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What It’s Like to Drive a 1,000-HP AMC Javelin That Cost a Half-Million Dollars

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Time is one of the most fickle variables in life. Heroes become villains. Crusades become, well, let’s just say, not looked upon fondly.

Manufacturers go from boom to bust. And sometimes, in a matter of just a few hours, things can go from burnouts and giggles to pleading mea culpa to two very uninterested Forestry officers, as was the case when we got behind the wheel of the Ring Brother’s hyperbolic 1,000-horsepower 1972 AMC Javelin.

The day started on a high. My wife and I are almost done with the adoption process and that morning we had signed our last piece of paperwork. The final hurdle before we would begin to receive calls for a bouncing bundle of joy being placed in our warm care. My wife left the meeting for work, while I rode a new Indian Scout back home for a cup of coffee, a quick snuggle with our dogs, and to switch shirts from tastefully dapper to “let’s get this party started!” as was obviously necessary for the drive.

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An hour later with my coffee finished, the dogs thoroughly snuggled, and my t-shirt (a Team O’Neil-sourced shirt labeled “Blah, Blah, Accelerate!) bitchin’, I hopped back onto the Scout and headed off on a hundred-mile journey to my date with the Ring’s latest creation.

For those unaware of the Ring Brothers and their body of killer creations, the brother’s hail from Spring Green, Wisconsin, a town no bigger than a Costco parking lot. There’s maybe 600 people total. A number that’s routinely outsized by the power of the machinations that streak and smoke the streets of their tiny hamlet. And while horsepower continues an upward trajectory on each build, so does the anal retentiveness of the most minute details. As is the case, every new build is greater than the last, and the Brother’s Ring’s latest sculpture, a 1972 AMC Javelin dubbed “Defiant,” isn’t about to buck the trend.

According to Jim and Mike Ring, nothing on the car is stock. Everything has been touched in some small, or in the case of its engine bay, large way; the latter of which now houses a Wegner Motorsports 6.2-liter Dodge Hellcat motor. Still, because the Ring’s penchant for prodigious power, 707 horsepower isn’t enough and the stock 2.4-liter supercharger has been replaced with a bowel-evacuating 4.0-liter Whipple supercharger. On low boost, which was run that day, the engine is good for “only” 1,036 horsepower. High boost is closer to Chiron territory. Woof.

But as eluded to earlier, time is fickle. Case in point; the American Motors Corporation. The company would attempt to fight Detroit’s Big Three but it never really figured out what it wanted to be or how to adapt to changing times. Over the course of its short 30-year history, it made some historic, and some butt-of-the-joke, automobiles. The AMC Javelin was the former.

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The Javelin was built at the end of the muscle car era and as the fuel crisis hit, it killed the Javelin line. While AMC soldiered on for a few more years, the Javelin fell into a state of obscurity that still continues. Not, however, in the minds of the Rings. When a friend mentioned he had one, the Brothers picked it up on a lark. No one would’ve bet they’d spend half-a-million dollars building it for Prestone’s SEMA exhibition just a short time later. Time is fickle.

ALSO SEE: What is it Like to Daily Drive a Classic Sports Car?

The “Jalop Gold” Javelin arrived in the back of a non-descript white trailer, so very incongruous with its heart-attack-inducing price tag. After being unloaded, the car was ready for our date.

Trepidation isn’t the right word for what I felt. Sure, the price tag is astronomical and my bank account couldn’t even pay for a new tire if one fell flat, but there was a certain sense of electricity in the air. Could it have been my Spidey-sense for what was to come?

Besides the color and reimagined body panels, your eyes are drawn to the Javelin’s bright chrome side exit pipes. Two adorn each side and all are large enough to stick your entire fist into. My eyes darting across the car, every piece the Rings have touched looks German in its quality; an observation slightly confirmed as the car’s handful of “Supercharged” plaques come from Audi’s back catalog.

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My apprehension pushed aside, I plopped myself into the white leather seats and buckled myself (a single lap belt) into the 1,000-horsepower metal monument.

