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.