We here at CC simply don’t do things part way. Maybe we have all been schooled by the Teutonic discipline of our founder, but we just can’t stand to see a job left unfinished. Which is why we have been in such anguish on the topic of AMC’s designer cars from the 1970s. After we brought you a 1974 Oleg Cassini Matador and then a 1972 Gucci Sportabout, we have been wringing our collective hands over the incomplete status of our collection of these most fashionable Kenoshans. Of course, we have Curbside Correspondents in SoCal, the PNW and other areas of old-car spotting heaven who continually delight us with their rare finds. But when the chips are down and heavy lifting is required, it’s just time to come to the Midwest, that’s all. Which is where we found the car that completes our set: the 1972 Pierre Cardin Javelin.
I’ll be honest: I had remembered the Oleg Cassini Matador in 1974 (CC here). “Who,” I wondered as a fifteen year old kid, “is Oleg Cassini, and why would he lend his name to such a butt-ugly car?” But the 1972 Gucci Sportabout (CC here) Edward Niedermeyer brought us smacked me in the head because I had not remembered it at all. Then I began to feel even more inadequate when some members of the Curbside Commentariat recalled this car. Whaaaa? Again, this one was new to me. Which is odd, for reasons I will get into shortly.
On Father’s Day, my sons and I attended an annual car show in Noblesville, Indiana, where I have never failed to find some interesting wheels, and this year was no exception. We had dawdled a bit and decided that it was time to pick up the pace due to one of the lads having to work that afternoon. Just when we began to breeze along towards an exit, I spotted this purple Javelin. As I got closer, I realized that this was one of the Cardin cars.
As I began to examine the car, I met the fellow who not only owns it, but who also runs the Cardin Javelin and AMX Registry’s Website (here). Andy Meyer was a fountain of information about these cars, and I found myself wishing that I had about an hour or three to sit down and talk some Pierre Cardin. Which is something I never expected to say out loud.
It turns out that we have never done a full-fledged CC on a Javelin, although Paul Niedermeyer did an Automotive History piece on the original 1968-70 version (here). While the 1971 Javelin looked all new, it was actually a cleverly done refresh of the original car. Although the ’71 model looks larger than its predecessor, this is really an optical illusion. The car did gain an inch of wheelbase (to 110), but it was mainly bulging fenders and a longer snout which gave the car an all-new, bigger look.
I think that the 1971-74 Javelin may have been as close as AMC ever got to matching the Big Three on an even-up basis. OK, two of the Big Three, anyhow. For once, AMC cannot be blamed for its lack of market savvy because Ford and Chrysler headed for that same spot in the fishing pond which each of them believed to be a honey hole. The Javelin (especially in sportier AMX trim) matched up particularly well with the 1971-73 Bloatstang and the 1970-74 ChallengedCuda. Who knew that the fishing would be so sparse? Didn’t everyone want a bigger, more powerful pony car? In a rare turnabout, it was GM that actually found where the customers were biting with its smaller, trimmer 1970 1/2 F-body Camaro and Firebird. Actually, AMC did fairly well with this model, building nearly 23,000 Javelins in 1972 (with another 3,220 in AMX trim), and production stayed remarkably steady during the model’s entire 1971-74 run.
The Javelin also developed some genuine racing cred, most famously under the banner of Penske Racing and Mark Donohue. The famous red, white and blue Javelin won the Trans Am title in 1971, ’72 and ’76. The Javelin’s bulging wheel wells were reported to be a direct result not of AMC styling, but from a request by the race teams for additional room in which to accommodate oversized racing tires. Personally, I think the whole thing as a package is every bit as attractive as the Mach 1 or the Challenger/Cuda.
In the spring of 1972, my best friend Tim came to my front door and told me that I had to come to his house, right away. I always enjoyed his house in no small part due to the fact that his family’s driveway was Studebaker Central. The crown jewel was, of course, his father’s red ’64 R2 Avanti, but I still liked his mother’s aging, rusting 1960 Lark VIII. On this spring morning, however, the Lark was gone. In its place was a gleaming Trans-Am Red 1972 Javelin AMX: Rallye wheels, white letter tires, gold stripes, red and black buckets with the U-handle shifter in the console, and a healthy 360 under the hood. Thirteen year old me declared this to be one seriously cool car, and the Javelin was thenceforth on my radar. To this day, I would happily consider a Javelin AMX to be a legitimate, if not superior, alternative to the better-known competition.
Which is why I was so knocked back when I learned about this version earlier this year. I had known of the Broughamification efforts going on in Dearborn with the Mustang Grande (CC here) and in Highland Park with the Barracuda Gran Coupe (CC here). But I had somehow missed that AMC was chasing Ford and Chrysler into the same box canyon.
Pierre Cardin made his name in fashion design in France in the 1950s, and had become increasingly well-known in America a decade later with some decidedly out-front styles (not that well-known, as it turned out, because the use of his design talent and his name cost AMC a surprisingly small amount of money). Actually, Cardin designed several proposals for an interior package for the Javelin, and this combination of Chinese red, plum, white and silver on a black background was the version chosen by AMC management.
