Since the engine had over 249,000 miles on it, it was rebuilt by Steve Larkin at ProFlow Engineering in Memphis. It was given a .020-inch overbore, and Keith Black pistons filled the holes. Under the pistons are the stock crank and rods that were given a balancing. The heads were massaged, and a Magnum R/T hydraulic roller camshaft was installed. Todd decided to run a Mopar Performance M1 intake with the stock MPI fuel injection. He modified a set of 340 hp manifolds and connected them to a 3-inch single exhaust. Before the final coat of paint was applied, the engine and transmission were installed. With the engine in place and the outside of the body receiving numerous block-sanding sessions, Ray Escue of Personal Touch Bodyworks applied the final coat of Magnetic Red Metallic paint.
The car finally made it back home in December 2000. But since Todd and his wife were the proud parents of a new baby, the car spent some time sitting idle in the garage. Finally, a couple of years later, Todd decided it was time to finish the car. He and his dad worked hard to get the car completed for the Hot Rod Power Tour in 2003. The wiring was the most challenging part of the swap. He used the fuse box, the power distribution box, powertrain control module, and the engine wiring from the truck. The only wiring used from the Valiant was for the ignition switch, the headlight switch, the convertible top switch, and the steering column wiring.
Todd tells us that using the dash from the truck was quite challenging too, because the opening in the original Valiant dash had to be welded up, and he had to have some aluminum trim panels custom-made by friend Dennis Russell. Once the dash was finished, the interior was the next project. He used the original seat frames covered with new foam from Legendary Auto Interiors. Furthermore, he and his dad designed and covered the door panels, while Ernie Drake of Pleasant View Auto Upholstery, also in Memphis, modified the foam and stitched up the seats in rich Corinthian leather. OK, it may not be Corinthian, but it is definitely leather. Before the seats were placed in the car, new black carpeting from ACC was installed. The convertible top was made and installed by Mike Benfield at Don's Auto Upholstery in Memphis. Rodney Teeters at Memphis Plating Works refurbished all the brightwork, including the pot metal.
Since the factory 13-inch wheels and hubcaps wouldn't look right on the Valiant, a set of 17-inch American Racing Torq-Thrust II wheels were wrapped with Toyo Proxis tires measuring 215/45/17 in front and 245/45/17 in the back.
The Power Tour was slated to kick off in Nashville on Friday, May 30. Todd and his dad finished working on the car around noon on Thursday, May 29. With only 180 miles on the car--wracked up while going to the upholstery shop for the top installation--the father and son duo headed out to Nashville to cruise the Power Tour. The weather was great, and there were no problems with the car except a little rear-end noise. According to Todd, they got over 23 mpg on the trip.
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?