Group 19: American Motors’ Secret—Maybe Too Secret—High Performance Parts Program

Group 19: American Motors’ Secret—Maybe Too Secret—High Performance Parts Program

Inventory is a phrase with many meanings within the automotive pastime. There are the inventory restoration guys for whom if it was not put in on the manufacturing unit earlier than first espresso, it doesn’t rely. Then there are the vendor automobiles: Yenko, Baldwin Movement, Dana, Tasca Ford, Grand Spaulding Dodge, and Dick Harrell Racing, to call a number of. These guys produced the automobiles that the manufacturing unit couldn’t, modifying automobiles on the vendor earlier than they have been bought new to the general public. Then you’ve got outfits like Shelby American that ran what have been successfully extensions of the manufacturing unit, producing road automobiles and racers for fanatics, with full manufacturing unit help.

How did little American Motors slot in? Surprisingly, fairly nicely. In 1966 it launched a contemporary V-Eight, newly designed with a strong backside finish and heads that breathed properly. Beginning at 290 cubes, it didn’t take lengthy to punch it out to 401. AMC had sporty physique types to place it in, with the Javelin, AMX, Rambler Insurgent, and afterward the Hornet and Gremlin. AMC even had a core group of performance-minded individuals in positions of affect on the head workplace.

What AMC didn’t have have been the engineering and manufacturing assets to develop, manufacture, and stockpile a number of variations of its V-Eight. What that meant was that the engine that went into your rip-roarin’ AMX was equivalent to the engine that went into the Ambassador owned by the previous couple down the block.

So what’s a small, struggling unbiased to do? Taking a web page from what was occurring elsewhere, it had the sellers present the help. They discovered the aftermarket elements that suited their wants, both on the road or the monitor, and made them dealer-installed choices. Nothing new actually; sellers of all manufacturers had been putting in lights, mirrors, tissue dispensers, and so forth since automobiles have been new. Definitely by the 1960s dealer-installed efficiency packages have been nicely established. What was totally different was the extent of manufacturing unit participation.

Supporting these operations was the Group 19 program. Named for the part within the AMC elements listings that included excessive efficiency, this was AMC’s in depth efficiency elements listing with out there vendor set up. It was in impact from 1966 to 1971, although elements might have been out there for a while after that.

This was not a program at one dealership or perhaps a specific vendor community. This was a part of the common product line, and it was obtainable at any dealership throughout the nation. A lot of the gadgets have been listed within the AMA specs for the automobiles.

AMC additionally had sellers like Grant Rambler in Arizona that have been comparable in idea to Dick Harrell or Baldwin Movement, producing the likes of 401 Gremlins for the really sporting Rambler driver. Numerous different sellers and vendor teams have been doing issues just like the Insurgent Raider, Von Piranha, and numerous SS/AMX and different racing efforts that have been working in zones throughout the nation.

The Parts

What, precisely, might you’ve put in in your Rambler for that first cruise? Listed here are the generally put in gadgets for road lovers.

Consumption Manifold: Edelbrock offered the R4B dual-plane high-rise single-four-barrel manifold with an rpm vary of two,500 to five,500. The bolt sample was for a Holley or Carter carb, and it had a notch within the plenum divider to permit use of the Holley three-barrel. AMC bought and put in manifolds to match 1969 and earlier engines or 1970 and up variations.

Warmth-Blocking Consumption Gasket: A easy metallic pan gasket that didn’t have the warmth crossover passages punched out.

Carburetors: This info is topic to debate, as some documentation has been misplaced, however there have been a number of recognized decisions, all Holley. The elements ebook listed the R4B consumption manifold as a set with the Holley 3916 950-cfm three-barrel carb. It had one giant oval vacuum secondary with one accelerator pump. It labored, however was not a great road carb.

A number of different Holleys got AMC service half numbers and put in beneath the coverage of native procurement. These have been the 600-cfm 1850, 780-cfm 3310, or 850-cfm double-pumper 4781.

Camshaft: Crane provided the camshaft package AMC bought via its dealerships. The package consisted of the camshaft, anti-pump-up lifters, valve springs and dampers, locks, retainers, keepers, hardened pushrods, and seals. The camshaft was typical of its day, with modest raise and plenty of period and overlap. Specs got as 302 levels period and Zero.477-inch raise with 98 levels of overlap. This provides a low vacuum and uneven idle, with a smooth backside finish. Nevertheless, it had wonderful scavenging within the midrange and higher rpms, and usually made good energy.

Ignition: Mallory provided an entire set to switch the inventory ignition. This consisted of a Mallory YC sort distributor (aka Rev-Pol), a Voltmaster II coil, a ballast resistor, and a toggle change. The thought was that you may use the change to chop out the extra ballast resistor and have excessive voltage going to a scorching coil. Should you used the “strip” place of the cutout change an excessive amount of, you burned out your factors!