The package was introduced in March of 1972 and cost all of $84.95 at MSRP. The trim package consisted of this unique interior and exterior badging, and was available with a limited number of exterior colors, including this Wild Plum (which would be tamed and renamed Fresh Plum in 1973). Less limited was the choice of powertrains, ranging from the 232 (3.8 L) and 258 (4.2 L) cid sixes to the 304 (5.0 L), 360 (5.9 L) and 401 (6.6 L) cid V8s.
So, with an attractive and competitive package with some real fashion-designer style, the Pierre Cardin Javelin was a galloping success. Right? Uhhhh, actually, no. According to Andy’s registry, AMC built 1262 of these 1972 models (with another 12 in AMX trim, believe it or not). Including a single rumored 1974 car, total 1972-74 production came to 4152 units. I would like to tell you that supply was limited by AMC’s rigorous application process that was required for prospective buyers to qualify for purchase of one of these gems, but I would be making it up. Today, the registry can account for a mere 20 of these 1972 models.
There is an old adage that you can sell an old man a young man’s car, but you cannot sell a young man an old man’s car. The corollary to this rule seems to be that you couldn’t sell designer-label fashion goods to people who bought their cars at AMC dealers. We must give AMC some credit here–they were the first auto maker to recognize the potential appeal of designer-edition cars. Lincoln would soon exploit this niche very profitably with designer editions that became some of their most sought-after models. Sadly for AMC, after three tries it was clear: people who cared about designer labels bought their cars elsewhere. And whatever else you may say about this car, isn’t this Franco-American collaboration a lot more appealing than the better-known Renault-AMC Alliance?
Aside from how awful these became when the restyle came out, this sure is a beautiful example of how things in the automotive world got out of hand in the early 1970s!
The only thing that strikes me was an ad when this generation came out. It read in part: “…at the risk of scaring some people off…”
Well, I kept my distance, for sure, pillarless or not!
Gotta love AMC, though! After all, I did own a Gremlin. ‘Nuff said.
Does this particular example have the V8?
“Designer” automobiles are still with us, who could forget the COACH edition Lexus cars? 😛
And the currently-offered Gucci FIAT 500, and until a few years ago, Eddie Bauer Ford trucks and SUVs, L.L. Bean Subarus and Cartier Lincolns (long ago, Lincoln also offered Bill Blass and Pucci editions, and probably others).
Yes, my car is a V8 – 360 4bbl – Thanks for asking.
I would love to hear the story of how and where you found this. I cannot imagine a more perfect color to go with the Cardin interior.
JP, I found rhis car in an impound lot at a small local salvage yard. The story I got was that the car had been left in a “no parking zone” by the owners sister while she was house sitting his home. The sister wanted her car in the garage since it was mid winter. The owner returned 3 months later pnly to find the car had been towed. The impound lot wanted far too much money and there it sat for a couple of years. Then the car wa sold to a new owner who ended up bouncing the payment to the yard. 2 years later my son-in=law was in the salvage yard looking for 4×4 parts. That’s when he called me. I bought the car 6 years ago. The restoration is almost complete. Also worth mentioning, I drove the car to Livonia, MI the following summer to the AMC Nationals. Without officially entering the show we won a “National Award”. “The Golden Hook”, a beautiful trophy with a tow truck boom coming out of it ……. Most likely to be towed home!
As far as I know only 1 six cylinder PC left the factory
I have a 1972 Javelin with a straight 6 automatic and Pierre Cardin. It is snow white on the plate. Are you saying its the only one that left the factory that way?
There were 100 or so of the 6 cylinders produced. All that can be tracked that still exist are what is register with the Pierre Cardin website
And the Cardin Javelin Registry is updating and running once again.
If you have or know of one, please email us to register!!
Make that 2 that is known by Andy that runs the registry. My husband and I just bought the other with all matching numbers ready for it’s restore. Has your car been registered on his site
I have however it doesn’t appear on the site as of yet. I will try and resubmit it since it looks like it is updating and running again as of July 2. 2 in existence is pretty good I would say…haha
Totally awesome piece. I love this car and the colour, I’m not usually a fan of fats but that rear quarter is tough. Mark Donohue’s book was a publishing game changer the way he talked out the settings for his cars. Its a constant re-read, even though I don’t fully understand the minutiae of his mechanical knowledge. I’d have one of these before a Camaro or Stang, not that I don’t appreciate them. Fantastic, JPC.
I agree, anyone can pick up a “Year One” catalog and buy what they’re missing.
It kinda looks like a factory attempt to emulate boy racer attempts to upgrade the look of his ride by adding cheesy aftermarket seat covers. They should have added rear air shocks and extended rear spring shackles to jack up the rear for the complete Joe Dirt look. As for Me, I will stick with my 300E Bruno Saccho edition!
JP, have you been inhaling too much Cardin cologne, bought on clearance at TJ Maxx? Compared to this a Challenger is a Ferrari.
