Think of Year One as the Microsoft of the musclecar market. Just like every PC relies on Microsoft products to perform its daily functions, just about every restored musclecar has parts sourced from Year One in it. However, instead of pedaling overpriced junk that spontaneously goes berserk, Year One takes a different marketing approach. Its pervasive presence in the automotive aftermarket is attributable to the quality and diversity of the components it offers. While the company is best known for its restoration sheetmetal and trim, it has branched out into the performance market as well with a full line of high-performance engine, suspension, chassis, and brake components, as well as complete turnkey cars. Moreover, with events such as the Year One Experience, it has always made giving back to the hot rodding community one of its priorities.
As president of a company that serves almost everyone in the hobby, Kevin King sees the musclecar market from a uniquely intimate perspective, so we quizzed him on a vast array of topics. Will skyrocketing musclecar prices eventually stabilize, or will they hurt the hobby? What's the next hot Bow Tie body enthusiasts will be clamoring over? Is reproduction sheetmetal any good? What common trouble spots in a car's sheetmetal are often overlooked? Does $4-a-gallon gas, economic recession, and tightening emissions and fuel mileage standards spell doom for hot rodders? What's the best way to go about shopping for project cars in distant locations? In addition to answering all these questions, Kevin gave us some interesting insights into Year One's humble roots and its future directions.
Anyone who has restored a musclecar has probably done business with Year One, but its evolution into the powerhouse that it is today didn't happen overnight. Although the company was first incorporated in 1981 by founder Len Athanasiades, it actually got its start in the late '70s. Len had a '69 Firebird coupe and wanted to build a Trans Am clone. He searched high and low for both parts and information on Trans Ams, and in the process became somewhat of an expert on them. Eventually people began calling him for parts and info. "He recognized the opportunity, and in 1981 officially launched Year One, specializing in '69 Trans Am parts," explains Kevin. The name itself refers to the '69 Trans Am being the first year of the model and Len's focus on those particular cars. Over time the company grew and continued to add parts for other models to its inventory. "We now cover virtually all GM, Chrysler, and Ford musclecars and ponycars, along with trucks, Corvettes, and late-model domestic performance cars," says Kevin. "Len has been a great friend to this industry and to me. He is simply the smartest person I have ever met."