The Luneburg & Mark Donohue Photograph
I had heard about this photograph about a year ago and set out to find it. I contacted several well known AMC historians and none of them had seen it. Finally about a month ago, after chalking it up to be AMC's version of BigFoot and giving up hope that it existed... I stumbled upon it.
It clearly shows a photograph of AMC President William Luneburg and newly signed Penske driver Mark Donohue standing in front of a limited edition 1970 Trans-Am Javelin. Upon closer inspection it raises some interesting questions. It is a very strange picture.
While it clearly is a 1970 Trans-Am Javelin street replica, it has some strange qualities. First, the paint stripes are added, then the paint and body has some flaws. It also appears to have a strange rake with the front end higher than the rear. Mark traveled to visit AMC in November of 1969 which looks about right by the weather.
Take a look below and email if you have any ideas!
Mystery car photo Section: A
The most intriguing part of this car was that
appears to have hood pins as race cars do. You can
clearly see them here.
It looks either metal or damaged fiberglass. Also
notice that the car has a licence plate mounted.
Lastly you can see the front fender extension
looks damaged or modified. The car appears to have been driven.
Mystery car photo Section: B
This section shows paint problems on the car. The door edges show chips along the body line in the front leading edge of the door. The rear of the front wheel opening also has accumulated road debris or has damaged paint.
Mystery car photo Section: C
The most obvious clue that something is different is the addition of these strange transition lines. They look very similar to how AMC choose to transition the red, white and blue paint on the early Kaplan cars. The only difference was the lines were striped much smaller on those cars. You will also see that the white to blue transition looks to be further back than on stock T/As. This may be caused by shadows. Lastly, notice the door edge guards. They are typically used when in tight spaces (such as storage or a studio). This may or may not tell us anything.
Mystery car photo Section: D
This car obviously has an air-foil spoiler mounted on the deck lid, but it isn't clear if it's a regular production unit.
SO WHAT IS IT?
Could it be a T/A street car that AMC had prepped for Mark to photograph with? Could it have been a prototype T/A car that the design department mocked up during development of the T/As and just happened to have sitting around, so was used for the photo shoot when Mark visited? Was it a T/A that was owned by someone at AMC who added hood pins and drove it as a regular driver, but was available on the grounds for the photograph with Mark? Was it a pre-production T/A that again was the only car available for the photo due to the fact all 100 of production T/As had been shipped by Mark's November visit? Who knows... it is all speculation.
Whatever the car is, it is clearly a yet-to-be touched-up press release photo and it is very common for an art department to clean up all the issues we see here, such as the body and paint issues.
I think we will get an answer at some point. If you think you have a guess or know anything about it, shoot us an email!
Another photo has turned up. This photo shows that some of the marks on the car are still there in differant frames so they are indeed paint blemishes. Some are hidden by where Mark was standing. We also see that the car has Manufacture plates from this angle which suggests that it may have been 1 of the 100 units made and was kept or more likely a pre-production T/A car that was marched out for this photo shoot.