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Episode Transcript

(Marc)>> You're watching Powernation!

(Marc)>> Today on Detroit Muscle we start the process of taking our AMC Javelin back in time with an old school theme.

(Tommy)>> But first we have to see what makes this classic car tick. [ engines revving ]

(Marc)>> Hey folks welcome to Detroit Muscle. Today's an exciting day for us because we're introducing a brand new project car, and this time it's gonna be a pony car. Now when you're talking about pony cars there's been much debate over whether they're muscle cars or not, but if they've got a V-8 under the hood that's good enough for us. We're talking Camaros, Mustangs, Cougars, Firebirds and Trans Ams, Cudas and Challengers, and let's not forget the AMC Javelin.

(Tommy)>> Now love'em or hate'em you cannot deny that this thing is covered up with style, and when we got this thing in we had some pretty big dreams for it.

(Marc)>> And we found what we thought was the perfect candidate down in Alabama. So we headed down there with the truck and the trailer to take a look at it. We did like you'd normally do when you're checking out a used car. We fired it up. [ engine starting ]

(Marc)>> Checked out the interior. I really like this cockpit too. That headliner is wild. You could replace that I guess if you wanted to. I don't want to. And made sure it drove. So we decided we'd pay the man, loaded it on the trailer, and it was ours.

(Tommy)>> And with the heritage that these cars have, well that inspired our original plan. Mark Donohue and Roger Penske put AMC in the winner's circle with numerous wins and trophies to show off. ( )>> Cars are spectacular on the race track because they don't go around like you're on a rail. They slide and drift. Pick wheels up in the corner. They're really fun to watch.

(Tommy)>> With what they did in those races cemented AMC's place in the history books.

(Marc)>> To follow that success AMC developed performance versions of the Javelin to offer to the public, including the Mark Donohue edition and the Javelin AMX. These hypo rides were offered for several years, but AMC was a little late to the game. By this time the gas crisis and EPA standards had killed performance, and the muscle car era was over. Now we absolutely love early '70's Trans Am cars, and you can't deny those red, white, and blue AMX's.

(Tommy)>> Now to build a car like that you're gonna need several components. Big gnarly power up under the hood, some trick suspension, huge brakes, and some wheels and tires to handle all that.

(Marc)>> And let's just say this isn't a Camaro or a Mustang. There's just not as many parts available. So it's gonna be a lot more work, and we definitely did not want to short change a build like that.

(Tommy)>> And you have to think about the time as well. To build something of that nature, well it'd take months if not years to complete, and after having this thing sitting around here in the building for a bit we realized we were missing an excellent opportunity.

(Marc)>> Let's just call it old school cool.

(Tommy)>> Playing off of AMC's undeniable '70's style this ride is begging to be transformed into a muscle machine with fats in the back, skinnies up front, and a raked out stance to show off its back side.

(Marc)>> Its outside appearance is gonna stay red but with an old school scheme.

(Tommy)>> I sure can't wait to get started on this thing because I'm digging what we're fixing to do.

(Marc)>> Absolutely, this is something we both love and this is the perfect car for it, but before we dig into it and get started I want to drive it because I only drove it from where it was parked at the guys house to onto the trailer. Just that little bit like the seat's comfortable, steering feels nice, I like the cockpit, and I've never really driven one of these.

(Tommy)>> I'll get the door for you buddy.

(Marc)>> It's gonna be awesome!

(Tommy)>> Don't forget to pull the choke.

(Marc)>> Oh yeah! [ engine cranking ]

(Marc)>> Come on baby! [ engine cranking ]

(Marc)>> I'll bet Tommy drained the gas. Jokester, there we go.

(Tommy)>> Coming up, we take our humpster on the road and then put it on the dyno.

(Marc)>> To see what upgrades it needs to become a muscle machine.