This thing is hideous, and that’s coming from someone wearing a Braniff International t-shirt. I enjoy ’70s style but there’s a line…thanks for finding it, I guess. 🙂
I say, if you’re going to do ’70s, then do ’70s all the way, baby! 🙂
I’m with you, Capn. I like the 2nd gen Javelin well enough, especially if its sporting the red, white and blue Penske racing livery, but not this one. Ew.
Here’s a poser for you. What was the connection between Braniff and AMC during the late ’60s and early ’70s?
Didn’t Cardin design the outfits for the Braniff flight attendants, in the days when “flight attendants” were called “stewardesses” and were all female?
Pucci did the Braniff uniforms, which also included the pilots and airport agents. The connection in question did have a lot, if not everything to do with the “designer” aspects of both companies.
Huh. I would have guessed groovy uniforms too. Alexander Calder painted an “art plane” as part of the Flying Colors fleet…Otherwise, Teague? Brooks Stevens? You got me, MP.
See further down the comments, Skipper.
Emilio Pucci did.
I’ll grant you its pretty awful, but worse than a Challenger or the box nosed Mustangs? I don’t think so. All of these cars got uglier as they got farther away from their origins.
Were they pursuing female buyers? Maybe M. Cardin was well-known among Vogue readers, but it’s hard to believe that an American male gearhead sport-coupe buyer would have even heard of him, or care.
You could say that in the 50’s and early 60’s – President Kennedy was unique in wearing custom-fitted Cardin shirts with tiny pinstripes (he was wearing one when he was assassinated) because he admired the ones worn by the French ambassador to the US. But by the 1970’s Cardin had licensed hundreds of products world wide under his name – including mass-manufactured men’s belts, wallets, shoes, etc. – and he was very well-known among US male buyers of clothing and other merchandise. He dramatically diluted his name brand during this era:
I had a “Rodney Dangerfield Edition” Chevy Blazer (1970 K5, 2-wd) in the late ’70s. It became that after my mother helped me fashion new seat covers from black and white houndstooth check fabric after the cheap vinyl upholstery succumbed to too much Texas sun.
As a 71 year old that drives a cube and a 4Runner I prove your adage daily. My next car will probably have been marketed for kids as well. I doubt that I will be caught driving something with a french designer.
Both the Cube and the Honda Element were originally designed to appeal to younger drivers, however both found success with seniors instead. Seniors enjoy the easy access and the ability to handle wheel chairs as major reasons for both Cube and Element sales. Additionally, Boomers have continued to buy Japanese cars as they retire and American cars have been rediscovered by younger buyers who were raised in imports and are now interested in classic American car brands, especially Ford.
When you are ready to replace those cars for new cars popular with kids, you will need to consider the Ford Fusion, Focus, the Explorer, the Chevy Equinox and Traverse. These are the new young people rides.
It does seem rather silly to attempt a designer interior in anything AMC, but it worked actually. But not with Gucci, Cassini or Cardin.
It worked with Levi Strauss, remember?
Thanks to the kind of creative thinking that went on at AMC, it sold thousands upon thousands of AMC cars with special Levi Strauss interiors. We have to give AMC credit when it came to this, because those Levi interiors didn’t happen by accident. No other car maker was even into that kind of thinking when AMC did it. The Levi interiors in Gremlins and Hornets sold Gremlins and Hornets. At a time when AMC needed something to kick up and refresh their dated cars, these Levi interiors gave AMCs smaller cars a new lease on life. AMC even put Levi interiors into Pacers and CJ5s. These interiors were phenomenally popular and sold their cars. AMC even did corduroy interiors as well.
And if you recall, AMC had always had an eye on fashion interiors, remember? I remember reading about how AMC advertised their cars during the 1950s and 1960s with big name interior designers. AMC promoted Pininfarina as the designer of their Nash line, just as Studebaker remained a viable brand through Raymond Loewry.
So, I think we can see how AMC ended up with a Cardin Javelin. But why did AMC do a Pierre Cardin interior for their muscle car, instead of a Levi interior? (There seems to had been Levi buckets from Hornet put into Javelins via special dealer order, but we can’t find AMC advertising Javelin with the popular Levi interior.) It just seems odd since we easily associate blue jeans with muscle cars. But Pierre Cardin?
It just seemed that Cardin and AMC met at a time when they were both interested in a partnership. Cardin was interested in expanding his mark into industrial design arts, like Loewry and Gucci and AMC was a natural fit for him. But why put that Cardin into a Javelin? Why not an Ambassador?
Well, it is because the Ambassador and the Matador was dated, but the new 1971 Javelin was not. Cardin liked the Javelin over the Matador and Ambassador. AMC didn’t think it needed to put a Cardin interior into the Hornet, and definitely not the Gremlin as both cars were selling well and the new “X” package boosted these two car sales even higher. (Levis didn’t appear as an option until 1973). So – the Javelin was the only vehicle ready to do a Cardin interior.
