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1969 AMC Javelin SST - Breaking Down On The Road Can Be Good

We Chronicle One Man's Year One Experience.

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"Stuff's gonna break, stuff's gonna happen; these things require maintenance. That's just typical of these kinds of cars," says Tom Lodge as we talk on the phone. He has just listed off the repairs he's had to make either on the road or in the aftermath of a road trip in the four years since the restoration of his pristine '69 Javelin. And he is not complaining about any of them, either. That makes him just the kind of guy Year One wants us all to be: not afraid to restore an old car and hammer on it from time to time.

That's the point of the Year One Experience. The Year One company decided to throw a party in 2001 to celebrate its 20th anniversary. It's held the Year One Experience annually since then. A participant ticket costs $50, and anyone can enter. The bulk of the action takes place at Road Atlanta, a 2.54-mile road course in Braselton, Georgia-right down the street from Year One's headquarters. There, attendees can take hot laps and parade laps of Road Atlanta (if they register early enough), run the wet and dry autocross course, smoke their brake pads in a 0-60-0 run, and compete in a car show. The event draws people from all across the country, and the quality of the cars is exceptional. Participants do not have to compete in any of the events if they don't want to, but the emphasis of the weekend-long party is on driving: You drive to the event, take a few parade laps around Road Atlanta, dodge some cones on the autocross course, and make a pass or three at the dragstrip. If something breaks, don't sweat it; you can fix it and continue on.

That's what happened to Tom's Javelin this year. "As I was backing into my spot at the show, I could hear this loud popping sound coming from the back of the car. I knew I had a bad axle bearing." A few of us would probably have been wringing our hands while mentally calculating the cost of a flatbed trip home, and cursing ourselves for not trailering the car. But Tom didn't even look worried. He arranged to use some garage space at Year One's building on the second day of the show and, with some help from the Year One guys, fixed his car in a couple of hours. Of course he tested the new parts by doing a huge burnout in Year One's business park.

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