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Plymouth Valiant Stories

These stories and snippets were sent to me in response to the Valiant page. Please feel free to send yours! I don't post stories immediately, but I do post them eventually! New ones are at the beginning.

John Shoe wrote in 2009:

My very first car was a 1972 Dart Swinger, which I bought on 29 August 1989. Built on 4th February 1972 at the Dodge Main plant (Hamtramck, Michigan) starting at 02:00 hours, according to its build sheet (on TeleType paper), it was delivered just two weeks later to its owner by East Los Angeles Dodge (formerly Atlantic Dodge).

It was EV2 Hemi Orange (the last year for this colour) with the E2XW interior, AM radio, air conditioning, 318 V8, A-904 automatic, 2.76 axle ratio, EW1 white vinyle top, bumper guards, etc. The window sticker’s final price was $2,809.

I modified it as follows

My next MoPar was a 1973 Duster, bought for $70 (no, that’s NOT a typo!) on 2 Feb 1992 . It was TB3 Basin Street Blue ("Petty Blue", prior to 1972), with black bench seat interior, 318 / 727 (factory upgrade, as no 904s were available at the time the car was built), 8.25” with 2.76 with Sure Grip; and air conditioning. I replaced its cigarette-burned front benchseat with a perfect one from a 1975 Dart; and replaced the cigarette-burned carpet with rubber/vinyl flooring from a stripp-o 1972 Swinger Special .

I ripped the Canopy vinyl top off; repaired the minor rust; and painted the area in spray gloss black. EVERYTHING worked on that Duster ! Even the heater and a/c !! The factory am/fm radio !!

It got great mileage, too; around 18 in town, and 23 highway (no kidding!). I always run 'premium' fuels in my cars, which helps.

I ran Mobil 1 15w-50 in both cars, as well as Type F trans fluid, which helped with fuel economy.

The Duster got totalled on 12 Sept 1992. "Undocumented" bozos ran a red light and plowed-in the Duster's right-front tyre, which smashed the front of the car; their Toyota truck's entire front end was pushed-up to the cowl .

I still have recurring, chronic pains to this day (17 years later) from that wreck. The pain of losing a perfect Duster will always be with me, too ...

George D. Abel (2008)

My father purchased a new 1971 Plymouth Road Runner for me when I was 16 years old. After amateur drag racing that vehicle for a short time I began taking Auto Technology Shop Classes at Hartnell Community College. During class time I began to repair a 1965 Plymouth Valiant 4 door sedan that I purchased with a 273 V-8 and an automatic transmission in 1973 for $125.

I soon found the Valiant idled roughly because of a burned exhaust valve in one cylinder. Before I repaired and blueprinted the engine, I ran the old tired one at Fremont Raceway and completed the quarter mile in 16.9 seconds. During my rebuild, I concentrated on making the 273 the most performance oriented machine I could, while keeping it street legal. I replaced the differential with a Posi-unit from a 1970 Dodge Challenger that required a modified drive shaft and moving the leaf spring pads. I replaced the automatic with a 4-speed standard transmission salvaged from a 1964 Plymouth Barracuda. The transmission and clutch components bolted right in and only required me to cut the floorboard to accommodate the shifter linkage. The rebuilt engine blew up the second day out because I had installed a new exhaust valve guide with too little clearance. The valve stuck open, put a hole in the piston and cracked the cylinder. Ouch!

I decided to upgrade the motor with even more radical performance parts the second time. When I finished, I had the quickest street-driven small block in the area. The 273 was bored .060 over to 282 and ran the quarter mile in a best time of 12.72 at over 108 MPH. Onlookers told me the car was lifting the front wheels off the ground as I dropped the clutch (at 6000 rpm) at the start line. Unfortunately, I never got any pictures because I was always behind the wheel. Being a four-door sedan, that type of performance turned many heads and drew a lot of attention. At this point, I had lost all interest in the Road Runner and my father sold it to a friend of mine for $2000.

I further modified the engine, adding some more trick parts along with large valve 340 high-performance cylinder heads. Much to my disappointment, the car ran slower at the races, now only about 13.0 in the quarter mile. I did not realize at the time that the cylinder head swap probably lowered the compression ratio of the engine which drastically reduced any horsepower gain I anticipated. After I almost killed myself in a motorcycle collision, I sold the car to the Renteria Brothers from Morgan Hill. They continued to drag race the car, but removed it forever from the street legal status that I had insisted it previously maintain.

