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On Point: An Immaculate 1971 Penske-Donohue Sunoco Javelin Replica



Article by Anthony Alaniz. Photography by Corey Davis (iMPREZiONS)

There is a certain hideous beauty that is the muscle car from the early 1970s. It was a complicated time. It was a confusing time. Crash regulations were ever more stringent, while the world was on the cusp of a catastrophic oil embargo. Waxing poetic about an AMC Javelin is kind of like listening to your alcoholic uncle opine about the one time he was certain he was abducted by aliens, when in reality he was just on shrooms—it’s never as good as it seems and there are a lot of holes in the story.

However, every once and a while, there comes a car that is so immaculate, so tangible while embodying the very essence that is the 1970s that such focus is needed on such a rarity. We first laid eyes on this build, a 1971 Penske-Donohue Sunoco Javelin replica, while it sat at Hanksville Hot Rods waiting for the exhaust system to be completed. When we saw it for the second time at the KBPI Rock 'n Roll Car Show at Bandimere Speedway, we knew we needed to spend some one-on-one time with her.




When one is pressed to think of the muscle cars from the golden era, Mustangs, Camaros and even GTOs are tossed around as some of the hottest cars of the period. To others, those are the cookie-cutter, I-want-an-iPhone-6 kind of car that people want because it’s an easy choice. Not everyone goes with the flow. Take Wayne Davis and that 1971 Penske-Donohue Sunoco Javelin replica, better known as "the racecar.” Built by Steve Stull, Wayne, who did the mechanicals himself in the car, jumped on purchasing the Javelin because it was, "Kind of an underdog story, and something unusual. I’m tired of Camaros and Mustangs.”




While the replica was built to be a street-driven Trans Am Javelin tribute, Wayne had the opportunity and desire to turn it into a legitimate track car. The original Penske-Donohue is a highly sought after car, selling about four years ago at auction for $847,000 plus a $100,000 commission. Rumor has it that it has changed hands several times since then for well above its auction price. We know we can’t afford it if it comes back to the auction block, but we can sure admire Wayne’s replica.




Wayne, an engineering VP at a telecommunications company, attributes his love of Javelins and AMXs to when he was 16 years old, when his cousin had a new 1969 AMX. Since then, he’s had a sickness for the cars. Add in the fact that he was already an avid Trans Am and Mark Donohue fan, and, well, you can tell why he would pursue building such a replica. Throughout the years, he has owned a dozen AMXs and four to five Javelins, along with a few Pontiac Trans Am Firebirds for good measure.

Wayne built his first modified, pro-touring Javelin about eight years ago, building several since then. Before doing his own builds, he restored number-matching cars. His Sunoco Javelin has been a work in progress for over the last two years, taking the previous owner about five years to get the car to where it was when Wayne finally purchased it.




Under the hood is a 450-horsepower, 485 lb-ft of torque AMC 401 engine. Bored .0030 over with mild head work, roller rockers, forged crank and rods, it is topped with a Edelbrock Torker aluminum intake with a custom fabricated Tri-Y exhaust system, which replicates the actual exhaust on the real Sunoco car. Competition cams top off the engine internals.







The engine is paired with Richmond-Doug Nash 4+1 Roadrace Transmission, McLeod clutch and SFI bellhousing.






The similarities between the replica and actual car run deep. Wayne’s car has a 20-gallon fuel cell with an exact replica of the fuel-filling neck modifications found on the original car, including the cabin air scoops. It is this attention to detail that sets Wayne’s car apart from other replicas. The scoops are such a unique component of the car, meticulously pinstriped to perfection.








Fifteen-by-eight-inch Superlite tires sit at each corner with significant wheel-well modifications mirroring those found on the real car. The brake system uses a Dual Girling master cylinder, a bias bar, remote in-line booster and Wilwood BBK six-piston calipers that are cooled with ductwork connected to the headlight buckets.






