The 1972 Astro Spiral Jump AMC Javelin
By Dave Ashton
If you’re a James Bond movie fan then you probably recognise this stunt from ‘The Man With The Golden Gun.’ The film stunt was performed with an AMC Javelin, but the back story behind the stunt goes far deeper.
The stunt was born out of crash testing by the company Calspan in NY and continue to this day, who used at the time computer simulations named HVOSM (Highway Vehicle Obstacle Simulation Model) to test crash situations and used stunt drivers to test out their results in real life. They got so accurate at their predictions that they started up the Astro Spiral Jump, mainly for promotional purposes and got on board Jay Milliger who had his own travelling stunt show to do the driving honours.
Lots of computer simulations were done before attempting the stunt in real life the first few were done with a driverless car. One of the caveats of the stunt may have to deal with was a 40 mph speed restriction as the stunt was often performed indoors, so the engineers had to cope with the way to get the car to rotate and jump the ramps within the speed and distance needed.
For stunts such as this one. A few modifications were needed on the vehicle, such as suspension upgrades and an additional wheel was mounted at the rear of the vehicle to stop ‘roll impulse’ where the rear of the car could possibly miss some of the ramp when the front first started to lift off. The rear wheel kept the nose straight of the car and made frequent contact with the ramp at all times. The auxiliary wheel was forged steel with a polyurethane tread, which sounds technical, but it actually looks like the kind of wheel you’d find on any warehouse cart in America. The axle housing was reinforced to support large bending loads. Also, a rod structure was fabricated and installed on the rear axle to prevent lateral motions of the axle under conditions of side loading through auxiliary wheel.
Once all the bugs are ironed out the storm was first performed at the January 14th, 1972 Houston Astro Dome show with a 1972 AMC Javelin SST with a six cylinder engine automatic transmission and a patent was awarded in 1974 called the Spiral Jump Apparatus by Raymond R. McHenry.
The stunts in the Bond film was performed by Loren “Bumps” Willert in one take, no CGI, just pure guts. It’s testament to the engineers, car drivers and although AMC may have not so many cars off the back of the stunt, it still add to the credibility of the AMC Javelin.
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