The 1971-1974 AMC Javelin saw modest design changes, and sales failed to increase.
The Javelin's biggest styling change came in 1971, but as Dick Teague said, "It was just basically a heavy face-lift . . . we never had a lot of money to do really dramatic things."
Dramatic enough, though: The wheelbase, length, and width increased, but the car's most prominent feature was the front wheel arches (or humps), which gave the car a busier, bulkier, more GM-like look than previously.
The Donohue Special was continued, but a new Javelin-based AMX replaced the now-discontinued two-seater AMX.
Product planners apparently thought the name still evoked a performance image, however, so the "Javelin AMX" was outfitted with a standard 360 V-8 rated at 245 horsepower. It could also be ordered with AMC's new 401-cid V-8, an enlargement of the 390.
By now, emission controls were severely affecting performance, and so the 401's 16-second quarter-mile and eight-second 0-60 times only matched what a good 343 could do back in 1968. The 401 remained a Javelin option through the end of production in 1974; it was the largest powerplant in AMC history.
In the disappearing ponycar market of 1972-1974, Javelin maintained a two-model lineup. Sales continued at a rate of about 25,000 units per year, respectable for its builder. Changes were few, restricted mainly to trim shuffles and front end face-lifts.
For 1972, the SST wore a bold egg-crate grille to set it apart from AMX's mesh-type. The following year, both the egg-crate grille and the SST moniker disappeared, leaving a base Javelin and Javelin AMX, the latter with its usual deck spoiler and V-8.
Why was the Javelin dropped? You've probably guessed already: By the mid-1970s the bottom had dropped right out of the ponycar market. And, as John Conde noted, a firm with relatively limited resources could not afford to tie up an entire production line with a low-volume product.
"The Javelin lasted until another all-new car came out -- the Pacer. We needed this manufacturing line to build Pacers on, so we decided to drop the Javelin. But of course, the market for those types of cars certainly wasn't going up."
Neither, alas, was the market for American Motors products of any description. When the Javelin and two-seat AMX were at their peak, car collectors nationwide were rooting the company on.
"We've noticed this at meets, tours, races, any number of events," wrote Automobile Quarterly in 1969. "American Motors must survive, everyone says. [But] few of those espousing concern over the American Motors situation were driving the company's cars."
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