Don Monroe grew up with a playground in his backyard, but there wasn't a jungle gym, monkey bars, or a swing set in sight. You see, his father used the area behind their house to store his multiple classic Mopars, and Don had fun dissecting and disassembling them, much to his father's dismay.
"I grew up with a brother and five sisters, so you can imagine the problems we had trying to get into the bathroom. We would always get into fights, which would usually end with my mother saying 'go outside and leave your sisters alone,'" recalls Don. He would always look forward to the next fight so he could return to the Pentastar haven behind his house were he was truly happy.
Trailer Queen? Not if Don...
Trailer Queen? Not if Don has anything to say about it.
When Don was only 12 years old, he purchased his first car-a '68 Charger R/T-with money he saved from his paper route. It wasn't in particularly good shape, and his parents were not pleased with his acquisition. His father stated that he would never get the car running, but Don had other plans, and a few weeks later, he had a replacement short-block sitting next to the B-Body.
Since that first Charger, Don has owned over 30 Mopars. His most current project is this '69 Plymouth Valiant. He spotted the car one morning as he was driving to work at his company, Central Florida CNC. "I was a good distance away and couldn't make the car out too well," he says. "I almost wrote it off as a '67 Nova, but my instincts kicked in and told me to take another look. I slammed the pedal of my Ram to the floor and caught up to it." his hunch was correct-it wasn't just another Nova, it was a green Plymouth Valiant. the first thing that caught his eye was the "Two Hundred" fender badges. "I had never seen a Two Hundred sedan, and I still haven't to this day," he says.
When these QTP electronic...
When these QTP electronic exhaust cutouts open up, all hell breaks loose. At the flip of a switch, Don can bring back the tame sound of the Flowmaster mufflers.
Don followed Joe Gomez, the man driving that rare beauty, all the way to his place of work. Puzzled, Joe got out of the car wondering why he had been followed. Don quickly told his story and asked if the car was for sale. Joe proceeded to pull the title out of his pocket and informed him that it had already been sold, and the new owner was coming to pick it up later that day.
Disappointed, Don left and forgot about the whole thing until one day, six months later, the Two Hundred popped back into his head. He wondered if the sale had actually gone through. So he hopped into his Ram and drove to where he originally had talked with Joe. Again, he was met with disappointment when Joe told him the car had been sold. But, Joe went on to explain, the new owner hadn't touched the car in three months, and it was sitting just two doors down. Joe then introduced Don to Steven Carroll, the owner. It turned out that Steven was having some troubles, and the Valiant was just another item on the list. He was willing to part with the car-for a nominal fee, of course-and Don drove it home that night.
After showing it off to friends and family, the Valiant was retired to his garage for a complete restification. Don had lofty aspirations for the A-Body, and he would go on to complete most of the work himself with help from his friend Skip Rizzo. A great amount of focus was directed at the body and chassis, which he tore down. Frank Parks of Mopar Restos in Summerville, Georgia, provided him with the necessary body panels. The car was media blasted and attached to a rotisserie to be painted. The body was straightened out and treated to a two-part epoxy bath. A six-point cage, frame connectors, and mini-tubs were incorporated as the car was reassembled and aligned. The passenger side shock tower was modified to clear the brutal Hemi's valve cover, making it ready for paint.
"i drive the hell out of it!" -Don Monroe
The interior is tastefully...
The interior is tastefully done in white, contrasting nicely with the black carpeting and glowing Red Metallic Pearl paint.
Don filled his paint guns with a Matrix System Tri Stage red metallic pearl paint and sprayed the Valiant piece by piece. Six coats of color and three coats of clear were applied and block-sanded smooth. He then added three additional coats of clear and blocked and buffed it. The deep-looking paint appears to just drip off the car, thanks to the metallic flake and clearcoat. To add even more zest to the Two Hundred post car, the grille and headlight bezels were rechromed by Advanced Plating in Nashville, Tennessee. Don also added a white stripe on the rear to tie into the interior vinyl and a set of Blazer LED taillights.
Once the paint was dry, Don was able to install his goodies for final assembly. A Control Freak independent front suspension is bolted in up front. It uses QA1 adjustable shocks and a drawn over mandrel tubing-also known as DOM. The DOM tubing offers a higher tensile strength than conventional tubing, and the Control Freak kit was made specifically for Hemi-equipped A-Bodies. Out back, a set of gas adjust shocks and Mopar Super Stock springs suspend the 83/4, Sure Grip-filled rearend with 3.91 Yukon gears and axles. The steering is controlled by a Flaming River rack-and-pinion setup, which directs the front 15x7-inch American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels. BFGoodrich tires, sized at 205/65ZR15, contact the pavement up front, while 255/50ZR17 mounted to 17x9 Torq-Thrusts sit in the rear.
These LED taillights add a...
These LED taillights add a modern touch to this Plymouth classic. That's right, behind the factory lenses are LEDs, ensuring that anyone behind Don can see him finally slow down.