And – we do begin to see some Broughamification occurring in the muscle/pony car class as a way to boost sales of these sporty compact cars. The Grande Mustang did sell for Ford. Pontiac offered similar options for Firebird. With the expense of the muscle/pony car redesigns not paying off for Detroit/Kenosha, trying to go upscale in that class of car was a way to find some kind of sales success to make up diminishing sales.
The deal with Cardin wasn’t renewed. AMC decided to ditch the Javelin for the new Pacer. New interior success was right around the corner with Levi Strauss. The match worked well for both. Cardin was able to expand his brand into the US and he saw remarkable success over the next two decades. AMC discovered how to use popular interior designs to boost car sales and did those awesome and collectable Levi interiors.
Pierre is still alive, and living the haut Parisian lifestyle. Too bad the same can’t be said of AMC, right?
Good point on the Levis models. I think the Levis trim worked for AMC because it fit what AMC was selling. In the early 70s, Levis were hip and cool in an anti-establishment kind of way. That was what the Gremlin and the Jeep were all about. A Levis Javelin would probably have sold pretty well.
With Gucci, Cardin and Cassini though, AMC was going for upscale class and/or leading edge style. AMC had nothing in its showrooms that served this demographic. The Cardin design was interesting in that it wasn’t really a traditional luxury sort of design, but one that was very cutting-edge in the early 70s. Unfortunately, I don’t think the target demographic was buying cars from any of the American manufacturers by then, so I don’t think this design would have worked out any better for GM Ford or Chrysler.
Broughamification and the AMC Levi interior designs are unique in that in both cases, car makers found a way to boost the sales of a dated car design using a redesigned interior.
We see broughamification beginning as an optional trim in an existing sedan and then grow into a model line based upon that earlier sedan and then enhanced with exterior trim to set it apart visually. Especially with Ford – Galaxie begat LTD, and Torino begat Elite. This is different from taking a Ford Mustang and making it into a Mercury Cougar, as these were two separate brands. By focusing on the interior design of an existing car, AMC and Ford, as well as in certain cases GM and Chrysler – we see examples of renewed car sales because of their new interiors. And in some cases, even entirely new model lines launched!
We don’t see that as much today, do we? With computers and faster generation cycle times, it seems interiors don’t need that kind of refreshing and remarketing separate from the rest of the car. The opportunity of refreshed auto sales due to an interior redesign aren’t there anymore. OR, can we see this same thing with the Eddie Bauer Fords, and the King Ranch F-150s?
You got me thinking…
“The opportunity of refreshed auto sales due to an interior redesign aren’t there anymore.”
The only modern example I can think of was on Chrysler products of the early Marchionne era. The interiors in those cars during the Daimler and Cerberus eras were so awful that they demanded attention right away. The interior re-dos on several models gave them some much-needed additional shelf life until new models were ready.
Instead of Broughamification today, we have iPadification, Tesla being the most blatant example. That’s all car ads seem to talk about, how much computer crap they can stuff in. And buyers love it.
All Life Must be Computerized. God help us, we’re in the hands of programmers! (I’m one, & if you’re not scared, you should be).
So long as I can still find the Off switch.
As jpcavanaugh notes, the Levi’s trim package for the Gremlin, Hornet and Pacer worked because the image of Levi’s meshed well with that of the cars.
The more upscale designer options – Cardin, Gucci, Cassini – didn’t work, because AMC didn’t have an upscale image at the time. We all knew that putting a fancy interior into a Hornet did not make it a luxury car.
This dynamic worked in the opposite direction – Lincoln hit the jackpot with its “Designer Series” trim packages, but a Levi’s Lincoln would have seemed ridiculous.
Nash wasn’t the only car maker to use spruced-up interiors to sell cars in the 1950s. Both Packard and Studebaker employed the use of fashion designers to give their interiors more appeal. Dorothy Draper helped spruce up Packard interiors, while Studebaker employed Eleanor LeMaire.
Kaiser-Frazer led the way with this effort. It employed Carlton Spencer to design several very unique interior styles to sell aging Kaisers. He also chose exterior colors that were quite vivid for the day, and really ahead of their time. The colors were so unique that, for a time, Kaiser actually spelled out the particular color’s name in chrome on the exterior of the car!
One of the first and most memorable ‘designer’ cars was the 1955 Dodge ‘La Femme’, specifically marketed to women with a pink, two-tone paint job and gimmicky female accessories.
Unfortunately, it didn’t sell very well and was discontinued after 1956. One wonders how differently things might have turned out if Chrysler had hitched their wagon to one of the then-current fashion designers so as to draw more attention.
That was the same time frame when Lionel introduced a girl’s toy train set, complete with pink engine. It flopped then, but the original is a collector’s item now.
It looks like they’re trying again though; this seems to be a “retro” version of it:
There is an interesting book on this type of marketing by Lynn Perill called “Pink Think”. It’s not really car related and probably a bit too feminist for most readers here, but if you do come across it you may be surprised by Ms Perill’s good humour and the strange,strange world of the 1950s and 60s!