Unlike almost every car, Defiant doesn’t require a key. Nor does it have some fancy pants keyless entry and ignition. Rather, it’s always ready to rip. All you need is to know where the fuel cut-off switch is (in the trunk) and twist the knob that says, “Eject” on the center console three times to the right. First detent for the electrics. Second to prime its various pumps. Third to ignite the volcanic engine concealed underneath the carbon fiber hood.

There’s aren’t many things that immediately cause the hairs on the back of your spine to stand straight up. This engine is in the minority. The sound is a guttural and raw growl unlike the standard Hellcat. There’s no real supercharger whine, rather the sound from the quad side exhausts is reminiscent of a NASCAR or stockcar. Low, mean, and meant to reverberate through your chest. Parents with small children and easily frightened pets beware. As for gearheads, they should stand further away as its prone to cause instant bouts of arousal.

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Sunglasses down, photographer in tow, and transmission in drive (this baby is equipped with a 4L80E automatic by Bowler Transmissions), the Javelin smoked its tires through 40 mph as I railed toward the first set of corners, which then passed at incredible pace. While the speed and smoke were anticipated, turning with such ferocity isn’t something you expect from a muscle car. The Ring Brothers’ Javelin is wide and long and looks like it weighs as much as a small elephant. It shouldn’t carve corners, yet undoubtedly it does. This is something that always surprises me about the Rings’ creations.

ALSO SEE: This Insane 1,000-HP AMC Javelin Has a Hellcat Under the Hood

From front to rear, every part of the Javelin’s suspension has been replaced and reinforced. Up front is a modern geometry Detroit Speed Hydro-Formed front subframe. At the back, a custom 4-link setup built in-house by the Rings. All four corners use RideTech-built shocks, although at the rear shocks are heavier than the fronts to keep the car from squatting too much when Defiant’s power is put to pavement.

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If there’s one chink in Defiant’s armor, it’s steering feel. Built by Detroit Speed, the rack and pinion power steering is over-boosted and the rack’s ratio is too quick. This combination isn’t confidence building when speeding through the canyons of Los Angeles. And though Defiant is quite capable in the corners, either due to the brilliant suspension geometry, massive six-piston Baer brakes at all four corners, or Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tires; the lack of steering feel makes it difficult to probe its limits with the plush steering wheel offering the resistance of a limp piece of linguini. That is Defiant’s only issue. The day, however, was about to become fickle.

My mind thoroughly warped by the Javelin’s hysterical power (many giggles were had as I ripped through the straights and turns of our canyon recluse), we returned to the gravel turnabout for static pictures. The sun was perfect. The shadows of the tree dancing across the black and gold carbon hood were perfect. Up until then, we had nary an issue or hiccup. But as our photographer finished up, two Forestry officers rolled up. Unlike us, they didn’t look amused by our gold muscle car.

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I quickly greeted them with enthusiasm. Nine times out of 10, being easy and enthusiastic with the local constabulary eases tensions and gets you out of trouble. This, unfortunately, was the 10th time. They weren’t car people, and to make matters worse, one was battling a wicked cold that put them in a ripe mood. A quick chat about our business on the gravel turnout, and our licenses and the car’s registration were collected.

Waiting around the 1,000-horse Javelin, we kicked at the dust and tried to not look shifty. Our fates, however, were sealed as after the excruciatingly long bout of anxious silence, we were called over and each given a fine for lack of something or another that made us wish we had a bottle of bourbon on hand.

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Our day and fun very much over, I reflected on the Ring Brothers’ creation, as well as my Ramen-only future, during my ride home. What the Rings have built is nothing short of a world-class muscle car on a platform most wouldn’t give two thoughts about, let alone spend $500,000 on. Yet, their vision and the paradoxical nature of time made this 1972 oddball the bell of the ball at last year’s SEMA show. Because of its story, and its anomalous history, it’s one of my favorite cars the Brothers Ring have ever created.

And although we left focused on the very large fines, by the time we all reached home, the fines were taken care of, leaving me much happier I got the opportunity to get behind Defiant’s wheel. What a fickle day.