Written by Barb van der Veen
Harm and I had been friends with Babs and Brad Hillick for a long time (early 1980s), reconnecting each year at the annual AMO conventions and strengthening our friendship. Some of the long-term members might remember them as the owners of The Source. This was a business they started in order to supply AMC owners with NOS and reproduction parts that were, even then, becoming scarce. I remember our visit with them at the North Carolina meet. We even spent an extra day touring Charlotte Motor Speedway and Hendrick Racing. Being a Sunday (race day), Hendrick’s shop was closed but that didn’t stop us from hamming it up in front of their windows.
The following spring, we contacted them to make sure they were still able to come to the next meet. They had adopted an 18-month old boy, Marc, six months’ before). We were shocked to learn that Brad had died suddenly in March, leaving Babs to raise Marc alone and deal with the massive inventory of cars and parts. Brad had restored a number of cars in his day, but his last restoration was the 1970 Trans Am Javelin. (Note: this was one of only 100 TAs ever built so AMC could compete in the Trans Am series racing circuit – 100 was the minimum production amount required). Unfortunately, the TA was sitting outside when Brad passed away, under very sappy Georgia pines and his once pristine TA really suffered.
Harm and I drove down to Atlanta later that year and bought their 1971 Hornet SC 360 which we continue to treasure to this day. It was at that time that Harm started to hatch the idea of bringing the TA up to Canada to restore it. No strings attached – we just couldn’t bear to see it sitting outside in that condition. We are both very sentimental when it comes to cars as they are conduits between people about whom we care deeply.
I hesitate to say how long this labour of love has been in progress but, during the early times, the car was disassembled, stripped and then re-painted. During this period, we moved three times but now we have arrived at the fun part – re-construction! Harm had painted it red-white-blue in his previous garage so once we got his new shop set up on our farm, it was moved in and work resumed. I have been assigned the tasks of sandblasting the smaller parts (those that can fit into the sandblasting cabinet) and detailing the car. We started installing some of the vital organs in the engine compartment, repairing and re-wrapping the wiring harness (with our youngest son, Hendrik’s, help). Ken Edwards came over and rebuilt/installed the front suspension components (new bushings and ball joints), and restored/installed the headlight bevels.
This rebuild has been made significantly easier and more enjoyable due to the NOS parts that Babs had in her inventory. Nothing is more satisfying than opening up an AMC replacement part in its original wrapper! As well, working in the shop on our 100-acre farm has meant that neighbours are not disturbed by any noise or outside sandblasting.
Stay tuned for Trans Am Javelin Rebuild – A Labour of Love, Part 2, coming in about two months’ time!