See, I see it more as an extension of the “factory customs” of the ’30s and ’40s, of which Packard was a big proponent. By the late ’30s, the market for actual custom bodies had pretty much evaporated, but some high-end automakers would continue offering catalogued models branded with some prestigious coachbuilder’s name. The cars would usually be factory-bodied, but the coachbuilder would do custom trim work or maybe special paint and then authorize the use of the name. Of course, those were still specifically upscale automotive coachbuilders, not non-automotive designers or brands, but the principle is similar.
Nash had gotten into that as well, prior to the formation of AMC. They signed a comparable deal with Pinin Farina around 1950 and early ’50s Nashes have Farina emblems on the fenders although Nash actually used very little of Farina’s designs.
Those of course were all automotive brands, but the principle was similar. In terms of non-automotive brands, though, Nash also hired George Petty to do “Petty Girl” hood ornaments. Helene Rother, who was a Nash interior designer, had also been a Paris fashion designer before the war, something I think Nash had featured in some advertising.
I hadn’t ever thought about it like that, but I see what you mean.
Only, as someone mentioned above, AMC’s cars/reputation just didn’t “mesh” with the offer of factory custom interiors from Big Name designers. Maybe if they’d kept the Nash or Hudson name for the big cars, they could have had the prestige to make it work. Can’t blame them for trying though!.
Earlier in the comments I had responded to ImpCapn’s mention of his wearing a Braniff International t-shirt with a question about a Braniff/AMC connection. That connection was one of the pioneering women in the advertising business, Mary Wells Lawrence.
In early 1965, Braniff was a staid, somewhat moribund operation out of Dallas in need of a serious revamp. That came with the hiring of Harding Lawrence, a VP from Continental as its new president. Lawrence immediately went to work modernizing the fleet and more importantly changing Braniff’s image. He fired Braniff’s longtime ad agency and hired an up and coming agency, Jack Tinker and Partners to try something very different.
Tinker gave the Braniff account to their rising star, Mary Wells, who came up with “The End of The Plain Plane”. The fleet of multicolored aircraft that became a ’60s/’70s design icon was just the beginning. Wells hired designer Alexander Girard to come up with a corporate image, while also hiring Emilio Pucci to design flight crew and agent uniforms.
The Braniff campaign quickly propelled Wells into the ranks of ad industry royalty, so much so that in 1966 she started her own agency, Wells Rich Greene. WRG specialized in transforming the image of traditionally conservative companies like American Motors, who signed up with WRG in 1967 (the same year Wells married Harding Lawrence from Braniff) for the ’68 model year.
I don’t have time to post photos right now, but if you look at Braniff’s print ads from 1965-70, and AMC’s from 1968-70, the similarity in style is all too obvious. Same goes for the TV spots, examples of which can be found on Youtube.
There’s no doubt the Wells influence (even with AMC firing WRG in 1972) was the reason for AMC’s foray into high fashion. If a staid little airline from Dallas could come out of nowhere with pastel-colored airplanes, designer uniforms and ’60s Mod airport waiting rooms, why couldn’t a staid little automaker from Kenosha come out of nowhere with “designer” cars?
Interesting stuff, thank you! Ms. Wells seems like a model for Peggy from “Mad Men.”
My thought as well.
Funny thing, being from STL and the home of TWA Airlines, my first plane ride in 1969, heading for basic training to San Antonio and Lackland AFB was on Delta to Houston and Braniff to San Antonio.
That Braniff airliner was a psychedelic trip as soon as we saw the plane and a fun flight!
One cool ride, indeed. What a cool airline. Too bad they couldn’t stick around longer than they did.
I enjoyed her book. Very telling on dealing with AMC.
That noise you hear is the thud of thousands of “Designers” falling over backward, astounded that Levi Strauss is considered as belonging to their ranks!
I’d gladly have a Levis interior. Much better than grey or black. And I love the bright bold colours here, and the in-your-face graphic. Very Seventies. I feel at home with this. It speaks my language. It welcomes me as no car has for a decade or more.
Is this the only example of a Designer headliner?
I remember these at Auto Show and Motor Trend ads. But, being near Kenosha, I saw a few designer Jav’s running around Chicago. They were going for Mustang Grande’ and Cougar buyers,
But, yes, the Levi’s trim was a hit, many Gremlins in this guise were popular in Chi-town.
You mean to tell me AMC started the whole designer series thing and not Lincoln?!
And those front fender forms, which always looked so contrived, were there to fit larger tires FOR RACING??
Many bubbles burst here today JPC.
Look at the front fenders of a 2014 Honda Civic coupe, and you’ll see the spiritual successor to those exaggerated fenders on the 1971-74 Javelin.
The front fender bulges being a result of fitting larger racing tires is pure BS. The actual inner fender/wheel well is way smaller than that fake bulge, as can be seen in this picture. These cars had a front suspension with high-mounted springs and shocks, so the towers are well above the tops of the tires.
Take a look at that shot of the Penske racing Javelin: these race cars had very limited suspension travel; to have the tire go all the way up into that fake bulge would have required a couple of feet of suspension travel.
It was just typical styling BS of the time.