The brake booster is a unique piece on the car. In order to replicate what was on the original car Wayne had to go hunting for a Porsche booster. On the original Javelin, it was superior to the GM piece, but hard as hell for Wayne to eventually find.





Underneath the replica Javelin, there are boxed control arms with lowered spindles and a panhard bar, front and rear swaybars, and Moser Billet axles. Slipping inside the car, there is an SCCA-spec roll cage with hand-laid fiberglass dash with gauges. But there is so much more than just those facts. The interior is a blend of race-ready gear with the curved, driver-oriented dash that became popular in the 1970s.








The interior is white, accentuated by the teal dash and doors, bright blue seats and shifter surround. The cue-ball shift knob sits patiently atop a Hurst shift lever waiting to be hammered into gears. The black, chunky, three-spoke steering wheel contrasts with the bright interior workmanship.







The exterior of the car wears the AMC’s original livery, which is what really makes it stand out in any crowd, with fabricated front and rear spoilers that replicate those found on the Penske-Donohue car. The front splitter looks ready to break shins—and the competition. The Javelin is from a time when cars had personality, and paint schemes were decidedly patriotic.








While this may be Wayne’s equivalent of automotive paradise, he still has big plans for the car. While he plans on racing it more, already taking it to Highplains Raceway, he is in the process of making the Trans Am replica as close to SCCA-spec five-liter limit capable of 8,500 rpm. He’s also adding black-faced Stewart-Warner gauges and a vintage S-W mechanical 10,000-rpm tachometer. He’s also planning on modifying the cage to be closer to that of the Penske car.






While this may be Wayne’s equivalent of automotive paradise, he still has big plans for the car. While he plans on racing it more, already taking it to Highplains Raceway, he is in the process of making the Trans Am replica as close to SCCA-spec five-liter limit capable of 8,500 rpm. He’s also adding black-faced Stewart-Warner gauges and a vintage S-W mechanical 10,000-rpm tachometer. He’s also planning on modifying the cage to be closer to that of the Penske car.




There are certain oddities that transcend brand loyalty. The 1971 Penske-Donohue Sunoco Javelin replica is one of those cars. It has character and a unique personality in all its details that are begging to be examined and loved. It’s okay that it is not a Mustang, Camaro or even a GTO.




The early 1970s were an odd time for American automakers. The Sunoco Javelin is kind of the bridge between American automotive eras. It has the power and racing heritage that was bred in the late 1960s, while forecasting the styling of American cars of the 1970s. There is little doubt that a Javelin in this condition is rare, we’re just glad it was built to replicate one of the greatest times in American automotive history.

Build at a Glance


1971 AMC Javelin
Built by Wayne Davis
Body by Steve Stull

Engine Performance
.0030 over AMC 401
Mild Head Work
Roller Rockers
Forged Crank and Rods
Oiling Mods
Edelbrock Torker Aluminum Intake
Custom Tri-Y Pipe Exhaust
CompCams Cams
ComCam Valvetrain
20 Gallon Fuel Cell

Transmission Performance
Richmond-Doug Nash 4+1 Roadrace Transmission
McLeod Clutch
SFI Bellhousing

Interior
SCCA Spec Cage
Handlaid Fiberglass Dash
Painless Wiring Harness

Exterior
Fabricated Front and Rear Spoiler
Exact Replica of Original Race Car's Livery
Radiused Wheel-Wells

Wheels/Tires/Brakes/Suspension
Superlite 15x8
Girling Master Cylinder
Bias Bar
Remote In-Line Booster
Six Piston Wilwood Big Brake Kit
Custom Cooling Duct

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Anthony Alaniz (Anthony_Alaniz)

Born and raised in southeast Michigan. Chose to stay out of necessity. Staff writer at a small community newspaper covering city government, the schools and whatever else happens in town. J-school graduate from EMU, weekend mechanic, car enthusiast and open-road connoisseur. Open to all invites of hospitality and adult beverages.
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http://anthonyalaniz.com

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