The AMC Javelin was released in the American autumn of 1967 and was intended to finally give AMC a car to counter the Mustang. It was born from the marriage of Nash, Rambler and Hudson and followed a series of cars released after the Mustang first appeared in 1965, none of which were any match for it either in looks or performance.
In its SST form the Javelin had a 5.62-litre 209kW V8 motor which placed it in between Mustang’s highest and lowest output and closely aligned it with its other competitors, Camaro and Nova. The Javelin body style followed that set by the Mustang being a four-seater sports coupe with a long bonnet and short rear end and it also had a unibody construction. Suspension was similar to most cars of this period with independent coil springs and wishbones at the front and semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear.
Several engine sizes were ultimately offered ranging from 3801cc up to 6390cc, all V8s with power outputs spread across the range from 108kW to 235kW. The best of these were capable of accelerating the Javelin from 0 to 96km/h in less than five seconds and topping out at 280km/h. In spite of this performance the Javelin wasn’t all that successful on the racetrack as AMC lacked the finances to compete in the big league.
Before the Javelin hit the market AMC had tried to capture some of the Ford Mustang’s magic with the release of the Marlin. Whilst it had the looks it lacked the performance to go with it. They followed this with the Typhoon and later the Rambler Rogue but none of these gave AMC the lift they were looking for until the Javelin came along. You couldn’t say they didn’t try though. Before the Javelin AMC tinkered with their V8s by adding a high lift, long duration cam, competition valve lifters and heavy-duty valve springs, a cold-air system and even changed the rear axle ratio to 4.44:1. All to no avail although the Javelin ultimately enjoyed the benefit of these improvements.
Like all the other muscle cars of the time, however, they were all ultimately caught out by the US introduction of compulsory emission controls, low compression ratios and the need to fit catalytic converters which had such a dampening effect on performance. In the end sales of this breed of car slipped silently off the sales charts.