Maybe the whole Javelin ‘bigger fenders needed for bigger racing tires’ was some kind of marketing riff on the Chrysler Superbird and Daytona NASCAR wing-cars, on whose front fenders were mounted rearward facing scoops that weren’t there for aerodynamics, but clearance for racing tires.
Whew thanks for saving that one Paul. Now if someone would kindly post a very rare 1969 Mark III Cartier model (or similar) that I had long forgotten about all will be right with the world again.
Was Cartier even around back then? Maybe a Faberge example with semi-precious inlaid dash might be more like it. 🙂
There were no Lincoln Cartier models, or any other designer name, until 1976. People are confused by the Cartier clock, which all true 1969-71 MK-IIIs have. The early ones, April-68 to about August, only had a plain clock.
Of course those bulges go out as well as up, so it is not inconceivable that they could handle wider tires than the older version. However, with the 68 Corvette still being fresh, it’s not like the “up and out” fender treatment was out of style, either.
Do they? The crease line on the fender is pretty straight. It’s not really a “bulge” in terms of plan view. That’s not to say that the new fenders might quite likely have had a bit more room in them to the sides, but the actual “bulge” sits on the top, in a completely un-organic way, and is totally disconnected from any real function.
If the “bulge” were not there, it would not affect tire room in the slightest. And the fender would be just fine without it, stylistically. Rarely have I seen a more affected piece of design. It just sits up there, looking like it was the doodling of a junior high school kid during science class. At least the ’68 Corvette’s bulges were organic.
I don’t know, the 1973 brochure shot (second to the last picture) gives the impression that the sheetmetal widens out near the wheel openings. From what I can find, the first gen Javelin reported its width as 71.9 inches while the second gen is at 75.2 inches. 3.3 inches is not a lot, but then if you only need another 1.5 inches per wheel/tire, . . . .
I agree that the fender is wider than the previous one. My point is that the bulge on top has nothing really to do with that; it would have worked fine (better) without it.
Teague copied the Stingray with those fender bulges, is what I think.
Don’t feel alone, Calibrick. In one of my early published efforts here, I made the point about Lincoln starting the whole designer edition craze and was quickly put right about that when commenters pointed out the Oleg Cassini Matador. Lincoln’s designer series didn’t come out until the 1976 models, 2 years after the Oleg Cassini Matador and 4 years after this car and the Gucci Sportabout.
Like them or not, those crazy, extreme, coke-bottle-bulging front fenders on the Javelin restyle are really what gives it the impression of a much bigger car than the original. In fact, can anyone do a photoshop that removes the bulges? It would definitely bring the later car closer in size to the original.
As to the Pierre Cardin version, it was just another example of AMC being ahead of their time. In fact, was AMC the first with these ‘designer’ cars or did Ford beat them to the punch with stuff like their Cartier/Bill Blass Continentals?
The Cardin Javelin wasn’t a particularly bad idea, it was just executed really poorly in how much it was over-the-top on what was, at heart, a sporty car, and not a luxury car. But, then, that pretty much sums up a lot of the things AMC was doing towards the end; they were so desperate that they simply went for broke on everything.
Great article. The ads for the 1971 Javelin promoted it as the “1980-looking” Javelin. (I guess that a tagline of “Suddenly, it’s 1980” would have been too much borrowing for AMC!)
By the time the real 1980 rolled around, this car looked very dated, especially parked next to a Fox-body Mustang or Capri.
Point taken- I wonder what 1980 cars in general would have looked like had there not been two gas crises before that.
I had a very hard time with these cars from the first time I laid eyes on them. It made me realize that the 70s were not going to be as good as the 60s, design wise. And did that ever turn out to be the truth.
I suppose it helped to be a pre-teen midwestern kid when these came out. I was perfectly fine with the styling (although I still preferred the more elegant look of 1960s cars). My main gripe was with the unpleasant sound of the door slam and the abundance of molded plastic in the interiors. But these “features” weren’t unique to the Javelin, the Chrysler E body was every bit as bad if not worse in these respects.
I wish I had known that my neighbor’s red 72 AMX-trim model was one of about 3600 cars – I might have tried to buy it from them back when they had it. It was getting rusty, so I probably could have picked it up plenty cheap.
Paul said, “It made me realize that the 70s were not going to be as good as the 60s, design wise.”
Not just design wise….
Action in the seventies. Reaction in the eighties.
I’ve never been a fan of the Javelin and AMX after 1970. I think AMC was trying too hard to imitate the Ford Mustang. Even with its designer labeling on it, in this case, Pierre Cardin, it’s still not as attractive as the pre-71 Javelin.
+1 Like so many American car makers who get it right first time they have to fiddle about and come up with something worse looking
I agree. I don’t know why they felt they had to make the car bigger and uglier by the early 70s. I thought the best looking car of the 70s was the Ford Mustang II. From American Motors, the Hornet and Gremlin, from Chrysler, the 1970-72 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant. All were American compact cars.
It was the musclecar era. The original Big 3 1960 compacts didn’t even have V8s for a couple of years. Then, when they did get them, they were all small-blocks. Consequently, when the Mustang and Barracuda came out, that’s what they had, too.
