Here’s this fac­tory-built 1970 AMC Javelin Mark Dono­hue Spe­cial’s amaz­ing 45,000mile story that gives mean­ing to the phrase, “It’s only orig­i­nal once.”

In 1970, AMC was in the mid­dle of the mus­cle car race both on and off the track. Both the Javelin and the two-seat AMX re­ceived a sub­stan­tial one-year-only face-lift that added an air of mus­cle to its ap­pear­ance. This was due largely in part to the ram air hood with the split cen­ter scoop from the AMX. With the ex­cep­tion of the Mopar shaker de­sign, it’s prob­a­bly one of the most dis­tinc­tive ram air hoods on any clas­sic mus­cle car. After lack­lus­ter re­sults, the first two years of AMC’S par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Transam rac­ing se­ries with the Javelin, AMC sur­prised the in­dus­try when they lured Mark Dono­hue and Penske Rac­ing away from Chevro­let for the 1970 sea­son. Dono­hue, a univer­sity-trained en­gi­neer, quickly eval­u­ated the AMC race team of­fer­ings and de­cided the Javelin re­quired more rear-end down­force on the long, high-speed straight­aways found on many of the Trans-am tracks. He worked with the AMC engi­neers in Detroit and de­signed the over­sized duck­tail spoiler that could be adapted to the pro­duc­tion car.

In Fe­bru­ary 1970, the Mark Dono­hue pack­age was in­tro­duced to ho­molo­gate the rear spoiler de­sign. The SCCA re­quire­ments for Trans-am stip­u­lated a min­i­mum of 2,500 needed to be pro­duced and of­fered to the pub­lic, a rule that was sidestepped by sev­eral man­u­fac­tur­ers, most no­tably Ford with the Boss 302. The re­quired 2,500 ex­am­ples equated

to al­most 10 per­cent of the 28,210 Javelin units for the strike-short­ened 1970 model year.

The Mark Dono­hue Spe­cial pack­age added $1,100 to the price of a base Javelin. It in­cluded the 360 Go Pack­age with the AMX Bulge Ram Air hood, the SST ex­te­rior and in­te­rior dé­cor pack­age, wood­grain ap­pliques for the dash and door arm­rests. Trans­mis­sion choices in­cluded the floor-shifted Shift-com­mand Borgwarner three-speed au­to­matic with a con­sole or the Borgwarner T-10 four-speed man­ual with a Hurst shifter and the and fold-down arm­rest in place of the con­sole. A 390ci V-8, pro­duc­ing 325 hp with the ram air hood, up 10 hp from 1969, was avail­able for $325 over the price of the 360ci V-8. (All AMC V-8s shared a com­mon ar­chi­tec­ture from their 1966 in­tro, of­fer­ing vari­a­tions of 290, 304, 343, 360, 390, and 401 ci, thus mak­ing all post-1966 AMC V-8s a small­block de­sign. This is sim­i­lar to the big-dis­place­ment 455 Pon­tiac V-8s that were based on the Tem­pest’s orig­i­nal 326ci V-8.)

(Per­for­mance num­bers for a 390/325/ four-speed Javelin, from con­tem­po­rary 1970 road tests show 5.7 sec­onds for the 0-60 sprint, 14.6 sec­onds to cover the quar­ter-mile, with a top speed of 115 mph with this car’s 3.54:1 rear gear set.)

This Javelin, one of two or­dered back in 1970 by J&K Auto Sales in Ger­ing, Ne­braska, (the other was Big Bad Or­ange) for dealer stock, is equipped for per­for­mance. The win­dow sticker showed a bot­tom-line price of $4,403. Among its op­tions was the pre­vi­ously men­tioned Mark Dono­hue Spe­cial pack­age, the op­tional 390 V-8, the four-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion, 3:54 to 1 lim­ited-slip, Twin-grip dif­fer­en­tial, fac­tory-in­stalled in­dash tachome­ter with a 140-mph speedome­ter. In-car en­ter­tain­ment came via an AM ra­dio (which soon will be re­placed by a fac­tory-op­tional Amer­i­can Mo­tors Am/8track), sim­u­lated side ex­hausts, white sports stripes, and the car’s most no­table (and rare) op­tion, the 15-inch Ma­chine wheels also found on the 1970 Rebel Ma­chine. It is spec­u­lated by AMC ex­perts that less than 1 per­cent of 1970 Javelins were equipped with the ul­tra-rare 15-inch Ma­chine wheel op­tion. In the 48 years that the orig­i­nal owner en­joyed this car, it has never been down the quar­ter-mile — it’s rare, orig­i­nal, and un­mo­lested.

