Craig Jackson’s ’69 Javelin Racing Car

1969 AMC Javelin

Many years ago, Craig Jackson took me to a body shop in Phoenix, AZ where he worked on the cars that he owned back then. Although his family’s auction business was trending more and more towards high-end automobiles at that time, Jackson’s personal passion lay with AMC cars.

I can’t remember exactly which AMC cars he had in the building then, but there were several of them that he was quite proud of. At the 2015 SEMA Show, I was happy to see that a 1969 AMC Javelin race car on exhibit outside the Las Vegas Convention Center was owned by Craig Jackson.

Basically, the ’69 AMC Javelin was unchanged from the previous year’s model. Styling treatments were improved and a few mechanical features were upgraded to create a better product. A new twin venturi grille was used.

As in 1968, engines started with a 232-cid 145-hp six, but everything else available was a V-8. The 290-cid V-8 came again in 200- and 225-hp editions and the latter was offered with an optional Hurst-shifted four-speed. The four-speed could also be linked to the carryover 343-cid V-8.

The “big muscle” on the AMC options list was the 390-cid with 315 hp. It was available with dealer-installed factory high-performance parts, as well as Isky, Edelbrock, or Offenhauser speed equipment and Doug’s Headers. AMC was careful to offer it with a choice of automatic or four-speed transmissions.

Standard rear end gears in the Javelin with a four-speed transmission were 3.54:1 and 3.15:1 gearing was a no-cost option. Serious enthusiasts could trot down to their AMC dealership and pay extra for 3.73:1, 3.91:1, 4.10:1, and 5.00:1 axle ratios, as well as a Twin-Grip differential.

Production totals for 1969 included 17,389 Javelins and 23,286 Javelin SSTs. AMC built 17,147 of the 390-cid V-8s, but some were used in cars other than Javelins. The car Jackson had in Vegas was a car that Jerry Grant drove in the Trans-Am racing series where heated-up 290s would have been used. Grant was a USAC champion who also competed in the Indy 500.

Later, Roger Penske acquired the car and used it for developmental work. For some reason, it was re-skinned as a 1970 Javelin. Craig Jackson still campaigns the car on the vintage racing circuit. It is finished in the red-white-blue colors used on AMC race cars and wears No. 3 on the doors. Ronnie Kaplan Engineering decals adorn the front fenders.

About John Gunnell 139 Articles
John “Gunner” Gunnell has been writing about cars since ‘72. As a kid in Staten Island, N.Y., he played with a tin Marx “Service Garage” loaded with toy vehicles, his favorite being a Hubley hot rod. In 2010, he opened Gunner’s Great Garage, in Manawa, Wis., a shop that helps enthusiasts restore cars. To no one’s surprise, he decorated 3G’s with tin gas stations and car toys. Gunner started writing for two car club magazines. In 1978, publisher Chet Krause hired him at Old Cars Weekly, where he worked from 1978-2008. Hot rodding legend LeRoi “Tex” Smith was his boss for a while. Gunner had no formal journalism training, but working at a weekly quickly taught him the trade. Over three decades, he’s met famous collectors, penned thousands of articles and written over 85 books. He lives in Iola, Wis., with his nine old cars, three trucks and seven motorcycles.

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