It was the 1967 redesign when the big-blocks started getting put into the ponycars. Unfortunately for Ford and Chrysler, they still had compact car engine compartments so a big-block was a very tight squeeze which limited horsepower quite a bit. Because they were late to the game, GM scored a big coup with their ponycars since they were designed to accept big-block V8s from the beginning.
So, when Chrysler and Ford had their first major ponycar redesigns in 1970 and 1971, they had to have engine compartments big enough to ‘easily’ take the big-blocks, and that’s when size got way out of hand.
Nowadays line extension seems to be the big thing – how many different kinds of Oreo cookies, Lay’s potato chips, or Colgate toothpaste are there? These efforts when applied to cars of the late 20th century may have helped to lay the foundation for them.
Or V8 Juice?
Horrible choice in tires and wheels. Nothing ruins the look of a car faster that those two things. Not a great looking design to begin with but the tires/wheels don’t help at all. The catalog profile pictures look great in contrast.
Agreed, but I tend to cut old cars with bad-looking wheels and tires a little slack. As time goes by, trying to find correct fitting wheels and tires to replace originals that, for whatever reason (be it age or something else), are no longer serviceable, could be difficult (not to mention rather expensive). Even good old, period correct, American Racing Torque-Thrusts could be harder/pricier than some people want to spend/put the effort into.
And then there’s the fact they’re already on a lot of other cars so some people would use something else just to be different.
Sorry you don’t like wheels and tires. Just trying to be period correct. What type of wheels are on your car?
This generation of Javelin introduced a new concept of a pony car in police service. Alabama purchased about a dozen or so as marked units, powered by a 401. This was also the time when AMC was chasing the police market with their full sizers.
So is this a PC Javelin?
Indeed it is.
I remember reading an article about the Alabama police cruiser Javelins in Hemmings Muscle Machines a few years ago. Pretty cool concept.
Alabama actually bought over 100 Javelins
In my eyes, that Javelin / AMX were the best offerings AMC had by ’72. As you said, they were pretty much in the Mustang / Challenger / Barracuda camp.
AMC, always one for the weird flourish, mucked this one up with three details. Way too much overhang ahead of the front wheels, the front fender bulges, and the “T-Top” roof stamping. In filling that with vinyl was a natural outcome, but yeesh, that is really bad.
If my observation is correct, they may have eliminated that roof stamping for ’73. I don’t see it in the factory brochure / ad photos. If they did change that, it is quite amazing for a low volume car that was headed for dead after one more year.
I do love this car, not for its natural beauty, but for just being a unique part of history. Great to see something this interesting and rare this morning.
I have been thinking about the styling on this car all morning. I have decided that the reason it works so well is because it is so plainly over the top – with an almost cartoonish element. This is the same reason the modern Camaro works as well. I don’t think this Javelin can be judged by a traditional “good design-bad design” scale, any more than the 1959 Cadillac can be. This thing has an early 1970s exuberance about it that few cars from that era can match. The Mustang and especially the Barracuda are so conservative in comparison. For that reason (if no other), count me as a fan.
As for this particular one, I would certainly never have picked it out in 1972. But in 2014, I would SO drive this.
The new Camaro comparison is an apt one. It would be great to see both cars side-by-side. It’s like they were designed to be Hot Wheels models before a real car. In fact, there’s even a Hot Wheels edition new Camaro.
These sold very well for AMC, between 26-31k units every year from ’71-’74. It outsold the now vaunted E-body Barracuda by a wide margin each year, and was within 2k units of the Challenger from ’71-’73, and then outsold it by over 10k in ’74.
I’ve always thought that, for 1975, AMC should have rolled out the 1974 Gremlin G-II show car, which predicted the basic shape of the 1979 Spirit, as the “new” Javelin. All the Gremlin G-II needed was a slicker front end to make it a decent pony car for the mid-1970s.
AMC could have touted it as a more rational pony car. It also would have served as a nice “bridge” between the subcompact Ford Mustang II and sleek but cramped GM F-bodies.
You just said better what I was trying to express.
We have a local retirement home that is for folks “that are anything but retiring.” The have a happy but very old grandmother type drive away from the door in either a Javelin or an AMX. It’s an interesting touch that is made more fun by knowing how rare these are.
I love that Barracuda Gran Coupe. It’s something I would have considered for high school if Cuda’s had been as plentiful as Cutlass Supremes. It really is sort of a Monte Carlo / Camaro love child in Mopar trim.
Yes, the indents in the roof were eliminated for the 1973-74 model years. Depending on the type of die used, that was probably a fairly simple and inexpensive change.
There were about half a dozen Cardin Javelins at the big AMC meet in Kenosha last weekend. This interior seems to hold up pretty well wear-wise, but the colors wash out- especially the black. One guy had a complete Cardin interior for sale in the swap meet. No, I didn’t ask the price.
Whatever the investment, I suppose that they did it to better accommodate the ever popular vinyl tops of the time. The ’72 roof doesn’t look bad without the vinyl.
