1971-1974 AMC Javelin AMX 401


The 1971 AMC Javelin AMX 401 followed a trend of bigger, if not better, ponycars. The revamped ’71 Javelin was longer, lower, wider, and heavier than its predecessor. Gone was the gentle, tucked-in look of the original. This second-generation Javelin was characterized by severe fender arches that were awkwardly sculpted attempts to mimic the Corvette.

1971 AMC Javelin AMX 401
The 1971 AMC Javelin AMX 401 sported severe fender arches,
designed to mimic the Corvette.

Gone also was the AMX as a distinct model. The original AMX was based on a Javelin shortened from a wheelbase of 109 inches to 97. It was a svelte two-seater with a legitimate claim as a genuine sports car. For ’71, the Javelin AMX was essentially a decor option group added to the same 110-inch wheelbase and four-passenger body used by all the other Javelins. Any Javelin, in fact, could be ordered with the Javelin AMX’s power and performance options. Javelin offerings included a base model and the more luxurious SST, but the Javelin AMX was AMC’s performance flagship.

At $3432, the Javelin AMX was about $300 more expensive than an SST V-8. Part of the difference was that the SST came standard with a 210-horsepower 304-cubic-inch V-8 while the Javelin AMX’s standard powerplant was a 360-cubic-inch V-8 that developed 245 horses with a two-barrel carburetor. For an extra $49, a four-barrel carb brought 285 horsepower, down five from 1970’s four-barrel power rating. As before, the buyer could choose between a three- or four-speed manual transmission or Shift Command automatic transmission with a column- or floor-mounted lever. Twin-Grip limited-slip differential remained a desirable option, especially with the four-speed.

The big news for ’71 was the introduction of a 401-cubic-inch V-8, a bored-and-stroked version of the earlier 290- to 390-cubic-inch AMC V-8s. For only $137, the 401 helped the Javelin AMX come alive with 330 advertised horsepower at 5000 rpm. With the extra cubes, however, came a less-than-super 9.5:1 compression ratio for compatibility with low lead, low octane gas.

Externally, the Javelin AMX boasted its own grille, a flush-mounted wire mesh affair that was simply mounted ahead of the standard Javelin grille. Optional on all Javelins, but standard on the Javelin AMX were front and rear spoilers. A reverse-flow cowl vent package that used the high-pressure area at the base of the windshield for a carburetor-induction effect was an extra-cost item.

The optional “Go” package included a T stripe decal on the hood, Rally Pac instruments, a handling package, heavy-duty cooling, Twin-Grip limited-slip differential, power front disc brakes, Goodyear E60×15 Polyglas white-letter tires, and the same slot-styled steel wheels used on the ’70 AMC Rebel Machine.

Despite its larger size and an extra 100 or so pounds of curb weight compared to the ’70 AMX, the 3244-pound ’71 Javelin AMX with a 401 was able to run the quarter-mile in the credible mid 14s at around 93 mph.

The new Javelin AMX’s spoilers and cowl-induction hood were supposedly inspired by Mark Donohue’s experience racing Javelins in Sports Car Club of America Trans Am competition. AMC wrung as much publicity mileage as it could out of the Trans Am championships that Donohue and others won with the Javelin. Unfortunately, this didn’t leave much of an impression on potential Javelin AMX buyers. Some 2054 Javelin AMXs were built in ’71 -- just seven percent of Javelin production -- and only 745 are believed to have been equipped with the 401 V-8.

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1972 AMC Javelin AMX 401

Slightly redesigned taillamps distinguished the 1972 AMC Javelin AMX 401 externally, but there were more important changes under the hood. As were its Motown rivals, AMC was scaling back performance under pressure from increasingly stringent exhaust-emission standards and oppressive insurance rates.

So the AMC 304-cubic-inch V-8 became the standard Javelin AMX engine for ’72; the 360 was now an option along with the 401. Underscoring this retreat, the manufacturers began to list net horsepower ratings -- the engine with all its accessories as installed in the car -- rather than gross horsepower -- essentially the engine free of encumbrances.

The 304 was listed at 210 horsepower in ’71, but only 150 under the new rating system in ’72. Estimates of the 304’s gross horsepower ran around 200, but regardless, the 304 proved a disappointment to buyers pursuing more horsepower for their Javelin AMX. Most opted for the larger 360, a $188 extra. This engine was down to 175 horsepower with the two barrel, 195 with a four barrel and single exhaust, and 220 for the four barrel with dual exhaust. Compression was down to 8.5:1 for more efficient use with the unleaded fuels that were now required. Included with the 360 were E70×14 Goodyear Polyglas tires and other features.

The 401-cubic-inch V-8 remained an option and was now rated at 255 horsepower at 4600 rpm.

As in 1968-71, the optional “Go” package was a tempting tick on the Javelin options sheet. It contained Cowl-Air induction, heavy-duty suspension, E60×15 Goodyear Polyglas tires, racing stripes, Rally Pac instrumentation, hood T-stripe decal, and related appearance/performance features.