Al­most all Amer­i­can Mo­tors pro­duc­tion records were de­stroyed when the com­pany merged with Chrysler in 1987. But it’s com­mon knowl­edge in the AMC com­mu­nity that about one in four Mark Dono­hue Javelins were pro­duced with the op­tional 390ci, 325hp en­gine.

The Mark Dono­hue Spe­cial was only man­u­fac­tured for four months from late Jan­uary thru April 1970 (so all were com­pleted be­fore the start of the 1970 Transam rac­ing sea­son). On an AMC car from this era, the month of man­u­fac­ture can be found on the assem­bly de­cal on the in­side edge of the driver’s door. This de­cal doesn’t sur­vive well dur­ing re­paints and at some point in its 48-year life, the driver-side rear quar­ter-panel was painted be­low the C-pil­lar, and there’s over­spray on the de­cal, but thank­fully the de­cal it­self sur­vived. Mark con­sid­ers that the paint is about 80 per­cent orig­i­nal. The month of assem­bly can be es­ti­mated by the se­rial num­ber and the assem­bly or­der num­ber found on the metal tag, also on the driver’s door. If the car wasn’t man­u­fac­tured in this four-month win­dow, it’s not a fac­tory-built Mark Dono­hue Spe­cial Javelin.

The spoiler and de­cal could be or­dered sep­a­rately at AMC deal­ers’ parts coun­ters. Many Javelins re­ceived this ad­di­tion prior to the first owner’s pur­chase or after the fact. Ad­di­tion­ally, many 1970 Javelins have been per­son­al­ized by the ad­di­tion of a more com­mon 1971-1974 Javelin/amx rear spoiler. The shape of the later spoil­ers is dif­fer­ent, as both out­board wing tips are squared on the 1971-1974 ver­sions.

Cur­rent owner Mark Fletcher isn’t new to AMCS, hav­ing owned dozens over the years. His cur­rent sta­ble in­cludes a lowmileage B-scheme 1969 Hurst Sc/ram­bler and a 1967 Ram­bler Rogue con­vert­ible with the 290ci V-8. It’s mated to a

four-speed stick, like the Sc/ram­bler and this Javelin. His AMC in­ter­est de­vel­oped at the height of the mus­cle car era in the late 1960s and into the early 1970s when he and his two brothers were back seat pas­sen­gers in his fa­ther’s test­drive of a new Hurst Sc/ram­bler in 1969 (we should all have fa­thers like the Fletcher brothers). Although his fa­ther didn’t pur­chase the im­prac­ti­cal and bois­ter­ous Red, White and Blue Sc/ram­bler, the Fletcher drive­way in the mid 1970s in­cluded his dad’s 1968 AMX, his mom’s 1967 AMC Rebel Mariner sta­tion wagon (a nau­ti­cally themed of­fer­ing that was blue with wide side in­serts in place of wood­grain trim), and two 1970 Mark Dono­hue Javelins that Mark and his brothers Kirk and Ken shared dur­ing their high school years in his na­tive Kirk­land, Wash­ing­ton. Mark loves telling the story that some of his class­mates thought his last name was Dono­hue.

Over the years, both Mark Dono­hue Spe­cials were sold to fi­nance col­lege and travel. But since those years, al­most four decades ago, Mark kept his eyes peeled, look­ing for that spe­cial and elu­sive Dono­hue to re­place the two low-mileage cars he drove in the 1970s. As a mem­ber of mul­ti­ple Amc-based Face­book groups, Mark was first to see and re­spond to when the orig­i­nal owner’s son posted poor qual­ity pho­tos of this low-mileage ex­am­ple. From here, Mark tells what tran­spired. “When a price and lo­ca­tion was dis­closed, I ea­gerly showed my in­ter­est and started speak­ing with the orig­i­nal owner within an hour. Early into the con­ver­sa­tion, I re­al­ized that I was be­ing asked more ques­tions about how I would care for the car than I was ask­ing the owner about the car’s con­di­tion. Both the orig­i­nal owner and I quickly re­al­ized that this well-pre­served and un­al­tered spe­cial Javelin SST would con­tinue to be loved and cher­ished by me. An agree­ment was made that day at the seller’s ask­ing price. I wired him a de­posit, and the car was soon trans­ported from its home in Ne­braska to my home in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. I bought the car sight un­seen. This can of­ten be a risky en­deavor in to­day’s world. But I knew that at the seller’s rea­son­able ask­ing price, it would get snapped up if I didn’t move quickly. I checked out his son’s Face­book page and could see pic­tures of him fish­ing with his fa­ther. I was al­ways cer­tain that both the car and the owner were real.”

