Small-Block Survivor: 1970 AMC Javelin SST

1970 was the third and final year of the first generation of AMC’s pony car, the Javelin. It would also be the swan song for the AMX as a standalone vehicle (it was a 2-seat, GT version of the Javelin with a shorter wheelbase). The seller’s ‘70 Javelin is the upscale model called the SST using the smallest of the V8 engines offered by AMC (it was the equivalent of a Chevy Camaro with a 307). It has a few rust issues and may have been sitting awhile given that it has a new gas tank. The car is being offered for $14,995 by a dealer here on Car Gurus and is located near Cadillac, Michigan. Thanks, Barn Finds reader PRA4SNW, for bringing this tip our way!

American Motors joined the pony car craze in 1968, a year after Chevy and Pontiac. The Javelin was a capable car but never sold more than 55,000 units in any one model year. It would be discontinued after its second generation in 1974. AMC built 28,210 Javelin’s for ‘70, including 19,714 of the snappier SST (which supposedly played off the aeronautics name Super Sonic Transport).  Nearly one-third of all Javelins for 1970 came with AMC’s 304 cubic inch V8, including the seller’s car painted white with a dark blue vinyl top. The seller only says the car is in running condition, perhaps because some minor electrical work is needed (non-working parking lights).

If it’s correct, the claimed mileage for the Javelin is 20,000, but that could also be 120,000. Because of the new fuel tank, sending unit and rebuilt carburetor, you have to think the car was sitting before it was listed for sale by the dealer. The car came with a floor-shifted automatic transmission, power steering, manual front disc brakes and factory air conditioning, for which the latter is non-working.

The car looks good from afar, but what appears to be an aftermarket paint job is showing a few missing chips. The driver’s side rear quarter has some bubbles brewing, indicating rust has started its thing, and we’re told there is some rust at or under the half-vinyl top, although we don’t see it in the photos. Chances are the next owner will want to strip it all down anyway and apply a new top and paint. The interior generally looks okay although there are a bunch of scratches on the console (from a big dog trying to get out of the back seat?) and the tray behind the rear shelf looks disheveled.

If this car was a GM or Ford product, its resale value might be higher. But the fact that its an AMC product, the underdog company, has more appeal to me as there are so few by comparison.  Hagerty says $26,000 is top dollar, but a 20% downward adjustment should be made because it doesn’t have a 4-speed. With some attention to the body and interior, this could be a nice Cars & Coffee entry without breaking the bank.

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Comments

  1. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Thanks for picking this one up, guys.
    I like Javelins and love reading your commentary.

    Like 9
  2. AMCFAN

    I hate it when the AMC 304 V8 is called a small block and or compared in any way a Chevrolet engine. The magic of an American Motors built vehicle it is NOT a GM. It may share common parts however the some of its parts are way different. The main reason people bought them new.

    This car does not appear too bad. However showing rust and being from the heart of the rust belt if real serious I would want to put my hands on it before writing a check.

    Nothing wrong with a STOCK 304. Every Javelin doesn’t need a 401. Funny those that have never had one are quick to say this but don’t know the cost or true reality to source one. The 304 will purr just fine just like it is. Forget a four bbl carb. You can’t beat the kids Civic up the street so why bother.

    The interior is pretty bad here. A poor upholstery job makes a bad interior. The correct SST seat covers and rear shelf that is reproduced would have helped the seller achieve his goal of his too high price. Working A/C would also be a plus. Manual drum brakes are an easy upgrade if you know what to look for. Hint. It isn’t in a 800 build a car catalog.

    I think $6500 is more than fair. It’s an old car painted and decorated in the 1980’s stuck in time.

    Like 19
    • That AMC guy

      Indeed. There really is no such thing as an AMC “small block” or “big block”. External dimensions of all the 290-401 V8s are the same. If you really want a 401 – and can find one – it will drop right in, though you’d also want to beef up the rest of the drivetrain. (I’d keep it stock. The 304 is fine for cruising around.)