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1973 AMC Javelin AMX 401

The 1973 Javelin AMX was mostly a carryover, with the exception of new taillights and backup lights. The 401 kept its 255-horsepower rating and nearly identical choice of powertrains -- a standard four-speed or optional Torque Command automatic transmission.

Straight-line performance took a beating. Motor Trend saw a mediocre 15.5 at 90 mph in the quarter with a 401.

But for evidence of how manufacturers were de-emphasizing all-out go, you had to look no further than an AMC advertisement for the ’73 Javelin AMX. It touted the car’s continued Trans Am success, but absent was the excited rundown of horsepower, transmissions, and drag-strip-axle ratios that had spiced up earlier ads. Instead, the copy talked about the room in the back seat, “the nice balance of performance and comfort,” and AMC’s warranty plan. There even was a tag line that read “Buckle up for safety.”

Evidently this kind of appeal worked, for Javelin AMX sales jumped a dramatic ’73 percent in 1973, to an all-time high of 4737. That was nearly 18 percent of Javelin production.

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1974 AMC Javelin AMX 401

By 1974 the ponycar war was grinding to a conclusion, and the 1974 AMC Javelin AMX was no exception. Ford had given up the ship in 1973 with the “last” of its high-performance V-8 Mustangs and Cougars. Both Chevrolet and Pontiac were scaling back their performance Camaros and Firebirds. Chrysler was preparing to axe the Barracuda and Challenger. AMC soldiered on with the Javelin AMX in this, the last year for an AMC ponycar.

Under the hood, the 304 remained the standard V-8, with the optional 360 and 401 still in the arsenal. The last big one continued to crank out its rated 255 net horsepower, with the assistance of a Motorcraft 4300 four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts. A standard three-speed and optional four-speed continued as the manual-transmission choices; Torque Command automatic and Twin-Grip remained other choices.

The ’74 AMX didn’t do well in the marketplace compared to Camaro, Firebird, and the downsized Mustang II, all of which saw increased sales. Javelin production, meanwhile, reached a second-generation high of 27,696 units.

Of that number, 4980, or about 15 percent, were Javelin AMX models. AMC would resurrect the AMX tag, attaching it to the Hornet, Concord, and Spirit in subsequent years. But none had the muscle-car mystique that the Javelin AMX strived for, and certainly none could hold a candle to the classic, original 1968-70 AMX.

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1971-1974 AMC Javelin AMX 401 Specs

The 1971-1974 AMC Javelin AMX 401 was the second-generation of AMC's hot ponycar. Get specifications for the 1971-1974 AMC Javelin AMX 401 here:

1974 AMC Javelin AMX 401
Javelin AMX styling changed little through ’74, as evident on this
1974 AMC Javelin AMX.

 

Engine Type
V-8/AMC
V-8/AMC
Displacement (cid)
360
401
Horsepower @ rpm:
385 @ 4800 (245 @ 4800 2v)
330 @ 5000
Torque (pounds/feet) @ rpm
390 @ 3200 (365 @ 3200 2v)
430 @ 3400
Compression Ratio
8.5:1
9.5:1
Bore (inches)
4.08
4.17
Stroke (inches)
3.44
3.68
Valve Lifters
Hydraulic
Hydraulic
Availability
1971
1971

Engine Type
V-8/AMC
V-8/AMC
Displacement (cid)
304
401
Horsepower @ rpm:
150 @ 4200
255 @ 4600
Torque (pounds/feet) @ rpm
245 @ 2500
345 @ 3300
Compression Ratio
8.4:1
8.5:1
Bore (inches)
3.75
4.17
Stroke (inches)
3.44
3.68
Valve Lifters
Hydraulic
Hydraulic
Availability
1972-74
1972-74

Engine Type
V-8/AMC
Displacement (cid)
360
Horsepower @ rpm:
220 @ 4400* (175 @ 4000 2V)
Torque (pounds/feet) @ rpm
315 @ 3100** (285 @ 2400 2V)
Compression Ratio
8.4:1
Bore (inches)
4.08
Stroke (inches)
3.44
Valve Lifters
Hydraulic
Availability
1972-74

*195 @ 4400 single exhaust
**295 @ 2900 single exhaust

Times*:

0-60 mph (sec)
N/A
0-100 mph (sec)
N/A
1/4-mile (sec)
14.65 @ 92.97 mph
Top speed (mph)
N/A
Axle ratio
N/A
Engine type
401/330
Model year
1971

*Source: Muscle Car Review (1987)

Times*:

0-60 mph (sec)
7.7
0-100 mph (sec)
N/A
1/4-mile (sec)
15.5 @ 90 mph
Top speed (mph)
115.53
Axle ratio
3.54:1
Engine type
401/255
Model year
1973

*Source: Motor Trend (1973)

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