Sway Bar Upgrade – NASA road race Javelin update

As the suspension overhaul continues I wanted to redo the swaybar setup. What’s been on the car was a parts bin find from Joe. Steel, splined, bar mounted using Control Freak solid bar frame mounts. The arms where steel as well and hung BELOW the lower control arm. New setup is a Speedway Engineering hollow bar and aluminum arms (15lbs lighter than the old setup!). I created a mount so that I can ditch the Control Freak frame mounts. Nothing wrong with them but they are for people who don’t want to drill on a car. They bolt in so you can remove and go back to stock if you want. This is a race car so I didn’t want the extra pieces or weight. Here’s a video showing what’s what…

1974 Javelin-road race, American Iron, Suspension, video

Adjustable LCA – NASA AI Javelin update

So I got the road race Javelin 2″ lower all around. But, I didn’t have any negative camber. After thinking about a few options I hatched a plan to make the lower control arms adjustable. That would allow me to push the bottom of the front tires out causing the top to tip in. If you aren’t up on camber, just google it. Here’s a video of the adventure. This chapter is complete and I can now dial in as much negative camber as I want!

adjustable lower control arm

Adjustable LCA!

1974 Javelin-road race, Suspension, video

My first 401!

I’ve been on the hunt for a 401 motor for Madd Matt (the road racing Matador). One popped up on craigslist about 2 hrs from me. It was still attached to a 1971 Javelin SST. The car had damage to both quarter panels and had the passenger fender, door and the hood replaced (all that sheet metal was in good shape). I debated for a while and finally decided I should go get it. Came with an Edelbrock Performer manifold, new in the box. Here’s a pic of the car. Plan is to pull the motor and just set it in the Matador for now. When time/money frees up I’ll get the 401 rebuilt.

The shell I’ll keep for spares. If anyone reading this knows the full history of the race Javelin they might realize I should probably be stockpiling some spares! If not, go back and read some of the old posts. When you find it, you’ll know.

Oh, btw, if anyone is REALLY interested in buying this (including the motor), let me know. This is a Z code 1971 car and I believe the motor is original. Motor has a z-code tag on the valve cover as well. I’m not a numbers matching, car show kind of guy. But if this is super rare and must be saved, speak now… Otherwise, 401 goes in the Matador and the shell hangs out as a parts car. This is ALSO my first ’71 (or ’72) Javelin. Even though I’ve had 4 Javelin’s before this one they have all been ’73 or ’74 cars. Here are a couple of pics:

1971 Javelin SST 401 side

1971 Javelin SST 401 side

1971 Javelin SST 401

1971 Javelin SST 401 rear

1971 Javelin SST-parts car, 1974 Matador-road race, Drive Train

GOING FOR low… NASA American Iron AMC Javelin update

So after 2 years the car was rebuilt, repainted, re-stickered and ready to go. Seems like the perfect time to tear it all apart again! Ever since I first built the car I’ve been unhappy with the ride height. The car was much higher than the cars I was trying (and failing) to compete with. After all this time and work the car had nothing done to it that would make it go faster than it had before I wrecked it. Now a decent chunk (maybe even half?) of the time I was losing to the other cars was my driving. But when I put Dave Brown in the car and he was still 6 seconds slower than another mid-pack American Iron competitor I knew the car needed some re-engineering. I was about to start that process when the accident happened.

So here we are 2 years later and it was time to finally get serious about making this car faster. And that meant lowering it. Wilwood came out with these 2″ drop spindles and I really wanted them on the car. So here’s a video showing the progress. Plan is to do everything I can to get the car as low as possible and try to go racing again next year. Stay tuned…

1974 Javelin-road race, American Iron, Suspension, video

Meet “Mad Matt” the Road Race Matador!

If you watched the video from the last post you know that’s there’s been a new addition to my little AMC fleet (totaling 5 cars now). Here’s what I know of the story so far. In the late 90’s a guy named Lynn Peterson bought a green 1974 Matador. He drove it around for a while and then he and his wife moved from Illinois to Portland, OR. He left the car with his friend Matt Lagessie. At some point in 2000 or 2001 Matt decided he wanted to go endurance racing and the Matador was the perfect candidate. So he tore into it and produced this awesome looking road racer. They ran a race in 2002 with a 343 motor. They blew the motor due to low/no oil pressure (sound familiar???). So, they decided they weren’t going to mess around and built a dry sumped 401 motor and raced it again in 2003 at Gingerman Raceway. They were going good but then threw a belt and couldn’t continue… looks like they took 2004 off and in 2005 they ran the car again at Blackhawk Farms. Not sure what happened in that race but I think they had some trouble again…

In 2006 Lynn was preparing a motor to compete in the Engine Masters Challenge. Very late in the build he finally went to put the intake manifold on the motor and found out that it didn’t fit the Indy heads and he had no time to fix the problem. So, they pulled the 401 out of the Matador and converted it to wet sump (required by the rules). That’s the motor they ran for the Engine Masters Challenge. Engine did ok but wasn’t optimized for the competition. Apparently, someone from New York bought the motor from them on the spot. So maybe it’s still in New York somewhere…

I’m not sure exactly what happened after that but at some point the car was sold. And then around 2007 the guy I bought it from got it in a trade. He put it in a shed and didn’t touch it for 7 years. Then I came along and bought it.

