The Javelin’s engineering was orthodox pony car stuff.
November 26, 2017 8:00 AM   Subscribe

How AMC designed and brought the Javelin to market (and racing) with the help of Mary Wells just before the peak of the pony car market in 1967.
posted by jessamyn (33 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
I like the theme you've got going on here, jessamyn!
posted by Stewriffic at 8:11 AM on November 26 [8 favorites]


A buddy of mine once owned an AMC Gremlin. It forever damaged my opinion of AMC (although I did own a Jeep Cherokee).
posted by tommasz at 8:25 AM on November 26


(Also, a pretty good food thermometer.)
posted by box at 8:35 AM on November 26 [1 favorite]


AMCs have always been the scrappy lovable underdog, having been the last of the independent US-based carmakers. Its sort of amazing how many innovations in mass auto production they came up with without having the R&D budget of the big three. Curved window glass on economy cars, dual-circuit hydraulic brakes, hot-dip galvanized bodies to stave off rust, etc.
posted by hwyengr at 8:43 AM on November 26 [3 favorites]


My first car was '69 Javelin.
posted by incster at 9:24 AM on November 26


Ate Up With Motor (second link) is an insanely good website. Just about any single article on there would make for an incredible FPP. The author's been on a tear recently delving into automotive transmissions; each post makes a wikipedia wormhole feel kinda shallow.
posted by cyclopticgaze at 9:27 AM on November 26 [6 favorites]


Hell, the Eagle was a legit crossover, and the Cherokee among the first and still arguably among the most legit SUVs.
posted by wotsac at 9:33 AM on November 26 [1 favorite]


When I was 12 or 13 I thought the Gremlin was the absolute coolest looking car on the planet...fortunately I grew out of it. In my late teens a friend's mom had a Pacer; very weird looking car, and those huge windows let in far too much unwelcome hot sun during the summer months (which in Florida was April through October).

This is probably the most I've thought about AMC cars in 30-something years.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:08 AM on November 26 [1 favorite]


A Rambler American with an automatic transmission is the only car I have ever driven than could make an original VW Beetle feel peppy...
posted by jim in austin at 10:28 AM on November 26 [1 favorite]


At various times when I was a child, my parents owned both an AMC Gremlin, and a Lada Riva.

I'm amazed I survived.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:37 AM on November 26 [2 favorites]


Marlin is the Band of Susans car. Luv that style.
posted by ovvl at 10:46 AM on November 26


... the only car I have ever driven than could make an original VW Beetle feel peppy

Apparently you never tried driving an early-70's Datsun B210. That was one woefully underpowered soul-deadening transportation device - I bet it would have lost a race with the Rambler.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:21 AM on November 26 [1 favorite]


My mom had a Gremlin-X. I think it's why I've always had a soft spot in my heart for hatchbacks. It wasn't a bad car, really. And, to be fair, I don't think it's any uglier than VW's first-gen Golf, which came four years later.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:37 AM on November 26


Apparently you never tried driving an early-70's Datsun B210. That was one woefully underpowered soul-deadening transportation device - I bet it would have lost a race with the Rambler.

Piffle! The Mighty American was driven by a low revving, low compression, near zero torque flathead 6 (great for grilling!) to move its leaden carcass about. Handling was vague to marshmallowy, it had the aerodynamics of a boxcar and I can only guess that the gear ratios were derived by pulling numbers out of a hat. It could top 70 mph if you gave it a few minutes but I wouldn't recommend it...
posted by jim in austin at 12:42 PM on November 26 [3 favorites]


My parents had that Rambler, but it wasn't the slowest car they owned. That would be the Peugeot 504 Diesel my father bought new. It would get up to the speed limit, but only going downhill. Very luxurious, though. That was his car. My mom had an AMC Hornet at the time, and it was quite peppy.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:30 PM on November 26


It could top 70 mph if you gave it a few minutes

The B210 would have been lucky to hit 60.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:01 PM on November 26


I wish my parents were still alive so I could ask them why they were such AMC fans but we always had Rambler Ambassador sedans or wagons and when we'd take my dad's 3 weeks of vacation the back seat came out and there was this padded, carpeted insert that smoothed out the floor and turned the rear area into a playroom for us. Maybe my parents made that? I don't know.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:20 PM on November 26


Ate Up With Motor is an insanely good website.