      Like 9
    • Buffalo Bob

      Actually, I’ve had both a 304 Javelin (auto) AND a 307 (PG) Camaro. Actually traded the Camaro up. Of course, this was nearly 40 years ago, when great cars were still cheap cars. I worked for the local AMC dealer back in the early 80’s & the boss kinda liked his employees to drive the product, hence buying the Javelin. It not only went better, it’d out handle the Camaro. Aah, the good old days…

      Like 13
  3. Bayshore Blues

    I usually just read through and move on. Being an AMC owner felt I had a couple cents loose change to throw in. This price is way, way out of proportion to what the car should be. $6,500 was mentioned and sadly that’s probably correct in today’s market, though it should be a bit less. Just my opinion. Unfortunately the good ole days are gone and the market is being taken away from the average salaries enthusiasts. I’ve got multiple AMC projects (with only one that runs, so you know I’m a true AMC guy) and was lucky to get ahold of those before prices jumped. Now no money to do much with them (again you know I’m a true AMC guy). This car has potential to be a great run around enjoy it and not go crazy with it car. The seller’s price is wholly unrealistic though, so what will become of it? It is worth whatever someone is willing to pay at the end of the day. Even in our modern internet age AMC parts and information (that most AMC folks will agree on) are still hard to come by. I wish the seller and the buyer luck. And agreed, a 304 is a completely acceptable motor and this doesn’t need to be a muscle car that it’s not.

  4. AMCSTEVE

    The 304 displacement was required in the Trans Am racing series. They got 430 HP out of em
    https://www.hotrod.com/articles/unbelievable-story-amc-won-trans-championship/

    Like 4
  5. Joe Samascott

    big block, small block, and numbers matching, said no AMC enthusiast, EVER.

    Like 8
    • Bayshore Blues

      Amen and thank you!

    • AMCFAN

      We are proud and don’t like to brag on the size of our blocks. We are very confident people and have nothing to fear. We have it going on under the hood.

      We do brag on the 390 and 401 with factory forged rods and crank right from the factory.

      Our engine block part numbers will be consistent to the the range of years used for the application.

      The stamped aluminum tag on the valve cover will cover build date and letter which mean displacement such as Z = 401

      We are proud of the fact that Penske parked his winning Trans AM Camaro in 1969 and Donohue made the Javelin a serious race car and dominated the series in 1971 and 72. We always knew AMC was a winner. Penske and Donohue put it in the history books.

      Like 9
    • That AMC Guy

      Unfortunately it seems a lot of people out there are bound and determined to impose Big 3 collectors’ definitions (big block/small block, matching numbers) onto AMC products where those things simply do not apply.

  6. Scott

    That first picture looks just like an early 70s Toyota Celica. No question about this being an influence.

  7. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Disheveled? That package tray is WARPED!

    I have never been into the “pony” cars or the “muscle” cars. I’m a land yacht kinda gal, but, I do like the first gen Javlins and Marlins. If AMC could have afforded to stay on that track they might still be around today.

    Like 2
  8. MattR

    There’s no comparison between 304 and GM 307! I owned a 70 javelin with the 304 and no built nova with a built 350 could keep up, light to light! This car looks decent but a long way from commanding that price.

    Like 2
  9. Tooyoung4heyday Member

    Some day there will be a full understanding that AMC’s like Buick, Olds, Pontiac have no class of block. They just gradually increase bore and stroke. Nothing wrong with the 304 in this case, you can get strong into the 400hp range on pump gas. For those not in the know AMC’s are famous for good torque at low rpm’s. Not sure how to react to price of ask other than its a bit high. This one needs work but id give it a broader range of $8-12k without seeing it in person. However, did anyone click on the car gurus ad and look at the next 70 Jav in Big Bad Blue? It was more appealing but at a higher price, yet obviously more presentable. Also a good one to look at if in the market….

  10. Bunky

    From ‘68 up all AMC V8s (290,304,343,360,390,401) used literally the same block. In fact, AMC dealers stocked only a 290 block for warranty replacement, boring it out as needed.
    I operated an automotive business that included a wrecking yard years ago. Ran across a lot of 304s. Say what you will, the vast majority were still in serviceable condition, even after outliving their original vehicle.

    • Rick

      The 290 and 343 (both available beginning in the 1967 model year) and the 1968 and 1969 390 had a slightly lower deck height than the 304, 360, 401 and the 1970 390. The head bolt diameter on the earlier version was also smaller than the later version. And, there were slight differences with the intake manifold bolt pattern. A stock manifold from either version could be transferred between the two versions but the four center bolts wouldn’t align.
      As regards bellhousing, motor mount, timing cover, oil pan, valve cover and head bolt patterns there were no differences in the 290 – 401 engines.

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