VF Valiant - reader resto

By: Rachel Isaacs with Guy Allen - Unique Cars magazine, Photography by: Ben Galli + owner

Presented by

42A1097 Modified VF Valiant reader resto 42A1097 Modified
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42A1346 Owner Rachel also has a shed full of Fords. 42A1346
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1969 20Chrysler 20VF 20Valiant 20Regal 01 1969 20Chrysler 20VF 20Valiant 20Regal 01

Saving an old cruiser from a slow death in a paddock.

Somehow we’ve ended up as a family of Ford collectors, so the Valiant seems the odd one out. I guess the reason I bought it is because it brought back memories of growing up in Thomastown – there always seemed to be a lot of them in the area.

These days you don’t see them around so much, and I like the shape of them. It’s not a common sight these days, and I like that.

This example, a 1969 VF with a 318 V8, was sitting under a tree in a paddock in South Australia for around 25 years. It was in a pretty sad state.

I saw it on Ebay one night and contacted the owner straight away. We’d been looking for a while and I particularly wanted one with a V8. He’d bought it to restore for his missus, but circumstances had changed and he was about to lose access to the storage space at his work’s warehouse. The bidding had already reached $2800 and we agreed on $3000. He figured that, since we were the only people who’d bother to go and see the car that we should have it. And it wasn’t worth hanging on to see if he got a little bit more by sticking with the auction.

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My partner James is a mechanic and we knew this car would be a pretty big project. The floors were see-through in some places, the brakes were gone, the engine was tired, and there was plenty of rust or body damage to deal with.

In the end we worked on the sills, both left-side doors, the surrounds of both screens (the driver got wet if it rained!), the left C-pillar, both front guards and the right rear quarter. It’s a pretty comprehensive list and makes the car seem like it was a basket case. It wasn’t – there was enough there to work with, so long as you put the time in.

We did use a panel-beater for some of the work, but finding one who could do it for a fair price was a challenge. I’d get quotes, then James woiuld get quotes for the same thing and it was a lot cheaper! I think it was because I’m a girl a lot thought they could rip me off. In the end I just told people it was James’ car...

We got it resprayed in a standard colour, after we did much of the prep work.

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The interior of the Valiant was pretty bad – there wasn’t much left of it. I decided I wanted it redone so it looked stock, but in leather. The objection is always going to be leather wasn’t a factory trim on these cars, but I much prefer the feel of it over vinyl and it lasts better. We did manage to source a roof liner in the original pattern, which was a bonus. Braymills Motor Trimmers in Melbourne did all the work.

While we were at it, the engine scored a complete rebuild. It’s been left as a 318, but there have been some subtle modifications to liven it up a little. It was given a mild cam, a little bit of porting on the heads, an Edelbrock air gap manifold, a Holley 650 carburettor with vacuum secondaries, and Pacemaker extractors matched to twin two-and-a-quarter exhausts.

Meanwhile the transmission was rebuilt with a shift kit and 2500 stall converter.

The rest of the drivetrain has been left alone, so far – we’ll see how it goes. It’s actually a pretty lively package that can spin the wheels in second and probably challenges the ability of standard-size rubber to hang on.

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The brakes are also stock spec – drums all round with no booster. They’re okay if you drive the car as a Sunday cruiser, which is what it’s all about.

A lot of the wiring had to be redone. It’s a can of worms getting into an old car like this, because there are lots of little faults like a dodgy earth scattered around the car. Things like the headlight switch and the wiper motor had to be replaced, too. We’ve so far got all the critical electrics working, such as lights and so-on, but there are a few little details we’re chasing. One or two of the gauges need to be revived.

We describe this as a job that took a lot of time, a lot of love and a lot of swearing! But it was worth it. The Valiant was built as a cruiser that we can get out and play with. We already have a couple of collectible cars that spend most of their time in the shed, so it’s nice to have something we feel happy to jump in and use.

1969-70 Chrysler VF Valiant Regal Specs

Body 4-door sedan

Engine 5.2 litre pushrod V8

Power & Torque 157/172kW stock/Fireball 461/434Nm

Transmission three-speed, auto

Suspension Front – control arms & torsion bars

Rear – Live axle, with leaf springs

Brakes hydraulic drums, no assist

Production 52,933 (all models & body styles)

 

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