(Marc)>> I'm taking this old Javelin out for a spin, and so far I like it. It drives like a sedan of the same era would. The steering's like real slow, big steering wheel. It doesn't have the feel of a performance car, and I know this isn't a performance trim level. This isn't an AMX but it feels more like a luxury coupe minus the leather. More like a T-bird would have been or something like that. The ergonomics of this thing is great. I love the way that the cockpit feels, and that's what I like about it right off the bat when I pulled it into the trailer is just the way it feels to sit in here. I guess it feels more like European grand touring car would feel. You know it's very European. Now that I'm in here it's kinda making sense. Kinda like a Maserati or something like that, or an Aston Martin. Now I know this is different ball game, but it's like that's what they were going for when they designed this car, and you can really see the hump in the fender. It's very pronounced from the driver's seat, and it really makes you feel like you're driving something special, and the steering, it really feels like I'm driving a big car. Kinda floats down the road, steering's nice and soft, the seat's super comfortable, but yet I'm sitting low and like I mentioned that fender. It feels like a sports car that's just missing the pep you know, which I like that cause we can add the pep. Brakes feel great. Again nothing performance related that was a pretty tight turn there and I only gave it about a quarter of a turn of input. So maybe the steering isn't as loose as I thought but definitely numb feeling. Not getting much feedback from the road through the suspension. Let's see how this power application is. [ engine revving ] Wow, it didn't kick down like I thought it would just then. So we're not sure which engine this is. This car was available with just about every engine option they had in the day, which ranges from a 304 all the way up to a 401. It's probably not a 401 being that it is this Pierre Cardin edition but it could be anywhere in between though. Alright it kicked down there. Oh yeah, it just floats. It's pinging a little bit too. Yeah it definitely needs more power. There's no question about that, but I'm sure back in 1973 when this car was new whoever bought it, drove this thing off the lot was just really happy and probably a cool dude driving off the lot with a polyester shirt. Probably some corduroy pants and some loafers. He was the king of the road I guarantee you that, but overall just on its own it's a nice riding and driving car. I could take this car on a long road trip no problem. Again really the only thing I would change is I'd add some more power, and if I was gonna do a lot of spirited driving with it. Change the steering a bit, make it a little more sporty, but this is just a nice cruiser. If you're into oddball, low production numbers, front engine, rear wheel drive, V-8 American made two door cars this is a nice car, and they're not really that expensive. So you get a lot of bang for your buck with this car, and I'm sure it was the same way when it was new. If you were daring enough to buy one instead of a Challenger, or a Mustang, or a Camaro. It feels like a really, really well built car. This is the kind of car my wife wouldn't complain about riding in you know? It's not loud, doesn't smell bad, it's reliable, rides nice, lots of room for a two door. It's an awesome car. All I need to do now is get it back to the shop and get it on the dyno. I want to see how much power this thing makes and figure out what we need to do about that, and make some improvements. Numbers don't lie, and how impressive will ours be? We strap our Javelin to the dyno.

(Tommy)>> Well ol' Marc finally got back after his joyride of stretching the legs on this old AMC. Now we have it strapped to the dyno and we're pretty much ready to see what kind of numbers this thing's gonna make. You fellas ready?

(Pat)>> Before you get started this car, where's it been because when I was out doing burnouts in the parking lot we said we were gonna build an engine we built an engine for this thing.

(Tommy)>> You still gonna build an engine for it, it's just a different one. Things change.

(Pat)>> Tell me a story.

(Marc)>> We figured out a better plan for the entire build, and that means a different engine.

(Pat)>> I'm all for it. You know how we are. We'll build anything, and this will be a cool one, but I'm very curious to see what this makes because when we were out doing J-turns, and reverse slams, and burnouts it seemed pretty spicy. The roller tells a story so.

(Marc)>> Alright let's find out. [ engine starting ]

(Pat)>> You don't have a tach in there do you?

(Marc)>> No tach.

(Pat)>> We've got good signal. What are you gonna run it up to?

(Marc)>> Let's go to 5,000 on the first one, see what happens.

(Pat)>> I like the way you think.

(Marc)>> Are we taking predictions on how much it's gonna make?

(Pat)>> Definitely have a 2 in the number.

(Tommy)>> Might, it'll be a 1-2. It won't be a 2 in the first number. I should have took that bet, coulda got lunch at least.

(Frankie)>> If it makes 160 it's gonna be crazy.

(Pat)>> Over 150 I hope.

(Marc)>> I'll just say 180 but I think that's probably kinda hopeful.

(Tommy)>> Come on, let's go! Let's dyno this thing! [ engine revving ]

(Tommy)>> I think he was rolling into it. [ engine revving ]

(Tommy)>> Well let's see here. $2,200 dollars.

