The 1968-1969 AMC Javelin is a real standout considering America had such a peculiar automotive industry in the 1960s. Although each company was building a car for every market segment, all the cars were surprisingly similar.
The only variations from the ancient front-heavy, beam-rear-axle package were the Corvette, Corvair, and Toronado/ Eldorado, all of which were more or less "specialty cars" -- and one was under fire in the courts and soon to disappear.
If it weren't for these exceptions, one could rightfully say that there was little in the way of technological progress in the 1960s. But of course, why change?
Boom years were at hand, and within the parameters of the time, we were building some sensational cars. Dick Teague's AMC Javelin was one. Conceived in a hurry as American Motors' "ponycar" answer to the Mustang and Camaro, in style and execution it had the legs of both of them.
The Javelin was, first of all, astonishingly beautiful. On a wheelbase only an inch longer than Mustang's, it provided more interior space than any other "ponycar," particularly in the rear compartment, where "ponycars" were notoriously lacking. It was also priced right: At $2,482 base, it was less than a Mustang.
But the Javelin was more than a reply to Mustang; it was a frank attempt by American Motors to change its image -- drastically. Former AMC president George Romney felt that AMC took a turn for the worse after he left because his successors forsook the Rambler and tried to diversify, and that the company couldn't compete on all fronts with the likes of General Motors.
The trouble with being an independent, however, is that no sooner do you develop a good idea than you find yourself, in Rich Taylor's words, "with elephant footprints all over you."
The pioneering, deadly dull Rambler was a success all right -- in the 1950s and early 1960s. But it led every other company, most of them far larger than AMC, to build similar cars. By the mid-1960s, AMC didn't have much choice but to try different products, different avenues.
They continued to pick and choose and they certainly did not try to compete across the board -- but they were ultimately overwhelmed by the sheer size and diversity of their enormous rivals.
Go on to the next page to learn about the 1968-1969 AMC Javelin, the first series models designed by Richard Teague.