Even my 70-year-old Romanian father who spent his life driving and repairing communist-era cars knows what a Mustang or a Camaro is. Some of the most popular cars of all time, these two models are also the vehicles of choice for many enthusiasts who want a fully customized American classic.
But an AMC Javelin? Few remember it and even fewer choose to spend money restoring or modifying one.
Introduced in 1967 and built across two generations until 1974, the Javelin was the now-defunct AMC’s entry into the emerging pony car market. It sold surprisingly well for a non-Big Three vehicle, it was the first pony car to be used as a highway police car, and managed to win the Trans-Am series on three occasions throughout the 1970s.
More than four decades after the last Javelin rolled off the assembly line, Prestone, a famous car fluids manufacturer, started searching for a custom builder that could help them put the cool back in coolant, for their 90th anniversary, by creating an outrageous show car.
They ultimately chose Ringbrothers, a workshop located in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Founded by brothers Jim and Mike Ring, the company made a name for itself by creating incredibly cool custom cars, most of which were based on classic Mustangs or Camaros.
The target was to complete the build in time for the 2017 SEMA show, so the brothers had less than a year at their disposal. Customizing one of the aforementioned cars would have been easier, considering the team’s prior experience, yet they decided to defy logic and chose to breathe new life into a 1972 Javelin AMX.
The car was completely disassembled, and work began on the chassis. In the front, it gained a new Detroit Speed hydroformed subframe originally developed for second-generation Camaros, but frequently used by the Ringbrothers on other builds. In the back, they fabricated a bespoke four-link rear suspension and once everything was put together, RideTech adjustable shocks were fitted on all four corners.
Jim and Mike promised Prestone they would deliver a beast capable of at least 1,000 hp. In the episode of Jay Leno’s Garage that you can watch below, the brothers say that tuning the stock 401 ci (6.6-liter) V8 to obtain that kind of power was possible and even considered, but ultimately, they chose to go with a Mopar Hellcat crate engine.
It was sent to the experts at Wegner Motorsports to gain more oomph and after it was equipped with a Whipple 4.5-liter supercharger and a Holley Dominator fuel management system (among other goodies), the V8 was delivering 1,036 hp. Since no Chrysler transmission could handle all that raw power, a Bowler-tuned General Motors 4L80E four-speed automatic was utilized and it was paired with a QA1 carbon fiber driveshaft connected to a 12-bolt rear end.
For the braking system, Baer 6S six-piston calipers with cross-drilled and slotted rotors were fitted, all visible behind the slim spokes of the 20-inch HRE S2 wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.
Modifying the chassis and fitting all those modern powertrain components on it required extensive body modifications. With the front axle sitting 6.5 inches farther than its original position and a huge supercharger sitting atop the engine, the whole front end had to be completely rebuilt.
One of the second-generation Javelin’s shortcomings was its huge and heavy front end that made the car prone to understeer. To solve the problem the team fabricated each new panel out of carbon fiber. The front fascia was given a ‘Cuda-inspired look, the hood got a huge power bulge, and the fenders were widened.
The same lightweight material was used for the side rockers which housed two exhaust tips on both sides. Furthermore, the quarter panels were also rebuilt and widened to make room for the outrageously wide tires.
Once completed, the body was covered in Austin Yellow (B67), a BMW OEM paint complemented by mate black inserts inspired by those of the original AMX.
After spending a lot of time and a little over $500,000, the car nicknamed Defiant! (exclamation mark included) was ready for its reveal at the 2017 SEMA show where it stood out from the sea of outrageous Ford, Chevy or Mopar builds. While the stock pony car was bashed for its goofy looks for decades, there was nothing goofy about this flawless AMX that captivated the minds of those in attendance.
More than just a show car, this outstanding Javelin racked up miles during numerous promotional events in the months that followed, with those lucky enough to drive it praising the way it behaved on the road.
This audacious Ringbrothers build will go down as one of the coolest custom Javelins ever made and it’s a fitting tribute to one of the most underrated American cars of the 1960s and 1970s.