Rare AMX Pierre Cardin Brought Back to Life
Robert La Cross’ love of cars started when he was young. His uncle owned a transmission repair shop, and he grew up with “the old cars,” as he puts it.
After serving in the military for 20 years in the automotive field where he worked on everything from M151 Military Utility Tactical Trucks to M1 Abrams tanks, he left the service and opened his own automotive repair business. During the many hours of mechanical work, La Cross began to think about the cars he grew up with.
“I just decided to reminisce a little bit, because I used to have an AMX Javelin when I was a kid, so I went looking for one,” says La Cross, president of Bob’s Auto Service Center Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich. “I just got hooked on them, and you don’t see a whole lot of them out there.”
La Cross decided to stop just thinking of the cars of yore and get one of his own. He bought a 1973 American Motor Corporation (AMC) AMX Javelin Pierre Cardin edition in 2009 and set about restoring it.
Since La Cross wanted his car to stand out from a crowd, he sought hard-to-find parts.
“The hardest part of the whole restoration was actually finding the [interior] material,” he says. “The material isn’t reproduced, so you actually have to find somebody who has the bulk of it still left from the factory.”
During his searches he had to buy New Old Stock (NOS) material from a man in Canada to restore the car’s interior fabric. Interior material in that condition is rare (he’s only seen it on Ebay twice since purchasing his in 2008), but it’s also costly at around $3,000, with the total spent on the restoration reaching over $50,000.
Restoring the body and mechanical components took about eight months of work. La Cross says the restoration took a lot of early mornings before starting his shift at his shop, and staying long after the shop closed.
“I was coming in at three in the morning,” La Cross says, estimating a couple hundred hours of work, despite not doing any of the body work. “You don’t want me to do body work; I’m better at the other stuff.”
La Cross admits it’s a lot of time and money to put into a restoration, but that it’s the cost of perfection and making his pony car show quality.
A lot of the cost accrued is due to the vehicle starting out as a “20-footer,” meaning it “looks good from 20 feet away,” La Cross explains.
Because of its condition, the car was media blasted right down to its bare shell. It needed all the patch panels for the rear on both sides. The rest of the car, he says, was pretty solid.
The engine in the car is an AMC 360 making 300 horsepower, attached to a four-speed G10 transmission. A cowl induction hood adds a muscular flare.
More importantly, the interior is slick, capturing the spirit of the ’70s with a motif of pleated stripes in red, plum, white, and silver adorning the solid black seats and doors. French fashion designer Pierre Cardin created the look of the interior, and just over 4,000 Javelins were produced with the optional features, making it a rarity.
“The interior is what makes it special,” La Cross says.
Owning an AMX Javelin is like owning a piece of the past for La Cross. He says the fact that Javelins stopped being produced in the ’80s makes them something really special.
The car used to make it to local car shows, but would fall victim to scratches and nicks. Now La Cross only takes it to AMC Nationals events to compete against other AMC vehicles.
La Cross now has two AMX Javelins and a ’72 Javelin SSG he drives daily. (The Pierre mostly stays in a garage, shielded from the elements). He’s already hunting for another AMX in Louisiana to continue the obsession.