The cars we loved.
The American Motors Company was still relatively new by the dawn of the 70’s. It had been born from the remains of the Rambler, Nash, Hudson conglomerate. Unfortunately the previous company’s most popular product was a sedate compact car called the Rambler. AMC wanted a new sportier image and set out to change perceptions with the then all new Javelin coupe. Initially offered with V6 power only, a large 390 cid V8 was offered. Still not convinced, the public overlooked the Javelin in favor of Mustangs, Cudas, Camaros and Firebirds. Sales began to decline, so a revamped Javelin would feature a longer nose, new grille, bumpers and tail lights.
So to make a name for its new coupe, AMC went racing in the SCCA Trans-Am production car series. With only a few months to prepare a car, The Javelin made a few top 10 placements and eventually won the Trans-Am title in 1971. The success in 1970 encouraged AMC to build a special version of the Javelin SST to commemorate it’s success in the Trans-Am circuit. Street cred was bolstered with tweaks from the Kaplan and Penske Trans-Am racing teams. Only 100 were built at AMC’s Kenosha WI facility.
Due to changes in SCCA rules, AMC was required to sell 2,500 cars instead of 100 to continue in the program. After teaming up with Mark Donohue (MD), a popular Javelin driver, a new edition was created to meet the new homologation rules. The new MD was essentially the same car as before but with a 360 four carb V8 engine. It was available in any of the 18 Javelin colors for that year and had the newer long nose style. The Mark Donohue Javelin SST (also a 1970 model) featured his name on the back of a specially designed spoiler. The Donohue car is often confused with the T/A, but the fact that so many Donohue cars exist and have been cloned detracts from their value.
The Javelin was a great car, but it never became the household name the Camaro or Mustang became. AMC later shifted its focus to innovative cars that had truck like all terrain capabilities, abandoning the pony car arena altogether. It’s not known how many T/A Javelins have survived today, but estimates put the number as low as 20. As the rarest of the most desirable Javelins, the Trans-Am (I guess we can call it that), is sure to escalate in value in the future.