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.
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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