Headers: One other merchandise that was beneath the coverage of native procurement. Doug’s Headers, Belanger Headers, and Jardine Header Firm have been the instructed suppliers, although Doug’s Headers appear to be probably the most generally used. The 1966-1969 manufacturing unit manifolds have been very restrictive. After that, cut up move manifolds generally known as “free flows” have been used and drastically lowered restriction, although higher scavenging and subsequently torque was nonetheless available with steel-tube headers.

Differential Gears: Kits for three.73, three.91, four.10, four.44, and 5.00 have been out there. Ought to cowl nearly any affordable road use!

Torque Hyperlinks: These traction and dealing with aids have been commonplace gear on the two-seat AMX, SC/Rambler, and V-Eight Gremlins. Nevertheless, that left loads of V-Eight Javelins and Ramblers with nothing to plant the rear axle. The torque hyperlinks consisted of metal bars that went from the spring-mounting hardware to the body of the automotive, serving to to find the differential beneath the automotive. If correctly put in, they decreased each physique sway and rear axle windup.

Street Wheels: These have been 15×Eight American Racing Torq-Thrust Ds, with buyer selection for tires.

Spoilers: An adjustable rear wing was developed for the Trans-Am program and utilized by the Kaplan groups in 1968 and 1969. Additionally out there was a fiberglass entrance spoiler.

Along with the above, a number of gadgets have been clearly meant to help AMC’s racing aspirations. Whereas they have been theoretically out there to anybody, it’s extremely uncertain that anybody ordered them or that the majority dealerships would have been prepared and capable of set up them. These unique gadgets included a Detroit Locker, an Edelbrock STR-11 crossram consumption manifold, a capacitor-discharge ignition system, heavy-duty competitors rocker arms, forged-steel crankshaft and rods for 290/343 V-Eight, four-wheel disc brakes, and an Eight 1/2-quart oil pan. Until you have been operating a Trans-Am race group or comparable, you have been unlikely to see them, however they have been fascinating items nonetheless.

Street Exams

Anybody who was nicely related with AMC’s efficiency program might have a rip-snorting engine. A 390 or 401 might simply put a automotive into the 13s with the suitable supplier add-ons. They didn’t have the displacement to succeed in the potential of an LS6 or Drag Pack SCJ, however rivalling an L78, 440 Magnum, or Boss 351 was fairly attainable. Placing the Group 19 elements onto a 290, 343, or 360 would offer you a screamer of a small-block, very aggressive with Trans-Am automobiles such because the Challenger T/A, Z/28, and Boss 302.

A number of street exams have been carried out with automobiles outfitted with Group 19 elements. Tremendous Inventory and Drag Illustrated did a back-to-back street check between a inventory SC/Rambler and one which had the dealer-installed goodies. The inventory automotive hustled down the 1,320 in a good 14.31 at 98.86 mph. SSDI then put in the cam package, R4B, Holley 780, headers, slicks, and a recurved distributor. The outcome was 12.69 at 109.99. To additional make their level, SSDI did a street check the subsequent yr with a 1970 Insurgent Machine. They cc’d the heads, recurved the ignition, and added the cam package, R4B, Holley 850 double-pumper, headers, 2 1/2-inch exhaust, Detroit locker, three.91 gears, and slicks. The end result was a 12.81 cross at 107.35 mph. In each instances, the quarter-mile improved by about 1.5 seconds and over 10 mph.

There have been some downsides. AMC dropped the ball when it got here to selling this system. Some dealerships have been everywhere in the program, whereas others have been nonetheless mired within the “Grandma’s Rambler” mentality. The guarantee was void if anybody however the supplier put in the Group 19 elements. Different points have been that most of the sanctioning our bodies didn’t permit using the elements in “stock” class competitors, and this system was solely in place for a short while. So between inconsistent promotion, temporary availability, and sensible points round homologation and warranties, comparatively few automobiles have been outfitted with Group 19 elements.

Traditionally, it is extremely troublesome to seek out onerous info on the Group 19 program. A lot of the data have been destroyed when Chrysler purchased AMC in 1987, so we’re depending on what bits and items of information are within the palms of fanatics.

There you might have it. AMC had a strong road efficiency program. Sadly, nobody observed!

Clearly meant for public consumption and meant as an à la carte efficiency want record, this brochure was positioned within the glovebox of 1970 AMC fashions. The half numbers all correspond to the Group 19 elements itemizing, leaving little question as to what you have been receiving.

These are unique N.O.S. Doug Thorley headers nonetheless of their manufacturing unit satin-black spray paint. High quality was mediocre, however they labored!This ratty field accommodates an almost full camshaft package, together with lifters, double springs, adjustable studs, hardened pushrods, and so forth. This reworked your docile “Towing Package” 390 right into a nasty-sounding, high-winding, street-racing mill.