Mark notes that the car’s his­tory is un­usual for a per­for­mance-ori­ented mus­cle car from the 1970s. “Although there have been many mus­cle cars found with one owner and low mileage, most were al­tered and im­proved for per­for­mance when they were new. In this case, the orig­i­nal owner was driv­ing a 1970 V-8 Nova with a two­bar­rel carb and three-speed trans­mis­sion. His Nova’s per­for­mance wasn’t im­pres­sive, so he stopped by the lo­cal AMC dealer, J&K Auto Sales. They had two Mark Dono­hue Javelins in stock at the time. One was Big Bad Or­ange and this one in Glen Green. The Glen Green one had the big­ger 390 mo­tor and a four-speed, and Roger soon fell in love with it. He pur­chased it on July 1, 1970 and has been a cher­ished part of his fam­ily since then. In fact, he was mar­ried in Oc­to­ber 1970, re­call­ing that the ex­pen­sive cost of pay­ments and in­sur­ance meant that he and his new wife had many meals of wieners and beans.”

Through the years, the car was driven pri­mar­ily by his wife and used for daily trans­porta­tion when the kids were young. The car was garaged each night and never driven in in­clement weather. The longest trip ever taken by the rare Javelin was once to Estes Park, Colorado, a 370-mile round trip. Oth­er­wise, the car was only driven lo­cally in the Ger­ing/scotts­bluff area. Over the course of 48 years, the car ac­cu­mu­lated just 45,000 miles. It has re­tained all of its orig­i­nal equip­ment, even the orig­i­nal, man­dated to 1970 air pump sys­tem.

Over the years of stor­age and on­cea-week star­tups, the man­i­fold air tubes rusted from the in­side out. The owner sim­ply re­moved the air tubes and the air pump belt, and put plugs in the man­i­folds. He left all the orig­i­nal com­po­nents in place. Mark will even­tu­ally in­stall the re­place­ment air tubes and belt to bring it back to fac­tory stock. One sur­prise was when the orig­i­nal Rim-blow horn quit work­ing. The owner took it to his lo­cal me­chanic to fix the horn and when he got it back, it had a trac­tor horn but­ton mounted to the pris­tine wheel cen­ter. Mark

has left this fea­ture in­tact as part of the car’s his­tory. The car has only had one small dent re­paired be­hind the driver’s door. Two other small pan­els were re­painted and the rest of the car is orig­i­nal paint, chrome, and trim. There are some mi­nor stor­age dings, some of which have al­ready been re­paired by a lo­cal paint­less dent pro­fes­sional.

In the short time that Mark has owned the car, about a month at the time that this story was writ­ten, he has made a few cor­rec­tions and im­prove­ments in or­der to en­joy the car in the hot South­ern Cal­i­for­nia weather. “My first and only al­ter­ation was to re­move the ane­mic two-core ra­di­a­tor and re­place it with a four-core alu­minum unit,” he says. “I will also be adding an orig­i­nal AMC fan shroud to keep the car cool dur­ing the hot sum­mer months. I have had the orig­i­nal ra­di­a­tor re­built to box it up for fu­ture con­cours events I plan to at­tend.

“There is a car show ev­ery week­end in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia,” says Mark. “I plan to show it of­ten in River­side, San Diego, and Los An­ge­les coun­ties. I have promised the orig­i­nal owner that I will bring the car to Den­ver, Colorado, in 2020 for the AMO Na­tional event. The orig­i­nal owner, who lit­er­ally in­ter­viewed me be­fore let­ting me buy the car, plans to drive the three hours to see his Javelin be judged as an un­re­stored fac­tory-cor­rect ex­am­ple.”

We’re sure that he’ll agree that the car now has a wor­thy cus­to­dian who’ll cher­ish this ex­tended Mopar fam­ily. It’s a wor­thy com­peti­tor to the bet­ter­known mus­cle cars from the other side of the Mopar fam­ily.

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