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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.

Tech Notes
What:
'69 AMC Javelin SSTOwner: Tom LodgeHometown: DeLand, Florida. DeLand recently held its quasquicentennial celebration. In English that means it celebrated its 125th birthday.

Engine: Tom wished to keep the car all AMC. Express Engine in DeLand did the machine work. Tom assembled the engine adding a custom-ground Comp cam: 243/243 degrees of duration, 0.579/ 0.579 inches of lift on a 110-degree lobe-separation angle. He ported the heads, installed Manley stainless steel 2.08-inch intake and 1.78-inch exhaust valves, and added Harland Sharp 1.6.0:1 roller rocker arms.

Induction: Nothing too radical here. The 390 breathes in through a 750-cfm Edelbrock carb and an Edelbrock R4B intake manifold. A Holley Blue electric fuel pump keeps the carburetor's float bowl full.

Exhaust: Hedman 151/48-inch headers dump into 211/42-inch pipes. A pair of Flowmaster 50 series Delta Flow mufflers keep the soundtrack interesting on the outside of the car, but quiet on the inside for long road trips.

Transmission: "It doesn't look like it, but it took a lot of work to get that trans in there," says Tom, referring to his TH200-4R. He wanted a strong overdrive to replace the 904 that originally came with the car. He had an adapter made to bolt the transmission to the engine, relocated the crossmember, and made a new transmission mount. He says the work was worth it, though, on long trips. TCI's Trans-Scat shift kit takes the slush out of the shifts, and a 2,800-rpm-stall, 11-inch JW torque converter helps launch the car.

Rearend: Tom had a custom steel prop shaft made to connect the transmission to the Currie 9-inch rear axle. It's stuffed with Richmond 3.89:1 gears on a limited-slip differential and 31-spline Currie axles.

Suspension: Tom didn't deviate much from the original AMC design. He lowered the front by an inch with Eibach springs but kept the stock rear leaf springs. To improve rear traction, he added CalTracs bars and replaced the rear spring shackles with AFCO sliders. Tom says those two components eliminate wrap-up and keep the spring rate constant, allowing him to launch predictably and consistently.

Brakes: Tom raided the AMC parts bin for his 11-inch front rotors, grabbing them from a Concord. "The rear discs," he says, "came already installed on the axletubes." They measure 11 inches, too.

Wheels/Tires: Seventeen-inch Torq-Thrusts are on all four corners. Tom had the rear wheelhouses minitubbed so he could fit 315s out back. The tires areBFGoodrich g-Force T/A KD radials.

Interior: Tom likes the stock look but didn't like the car's original blue metallic interior. He had the seats reupholstered with AMX material, added new black carpet, and dyed the plastic bits black also.

Paint/Body: Tom bought the car in 1995 and started planning the build and collecting the parts he needed, but he didn't get to start working on the car until 1999. Once it was out of storage, Tom undertook the bodywork with some help from Dennis Rainville, also of DeLand. Dennis sprayed it with Ford Ultra White paint. The car was completed in June 2003, just in time for the HOT ROD Power Tour(r) that year.

SOURCES
Year One
PO Box 129
Tucker
GA  30085
800-932-7663
770-496-1949
www.nextgenparts.com/mustang
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