The AMC Javelin
was my intrduction into the fast and complex world of drag racing
. My first car purchased back in my good old high school
days was a 1972 AMC Javelin (22,864 claimed produced) with the stock 304CI
under the hood. Complete with power steering
and air conditioning. These were of course quickly removed and sold at local swap meets
The Javelins spanned from 1968-1974 and included the often-forgotten AMX series. A true two seater with a 360CI or 401CI under the hood made quite a night out of
unsuspecting Mustangs and Camaros.
My 1972 Javelin came stock with its 304 that was replaced within a week of solid learning just what the hell was what under that hood. In a matter of five straight days I had out the 304 and replaced it with my race ready 401. In 1972, an AMC 401-V8 was rated at 255 net horsepower which was pure crap from what I experienced at the track.
The sticker may say 255 but 295-300 is closer to it. After my $2,000 of work, it was doing 355-360 without even trying. As far as I knew I was the only one stupid enough
to put together "what was offered" at the local performance shops as nobody that I knew of could get their hands on performance AMC parts. Topping this 401 was my home-made 250HP nitrous oxide Sure-Shot system.
People thought I was nuts for gunning an AMC motor the way I did but I will quickly say to anyone who asks, after two straight years of racing I may have blown holes in pistons, torn connecting rods and literally ripped valves in half but I'll be dammed if I ever damaged that block. That engine plowed on and on, tank after tank of nitrous, and never skipped a beat. Even when the timing chain exploded. Many a race night in the curves of the drag strip did the loser come up and ask me just what the hell was under the hood and what type of Chevy engine did I replace the AMC crap with. They were not happy when they realized that my $3,000 engine beat their $5,000 custom aluminum Chevy and Ford engines. Now, I did lose sometimes. I'm not claiming that I won every round. I did however win a lot more than I ever lost.
I've come across people every now and then with their AMC Javelins and AMX's and have found a great family feeling for those with AMC performance cars, be they Javelins, AMX's, Gremlins or even rodded up Pacers.
One of the true underdogs of the racing world. AMC did produce some pure race ready versions of the AMX. Roger Penske, Mark Donohue and Roy Woods were some of the early racers of these amazing machines. In 1972 The Trans Am Racing AMX team won the TramsAm Race Series Championship.
The Department of Public Safety in Alabama even used Javelins for their Highway Patrol from 1971 to 1974. I've never seen one of the machines, but I'm told they are in museums being kept safe.
Alas, my beloved car and I parted ways with a "sudden and extreme loss of rear end" when the powerhouse under the hood literally ripped the rear end off of the car and twisted the body of the car in a 20 degree angle.
I will own one again.