I bought the Valiant at the '01 Mopar Nationals. The car was street legal, but leaned more toward drag racing than street duty. It had an OK paint job, but the interior consisted of just two race seats, some old carpet, factory gauges, and mismatched window crank handles. There was no headliner, and the bumpers needed rechroming. The wheels were Weld Prostars that had not seen polish in a long time, but the running gear seemed solid, and whoever did the back half chassis work did a nice job. I really liked the way they stretched the quarter wheel openings to look factory. When I bought it, it had a 371-stroker engine with a 904 transmission sporting a 3,500 stall converter. The drivetrain ran pretty well, so I drove it like that for a couple months. But then I decided to redo the whole car to my taste.
I started first with the body. It had fiberglass front fenders that were not straight, so I had to change them. Since I do body and paint, I thought it wouldn't be that hard. But I found Valiant parts are not readily available, so I had to buy a whole car just for the front fenders. The second thing I tackled was the deck lid. The car had a lift-off trunk lid, and the fuel cell was in the trunk, so when it was time to fill up it was a pain. I took the car to my friend Pat McCutcheon's shop to see how hard it would be to make the deck lid open backwards. Pat designed some homemade hinges that work flawlessly. The trunk lid is power operated with the buttons hidden in the gas lid. I went over the rest of the car fixing dings and dents, and then painted it Viper Blue. The pin striping in pink, magenta, and green was done by Robert Madden.
The interior was next. The race seats came out, and two '95 Mustang seats went in. I then took the car to Nordens trim shop in West Columbia, South Carolina, for the headliner and carpet. I bought some tweed material to match the seats and did the dash, door panels, and rear panels in cloth. I updated the dash with some aftermarket gauges and an APC steering wheel. Prostars are a nice wheel, but I needed something different. I went online and found a set of ET III's.
So after doing all that, I decided it was time to go bigger and better in the engine department. I went to my friend Danny Crossland of Dan's Automotive in Lexington, South Carolina, and decided to build a 416 stroker. I also added a pair of old Direct Connection valve covers. The transmission went to Johnny Remington, also of Lexington, for a rebuild. I installed a new set of 4.30 gears in the 831/44 rear. I then sent the headers and the rest of the exhaust to HPC to get coated.
After the car was back together, I took it to the track to play. I am still working on the suspension, and with street tires it won't hook, so the next step is to buy slicks. With the Mickey Thompson street tires, the best the car ran was a low 12-second quarter-mile time at 112 mph.