The Renteria Brothers eventually replaced the 273 engine with a 340, then a 440, then a Hemi with a supercharger! I had painted the Valiant a Cadillac "Terra Cotta Firemist" color. At that time I had a sign painter letter its new name on the side doors: Valiant Effort. The new owners painted the car black and replaced the name I had given it with their own, "Renteria Brothers." Recently it set a world record for its drag racing class posting a time in the quarter mile of 6.63 seconds at 209 mph! This is truly a story equivalent to that of Cinderella, from an old family sedan not running on all cylinders to one of the quickest cars on the face of the earth! I'm proud to be the "grandfather" of such a famous machine.

Sean Renteria took the supercharged 1965 Valiant up to 209 mph in 6.63 seconds in August 2007, setting a new world record quarter-mile time, at a track in Seattle.


I bought my first car, a 1967 Valiant Signet, in 1977 from a boy who lived up the street on Long Island, New York. His father had just bought him a new car and he parted from his Valiant for $500 with mixed feelings after an oil change, tune up, new tires, and a car wash. I loved that car at first sight and even took a BOCES auto repair night class so I would know how to take care of my new obsession.

As the only woman in the class, I put up with a lot of skepticism and jokes from the teacher and other 15 men in the class but finished while many others had given up and dropped out. I did most of the maintenance and repairs by myself for 5 years and eventually taught some auto maintenance classes for women in Rockland County, NY. The car took me to work, into Manhattan, up and down the New York Thruway, across country and back and was stolen once in Harlem while I was at a conference at Columbia. My car was later found by the police, in the same rather beat up condition, missing the battery and ignition switch but unharmed. Whoever stole the car left the radio and added oil to the engine because there were empty oil cans in the back seat when I went to pick it up.

Apparently the towing garage had stolen two of my new tires because there were old tires leaned up against the car with the lug nuts still on the hood when I got to the garage earlier than I was expected. The garage owners were obviously pissed off that I wasn't going to pay them to replace the ignition and battery which I bought used and put in myself and wanted to get more than their towing fee. I reported the theft of the tires to the police, a hearing was scheduled, and the garage lost their NYC towing license because of the mishandling of property.

While the car was missing, I frantically looked for a new car which I needed to commute to work and found a rather hideous yellow 1969 Valiant which I bought for $350; and, a few days later I found a 1964 Signet which I bought from an 80 year old lady who literally only drove the car to church on Sundays until she was too bent over to drive any longer. The car had almost no paint left and was rusted on the outside but the interior was still spotless bright red, just like new. She sold me her car for $150 and threw in a tray of home made chocolate chip cookies. I drove her to church for a few weeks and then lost touch.

When I received a call from the NYPD informing me my car had been found and that I could pick it up at a garage in the Bronx, I had 3 Valiants and had to choose. My good friend bought the 1969, my father got the 1964 (although it was my favorite) to commute to the train station and I drove my 1967 until the car developed an oil leak and broke a piston. Then I took the 1964 back and when I left the country in 1983 to move to Israel I gave it to my ex boyfriend who drove it for years and took it across country and back. I unfortunately lost touch with the boyfriend and the car - 2 of the greatest losses and only regrets in my life. And that was 22 years ago. I've had many cars during the past 25 years but I've never loved another since.

Ashley Dane

There is just something about old valiants... a 62 mint green Valiant was my first car, after an exhausting search in Colorado at every used dealership in Denver, on our way to the very last dealership, she sat by the side of the road with a 'for sale' sign in the window. I got her for 400 dollars, and she was in mint condition, and I drove her to California.

