The Alabama Department of Public Safety
AMC Javelin Highway Patrol/Pursuit cars
'Sometimes, you have to fight fire with fire.'
133 of these cost-effective cruise missiles went into service for Alabama.
The ADPS has their own page now, devoted to these special Javelins! Check it out at:
The History of the ADPS Javelins
Normally, the ADPS sourced its vehicles from various makers, informally cycling through the major US makers every two years (All Dodge this time, all Chevys the next). AMC, like the other major auto builders, produced special 'fleet' vehicles for use by businesses from Taxi/Limo companies to Police and Fire departments. These were usually big, four door sedans, like the Matador and Ambassador. But, in a budget crunch, the ADPS was looking to save money on its upcoming patrol car order.
In 1971, Reinhardt AMC of Montgomery, Alabama loaned the ADPS two Javelins for evaluation:
a 1971 Javelin SST with 304-2v V8 (click on the picture), which proved too under-powered for pursuit use,
and a top-of-the-line 1971 Javelin-AMX 401-4v.
This photo and its attached text (click on the picture) are taken from the August 1971 issue of 'Road & Track' magazine.
The letter is from the Vice President of Reinhardt AMC, explaining the testing of the car by the ADPS.
Wow, would this car be a find today!
Supplied thru Reinhardt AMC of Montgomery, the AMX was silver and adorned with standard ADPS markings, and given the usual roof beacon (Dietz model 7-11), antenna and radio. As this car was likely 'on the lot' and not ordered specifically for the ADPS testing, it's has some equipment not normally found on a police car...the most obvious of which is the vinyl top! The black tail panel and Machine wheels indicate this is a ‘Go’ package-equipped car, meaning it also has the Rallye gauge package, functional cowl induction system and more. Further, other photos of this car, not included here, show it also wore the optional black ‘T’-stripe on the hood! One way-cool cop car!
This car was sent to tour the various Highway Patrol posts around the state to be field-tested by State Troopers, in real-world usage. One such trooper was Lieutenant (then-Corporal) David H. Parker, now retired, of the Dothan post. On his first night using the AMX, he was involved in the pursuit of a fleeing suspect, bent on crossing the border into Florida. Parker states that speeds were in excess of 120mph and his confidence in the Javelin's brakes, handling and sheer power was such that he was willing to bring his car bumper-to-bumper with the suspect car at those speeds. He was that sure the Javelin would be able to react to anything the other guy did- no sweat.
Following the trial-run tour, the disposition of the '71 JavelinAMX is not currently known, but it may have been returned to the Reinhardt AMC dealership for resale.
Headquarters had been impressed with the AMX's abilities, but further cost-cutting was needed on the cars, so the decision to go with plainer, base model Javelins was made... though the powerful drivetrain remained essentially unchanged. It was now late in the 1971 model year, but still an order was placed for 71 base-model Javelins. Of this total, 61 were all-silver while 10 were unmarked cars in various colors. The cars were supplied by Reinhardt AMC of Montgomery.
These pictures (submitted by Larry Daum) and the photo at the top of this page (submitted by Lloyd Culp) show one of the 1971 Javelin Pursuit cars. According to an ADPS Sergeant, the trooper's uniform is of 1971 vintage also, as in 1972, they switched to the 'Smokey Bear campaign hat' and a rectangular shoulder patch. The door decal also changed for 1972, and this car wears a correct '71 shield. 1971's shields read 'Alabama State Trooper' while 1972's shields read 'State Trooper Alabama'.
In the rear angle picture, notice the '401' emblem on the spoiler where 'AMX' appears when the spoiler is used on a JavelinAMX. This use of the rear 401 emblem is unique to the ADPS Javelins.
Each '71 Javelin was a base-model wearing 'Machine' 5-slot mag wheels with Good Year Polyglas raised-white-lettered tires. They were powered by a special 'fleet service' version of AMC's new 401cid 4-barrel V8 engine, backed by a Borg-Warner automatic transmission. Other 'fleet service' items were underneath, like brake and suspension components. Each also received a full 'Rally' gauge package, including tachometer and 140mph speedometer.
While the bulk of the Javelins were indeed intended for Highway Patrol use, a little 'string-pulling' facilitated a few Javelins being ordered for use by some of the more 'privileged' members of the force. These cars remained 'unmarked' and had their antennae and radios mounted a bit more stealthily.
For 1972, the ADPS bought 62 more Javelins: 12 in the all-silver paint scheme, 42 in the new blue-over-silver scheme, and 8 more unmarked cars in various colors. The new '72 Javelins were somewhat different from the '71 versions, just as the '72 Javelin you or I could buy were different from the preceding '71s including a new front grille and tail light treatment, and 8-slot 'Rally' wheels. And since the plainer 'base model' Javelin was no longer available, all the '72s were the more up-scale 'Javelin SST' models. This resulted in the interior trim being wood-grained instead of the aluminum-look of the '71s. SSTs also received rocker and fender well trim, and 'SST' emblems on the rear quarter panels. The 401-V8 lost about 20HP, but was now backed by the 'bullet-proof' A727 'Torque-Command' automatic transmission, based on the Chrysler 'Torque-Flite' transmissions. The '72 SSTs were a Blueish Silver, and the ADPS painted the hoods, decklids and spoilers of the final 42 cars dark blue before putting them to use. All '72s received the standard 'Wellington' pleated vinyl seats. Also, some of the ‘72s received upgraded roof beacons, Dietz model 2-11, which was the same as the 7-11, but one of the four lights was angled upward slightly, increasing visibility of the cars.
