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Chris' 1974 Plymouth Valiant

My 1974 Valiant had many names, The Blue Bomb, Dad's Old Car, The Dud, The Slug, The Thing That Wouldn't Die, My Flaming Piece of Shit, but no matter what horrible epithets we could dream up she just ran ...and ran ...and ran ...and ran. The speedometer cable snapped when the odometer read 49,512.8 (for the third time) and I drove her for another two years. (Must have had about 300,000 miles then) I can still hear the steady tickticktickticktick of the 225 slant six, which in exceedingly damp weather was known as the "slant 3" since I could swear that only three plugs were firing. I think I still have a bit of motor oil lodged in my scalp from the time that the crankcase developed an excess amount of pressure, and as I looked into the engine cavity, the valve cover exploded. Darn that crankcase vent thingie! My left foot is still cold from the sporadic emission of water from somewhere under the dashboard, which had trained me to take turns very gingerly, and eventually caused me to re-route some electrical connections with speaker wire. Mine had no power steering, which evolved into a very interesting oval steering wheel, and no power brakes, which caused a peculier double-triple-quadruple pumping scheme which to this day comes in handy in inclement weather. The Map Light...aka...The Dope Light. The "dealer installed air conditioning" --"What's that blue smoke? it smells like burning fan belt..." disconnected in 1978.

I NEVER TOUCHED THE TRANSMISSION, except for P,R,N,D and L2. Sometimes I tried out L1, which I believe was designed for transporting large buildings. It amazes me to this day that nothing ever went wrong with the transmission. We used to do the "drop-shift", rev up to about red-line and throw the tranny into "D". (When you think you're young and smart, you're just young; when you think you're old and wise, you're just old.) Anyway, although this procedure is *guaranteed* to break off all of the bolts that connect the flywheel to the torque converter, in the Valiant it only produced a faintly detectable chirp from the rear wheels, and a 2G acceleration forward. I am convinced that the TorqueFlite transmission was derived from an extraterrestrial technology which we may never fully understand.

Did you ever have to try to find your registration underneath a glove compartment full of ballast resistors? Did you ever fly by a State Trooper doing about 80 mph, only to see him pull over the Mustang you just passed? Did you ever wonder why an oily yellow sludge gurgled out of your dipstick? Were you ever convinced that your windshield was leaking? Did you see rust on your quarter panels when you waxed the Valiant for the third time? Did you ever find your PCV valve someplace it shouldn't be? Did you ever look down at the odometer, see 99,999 and say to yourself "now how many times is that?" Did you ever say to yourself "my last car was long dead by now?" What a marvelous vehicle!

Now I drive a 1987 LeBaron, currently pushing 175,000 miles. Everyone says that I should get rid of it. I'd be crazy if I did.

Thanks for the memory,

Chris Brandt

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