By Joe Reavis
Car guys with a keen eye may have spotted one of the most rare classic muscle cars if they walked the lines of the Bluegrass on Ballard car show until they came to a black-on-black 1971 AMC Javelin AMX.
The vehicle is the proud possession of J.C. Worley of Wylie, who is its original owner.
Worley bought the AMX at J. and B. Parsons, Inc., in Wappingers Falls, NY. The car listed new for $5,547.
“I was a Mopar guy. I traded in a 1970 Plum Crazy ‘Cuda for it,” he recalled. “I like the lines and sidepipes, and just fell in love with the car.”
Several factors make the Javelin and AMX lines rare, the least of which is they were never manufactured in the numbers as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. In 1968, American Motors Corporation introduced the AMX, a 2-seat hardtop with plenty of horsepower, and produced it in various configurations through 1974.
In contrast, the Mustang was introduced in 1964 and has been continuously made for 50 years. The Camaro’s run is almost as long, starting in 1967 and still being made today, in spite of a gap in production in the early 2000s.
“I bought mine the third of September 1971 just before the ‘72s hit the market,” Worley says.
He drove the car until moving to Texas in 1976, leaving with car in storage with his mother in New York until 1989. Once it arrived in Texas the car went into storage again for almost another 20 years.
“It sat in storage here until six years ago,” Worley reports. “I just liked it and didn’t want to let it go.”
The Wylie car owner says that he joined the North Texas AMC Club at the same time he took his car out of mothballs again and has started restoration work, looking to put it back to near 100 percent original condition.
The 1971 is a true muscle car with a 401 cubic inch engine, 6.57 liters in today’s measurement, with a 4-speed manual transmission. However, the Javelin and AMX never quite fit in with other muscle cars because they were bigger than the pony cars, Camaro, Mustang and Challenger, and smaller than a Pontiac GTO or Dodge Charger.
Javelins and AMX shared some of the same styling characteristics with pony cars, a long hood and a short rear deck, but what set them apart was a sloping, fastback roofline.
American Motors Corporation was the number four car company in the country, behind Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler, and primarily produced less expensive cars that got better gas mileage than their rivals. Some AMC models of the 1960s and 1970s included the Rambler, Ambassador, Matador, Hornet, Gremlin and Pacer. The AMX and Javelin were a radical departure from the norm.
AMC introduced two versions in 1968, the AMX, which was a 2-seat fire-breather, and the Javelin, which has four seats and a slightly longer wheelbase. The 2-seater was built for only two years and production of the car shifted to just the longer version Javelin, but with an AMX muscle car option.
Worley’s car is a Javelin with the AMX and Go Pak options, which give it the big engine, 4-speed, sidepipes and special stripe package. The stripe is a T-shape that stretches across the front of the hood, then narrows to single stripe up the middle of the hood. The car also is outfitted with a vinyl roof and black leather interior.
Because of the years of storage, the car is in good shape, but needs some cosmetic work partly because of some modifications made when its owner was younger, namely the fenders were flared out to accommodate wider tires.
The Wylie car owner admits that flaring the wheel wheels was a foolish mistake of youth and has secured new front fenders and rear fender clips for the restoration project. When those parts are installed, the car will go to a body shop for a fresh paint job and new stripes.
“I’m trying to get it back 100 percent like it was,” he says. To complete the restoration, he has located some new old stock (NOS), original and replacement parts. Because of the number of years spent in storage, the gauges all remain in working order and the interior is in good shape.
“The clock still works,” Worley declared. “It’s barely broken in, really.”
The limited mileage on the car can be partly attributed to its being bought and initially driven in New York, where drivers can license their vehicles for only six months of the year due to harsh winters. Worley took advantage of the option and put just 23,000 miles on the car before putting it in storage the first time. Since 1989, he has added just 2,000 more miles.
“I just go to cars shows and run around in it a little,” he reported.
The car soon will make its television debut, on “The Car Guy” program that airs at noon Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday on KTXD-Channel 47. Hosts Tim Miller and Kristin Treager brought their crew to Wylie recently to film a meeting of the North Texas AMC Club held at Worley’s home in Wylie. The show is scheduled to air in a few weeks.
The muscle car era, a time that produced what are now considered classic, high-horsepower cars, ended as federal regulations began clamping down on emissions with new requirements for smog control resulting in horsepower reductions. The Arab Oil Embargo of 1974 pretty well spelled the end to the era as attention shifted from speed to fuel economy.
However, there has been a rebirth of muscle cars in recent years, high-horsepower models that feature some of the old names, Mustang, Camaro and Challenger.
The Javelin and AMX will not be reborn, though, because AMC went out of business. That makes cars like Worley’s more of a rarity and something worth showing off to others.