On the way, I stopped to have the motor checked and was informed that some screw was about to fall off, which would completely disable the car. They discovered it just in time. Well, I lost the car due to my ignorance in the matter of getting a 'boot' (I was told they wouldn't move the car for a month) This was a few years ago, and twice now my husband has surprised me with 'new' old cars- one was a Plymouth Belvedere, '63, painted mint green, which we sold, and the second was a Plymouth Valiant, only it was a '63, which looks entirely different from a '62, which we returned. I had my heart set on a "cricket" (which is what they resemble). I told my husband that with a car like a Valiant, it has to come to you... and sure enough, not long ago, a woman was walking to her white '62 Valiant and I yelled to her- "are you selling that car?" and sure enough, she was. She had bought it in Colorado, also, driven it to California, and on the way almost lost that same important screw and discovered it in the nick of time. And best of all, after I explained that since I was having a baby soon, I wouldn't be able to buy a car for 3 or 4 months, she said she'd wait, that the car is already mine... she being a great lover of that particular kind of car herself wanted for it to go into the hands of a like-minded soul. It isn't in the greatest shape, but I will have alot of fun restoring it, and it is neat to me and amazing to my husband that what I said was true when I said if we just didn't bother looking for a Valiant, and put out a vibe, the right one would find us! (we had looked at quite a few shabby, overpriced ones, and it really seemed as if we might have to find one in a different state altogether) Thanks for letting me sound off- I hope I did it in the right place- I just saw the Valiant Stories and wanted to share mine!

Jenny Eriksson's Valiant

My name is Jenny and I am from Sweden. I bought my Valiant in 1994 .It was a rainy day and I was on my way to a party. When we drove in to pick up a friend, I saw it, it was a red and white car, it was a Valiant!!!!! The guy named Stefan asked me if I liked it. I didn't know what to say because I was so in love with the car, it was love at first sight .

I asked Stefan if he would sell it, and he said yes, I should pick it up next week .

That week was the longest week in my life, I waited all the time untill that day when it was going to be mine.

I have never loved a car like I loved that Valiant .

Two years later when I turned 18 I bought another car, a Desoto from 1961. But I still loved my Valiant more. Then suddenly the Valiant just stopped . It was like he didn't like that I had bought another car Then came that day last christmas when I split up with my boyfriend and left my Valiant on his parkingplace . Then he moved and I didn't have any place for my beloved car. So I had to do somthing I promise my self to never do, sell the car . This spring when I turned 20 I did it. It was to a guy who wasn't more then seventeen . And the car who stood on the parking lot during two winters, started without problems .

Now I regret it . I was stupid to buy that Desoto in the first place . Because after 2-3 weeks my friend smashed the Desoto really hard . My heart was broken .

But I still miss my valiant and my Desoto, and this is for them: I will always love you

And I know that these old cars have a life of their own. They are really living and thats why we`ve got to take care of them. If we love them, they will love us back!

Joe Dowding's 1966 Signet

On labor day, 1995, my cousin, a good friend, and I were in a junk yard close to Moscow, Idaho where we all lived then. We were scrounging the front disc brakes off of a 1972 or so Plymouth Satellite Sebring. We knew the yard owner well and he left us there that day while he took his family for a day of boating down on the river. A man came to the yard wanting someone to go and pick up a car the used to belong to his deceased brother that was broken down next to some bar. We gladly accepted the job as this was a way we often got parts to trade for stuff we really wanted.

We finished up with the brake job and went across town to take a look. We found a very complete little 1966 Valiant Signet. It was a slant-6 auto, hard-top car with buckets and a console. It had wide tires mounted on too-narrow rims but looked pretty neat. We had brought a tow dolly, but decided to get the car running right there. It had some oil looking substance in the crank case and water in the radiator so we tried jump-starting it. No luck. We traced the problem to the started and took a quick trip back to the junk yard for a replacement. We swapped that out and even brought a battery to try. After pouring gas down the little 2 barrel throat, the slant 6 roared to life. We drove around the parking lot a couple times and then about 15 miles to the friend’s garage.

We argued about what to do with the car. The guy who had us pick it up got the title to us so we had a free car that ran. We replaced some bulbs and emptied out all the trash in the trunk. We replaced the thermostat and the exhaust manifold gasket. We even found that the car had a no-spin rear end. The little car always fired right up but needed a carb rebuild. We thought about painting the car up like the General Lee or even fixing it up with a small block v-8, but none of the three of us wanted to give up their share of the car. We decided to put the car up for sale. We moved it into town and parked it at my house, within a week we parted with it for $225.

