AMC Javelin

From Dodge Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
AMC Javelin
1968 AMC Javelin base model in Matador Red 1968 AMC Javelin base model
ManufacturerAmerican Motors (AMC)
Production1968 – 1974
AssemblyKenosha, Wisconsin, USA
Port Melbourne, Australia
Osnabrück, Germany
Mexico City, Mexico
ClassPony car
Body style(s)Coupe
LayoutFR layout
PlatformAMC’s “junior cars”
Engine(s)3.8L I6
5.6L V8
6.4L V8
4.8L V8
5.0L V8
5.9L V8
6.6L V8
4.2L I6
Wheelbase2794 mm (110 in)
Length4872 mm (191.8 in)
Width1910 mm (75.2 in)
DesignerRichard A. Teague
ManualsService Manual

The AMC Javelin was a “pony car” built by the American Motors Corporation between 1968 and 1974. It was intended to rival other similar cars of the era such as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro.

The Javelin can be classified into two generations: 1968 to 1970 (with a distinct 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 other markets including Europe (by Wilhelm Karmann GmbH), Mexico (by VAM), Australia (by Australian Motor Industries), and were sold in other export markets.


1969 AMC Javelin SST with vinyl roof
mid-1969 AMC Javelin SST in Big Bad Orange

The Javelin was a production version of one of the AMX prototypes shown around the USA during the 1966 AMX project tour. It debuted in 1968. Available engines were a 232 cu in (3.8 L) straight-six and three V8s. The optional "Go Package" included a four-barrel carbureted 343 cu in (5.6 L) V8, power front disc brakes, dual exhausts, and wide tires. The SST trim level gave a greater degree of luxury. 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-sixty [60 miles per hour (97 km/h)] in the seven-second range.[1] A “Big Bad” paint (neon brilliant blue, orange and green) option was available on Javelins starting in mid-1969 and through 1970. 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. 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,[citation needed] describing the "big, heavy, super-powerful engine" as "an asset in such a small vehicle", and the styling as "pleasant." The disc/drum brakes and the non-power-assisted "quick-steering" option were criticized. Many journalists also complained about AMC’s safety-style interior, saying it was dull or bland.[citation needed]

Also offered was the AMC AMX, a shortened, two-seat version of the first-generation Javelin.


Note: all engines equipped with carburetors and the horsepower measured in gross values.
  • 232 cu in (3.8 L) AMC I6, 145 hp (108 kW; 147 PS) one-barrel or 155 hp (116 kW; 157 PS) with two-barrel
  • 290 cu in (4.8 L) AMC V8, 225 hp (168 kW; 228 PS)
  • 343 cu in (5.6 L) AMC V8, 280 hp (209 kW; 284 PS)
  • 390 cu in (6.4 L) AMC V8, 315 hp (235 kW; 319 PS)


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.[2]

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."[3] 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.[3] 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.[4]


1970 AMC Javelin SST with “Go Package”
1970 "Go Package" 390 engine

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 as well as full-width taillamps with a single center mounted backup light. This was a one-rear 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.

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 spoiler. These were designed for Trans Am racing.

An estimated 50 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 red, white, and blue paint scheme.


Note: all engines equipped with carburetors and the horsepower measured in gross values.
  • 232 cu in (3.8 L) AMC I6, 145 hp (108 kW; 147 PS) one-barrel or 155 hp (116 kW; 157 PS) with two-barrel
  • 360 cu in (5.9 L) AMC V8, 245 hp (183 kW; 248 PS) (two-barrel/single exhaust)
  • 360 cu in (5.9 L) AMC V8, 285 hp (213 kW; 289 PS) (four-barrel/dual exhaust)
  • 390 cu in (6.4 L) AMC V8, 325 hp (242 kW; 330 PS)


1974 AMC Javelin AMX with "Go Package"

Three Javelin series were offered: the base model, the SST, and the AMX.

The car was restyled in 1971 to incorporate the integral roof spoiler and fender bulges from earlier Javelins racing in the Trans-Am Series. The media criticized the revised fenders (originally designed to accommodate oversized racing tires) as " the Corvette, but less graceful..."[citation needed] 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 car's interior was asymmetrical, with nearly every component[citation needed] unique to its position, unlike the symmetrical interior of the economy-focused 1966 Hornet (Cavalier) prototype.

