970 was changed with the introduction of two new V8
engines: a base 304 cu in (5 L) and an optional 360 cu in (5.9 L) to replace the
290 and the 343 versions. The top optional 390 cu in (6.4 L) continued, but it
was upgraded to new heads with 51 cc combustion chambers increasing power to
(325 hp (242 kW). 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 360 cu in
(5.9 L) 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.
The AMC Javelin was restyled for the 1971 model year. The second-generation
became longer, lower, wider, and heavier than its predecessor. Note the engine
power changes from 1971 to 1972-74. Power output didn't change, the SAE rating
method changed from "gross" in 1971 and prior years to "net" in 1972 and later
1971 AMC Javelin AMX - this car came with 360 cu. in. V8 and 4-speed manual transmission.
The new design incorporated an integral roof spoiler and sculpted fender
bulges. The new body departed from the gentle, tucked-in look of the original.
The media noted the revised front fenders (originally designed to accommodate
oversized racing tires) that "bulge up as well as out on this personal sporty
car, borrowing lines from the much more expensive Corvette."
The new design also featured an "intricate injection moulded grille."
The car's dashboard was asymmetrical, with "functional instrument gauges that
wrap around you with cockpit efficiency"
This driver oriented design contrasted with the symmetrical interior of the
economy-focused 1966 Hornet (Cavalier) prototype.
AMC offered a choice of engines and transmissions. Engines 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, forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods engineered for
8000 rpm. The Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission came with a Hurst
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
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
3,244-pound (1,471 kg) 1971 Javelin AMX with a 401 cu in (6.6 L) was able to run
the quarter-mile in the credible mid-14s at around 93 miles per hour (150 km/h)
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 Javelin SST coupe - a pony car finished in Sparkling Burgundy (paint code D8) equipped with AMC's 360 CID (5.9 L) 2-barrel V8 engine, all in original "driver" condition.
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 12,000 miles (19,000 km). 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. For 1972, the smallest domestic automaker
was solidly profitable, earning over $30 million on $4 billion in sales.
Nevertheless, the pony car market continued to decline in popularity. One
commentator has said that “despite 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.”
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-colour 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
The 1973 Javelin was updated slightly. Most noticeable changes were to the
taillights and grille, though the AMX grille remained the same. All other AMC
models used "recoverable" bumpers with telescoping shock-absorbers, the Javelin
and AMX came with a non-dynamic design with two rigid rubber guards.
A further invisible change came with new standards mandating stronger doors
capable of withstanding 2,500 pounds (1,100 kg) of impact for the first 6 inches
(152 mm) of crush. 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
Spurred by the success of improving product quality supported by an
advertising campaign focusing on "we back them better because we build them
better", AMC continued its comprehensive extended warranty on all the 1973
models while achieving record profits.
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. Unlike General Motor's Camaro and
Firebird , the 1974 Javelin models were not exempt from new stricter front and
rear bumper standards.
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.
Javelins equipped with the 401 cu in (6.6 L) engine were used by the Alabama
Highway Patrol beginning in 1971 and ending with the last ADPS Javelin's
retirement in 1979. They were the first pony cars to be used as a normal highway
patrol police car by any U.S. police organization. The Police in Muskego,
Wisconsin also used Javelins (1973 models) for regular patrol duties for a time.
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 GmbH 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 Germany. Karmann’s “Javelin 79-K” came with the 343 cu in
(5.6 L). 90% of the parts and components used came in crates from the USA.
At Karmann’s facility in Rheine 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
- VAM assembled Javelins in Mexico.
AMC Javelin high customized performance coupe from a 1971 to 1974 version
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.
More Pictures of the AMC Javelin
AMC Javelin Muscle Car - Yellow with Black Stripes
1970 Javelin SST 390 Engine Bay
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