It's been a long time coming, but after slightly over two years ofmechanical upgrades, our project Valiant is nearing the final stages of completion. We began by replacing the floors in our July 2002 issue, and, apparently, we must have done it correctly because the seats never fell out. After that, we tackled the install of the interior; then we installed a salvage-yard-plucked LA 360 and installed it with a four-speed trans we bought from a friend. Finally, we were able to drive the car and also do several modifications to it on the weekends. It was fun driving a car that was slathered with patina. We could drive it anywhere, park in the front row at the mall, and even thrash on it without worry of outward damage.

After driving the car for a little over a year like that, it was deemed a new coat of paint was in order. Since we were going to cover it with shiny stuff, we realized our limitations and found a reputable shop to handle that part for us. Now we don't consider ourselves dummies, so we decided we could disassemble the car before it went to the body shop. Things like the interior, the driveline, all the plumbing and wiring, and even the glass were removed so the shop's labor would simply be paint and bodywork. Don't get us wrong, the Valiant needed more than a simple sand-and-shoot $400 paint job. But if the shop did not have to do most of the disassembly work, that was a charge we could avoid. The car was given to Muscle Car Restorations and prepped for media blasting. Media blasting is a process where compressed air forces media (usually unrefined baking soda) through a hand-held gun, and is blown against the car to remove any paint and filler. The nice thing about using baking soda instead of sand is that sand is hard and abrasive enough that it can warp the panels.

When the car returned from blasting, the process of determining what work needed to be done could be completed. There were a lot of mall markers (door dings), and, surprisingly, the Valiant body had some rust even though it is only 36 years old. But it was determined when completed, the Valiant would be a nice driver. One thing we learned is choosing the right shop to do the work is a must. the crew at MCR went above and beyond, and delivered what looked like a show car. It just reaffirms John Balow's philosophy--that quality is never forgotten.

Since the paint and body turned out so beyond our expectations, there was now no way we could place the old, bent, twisted, pitted, and rusted pieces of trim and miscellaneous items back on the car.

To handle the trim items, two places were highly recommended: For the stainless trim polishing, Iverson Automotive in Minnetonka, Minnesota, is regarded as the premier trim restoration specialist, and Paul's Plating in Evans City, Pennsylvania, was given the nod for plating the emblems and miscellaneous parts. we were not disappointed with our choices.

Perfect Painting
Choosing a shop can be a daunting task. We chose Muscle Car Restorations and are glad we did. The body was media blasted and then repaired. Using quality materials, like those from PPG, Eastwood, and 3M, is a necessity when you are doing this type of work. Why buy your painting supplies from a swap meet, only to find the quality is questionable and maybe even downright poor? Wiring, weather-stripping, body plugs and many other unseen pieces were required and obtained from Year One.

Muscle Car Restorations
Chippewa Falls, WI
(715) 834-2223

Year One
Braselton, GA
(800) 950-9503

PPG Paints
Pittsburgh, PA
(412) 434-3131

3M Products
(888) 364-3577