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1970 AMC Javelin - Cross-Ram Cruiser

This California Car Found A Good Home In Minnesota

By , Photography by

Things rarely stay on track when a guy builds a car, and Joe Menacci's AMC is no exception. Though Joe had purchased this '70 Javelin from its second owner, it was still a real cream puff. It was originally sold to a woman named Guinevere on October 15, 1970, in Morro Bay, an ocean-side city on California's central coast. She bought it equipped with a 304 and a three-speed automatic and owned it all the way through 1991 before selling it to a younger kid who then moved from California to Phoenix. He never got the chance to put many more miles on it, though. The transmission gave up in 1995, and there it sat in the baking Arizona sun until Joe towed it home in 2005.

"When I bought it, my only plan was to freshen it up and drive it," he tells us. That plan wasn't in effect for too long. Within two weeks of getting to his house, this Javelin had been taken completely apart, and the body was at the blaster being stripped to bare metal. Joe owned a couple other Javelins at the time, but neither of them was as nice as this one. "I couldn't believe how solid it was," he says. Plan B: do a complete restoration.

The build really kicked into high gear while the body was still being blasted. At that time, Joe met a guy selling another '70 Javelin parts car complete with a factory four-speed. Plan C: swap out the auto box and swap in a manual trans. Joe bought that car, scrounged it for the parts he needed, and his good Javelin soon grew a third pedal and a Hurst shifter sprouted from the floor. He then heard about a different guy who was selling a superdesireable factory cross-ram intake manifold. Plan D: build a trick induction system. Joe bartered and traded the remains of the four-speed car for the intake.

Somewhere along the way, a big-inch truck motor was stirred into the mix. Eventually, out of that pile of Javelins (plus one Wagoneer), this car emerged. So cool in its simplicity, it represents everything that is fair and pure in muscle cars: a big engine in a small car with a gearbox you shift yourself. With only the bare essentials, there is nothing to distract Joe from the tactile sensations he gets while driving his car. That is the ideal formula for driving at its purest.

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