1970 Javelin SST

AMC didn’t construct many critical efficiency machines. One of many lucky survivors of the road wars is that this 1970 Javelin SST. Early on it picked up most of the key Group 19 choices. It’s a manufacturing unit 390 Go Package deal automotive, which gave it the 390 engine, dealing with package deal, twin exhaust, energy disc brakes, and that cool ram air hood. Different manufacturing unit add-ons have been a four-speed transmission, a 140-mph/Eight,00Zero-rpm tach, heavy obligation cooling, and a limited-slip differential. It’s a well-optioned efficiency machine that has been with me for 30 years.

The Group 19 gadgets took it up one other notch. It has the camshaft package, R4B consumption manifold, Holley 780 carb, Mallory ignition, Thorley headers, torque hyperlinks, and four.10 gears.

The engine is inventory right down to the OE forged pistons, with no porting, sprucing, or port matching internally. It begins simply and settles pretty shortly right into a excessive idle, though it’s a bit cold-blooded. It’s usually a bit gentle within the backside finish, feeling uncomfortable under about 2,00Zero rpm, surging and hesitating. At 2,500 rpm it will get snug, and above three,500 it begins to tug! As a short-stroke engine it revs shortly, all the best way over 6,00Zero, although it makes greatest occasions with shifts within the 5,500 vary. Traction is sweet for the day, although it’s going to simply overwhelm its F70s at any velocity as much as about 50 mph. The low weight of the AMC V-Eight makes it really feel lighter on its ft than many muscle automobiles.

The Javelin is persistently a low-14/high-13-second automotive, with a better of 13.77 at 102.04. That’s with an newbie driver, inventory tires, and no twiddling with tire strain, timing, or belts. With slicks and a few trackside tweaking, you can simply be knocking on the 12s.

Whereas not fairly a sleeper, this comparatively unassuming Javelin can shock the highest canine of the Huge Three. It resides within the far north of Canada, the place it sees street time in the summertime and takes half in autocross and different membership occasions.The engine is essentially unique and has been assembled utilizing virtually solely N.O.S. and good used elements, with some repros pressured by the realities of a often pushed car. Whereas not detailed for present, it’s largely right and represents what a Group 19–outfitted engine possible seemed like shortly after supply.The Javelin is provided with the elective tach and speedo cluster and the very uncommon Rally Pack devices. The actual shock is the small change beneath the sprint. That cuts out the additional ballast resistor and provides a warmer spark from the Mallory Rev-Pol dealer-installed ignition.

1969 AMC SC/Rambler

By Jim McKee
Pictures: Jim McKee and Scott Lachenauer

Jim McKee is a rarity within the automotive world and doubly so within the AMC area of interest. He’s somebody who was there and may inform the way it actually was again within the day. Even rarer, he’s the unique proprietor of a scorching road machine and nonetheless owns it.

Within the late 1960s, Jim was a typical scorching rodding child, making an attempt to get one of the best wheels on a excessive schooler’s price range. He should have been higher at it than most, as he talked his mom right into a 1968 AMX as a result of “Rambler made nice, reliable cars.” His follow-up act was to persuade his mother that a SC/Rambler made an excellent sensible various to his Austin-Healey for school within the fall.

Buying the SC was a saga in itself that took about three months. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as a result of whereas he was ready for supply, he befriended the proprietor’s son at Nichols Brothers Rambler in St. Petersburg, Florida, who occurred to work within the elements division. Having discovered a kindred soul in Jim, he would name him in each time there was a brand new half added to the Group 19 itemizing. Lastly, Jim had acquired almost all the related Group 19 bits for his automotive earlier than he even took supply.

Because of this unofficial inside monitor, Jim’s SC ended up very nicely outfitted. An R4B consumption, headers, camshaft package, Holley 780-cfm carburetor, competitors rocker arms, and the Mallory distributor and matching coil all discovered their means onto the B-scheme rocket. Jim needed to have the automotive at its greatest when it made its road debut, in order quickly as he acquired residence, he pulled the engine and went to work.

The automotive carried out so properly that it made a reputation for itself and, in some instances, generated some disbelief. Just like the man in a 1966 GTO with a 421 SD Tri-power that simply needed to see what sort of Rambler might sustain with him. A glance underhood revealed no magic, only a well-tuned AMC 390. Jim would keep away from complicating issues by explaining the supplier nature of the enhancements and as an alternative let individuals assume this was manufacturing unit.

The most effective dragstrip time Jim recollects from again within the day is 12.54 seconds at round 110-112 mph. That efficiency degree retains firm with issues like COPO Camaros, 428 SCJ Mustangs, and Six Packs, assuming all automobiles outfitted with slicks.

Jim McKee’s concours-restored SC/Rambler wears the extra understated B-scheme paint job, which almost triggered him to miss it on the vendor lot the day he picked it up in Atlanta.A completely flawless engine bay showcases the unique velocity elements nonetheless with the automotive after 49 years with one proprietor.As clear as the highest, this exhibits the headers and lack of heavy undercoating.

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