The AMC Javelin doesn’t get the same amount of attention as its pony car contemporaries, but this 1970 AMC Javelin Mark Donohue Edition recently featured on Jay Leno’s Garage shows why it should.
The Javelin was AMC’s rival to the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Dodge Challenger/Plymouth Barracuda, and these cars didn’t just compete for sales. They also raced in the SCCA Trans Am series, and did it successfully. In this episode, Mark Fletcher, co-author of the book “1970 Maximum Muscle: The Pinnacle of Muscle Car Power,” shows off his unrestored example with 46,000 miles on the odometer.
AMC entered the fray in 1968, first with Kaplan Engineering. Roger Penske took over the program for the 1970 season, with Mark Donohue driving. Donohue was already a big name, having won rookie of the year at the 1969 Indianapolis 500 and achieving considerable success in both sports car racing and Penske’s previous Camaro Trans Am program.
1970 AMC Javelin Mark Donohue Edition on Jay Leno’s Garage
AMC decided to capitalize on Donohue’s star power with a special edition Javelin. Based on the Javelin SST, it featured a rear spoiler designed by Donohue for use on the race cars. AMC built 2,501 Donohue Editions to meet homologation requirements for that part, according to Fletcher. Under the Ram Air hood sits a 390-cubic-inch V-8, couple to a 4-speed manual transmission. When new, it made either 325 or 340 hp. A 245-hp 360-cubic-inch V-8 and 3-speed automatic were also available.
Leno spotted this Javelin outside Autobooks-Aerobooks, the bookstore in Burbank, California, that specializes in automotive topics. As he often does, Leno tracked down the owner Fletcher, and asked him to appear on the show.
Watch the full video to see Leno take this racing-inspired muscle car for a spin. For a more extreme take on the Javelin, check out the 1,100-horsepower Ringbrothers build featured on a previous episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.