Like a lot of things in life, getting a car is practical. Alan Bell's wife had just given birth to their son and she really needed a car to drive during the day. Alan wasn't looking for anything hot, just cheap and dependable; so went he to a local gas station with $300 in his hand and returned home with Plymouth's poster car for practicality: a '65 Valiant 100.

At the time, the Valiant sported the oh-so-snappy 170-inch straight-six with a three-speed transmission and 63,000 miles on the clock. The previous owner was a schoolteacher, who-among other things-used it to haul his fishing boat to the river and back. Mrs. Bell, however, planned on hauling kids, a much more treacherous endeavor. Nonetheless, the Plymouth served her dutifully, and for more than a decade it took the Bells wherever they needed to go. From the movie theater to the mall, the A-Body was a true daily grinder, racking up thousands of miles along the way.

By the early '90s, Alan got the itch and the Valiant needed a restoration. Since he had an overwhelming urge to step it up to a V8, the family decided to take the workhorse off the road for a while. Between salvaging for parts at Marty Mopar and involvement in his sons' activities, the restoration process was slow for Alan, and 1998 rolled around before the car was finally finished.

In the end, Alan created a pseudo-restoration machine. A vintage 273 HP engine went into the engine bay, fortified with Jahns 12.0:1 forged pistons below the stock heads. A Carter carburetor was installed on the four-barrel intake, while Engle springs and lifters were added to work in conjunction with a fat Engle .500-lift/ 304-duration solid cam. The exhaust system was updated with California Turbo mufflers and a 2-inch pipe system. The car retains its manual steering, 3.23 gear ratio, and beefy 8 3/4-inch differential. Alan swapped the three-speed for a four-speed and added a Hurst Competition Plus shifter. Village Auto Body in Hershey, Pennsylvania, added the finishing touch with a fresh paint job.

These days, the princed Valiant is living the easy life, being driven mainly to car shows and on special occasions. Since Alan has never had it on the track, its actual performance level is unknown, but it has racked up a few trophies for its good looks since completed-a long way from the $300 purchase price at the gas station.

Alan also has a '65 Coronet and a '70 Barracuda in the works as future show stealers. For now, however, the Valiant is still king of this castle, a well-deserved honor after its long ride to the top.