Matt went on to build a few more race cars; a Corvair and two Chevelles, a ’66 and a ’70? Unfortunately, in 2011, while racing the ’66 Chevelle, Matt suffered a heart attack. He was in the hospital for a few months but wasn’t able to recover and passed away in early 2012.

I first saw the car on the AMC forums in a thread someone started about building a circle track Matador. Another guy I know on the forums posted pictures of this car and said it might be for sale… I ended up talking to the guy that posted pics and he had the contact info of the current owner. A few weeks went by and no one else seemed to take the bait. So I finally jumped. I called the owner and said I’d take it. Then an agonizing 6 weeks went by while I waited for the shipping company to have a truck available to get it back to me in California.

Now it’s here and I’ve had a chance to look it over. It’s got no engine/trans and no fuel cell. Wiring’s a mess and I will need to modify the seating to even be able to fit in it. It’s got an AMC 20 with 3.54 gears and an Eaton posi. Matt fitted Cadillac brakes on it so it has four wheel disc brakes but, it’s got the Chevy bolt pattern. That’s a bummer since I can’t use any of my wheels. I’m pretty sure I’m going to switch it over to 5×4.5″. I don’t want to start buying/collecting Chevy pattern wheels. It’s a pretty BIG car too. It doesn’t look that big when you’re looking at it on it’s own but next to my Javelin race car it makes the Javelin look really low and small…

So that’s the story of Matt’s awesome Matador. Not sure when this will be back on the road but I plan to find a motor for it and get it running again. It’s such a cool car and needs to be back on track flying the AMC flag! Here’s a few pics after I cleaned it out and washed it.

Matador - clean and mean!

1974 Matador-road race

what’s new in the shop???

got a surprise update…

1974 Matador-road race, video

Repaint Complete!!! – NASA AI Javelin update

Well it’s been 3 weeks since I dropped the Javelin off and it’s finally done. Picked it up this morning. WOW, what a difference new paint makes. Looks great (again)! Now I just need to get the stickers reapplied and the “cosmetic” reconstruction will be done. Now I get to bolt everything I took off for paint back on… (fuel cell, seats, belts, battery, tail lights, etc, etc). Unfortunately I’m still working 7 days a week and won’t be able to spend much time with it until late August :(

1974 Javelin-road race, Body and Paint

Shop Talk – Gremlin Bench Seat!

A good shop needs good seating. A place for buddies to take a load off or for you to just sit and ponder your projects. My shop is pretty weak in this department. I have one CHEAP Ikea stool and… that’s it. Before I moved in I had thought I would snag a free couch off craigslist. But once I got all my stuff moved into the shop I realized it really wasn’t big enough to put a couch somewhere. So I gave up on that idea…

I had pulled the Gremlin bench seat out of the track gremlin and didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I knew I was never going to put it back in a Gremlin but I didn’t want to just take it to the dump. Then it hit me. Slap some legs on it and make it a SHOP SEAT!

So that’s what I did. Picked up a 10 ft. stick of 1×2, some angle iron and four casters from Harbor Freight. Maybe an hour of time to cut and weld and voila! An AMC shop seat that rolls! Can you tell I’m quite pleased with myself?

Here are a couple of pics:

Gremlin Bench Seat - Detail

Gremlin Bench Seat

Shop Talk

Finally! back in paint – NASA AI Javelin update

Well it’s been over a year and a half but the car is FINALLY back in the paint shop! Took it back to Maaco in Santa Rosa. It’s been there a week and will be at least another week before I get it back. Dropped by this morning to see where they are at… MAN that’s a lot of dust! Just glad to see some progress is being made. Talk about Deja Vu. Sucks having to build the same car twice :( at least I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

1974 Javelin-road race, Body and Paint

Father’s Day Car Show

I’m not a big car show guy (I prefer a race track!) but there’s a local, annual show that the Norcal AMC club has been going to for years. Usually they have maybe 2 to 4 cars. I wanted to help up the count so I registered the yellow Javelin. I considered bringing the race car as well but was too lazy in the end. I took my father in-law. We had 8 AMC’s and it was the biggest club showing yet. Next year I really want to bring the race car.

1973 Javelin-street, Car Shows, Norcal AMC