While Doug's Valiant is not a perfect replica, he did try to find as many vintage pieces as possible. He was even able to locate the stainless steel carpet protector by the throttle pedal for just $35. "The guy who sold it to me thought he was ripping me off," he says. "But I would have paid more than that because that is one of the details that really sticks out in my memories of the car." Doug uses a New Castle battery for looks and has Commando valve covers, as well.

By the end of March, the Valiant was out of the garage and under its own power. "When that thing fired up and I took it driving, it was an unreal feeling," Doug says. Perhaps it felt something like the nights Doug used to cruise from tiny Liberty Township down to Youngstown, where he and his friends would ride down Market Street, park, pop their hoods, and dream about the next thing they would do to their cars.

When Doug cruises today, he does it on 15x6 Torq-Thrust D wheels in front and 15x7 painted-steel rear wheels off a Chrysler Fifth Avenue. "I like the look of the painted-steel wheels in the back," he says. "I think it looks like a mini Max Wedge car." The wheels are hooked up to Moser axles and big-bolt brakes.

Doug purchased his original Valiant [pictured above around 1971] for $750 from a man in town who needed the money to start his own business. Doug kept it until after he finished his time in the Air Force. In 1972, he unloaded the car because he had ordered a new Demon. "I wish I had never sold that car," he says. "There were very few Valiants that had the V8 hi-po."

Now that Doug has a second chance with his dream car, he's driving it as much as he can. "I live on a dirt road, but I drive it," he says. "It sees no winter service, but I put about 3,500 miles on it the first year. I hit the [2002] Mopar Nats and made it back without a hitch."

Besides the Nats, Doug made another pilgrimage. He pulled the Valiant into his mom's driveway-the same one where over 30 years earlier he posed with his first car- and smiled while she took his picture.