From left, Dale, my little brother Andy, and Ken. Can't help but think they're laughing at
Over the years, Mopar Muscle has done many project cars. The most recent was the Holley Road Runner, a great vehicle that was outstanding in terms of workmanship. No expense was spared in making that car a reality, with parts from the best companies in the Mopar aftermarket. We've got another project car going together in this realm right now: 'Cuda Invader, for Hot Rod's Power Tour in 2003. While we appreciate these great machines, we wanted to do a new project that was affordable. Enter Project Valiant Effort.
Frankly, though my better half has a Plymouth street rod, I was tired of going to the various car shows and not having a Mopar of my own there. Besides, that hot prewar iron wasn't practical for long drives. I was looking for something... well, cheap is the operative word. While attending the Year One Bristol Bash last year, Dale Mathews, the owner of our '01 Carlisle 383 engine hop-up Road Runner, showed me some pictures of a '67 Valiant he had for sale. It was cheap, and I was instantly hooked. This plain-jane Valiant was a good, solid car with a Slant Six engine and a three-speed-on-the-tree combination. Did it fit in my budget? Sure did. Did it have potential? In my eyes, tons of it.
Although it would be easier to ask for forgiveness after I bought it, I decided I had better check with home first. Paula's initial response was "a what?!?," but after explaining how I would pull this project off and still be able to take her out to dinner now and then, she agreed. So Project Valiant Effort was under way, almost. After the e-mails finished flying back and forth between Florida and Lenoir, North Carolina, the deal was made and my brother and I planned to make the 13-hour trip (one way) in a weekend.
We went to the tech shop by 7 that night to get the trailer...but where was it? One of the guys who works on one of the Ford magazines here had taken it to Ocala, Florida. After a frantic search to get his cell-phone number, I finally reached him. We stopped on our way 70 miles north and picked it up.