Inside, Don thought of everything. The interior was restored by Upholstery Ect. in Largo, Florida. The '89 Turbo LaBaron GTS seats were recovered in white vinyl, and the black carpet was replaced. A slew of Auto Meter gauges inform him of his engine speed, oil pressure, volts, and water temperature. For tunes, he installed an in-dash six-disc changer and Kicker speakers. The headliner, door panels, and rear package tray continue the white theme on the interior. Power window motors were installed in both front and rear, and a Classic Auto Air system keeps things cool when the windows are up. Completing things inside is a Grant steering wheel in mahogany.
Matt Hensley of Hensley Racing Engines in Knoxville, Tennessee, built the big cube Hemi as the heart of this beast. The block was clearanced for the Eagle 4.150-inch forged-steel stroker crankshaft. Combined with the 4.250-bore Ross pistons and 6.865-inch Manley H-Beam rods, the Hemi pushes out 472 ci of fuel and air. This is exhausted through 2.25-inch tti headers. The 3.5-inch collectors feed the 3-inch dual exhaust that exits quietly through a set of Super 40 Flowmaster mufflers. Don can turn up the roar by opening a set of 3-inch QTP electronic exhaust cutouts that sit aft to the headers. A .569/.548-inch lift, 236/242-degree duration Comp Cams Extreme Energy roller camshaft sits inside the massive Mopar powerplant with a 104.2 LSA. The cam tells the Mopar rocker arms to open the 2.250/1.940-inch Manley stainless steel intake and exhaust valves, which deliver the air/fuel mixture through the aluminum CNC ported Hemi cylinder heads. Sitting on top is an A&A magnesium cross-ram intake manifold with Kramer fuel lines that feed a pair of Holley 770 carburetors.
what's under the hood? A lot...
what's under the hood? A lot of horsepower. This 472ci Hemi squeezes in, thanks to a modified shock tower and the Control Freak front K-frame.
On the electronics side, 8mm Taylor hemi wires deliver the spark from the MSD Pro Billet Distributor and Blaster II coil. An MSD 6-AL is the brain behind the whole operation, and a Mopar 13.5-volt constant voltage regulator makes sure it's got all the clout behind it.
The brutal power is delivered to the wheels through a 727 TorqueFlite transmission with a Turbo Action forward-shift manual valvebody. It was built by Scott Schlemmer of Midpoint Transmissions in Tampa, Florida, and is controlled by a Turbo Action Cheetah shifter. Turbo Action also supplied the 3,500-stall torque converter, and fluid is stored in a Mopar Performance deep pan.
What started life as a mild-mannered, inline-six-powered Valiant has turned into one beautiful beast. The Hemi power is enough to melt the tires, yet it's tame enough to drive. Don has no trouble driving it down the street or around town. With the car completed, he actively participates in any Mopar event he can make it to.
'69 Plymouth Valiant
Five-thousand rpm comes effortlessly...
Five-thousand rpm comes effortlessly to the Hemi and is passed regularly.
Engine: The factory Slant Six was tossed for something more unconventional-a Hemi. Inside, you'll find a 236/242-degree duration, .569/.548-inch lift Comp Cams Extreme Roller camshaft. The 4.250-inch bore Ross pistons bring the compression to 10.6:1 and are connected to 6.865-inch Manley H-Beam rods. To complete the rotating assembly, Don uses a 4.150-inch stroke Eagle forged-steel stroker crankshaft.
Fuel, Air, Spark: A pair of Holley 770 carburetors sit on top of an A&A Magnesium cross-ram intake manifold with Kramer fuel lines. Air and fuel are pushed through the CNC'd aluminum Mopar Hemi cylinder heads. Taylor 8mm wires and MSD Pro Billet distributor, 6AL controller, and Blaster II coil provides the spark.
Transmission: The 727 TorqueFlite transmission has a forward manual valvebody from Turbo Action. It also uses a Cheetah shifter and a 3,500-stall converter. It was built by Scott Schlemmer at Midpoint Transmissions in Tampa, Florida.
Rearend: A Chrysler 8¾ 489 case with Yukon axles, 3.91 gears, and a Sure Grip rear.
Suspension: A Control Freak front suspension setup with coilover QA1 shocks and Flaming River rack-and-pinion. The rear uses Gas Adjust shocks with Super Stock Mopar springs.
Brakes: Slowing this 2,800-pound Valiant are SSBC disc brakes, 11-inch four piston fronts, and 10-inch two piston rears.
Wheels and Tires: The rolling stock consists of American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels and BFGoodrich tires. They measure 15x7-inches in the front and 17x9-inches in the rear, wearing 205/65ZR15 and 255/50ZR17, respectively.
Body: Don and his friend Skip Rizzo completed all the bodywork, using panels supplied by Frank Parks of Mopar Restos in Summerville, Georgia.
Paint: Matrix System Red Metallic Pearl paint was sprayed on by Don and Skip.
Interior: Front seats out of an '89 Turbo LeBaron fit nicely. They were covered in white vinyl by Upholstery Etc. in Largo, Florida. Upholstery Etc. also restored the rest of the interior and replaced the carpeting.