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[5]. 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, T-stripe hood decal and a blacked-out rear taillight panel.

A journalist who road-tested cars for an American auto magazine in the 1970s recalls the 1971 Javelin-AMX as "arguably the worst-built muscle car I have ever driven ... Decal stipes peeled off, loose knobs on the dash dropped off...loose carpeting pulled up, the front grille was barely attached." Also an entire rear wheel and brake assembly sheared off as the test car pulled away from a light, which could "have been fatal had it occurred...while cruising on the highway." The car ran the quarter mile in 14.60 seconds at 98 mph (158 km/h), "respectable for 1971, but certainly nowhere near the top rung of muscle cars."[6]

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

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 still continues, but Cardin's continues to be the “most daring and outlandish.” [7]

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. 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.”[8]

By 1974, 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.[9]


  • 232 cu in (3.8 L) AMC I6, 135 horsepower (101 kW) gross rating
  • 258 cu in (4.2 L) AMC I6, 150 horsepower (112 kW) gross rating
  • 304 cu in (5 L) AMC V8, 210 horsepower (157 kW) gross rating
  • 360 cu in (5.9 L) AMC V8, 245 horsepower (183 kW) gross rating (two-barrel carburetor with single exhaust)
  • 360 cu in (5.9 L) AMC V8, 285 horsepower (213 kW) gross rating (four-barrel carburetor with dual exhaust)
  • 401 cu in (6.6 L) AMC V8, 335 horsepower (250 kW) gross rating


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."[10] 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."[11] 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.

Export and other markets

AMC Javelin by Karmann 1968 ad
  • Between 30 December 1968 and 2 July 1970, the German coach builder, Karmann, assembled 280 [12] CKD (Completely Knocked Down) Javelins 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 manufactured.
  • Javelins were also popular in Europe, primarily because they had the largest and most usable rear seat of the American pony cars.
  • 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 1971 AMC Javelin has the following specifications:

  • Length: 191.8 inches (4872 mm)
  • Width: 75.2 inches (1910 mm)
  • Wheelbase: 110 inches (2794 mm)


  1. "1970 AMC Javelin", undated, retrieved on 2008-09-22.
  2. Holder, William; Kunz, Phil (2006). Extreme Muscle Cars. Krause Publications. pp. 14. ISBN 9780896892781. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Friedman, Dave (2001). Trans-Am: The Pony Car Wars 1966-1972. MotorBooks/MBI Publishing Company. chapter 3. ISBN 9780760309438.,M1. 
  4. "Trans-Am Racing 1968", AMX-perience, undated, retrieved on 2008-09-06.
  5. Historic Trans Am, retrieved on 2008-05-14.
  6. Oldham, Joe (2007). Muscle Car Confidential, Motorbooks. ISBN 0-7603-2831-5.
  7. Foster, Patrick. "Pierre Cardin Meets the Javelin" Hemming's Classic Car #31, April 2007.
  8. Kunz, Bruce (2006-08-26), "AMC's 1971-1974 Javelin was a Horse of a Different Color in more ways than one", St. Louis Post-Dispatch,, retrieved on 14 May 2008 .
  9. Langworth, Richard M. (October), "1968-74 Javelin: AMC's Thrust Into the Ponycar Arena", Collectible Automobile 
  10. Jedlicka, Dan. "AMC on target with the Javelin" Chicago Sun-Times, May 28, 2007. page A2.
  11. Blackwell, Rusty, Collectible Classic: 1968-70 AMC Javelin, Automobile Magazine,, retrieved on 2008-05-11 
  12. Dates and figures given by Karmann on 31 October 2006—via e-mail.
  • James T Crow, ed. (1968). "AM Javelin". Road & Track Road Test Annual: 24–26. 
  • Guy Hadsall, Patrick R. Foster, and Sam Fiorani (1999). Mister Javelin: Guy Hadsall Jr. at American Motors. SHS Press. ISBN 0-96689-430-8. 

External links