(Pat)>> It's got a big wave in it right now. We can't actually get a number on that.

(Marc)>> It kicked down. So I got out of it.

(Pat)>> That's the craziest looking dyno graph ever. I'm just gonna go ahead and get rid of that.

(Marc)>> Why don't you delete that and let's do it again.

(Tommy)>> It's his first day.

(Marc)>> I'll see if I can prevent it from kicking down this time.

(Tommy)>> As crazy as that line looked just then that kinda matches the AMC. Everything about it's kinda odd.

(Marc)>> Ready, I'm gonna try to get it to not kick down this time. [ engine revving ]

(Tommy)>> There for a minute I thought I was gonna need a protective vest on.

(Pat)>> I thought I was gonna need a sun dial to time it with.

(Frankie)>> I don't know, that sounded like 100 horse.

(Marc)>> That was a long pull.

(Pat)>> Whoa baby, we were all way off. Are you ready for this? 132 horse!

(Marc)>> What make it peak.

(Pat)>> Peak was somewhere at 3,800. I mean try to get ahead to roll into cause it's kicking down. Try another one. It did make 200 pound feet of torque.

(Marc)>> Yeah I felt that. Here we go!

(Frankie)>> Make sure you push it all the way down this time.

(Marc)>> I had my foot in the carburetor. [ engine revving ] [ MUSIC ]

(Pat)>> We stepped her up, 133!

(Tommy)>> Man we keep doing this 100 times we probably won't get much better.

(Pat)>> 201 pound feet.

(Marc)>> I guess there's no point in me pulling it up that high?

(Tommy)>> Unless you want to replace the engine.

(Marc)>> I know a guy.

(Pat)>> It's not falling off, it's not cratering, it just doesn't have any power. It runs fine.

(Marc)>> What causes that?

(Pat)>> This is a '73?

(Marc)>> Yeah.

(Pat)>> '73 smog engine.

(Tommy)>> And it's kinda small cubic inch too.

(Pat)>> It's got everything going against it. It's 304 cubic inches, very small cubic inch. It's a smog era engine. So the compression's very, very low. It has a whole bunch of stuff that's tuned specifically for emissions not for outright power. Just the fact that it's making that is pretty good. I know it seems kinda lame but that's definitely easy to improve.

(Marc)>> What could you do with that engine?

(Pat)>> Just because it's a smaller engine doesn't mean it's not gonna make power. It's kinda like a 302 Ford. You can get cylinder heads for. You can get cams for it. You can definitely spiff it. The big thing that makes these run better is compression. This thing, I would be surprised if it was over 8.5 to one. You get up to around 10 to one, put a little cam in it, you can significantly increase power. I wouldn't venture a guess but we could significantly improve it.

(Tommy)>> But it'd have a "2" in it though right?

(Pat)>> It would definitely have a "2" in it at the start, hopefully. I don't know. It's hard to predict on this one, but it's still got all its guts. There's nothing puking out on the ground, and it didn't blow a tire.

(Tommy)>> It must have one of them heavy duty oil pans too cause nothing come out.

(Pat)>> The worst thing to have is a catastrophic oil pan failure.

(Marc)>> So that sounded like an offer.

(Pat)>> Absolutely, get that thing out. For one what we're gonna do is I'm gonna put that on the engine dyno just to see what it makes from a driveline loss standpoint. We can definitely make some improvements.

(Marc)>> Let's get it unstrapped, and we'll take it down there, and get it out.

(Tommy)>> There's nothing coming to see your buddy and then making you do more work on the same day. [ MUSIC ]

(Pat)>> That ain't bad.

(Tommy)>> What does AMC stand for? We tear into our Javelin and soon find out.

(Tommy)>> You know putting this thing on the dyno I really wasn't all that impressed. That 130-ish horsepower, we've got a lot of room to improve.

(Marc)>> I've got to tell you, you didn't drive this thing out on the street and you had the opportunity to. That was the sweetest 130 horsepower I've ever driven.

(Tommy)>> Not as sweet as I hope.

(Marc)>> It'd be cool if it was like 330 or 430.