Wow, nice find! The PC editions are definitely rare, I wonder if the owner plans on keeping this one as-found, or if he is going to restore it. This car’s choice of wheels is weak though. Get some coke bottle mags on that thing! The Levis trim made it onto a lot of Jeeps, as someone mentioned. In fact, my first Jeep was a Levi’s editon, although the denim softop had been swapped for a factory hard top, the front seats were out of something else…all that remained were the lower cowl stickers and a badly thrashed rear seat.
The Javelin is one of my all time favorite cars. Depending on my mood, it may well be my #1 favorite. It goes back to when I was a kid, I had a slot car track and a handful of AFX slot cars. My favorite was the blue/black #5 2nd gen Javelin (which I still have), and at first I thought it was a Mach 1 Mustang until my dad cleared that up. The 2nd gen models are definitely love it or hate it item, which as per usual puts me in the ‘love’ camp. I have a LOT of love for that blue one in the brochure pic. That shade–True Blue, I believe–is one of my favorite colors. Sure these are a bit overstyled but it IS a sporty car…no reason to be subtle. Like the Duster/Demon, the 2nd gen Jav is one of those cars that really starts to gel when you go big-n-little with the tires.
Summer 1972. My oldest brother and his then-girlfriend are out car shopping for her. They manage to finagle a new loaded Javelin off the local AMC dealer’s lot and brought it to our house. That car was a rocket ship compared to my father’s staid Mercury Montego. He was really taken with it until they sat down and “ran the numbers”. She ended up buying a car that next week, but it was a tropical green Gremlin with the dog-dish hubcaps.
Summer 1987. Bored on a Sunday afternoon, I go “car hunting” on the local Dodge dealer’s back lot. I spy an old Javelin back there, AMX maybe? Damn, not even an SST. But as I get closer I see the unmistakable Cardin interior. The thought briefly crosses my mind to buy the car, but rust had taken it’s toll on the 15 or 16 year-old car at the time.
Summer 1993. We had just moved to Atlanta in 1991 and contrary to my beliefs it was a lousy place to hunt for old cars. One fine evening, I happened to run across a beautiful 1974 AMX, 360-4bbl., Torque Flite, sky blue with white T-stripe and quarter vinyl roof, white interior with air(!) and the factory rally wheels. All in great condition. I was smitten. I drove home to tell my wife about the good news, but she had news for me. Baby #2 was on the way. No AMX for George…
I still hold out hope that I can find a Javelin before I’m too freakin’ old to enjoy one, but due to other priorities, my search may have to wait.
It was great seeing this car. Over the top 1970’s far-out-ness never looked better.
This is one of my favorite cars, bar none. If I could get one, and only one, classic car, I would get a second-generation Javelin. The refresh on this one when they got rid of the light bar and went to quad taillights made it even better. Of course, I am an unabashed AMC fan, as I said during AMC week a while back.
People would notice a Mustang, Camaro, Challenger or Barracuda of similar vintage, but not many people would have any idea what a Javelin was. This purple one would make the owner the center of attention wherever he went.
This brings back memories, back about 1972 I was in the Air Force and stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson , Az. I recall seeing an AMC Hornet Sportabout with the Pierre Cardin interior. That was the only one I ever saw, does anyone have any information on this?
The CC effect strikes again.
This ’73 was at the Car Capital Show in Lansing last Sat.
Did anybody else ever run a vinyl top all the way to the tail of the car?
Speaking of long vinyl tops, this was my ’74 Jav, circa 1991.
A pair of beauties!
Few mods that can improve the Js appearance:
1. enlarge the wheel well to enable lowering of car. extend them above the belt-line.
2. lower by an inch or so.
3. bigger tires to fill the new wheel-wells.
The second generation AMC Javelin – the second most beautiful car ever produced in America. The Studebaker Avanti is the first. I had a 1971 Javelin with the 304 V8. Nice car, but not nearly the performer as was my 1968 AMX. That little hellion was a fantastic driving experience, and blew away it’s share of Camaros, Firebird T/As and Mustangs on illicit ‘road races’…….. Ah, those heady 1970’s!! A great period for car fans.
I own a 1973 AMX Pierre Cardin. The car is a love it or hate it. I just finished the resoration and People It at the shows.
Something different from the main stream. The Pierre Cardin material is not produced and very hard to find, not to mention the cost once you do locate it.
well worth it in the end.
I have a pair of 1973 NOS seat socks for sale.
The picture shows 2 sets. 1 set went into my car.
The other set is for sale.
email if interested.
I’m the original owner of a 1972 Javelin AMX. This model by AMC incorporated the best of the best into one performance car and at 180K miles I’ve never had one problem. Built very well, very easy to do things like change points and plugs. The SST pictured, what’s up with the dents in the roof on the passenger side? AMC produced about 3000 Javelin AMXs per year while Mustang made over 800,000/yr. No thanks, I’ve loved my unique car from the first time I laid eye on it in the dealer lot. A conversation piece since new. Its rich racing heritage in NASCAR and Trans Am doesn’t hurt either.