I know, my god! I found that article when I was researching yesterday's FPP and was like "This essay is amazing!" and had to make this post today.
posted by jessamyn at 2:26 PM on November 26


Nice article, but I could do without the racist slur in the first para
posted by scruss at 2:27 PM on November 26


I did find that oddly jarring too.
posted by jessamyn at 2:34 PM on November 26


Criminy, who thought it was a good idea to have an 18" air gap between the front grille and radiator? That's absurd even by the standards of the rolling boats of the 1970s.
posted by ardgedee at 3:52 PM on November 26


My first car was an AMC Ambassador. You do the math. I'm too old to math.
posted by Splunge at 4:17 PM on November 26


The phrase "peddler of Scotsman-like economy" may well count as an ethnic slur but is probably intended as a reference to the Studebaker car of that name.
posted by channaher at 4:18 PM on November 26 [2 favorites]


I was high-schooled in the late 70s and I too had a friend with a Javelin. Many double dates, and he knew how to hold a wrench so it was not just fast as a mule-kick but no less torquey to boot. ...So long as you were driving in a straight line. Like all good Pony Cars, it was a hot over-steering mess in the turns. The preceding was all pre-Mad Max and the attendant credibility the car finally got as a byproduct of the film's success.
posted by Fupped Duck at 4:30 PM on November 26 [1 favorite]


We had a series of AMC cars in the late sixties/early seventies: a couple of Rambler Americans and then a couple of Ambassadors. They were terrible cars but not really any worse than Fords or Chevys of the time.
posted by octothorpe at 5:49 PM on November 26


AMC had a lot of weird, cool cars in the '70s that were ahead of the game. The Gremlin and Pacer, which could be configured either as economy compact cars, or V8 sports coupes. Nothing else looked anything like them, before or since. In 1979, they released the Eagle, an AWD off-roadable compact that came in coupe, hatch, sedan and wagon variants that presaged the current Subaru mania by two decades. (Without Subaru's bullet-proof reputation for reliability, sadly.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:50 PM on November 26 [4 favorites]


This site is absolutely awesome. I've been binge-reading the articles there for a while now (since I'm rather car obsessed) and he has some of the most in-depth coverage of *scores* of topics. It reminds of the good old days of the web, when the sites were still heavily enthusiast-driven and people were more about content in the sense of information rather than content solely to get ad clicks/Facebook shares.

He also goes back and amends (or notes) inaccuracies in older articles, and cites all of his sources. I mean... what's there to say. It's clearly a labor of love, and it's wonderful to find something as refined as that site.

Also, the Javelin was a cool car. Perhaps not the best built product that AMC ever produced, but a cool car for what it was.
posted by -1 at 6:24 PM on November 26


Gremlins Ate My Javelina
posted by not_on_display at 9:50 PM on November 26 [2 favorites]


I think the 1971 redesign of the Javelin is a really neat looking car, even with the empty hood.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:50 AM on November 27 [1 favorite]


The phrase "peddler of Scotsman-like economy" may well count as an ethnic slur but is probably intended as a reference to the Studebaker car of that name.
posted by channaher at 4:18 PM on November 26 [1 favorite +] [!]

Studebaker Scotsman
posted by chavenet at 6:55 AM on November 27


You have been subscribed to javelin facts!
posted by thelonius at 7:17 AM on November 27 [3 favorites]


My grandmother, who was in her 60s at the time, had a pukey-green compact Pacer for a while, and boy did that thing feel mushy and terrible to drive, even as a child passenger. She ditched it in favor of a Honda Accord, and the Pacer became a torturous rite of passage for my cousins as they learned to drive. So I'll give you weird, but it wasn't even cool enough for a grandmother.
posted by mubba at 7:35 AM on November 27 [2 favorites]


> Studebaker Scotsman

“Even its name was meant to evoke visions of a thrifty Scottish mentality.” — Motoring Memories: Studebaker Scotsman, 1957-1958

It just gets tiring. I get the “Oh, you're Scottish, you must be cheap ha ha” all the time.
posted by scruss at 9:19 PM on November 29


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