(Tommy)>> How did it drive? Did it drive pretty nice?

(Marc)>> It drove nice. It drove like a big sedan. I like the car actually. I like it a lot more than I expected to. So I'm anxious to see what it's gonna be like once we get it all finished.

(Tommy)>> So what do you think it's gonna drive like once we get 300, 400 horse under this thing?

(Marc)>> I think it'll probably be just as nice of a driver but more fun. That's really all it lacked was power.

(Tommy)>> You know with the style that we're gonna throw in this thing I want it to look the part and I also want it to act the part.

(Marc)>> Let's get this thing out of here. You take the hood off?

(Tommy)>> Yeah that'd probably be wise to be the first thing. [ MUSIC ] You know I've always been curious about these braces on the front end of these cars. I've worked on big body Cadillacs, Camaros, now AMC's. I wonder if you just took these things and threw them away if you would even notice any difference. Flip side is, man I sure am glad we put them braces on the front of this car. It sure does drive a lot better.

(Marc)>> You want me to take this other one out? For the battery? Oh I thought you were doing it for something else.

(Tommy)>> I thought you was gonna hold the wrench so I didn't throw my back out.

(Marc)>> Nah, I've got something else to keep me looking busy over here.

(Tommy)>> A little tip for you. Whenever you're removing the heater hoses that connect to your heater core is actually just take the clamps off and then take a razor blade and slice the hose. If you just go to wrestling on that hose often times what happens is you'll crack or destroy the heater core. This way you will have to replace the heater hoses, but you'll probably need to do that anyhow, but you will save that heater core. [ MUSIC ]

(Marc)>> So graceful. [ MUSIC ] [ air drill buzzing ]

(Tommy)>> No seriously Marc, working on this thing what do you think AMC really stands for?

(Marc)>> American Motors Corporation.

(Tommy)>> No not the true name.

(Marc)>> All manufacturers combined.

(Tommy)>> What gives you that idea?

(Marc)>> Well you've got a Chevy power steering pump. You've got a Motorcraft carburetor. I mean it looks like it should be a Mopar distributor but it's got a GM style cap on it.

(Tommy)>> I was starting to think this was the first time I'd worked on an AMC but with that statement I've worked on a bunch of them.

(Marc)>> I'm anxious to see what's underneath. [ mechanical humming ] [ MUSIC ]

(Tommy)>> Marc was the speedometer working?

(Marc)>> No, not at all, why?

(Tommy)>> I guess you could say it needs a rebuild kit.

(Marc)>> Is it broken?

(Tommy)>> Just on one end.

(Marc)>> Hey Tommy, I can tell this thing's got custom exhaust on it. You know how I can tell? They installed the hangers with lag bolts. Screwed it right into the floor.

(Tommy)>> Sparing no expense. [ MUSIC ] [ ratchet clicking ]

(Tommy)>> Two down, I'm gonna let you do the honors on that side. [ ratchet clicking ] [ MUSIC ] [ drill buzzing ]

(Marc)>> Okay, get the cherry picker.

(Tommy)>> Think this will do it?

(Marc)>> I think that'll do the job.

(Tommy)>> Let me get this Ford product out of the way.

(Marc)>> Look at it. That's even a Ford gasket.

(Tommy)>> That's what was restricting this car from making all that power. [ MUSIC ]

(Marc)>> Whoa, whoa, whoa.

(Tommy)>> You wouldn't think that little motor would be that heavy.

(Marc)>> I think it was just stuck in there. Keep coming! [ MUSIC ] Well I'd say we got a lot done today. Introduced the car, showed us picking it up. I took it out for a ride.

(Tommy)>> Joyride, you didn't even let me go with you.

(Marc)>> You had the opportunity, and dyno.

(Tommy)>> Yeah that pop quiz down there at the dyno, we didn't really pass with flying colors.

(Marc)>> No but you know you want to start low that way you've got a big gap.

(Tommy)>> I guess there is some truth to that.

(Marc)>> We got the engine and trans out. So we can get that down there.

(Tommy)>> That wasn't hard but I bet cleaning this junk up out of the bottom side of here's gonna be a mess.

(Marc)>> I think you're the man for the job.

(Tommy)>> I know somebody that can handle it. His name's Marc Christ.
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