Prestone’s 90th anniversary was in 2017. To celebrate, the company wanted a vehicle that represented its history that could travel to events across the U.S. Prestone could have chosen any number of car builders from across the country to construct a vehicle worthy of the honor, but it turned out they didn’t have to look far. The Ringbrothers are known for their builds that reimagine classic American muscle cars with modern drivetrains and suspensions and tremendous attention to detail. The shop is only about 150 miles from Prestone’s corporate HQ north of Chicago, and Randy Fisher, Prestone’s vice president of marketing, has worked with Ringbrothers for years. The build was on.
As soon as they were approached with the project in 2016, Mike and Jim Ring knew the perfect canvas to create an all-American muscle car. There was a 1972 Javelin AMX that became a bit of a local legend in the Ring’s hometown. Mike Ring told us that it was a regular at the gas station their father ran in Plain, Wisconsin, not far from the Ringbrothers’ current facility in Spring Green, Wisconsin. “Jim and I fell in love with the car.” The brothers kept tabs on the car and its owner, Gary “Smiley” Liegel, and when Smiley decided to sell the Javelin and make room, the Rings had the first shot at buying it. The car still had the same wild paint job, 8-track stereo, and CB radio that they’d remembered. It was clean inside too: “We didn’t even find a nickel under the seat.”
The Rings didn’t have to do much convincing to sell Prestone on the Javelin. AMC was a melting pot of American muscle, using Mopar transmissions and several GM engines over the years, and they were even made in the Ring’s backyard in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Second-generation Javelins rolled out of the factory with a snarling presence, as bulging wheel flares and dynamic styling set them apart from their sleeker Mustang and Camaro contemporaries. Still, they never got as much respect as their competitors from the Big Three. That might finally be changing.
The Rings began by 3-D scanning the factory Javelin body so they could start designing all new bodywork forward of the A-pillars. While the 3-D model was used to make wood bucks for carbon-fiber fenders, the remainder of the body was stripped to reveal well-preserved, straight sheetmetal. The totally custom front end uses all new panels that stretch the wheelbase 6.5 inches and reduce the Javelin’s front overhang to more modern proportions. The flares still start near the base of the A-pillar just forward of the edge of the front door, only now it’s a more gradual arch that reaches farther forward. The overall shape of the grille opening is still Javelin, although a new grille insert has a nod to the ’Cuda with vertical strakes. The custom-built, billet-aluminum bumper tucks into the carbon-fiber fenders, and the new hood has a rise in the center to clear the monster motor underneath.
The restyled fascia is more contemporary, with modern lower grille openings that allow for plenty of airflow to cool the brutal Hemi. Vertical strakes in the reshaped grille insert pay respect to the Javelin’s Trans Am nemesis, the Plymouth Barracuda.
The rear of the AMX received a similar treatment, with flared rear fenders, a custom lower valence with diffusers, chromed billet-aluminum bumpers that integrate almost seamlessly with the body, and a custom tailpanel that includes a center-mounted fuel filler. A factory 1972 Javelin tailpanel housed a single massive taillight panel that stretched the width of the car. While the new lights mimic the rectangular grid, they are now set into a chromed bezel that mirrors the lights and makes them appear twice as tall.
When the body was fully prepped and ready, it was finally time for paint. From the project’s inception, the colors were set on Prestone’s signature yellow and black. The paint color selected is an OEM metallic color from BMW called Austin Yellow, highlighting the Javelin’s curves.
A build of this caliber called for serious horsepower. The Rings considered an AMC 401-based powerplant, but the muscle-car-era V8 just didn’t have the parts availability, reliability, or driveability of a late-model engine. Since AMC was purchased by Chrysler, the Rings thought it was only fitting to use a Mopar powerplant. A 6.2L Hellcat V8 with a 4.5L Whipple is the weapon of choice; tuned by a Holley Dominator ECU, it produced more than 1,000 hp. From the Hemi back, the drivetrain is GM, starting with a Bowler 4L80E transmission that was fortified to withstand the abuse of the supercharged mill. The driveline package is wrapped up with a 12-bolt rear axle.
Suspensions have come a long way since AMC Javelins experienced Trans Am success in the 1970s. To bring the AMC up to snuff, a Detroit Speed front subframe was modified to tie into the Javelin body and accommodate the new wheelbase. It uses RideTech coilovers, proprietary control arms, and spindles with one-off Baer 6S calipers machined to highlight Prestone’s 90th anniversary. The 14-inch drilled and slotted rotors are visible behind 20-inch HRE S204 forged three-piece wheels. What good is 1,000 hp if it never gets to the ground? Wide 305/30R20 Michelin Pilot Super Sport front and 335/30R20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rear tires provide supercar levels of grip to the AMX. A GM 12-bolt rear axle is mounted to the body with a custom four-link suspension that also uses RideTech coilovers.
Inside, the AMX retains much of its original character, down to the engine-turned instrument panel and three-gauge cluster, now using Classic Instruments speedometer, tachometer, and a four-in-one gauge for fuel level, voltage, oil pressure, and coolant temp. The steering wheel and door panels are also true to their AMC roots. The major departure is the custom center console that houses the ignition switch, controls for the Vintage Air heating and air-conditioning system, the interface for the Kicker audio system, and the shifter for the 4L80E transmission. Continuing into the rear of the cabin, the console ends in a waterfall that divides what was formerly the rear seat area in two. In place of a rear seat, the Javelin now features twin storage bins and a package tray that conceals the Kicker audio components.
After a big debut at the 2017 SEMA Show, the Javelin was shown at the LA Auto Show and cruised the streets of Los Angeles. For 2018, Prestone plans to bring the AMX to 18 events, where it will hit the autocross course and turn some lap times. If you’d like to see the “Defiant!” AMX, it should also be on Power Tour, where it will have plenty of opportunity to put its 1,000 hp to the test!
For more than 150 photos of the Javelin’s construction, CLICK HERE