The 1968-1970 AMC Javelin came at the end of the peak of the ponycar market, and the sales numbers showed.
Roy Chapin had said he'd be happy with "35,000-40,000 sales" in 1968, recognizing that his company had been the last to enter a crowded market against rivals that had been around for up to three years.
So he cleverly priced the car under the competition (the base model started at only $2,482 versus $2,602 for a Mustang), and sold 70,000 Javelins over the calendar year, 56,462 of them 1968 models.
Alas, that was the best Javelin would ever do. The ponycar market was fast fragmenting now, and by 1969 it had already peaked. Sales of the 1969 model dropped to 40,000, and model year production after that never exceeded 30,000.
The 1969 Javelin changed only slightly, featuring an altered grille and reshuffled trim. The "Go" package -- "rather too cutely named," Automobile Quarterly sniffed -- now included dummy hood scoops, while the SST gained a mid-year "Big Bad" trim option that flaunted wild colors and stripes, color-keyed urethane bumpers, and a roof-mounted spoiler.
There was also a big-block V-8 now, 390 cubes with 315 gross horsepower, to help the Javelin compete more equally with big-engined rivals.
The 1970 models saw another mild facelift, highlighted by a "twin-venturi" grille, revised hood, new wheel covers, and trim changes. Donohue's Trans-Am effort that year stood to benefit by enlargement of the 290 V-8 to 304 cid, but a rules change allowing competitors to de-stroke big blocks to 305 inches negated this.
Striving to put Donohue's campaign to good sales use, AMC offered two limited edition Javelins that are quite collectible today. The "Mark Donohue Special" carried a huge rear spoiler emblazoned with Mark's signature, while a very low-volume SST Trans-Am featured the racing team's red, white, and blue paint scheme with spoilers fore and aft.
Production of the 1970 Donohue Special hit 2,501; John Conde says they made "only about 50" of the Trans-Am SSTs.
Check out our final section for more on the 1971-1974 AMC Javelin.
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