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.
Who: Joe Mencacci
What: '70 AMC Javelin
Where: Welch, Minnesota. A teen drama TV show there could be called Welch, 55089.
Engine: Joe snagged a 401 out of a mid-'70s Wagoneer and sent it to Mike Steele at MAS Performance Racing Engines, who coincidentally only lists Chevy engines under the products category on his website. His hidden talent must be building AMC engines because Joe says he's got a lot of AMC parts at his shop. Mike bored the 401 an additional 0.030 inch and reconditioned the stock, forged crank and rods. He added a set of 10.4:1 Speed-Pro pistons and assembled everything with good rings and bearings and ARP fasteners. He also fixed the oiling problems that AMCs are known for by tapping into the oil gallery to run oil directly to the rear main bearing and reinforcing the wear-prone oil pump. All the above serve as a very sound foundation for the rest of the engine, which includes a Comp solid lifter cam and Edelbrock cylinder heads. Joe decided on the cylinder heads because they were a little less expensive than his alternatives. He had MAS tune them up with 2.05/1.65-inch Ferrea valves and Comp valvesprings and roller rocker arms. MAS also milled the Edelbrock logos off the face of the heads, and Joe painted them engine color just to keep people guessing. The cam is an off-the-shelf Comp Hi-Tech 290B-6 mechanical flat-tappet cam. The specs are: 290/304 degrees advertised duration and 0.576/0.570-inch valve lift.
Induction: This is what gets all the looks when Joe pops the Javelin's hood. He managed to horse-trade a bunch of stuff with a guy who had an original STR-11 cross-ram intake manifold. Made by Edelbrock but sold by American Motors with a factory part number, these things are rare and worth their weight in gold to an AMC guy. Joe topped it off with a pair of 650-cfm Holley 4150 double-pumpers. If that sounds like it would be bog city to tool around town in, Joe says it's not. "I talked with a lot of people and think I came up with the right combination of cam and carbs. You can't lug the engine under 1,000 rpm, but otherwise, it runs great."
Exhaust: Joe opted for a pair of Hooker Super Comp headers in the no-frills black-painted finish. The tube diameter is 1 7/8 inches, and they route to a 3-inch system, complete with a pair of Dynomax bullet mufflers. Loud.
Ignition: An MSD Ready-to-Run distributor replaces the stock points sparker with an ultrareliable electronic signal. An MSD Blaster coil and plug wires round out the system.
Transmission: The car's wimpy automatic transmission is but a distant memory now that the tough and retro-cool AMC BorgWarner T10 four-speed lives under the floorboards. Joe's friend Don Winter rebuilt the trans, and it's mounted up to the engine with an AMC-pattern Lakewood scattershield. Joe uses the original Hurst shifter to swap cogs.
Rearend: Trans guy Don Winter also set up the Dana 60 rear with 4.10:1 gears on a Twin Grip carrier and Moser axles. The driveshaft is a custom 3-inch aluminum piece.
Suspension: It's all stock except for the CalTracs bars.
Chassis: It's also stock. Joe toyed with the idea of tying together the frame but ultimately decided against it. "I want to be able to put the car completely back to stock if I ever want to."
Brakes: Also stock-11-inch front discs and 11-inch rear drums.
Wheels/Tires: The Cragar S/S mags look like they were made for this car. The 15x4.5 fronts are mounted with 6.40x15 Silvertown skinnies, but a chubby pair of M&H Racemaster J60 cheater slicks are mounted on the rear 15x8-inch hoops.
Paint/Body: We're betting Joe's a best friend to a lot of people back home because he did all the body and paint work. That's Matador red, and it looks awesome, too. We can just imagine the scene: "Hey, buddy, you did a great job on your car. How 'bout painting mine?"
Cool stuff: Joe also made the heater block-off plate and a radio-delete plate, filling it with a trio of Auto Meter gauges.