We spent a total of $25 on the car so we netted $66 each for our time. It was a great find and each of us wishes we had done something else with the car but we will all remember the fun we had that fall.

Matt's 340 Duster

Hi, my name is Matt MacGregor and I live in Texas.

I just wanted to let you know that I am a proud owner of a 1970 Plymouth Duster 340. My dad bought the car brand new in 70. He ordered it with a 4sp,manual steering, 3.23 SureGrip, and benchseat. The color is forest green. The car was raced throughout the years and has about 100,000 miles. I got the car when I graduated high school. I had restored it in high school auto body. The engine was tired and was pulled before I restored the body. At the time I was restoring it I also owned a 1970 dart swinger with a 71 360 and 727 auto. The Duster was just sitting in the garage with no motor and since I had a strong 360 I though why not just put it in the Duster. So right now the Duster has the 360 with the 727auto. The car has run strong though the 1/8 mile at 8.22 at 85mph. That is with 4.56s. The car has run 13.30s in 90 degree weather at the Texas Motorplex with 3.91s. I still have everything that was original to the car EXCEPT the front bench!

Like the page a lot!


I enjoyed your Valiant pages. I own a 1969 Valiant. I bought it in Oct. 1968. It still runs pretty good. The odometer stopped at 270,000 miles. that was about 5 years ago. At 180,000 miles I drove to California from NY and back. It has been a good friend for a long time. My girl friend also own a 1969 Valiant. The only difference between the two cars is that my car has AC and power steering. Hers does not. She keeps her car in a garage and mine is on the street.


From: Thomas Spiglanin

I sold my 1973 Valiant 4-door sedan a few years back (to purchase a Voyager van, 1991). It had an interesting quirk - tail lights from a 1972 and front end from the 1973. There were lots of other inconsistencies as well - whenever I went to the parts store for my master cylinder (I went through 4) I had trouble matching the OEM part. The correct part turned out to be some V8 option's brake master.


Brad Waller said: As an ex-owner of a '69 Dart Custom, slant six, three on the tree, I can say that MOPAR was the most reliable car I ever had (186,000 miles and never stranded). I've since changed camps to the chevy side, but at least both of us can sneer at the F#rds!

Don W. Riggs' 1965 Valiant 100 - 4 bbl Slant Six

Recently I decided to open up the respiratory system of the 225 Slant Six in my 1965 Plymouth Valiant 100. I purchased a set of street-rod headers from Clifford Research which fit very nicely - as advertised. Also I ordered an Offenhauser aluminum 4 bbl intake manifold from JC Whitney. The last piece to complete the set was a vacuum secondary 390 cfm Holly 4 bbl carburetor. I had already installed a healthier camshaft when I rebuilt the engine this past winter. So I thought this combination should improve performance considerably from the one barrel carburetor and small exhaust system that came as original equipment.

I ran into troubles when trying to hook up the carburetor linkage. The carburetor I purchased was set up for cable linkage, the throttle shafts turned clock-wise, and the throttle shafts pointed towards the fender wells. The linkage on my Valiant was the bar type, turned the throttle shafts counter clock-wise, and needed the throttle shafts to point between radiator and firewall. What a mess!

So, I went back and looked at the installation kit that came with my Offenhauser intake. I couldn't believe it - there was a linkage kit included that facilitated 4 bbl hookup using the original bar linkage that came on the car (with minor modifications).

I now have the system hooked up on my Valiant using the original carburetor linkage and transmission kick-down linkage. I just wanted to pass on the information on the availability of the Offenhauser 4 bbl kit from JC Whitney. It could save other Mopar owners some trouble.

