by: Bob Browske
So often I've heard people refer to the 1971-74 Javelin/AMX as "only a trim package", or "not a real AMX at all". This comes not only from owners of other marquees, but also from within our own AMC camp. Sure, we all have our favorite models: the one we had many years ago, or the one we remember the most from our childhood. Sometimes, this attachment clouds out thinking and gets in the way of the facts. So, lets take an objective look at the second generation AMX.
Nomenclature: A name is a very important attachment to any product. When you consider the expense of producing a car, it's even more important. AMC management had to be aware of the image the AMX moniker had given them. Even though the car was not a big seller, it was clearly a winner. In many ways. So, when the decision to halt production of the two seater was made, an obvious choice was at hand. Attaching the AMX name to the top of the line Javelin for 1971 would give the car an instant image. Since the design was new, what better marketing could AMC have used? I recall reading some time ago that AMC was planning to use the name "Cavalier" for a model to debut in 1968. A management individual had another idea, and tried very persuasively to convince them of his choice. This effort, plus the fact the GM had already secured the rights to the "Cavalier" name, made AMC's second choice a reality in naming this car. The model in question was none other than the Javelin!
Trim: What is a trim package? Automakers have long added fancy graphics and/or convenience items to cars as a low cost image maker. But is this entirely true when applied to the second generation AMX? Some pieces were indeed convenience/appearance items, such as the T-stripe, Clock, and center console. However, many of the standard options were quite functional.
· Wire mesh screen with parking lights- The mesh screen is credited at least in part to Mark Donohue as a way to improve airflow. Also, the turn signals are much more visible here than in the lower valance as on the base model and SST (1971-72 only) models.
· Fiberglas raised hood- Not functional without the GO package, but nonetheless a definite weight saver over a full steel hood.
· Right outside mirror- A definite aid in terms of visibility and safety.
· Front valance air scoops- Intended as an aid to brake cooling.
· Wheels and Tires- Standard on the AMX was 14"x6" slotted wheels (slots to aid in brake cooling) and E70x14 white letter tires (larger than the C78x14's on the base model, D78's on SST)
· Rear Spoiler- This is another item credited to Mark Donohue, and proven to be very functional in terms of stability at higher speeds.
Engine Availability: With the debut of the 1971 Javelin series came a revised line of engine choices. We're all familiar with 401 Javelin/AMXs, but what was standard equipment is more revealing of the intentions AMC had for the AMX model:
· Base & SST Models- 135 HP, 232 CID- 6 Cyl. With 1 Barrel carb.
· Javelin/AMX- 245 HP, 360 CID- 8 Cyl. With 2 Barrel carb.
After 1972, the 304 V8 became the standard Javelin/AMX engine. But, at no time was a 6 cyl offered in a Javelin/AMX! This parallels the original AMX format. Also, no Javelin/AMX came with a column shift automatic. In addition, manual shift cars came with a heavy duty 11" clutch.
We can clearly see that the Javelin/AMX was designed and intended to be much more than a "trim package" car. There can be no question to the "truth" of its name, as AMX was the factory designation for these top of the line Javelins. Also, some options, such as the complete GO package and the front spoiler, were simply not available on the other models. Many, if not most Javelin/AMX's were ordered heavily optioned as well. Of 36 cars in the 1971 Javelin/AMX registry, 19 came with the 401, 13 with the 360-4bbl. Most are Go pack cars. And most have the Twin-grip rear end. In addition, winning the 1971-72 SCCA racing championship gives a true racing heritage to the Javelin/AMX.
All of these facts tell us that the Javelin/AMX was created with the original "AMX" concept in mind.
A true successor indeed!