One in a Hundred

            For some people, they think of their car as a one in a million classic. For Jim Helmer, his is literally one in a hundred.
            About 12 years ago Jim bought a 1969 AMC Javelin. The Javelin was built by the now defunct American Motors Corporation between 1967 and 1974. It was their entry into the “pony car” class and served as their entry into Trans Am racing.
            “My step father sold them when I was young,” Jim said of his affection toward the cars. “I guess they have a kind of sentimental value.”
            AMC was the result of the merger between the Nash-Kelvinator Company and the Hudson Motor Car Company in 1954. At the time it was the largest corporate merger in US history. While it was created to take on the Big 3 in Detroit it soon realized that its bread and butter was in making small, affordable cars.
            Even with the acquisition of Jeep in 1970 and numerous deals with French auto maker Renault, AMC struggled to keep pace with what the public wanted. Finally in 1987, with certain manufacturing deals already in place, Chrysler bought out Renault’s share of AMC and absorbed the company.
            Of all the cars that AMC manufactured, the Javelin was without a doubt their sportiest. And the fastest.
            “It has a 440 horse power 401 cubic inch V 8,” Jim said of his true racer. In fact the car had been drag raced in Chicago prior to his buying it. “The car is fast.”
            The Javelin’s true racing legacy, though, was in the Trans Am Series where it won the series in 1971, 1972, 1973, and 1976. The last year it won as an independent as AMC had dropped its sponsorship.
            As part of the rules for a car to be eligible for Trans Am racing there had to be at least 2500 or 1/250 of the previous model year’s run, whichever was greater, produced. The rules say nothing about how many had to be sold.
            “AMC sold 100 of these cars,” Jim said after pointing out how many Mustangs and Camaros were sold. That makes his car pretty rare. Making it even more rare is the unique roof spoiler which was only an option for half the model year.
            Though he doesn’t get the car out as much as he would like, Jim still enjoys taking the Javelin for a spin. “It’s an easy car to drive but it has old school brakes so if you’re going to stop you have to start braking early,” he said.
            When Jim was looking for a Javelin he searched all over until he found one for sale in Chicago.
            “I knew I had the right car when the guy delivered it to me, opened the hood and started to cry. This was something special,” he said.
            Indeed, so special that later he bought a second generation Javelin AMX from the same man. Still, his 1969 is his favorite and it truly is a one in a hundred car.


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