Brian C.P. Harvey's 1961 Valiant V-200

I have just started school at the University of Wisconsin. Although I am enjoying school, I miss many things from back home. The thing I miss the most is my prized 1961 Plymouth Valiant V-200 4 door sedan. I bought it in mid '94 from a classic car dealer. What attracted me to it was it's very unusual shape, low original mileage (30,000), and comparatively low price. After signing the check, the dealer informed me there was an envelope that he had never bothered to open that came with the car when he got it. I opened it and found what every classic car owner hopes to find - complete documentation. I had all the original papers (registration slips '61-'89, a complete history of all the owners and the documented mileage, even a letter from the dealership thanking the original owners for their purchase, and much more). I have had to invest much more money than I had originally planned, but despite this I love the car. I use it as my daily driver (except in bad weather) and it has never let me down (even at 5 degrees below!) I often take it on road trips and high spirited highway driving (even with the small engine and single barrel carb, she will do 100mph and comfortable cruise at 80) The only down side of loving the car so much is driving the mileage up to 42,000, now. It is powder blue with the 170 cid engine and push button automatic transmission. Also having the continental kit (a.k.a. toilet seat) so loved by Harley Earl. My favorite thing about owning the car is the all the attention I get going down the road. I live in an area with a high concentration of BMWs, Mercedes, Porches, etc. Even with all those $70k plus cars going past, mine is the only one that gets a second look, and everyone wants to tell me how they used to have one, or their Dad, neighbor, etc. had one. Don't get me wrong, I love modern cars (even foreign ones, at that) and the limitations of having a 34 year old car bug me once in a while - despite this, nothing compares to tooling down the highway on a sunny afternoon with a few good friends in my "Baby." I enjoyed your page - add more about my very dear Valiant.

Jeremy A. Songné's 1972 Valiant

First I would like to say that I was quite excited when I stumbled across this web site after having just been given a 1972 Plymouth Valiant, which my wife named "Prince Valiant." The only thing that I did notice about the page is that it is geared more to Darts than Valiants.

My Valiant is equipped with a 225 slant six which currently has 197,000 miles on it. (I would like to point out that this engine has never been overhauled.) This car has truly lived up to its name.

The car was my in-law's family car for several years and then became my Father-in Law's work car as it got older. About three years ago the father-in-law got a new job which required him to do a lot of driving so he retired the "Prince" to the back yard with his 1965 Plymouth Sports Fury (equipped with a 383 high performance engine). Mr. Bill, the father-in-law, LOVES Mopar and could not conceive of getting rid of one of his cars.

This is where I come in, having just meet and married my wife.

Both cars were sitting in the back yard waiting for some TLC. Mr. Bill and I seemed to have a common interest and started working on restoring his 1965 Fury, which he refers to as his baby. I am happy to say that it is running today. Through our new found bond the Valiant was offered to me to restore. Lately it seems like a competition between us to see who finishes first (Believe me when I tell you we both have a long ways to go). We are helping each other and doing the entire restorations personally.

Frank M. Hayden's 1972 Plymouth Duster

I decide to go to one of my favorite classic/muscle car dealers (Pikes Peak Motors), and they have this 72 Duster...I think..I never had a Mopar product, heard good and bad (no resale mainly). This car had new tires (BF T/A radials), clean/straight/NO RUST body inside/outside/underneath, factory rollback sunroof, you know the 2' X 4' in size!, 318 engine(not original, and has been slightly beefed with chrome, Edelbrock carburetor and intake, but factory headers and single exhaust (will correct that!), 727 transmission, chrome in immaculate condition throughout, the paint was starting to fade (red/orange) but like I said, NO rust, clean body. The interior was just plain nice (only a little carpet work around the center console, and a spot weld for the driver bucket seat!!

The price...$1600.00 yes, only 1600.00, and it runs very well, a little lifter noise in one spot. but nothing major at all needs to be done!! I will be more than happy to submit pictures from the when I got it to what it will be stage, and keep you up to date on changes, if you like.

I have a friend I work with already looking for me a 340 engine, which is what I really want in it, then I will put the Headman headers and 2 1/2" dual exhaust on it! Other changes will be, putting a Demon dual scoop hood on, black gloss metallic paint job, air conditioning (Yes, I do have a decent budget for this car allotted (about $3500 total). Any suggestions you have on anything, tech tips, more web sites, troubleshooting, etc.. would be appreciated.

Bottom Line, I was impressed with the price, overall performance, looks, and what could be done (Hot rodded) at a very economical cost!

A sad story

Frank Sandoval's Dad's 1973 Duster

My Dad bought a new blue Duster in '73 for his commuter car, after suffering through series of junker used cars. Our family car was a '69 Town and Country station wagon which was loaded with more frills than a triple scoop banana split. Most of the electronic gadgetry stopped working after a just a couple of years, but the 4 barrel 440 just ran that much meaner. It was the fastest car at my high school, I even beat the grey GTO owned by my friend Steve's older brother. He called it 'the goat', and he got off to a faster start, but me and the wagon passed him at about 85 and by the time I got to 120 I could barely see him.