The ’72 cars were delivered through both Reinhardt AMC of Montgomery and Bill Whitten AMC / Datsun in Birmingham.
AMAZING ‘ADPS Javelin’ FACTS:
§ The ADPS Javelins are the first recorded pony car officially used by a major police department…ever… predating all those Mustangs and Camaros seen since! Alabama started a trend!
§ All ADPS Javelins came equipped with 60-series raised-white-letter tires- never blackwalls. As these wore out, they were replaced with 70-series bias-ply or 70-series radial whitewall tires!
§ ADPS records indicate that while the Javelins incurred an 'average' number of accidents, no trooper was ever killed in a Javelin's crash. Only the 1988 Mustangs of the ADPS come close, with one trooper fatality during their service.
§ After two small modifications by ADPS Maintenance (improving oil flow and adding a 1st-gear lock-out), no ADPS Javelin ever blew its engine.
§ No ADPS Javelin was ever outrun in a pursuit.
Following their tour-of-duty, most of the Javelins were retired from service, and another maker supplied their replacements. The Javelins were slated to be sold at surplus auctions. Then-Corporal David Parker knew this was the normal procedure, and had taken great pains to give special care to his patrol car. He now would buy his Javelin, and planned to attend the auction in civilian clothes, worried that his uniform might tip other bidders into thinking he was bidding on 'something special'. But as auction day neared, then-Captain Roy Smith was trying to convince his superiors that the Javelins were indeed 'special' and some should be kept. His pleas were honored, and the order to retain two of the best examples of the ADPS Javelins went out. Hence, Parker's beauty was hauled away to be displayed where it sits today- at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega.
This picture is of retired Lt. David Parker's '72 Javelin on display at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talledega prior to it's 1997 refurbishing.
This car was sent to Birmingham in 1997 for new tires, some interior repairs, and a fresh coat of paint. It was refurbished and modified a bit by the ADPS' Fleet Maintenance Department, under the direction of Richard Burch and Mike Winguard. The underside of the decklid and hood are now blue, and it has incorrect door mirrors and a different antenna (see pics below). The engine has been repainted Ford blue. The Blue-Silver paint is not quite correct either.
Upon completion of the work, it was driven (under it's own 401-power) back to Talladega, garnering some very puzzled looks from other motorists along the way.
This is the Parker/Talladega car after it's refurbishing by Fleet Maintenance.
Note the 'wrong' mirrors, antenna and slightly-off paint color.
A second ADPS Javelin found a home in the museum at ADPS Headquarters in Montgomery. This car is in unrestored, very good condition, and is complete except for the removal of its gas tank (per fire codes for safety reasons).
Here are a bunch
of pictures of the car currently in Montgomery at ADPS HQ.
Note the underside of the decklid remains the original body color.
And check out the great view of the unique '401' spoiler emblem.
This rear-shot gives the location of the 'Bill Whitten AMC / Datsun' sticker.
It can't be read in this pic, but it's there.
The left pic shows the '35#' property number assigned to this car by the ADPS.
All ADPS cars got such a number handpainted on the firewall.
These pics also show a complete and relatively correct engine compartment.
The left shot shows the location of the siren while the middle pic shows the radio location in the interior
The right pic shows the airless spare is still in the trunk.
My recent communications with Alabama Troopers lead me to believe the car at Montgomery is more correct in most details, as it's never received a restoration.
Both cars remain the property of the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
To this day, these cars hold in a special place in the hearts of the troopers that drove them.
Still haven't had enough? OK, here's a bunch of pictures of various other ADPS Javelins taken recently.
These three shots are
of the only known surviving UNMARKED ADPS Javelin.
Owned by Jeff Kennedy of 'Kennedy American' in West Jefferson, Ohio, this car is 'Baja Bronze'.
Note the use of TWO AMC logos between the rear glass and decklid. This was done after the car was sold by the ADPS to conceal the antenna holes.
This left shot shows the property number on the firewall. The other pic shows the butchered console, cut to mount the two-way radio in a more hidden location than found on the marked patrol Javelins.
This last group of
pictures is of a '71 Javelin Patrol car, owned by Don Anderson and currently in
Huntsville, Alabama, undergoing restoration.
These pictures show the car is wearing some incorrect equipment, including the wheels and center caps and a '72 Javelin front grille.
The engine compartment is ready for the motor to return, tho the property number is gone.
Note the antenna hole at the left corner of the panel above the decklid.
Thanks to Jeff Kennedy, Lloyd Culp and Larry Daum for all their assistance on this subject.
Special Thanks to the Troopers of the Alabama Highway Patrol and Department of Public Safety's Public Information and Education Unit, including:
· Capt. Roy Smith (retired), Montgomery
· Lt. David H. Parker (retired), Dothan
· Sgt. Greg Jones, Montgomery
· Sgt. P. D. Mahoney, Montgomery
The information in underlined red text, and one photo presented here are sourced from the book
“POLICE CARS: Restoring, Collecting, & Showing America’s Finest Sedans” by Cpl. Edwin Sanow & Sgt. James Post.
All such items are used with the author’s permission.
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