AMC Javelin and AMC Rebel
Replacing Marlin for 1968 was the smaller and far more popular AMC Javelin, a "ponycar" in the image of Ford's wildly successful Mustang. Beautifully shaped and exciting, the Javelin sold like hotcakes. Over 56,000 of the '68s were built, helping AMC out of a four-year sales slump.
With standard 232 six, a Javelin cruised at 80 mph; the optional 290 V-8 boosted top speed to 100 mph. An optional "Go Package" offered a 343 V-8 with four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts, plus power front-disc brakes, heavy-duty suspension, and wide tires -- good for eight seconds in the 0-60-mph dash and a top speed approaching 120 mph. On its 109-inch wheelbase, Javelin was a bit roomier, larger, and longer than the rival Mustang, Chevy Camaro, and Plymouth Barracuda. Its styling was arguably the cleanest of the lot.
Javelin was face-lifted for 1969, mainly via an altered grille. A "twin-venturi" nose, revised wheel covers, and a new hood with simulated air scoops arrived for 1970. But sales failed to match the first-year total because of additional ponycar competition -- notably a sleek new Camaro.
An exciting mid 1968 newcomer was the AMX, a two-seat coupe created by sectioning the Javelin bodyshell to a trim 97-inch wheelbase. This car introduced a new 390-cid V-8 with forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods. Output was a healthy 315 bhp and 425 pound-feet of torque. AMX's standard engine was a 290-cid V-8; a 343 was optional.
Tight suspension, bucket seats, and extra-cost four-speed gearbox made for a capable semisports car; the AMC also did well in competition. As with the Marlin, the most handsome AMX was the last, the 1970 edition looking more-integrated and "serious" than the others. But again, demand was always much lower than company management hoped, with production for all three model years combined failing to top 20,000 units.
As mentioned, Rebel switched to an AMC nameplate for 1968, though the basic car had appeared the previous year as a Rambler, taking over from the old Classic. It remained AMC's midsize, however, riding a 114-inch wheelbase and offering a variety of sixes and V-8s. Prices were competitive, starting at around $2500.
Sedans, hardtop coupes, and wagons were available in three series -- 550, 770, and SST. Rebel also offered AMC's sole 1968 convertibles, but few were built: just 377 in the 550 series and another 823 SSTs. They would be AMC's last factory droptops (not counting the later Renault-based Alliance models). The '69 Rebel line was trimmed to just basic and SST series. A wider track and a new grille, plus a restyled rear deck and taillights, were the only changes of note.
For 1970, Rebel sedans and hardtops were lengthened two inches to accommodate redesigned roof panels and rear fenders, and new taillights appeared. Series stayed the same, but AMC again went after the performance crowd with "The Machine."
A Rebel with a cause, this hardtop coupe packed the company's most-potent V-8, plus four-speed manual gearbox with Hurst linkage and a 3.54:1 rear axle. Providing easy exterior identification were a bold, functional hood air scoop, special red-white-and-blue paint, and 15-inch mag wheels with raised-white-letter tires. An 8000-rpm tachometer, dual exhausts with low-restriction mufflers, and a definite front-end rake completed this expensive package ($3475).
The Machine certainly looked like a hot performer, but Javelin won the competition laurels. Mark Donohue, piloting a Javelin, came within one point of winning the Sports Car Club of America's 1970 Trans-Am road series. The 1970 racing chassis was fitted with Javelin's new 1971 sheet metal and won Trans-Am in '71 and '72.