For those who want something a little different from the usual Detroit Three muscle-car fare, this 1970 AMC Javelin SST Trans Am Edition will be part of an upcoming Mecum auction in Dallas, scheduled for Sept. 20-23.
Launched in 1968 and heavily updated for 1970, the Javelin was American brand AMC’s answer to the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Dodge Challenger, and Plymouth Barracuda “pony cars.” The SST was a sportier version boasting a 390-cubic-inch V-8 making 325 hp, which was sent to the rear wheels through a 4-speed manual transmission.
Like most of its rivals, AMC entered the Javelin in the SCCA Trans Am series, which reached the height of its popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s. That was thanks to competitive fields full of manufacturer-backed teams with top-level drivers in cars that resembled those people could actually buy.
AMC initially partnered with Kaplan Engineering, but netted Penske Racing for the 1970 season, convincing the team to switch from Camaros. The automaker produced 100 Trans Am Editions like the car currently up for auction to promote the effort, as well as a Mark Donohue Edition in honor of Penske’s star driver. AMC reportedly built 2,501 examples of that car because it had a new rear spoiler the automaker hoped to homologate for the race cars.
Despite all of the hype, Penske finished second in Trans Am’s premiere over-2.0-liter class in 1970. For 1971, AMC introduced a redesigned Javelin and partnered with Roy Woods, finally scoring championships that year and in 1972, the last year of the set of rules that had brought AMC and the other American automakers to Trans Am in the first place.
AMC’s finances worsened as the 1970s wore on. The automaker shifted focus away from performance to survival, emphasizing the AMC Pacer and Gremlin, buying Jeep, partnering with Renault, and finally launching the innovative AMC Eagle, a lifted four-wheel-drive wagon that helped set the template for the modern crossover. None of it worked, and AMC was absorbed by Chrysler (now Stellantis) in 1987. Today, cars like the Javelin SST are a reminder of when underdog AMC took the fight to the Detroit Three in showrooms and on the track.
Mecum doesn’t have a price estimate for the auction, but one sold for $53,900 last year in Monterey, though the Hagerty Price Guide says a perfect example could be worth up to $140,000.
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