The Duster didn't have that kind of power, but it was still a great car and I could tell my Dad really liked it. It was so much the opposite of the Town & Country. It was spare, clean, functional. Just AM radio, cigarette lighter, manual window rollers, a sliding front bench seat. It fit my Dad's personality much better. He'd take us boys out fishing in it and the trunk was his domain of rainwear and tackle, a place he could arrange as he liked. Like the basement workshop, it was a place removed from family and the feminine .

We had that car a couple of years and I was coasting my way through high school, spending more time out and about with my friends than studying or hanging out with the family. I could usually arrange transportation with my pals, this is before I got my first car, but once in a while I could snag Dad's car when he was traveling on business or something. Now one might not guess from looking at me now, but in those nervy and active days there were very few times, behind a wheel or anywhere else, when I wouldn't have been at least somewhat impaired, by beers or one of the myriad other things that seem so appetizing to kids that age. Well, one day during summer vacation I get that ole' Duster and go pick up Craig and Jason and we head out of town for a trip up to some mountain springs. Of course Jason's got a bag, like he always did, and as soon as we're out among the pines, he and Craig light up. Now I can't explain it, but for some strange reason, I don't partake on that fine sunny morning. One of the few times I declined back in those days.

We make our way into the hills, and eventually leave the highway for the three mile trip into the springs. The road starts at the top of a deep canyon, and angles slightly down the slope as it makes its way upstream. For the entire three miles, the road is narrow, very curvy, and shouldered on one side by dusty cut-out and on the other side by an extremely steep plunge to the canyon floor, several hundred feet below. Dirt roads through the forest were usually negotiated as a sort of sport, with lots speed, flinging passengers from side to side and even some slight fishtailing. But on this day, keeping with my mood of sober restraint, I drove that section like a little grandma, just taking it easy. I'm sure Craig and Jason were surprised to be cruising around, young and free, without the wind tearing through their hair and having to grip the armrests. They were even more surprised I'm sure when we seemed to just float off the side of the road for no reason at all.

We rolled three times before the hood of car slammed into a Ponderosa Pine, stopping us from plummeting another hundred feet. We crawled out the open window on the side facing up and dug our way up the hillside back to the road. We were all OK, just very shaky from the adrenaline jolt. I was checked for drunk driving but pronounced dry, and when they towed the Duster into our driveway, with the other neighborhood kids and some adults standing around, my Dad just shook his head and said I was lucky to be alive.

We stuck a photo of the bashed in Duster on the frig for awhile, and my Dad went back to driving a series of junkers. He never said anything, I guess he figured he'd rather have his son than a Duster all told, though I know he really liked that car. We still talk about how its amazing I'm still alive and how great a car that old Duster was.

Pete Dickerson's 1975 Swinger

In 1979, at the age of 15, I bought a '75 Dart Swinger with a 318. It was the most awesome car ever. I owned it for 7 years and it is a central character in a book I am now writing. People rarely take me seriously when I tell them how fast and reliable it was but consider this: In college a buddy of mine had an '84 Mustang GT with the 5.0 and a 5 speed. We went out by the airport and raced. Up to 50 mph, I stayed with him, side by side. He was quite surprised, I'll say! The only modification to my car was dual exhaust. In seven years it only broke down once, a popped ballast resistor. I had a spare in the glove box and was underway in 5 minutes.

I was pleased to see your cop car page as well. Last year I had a '68 Newport sedan with a 383 and 2 barrel. It was a surprisingly capable car. It sounded great after a good warm up. I used to drive it around Seattle on Sundays but had to sell it eventually.

The Dart (or Valiant) is the most awesome car ever. I was so glad to stumble across your page. Perhaps when my book is ready for publishing I can post it there, or on my own web page with a link.

Please drop me a line. I love talking about the Dart and its virtues. I once thought of opening a business that catered only to the Dart/Valiant. It would be a most rewarding experience. By the way, Seattle is great clean, old, low mileage Dart territory, if you're interested. They're everywhere!

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