"My preoccupation with old cars and my Valiant in particular began
in the early summer of 1998. I had been interested in classic cars
for a while, going to various car shows in my area as a spectator.
I had hopes of someday owning a classic myself, the only problem being
I liked all types of old cars. I decided a convertible would be nice
since I've never owned one myself but do remember riding with
a co-worker in his mid 60's B-body convertible (can't remember
the exact model). I started searching the online classified and came
across a '67 Barracuda convertible with a rebuilt engine, new
paint and interior for $4000. Since the car was about 50 miles from
my home I decided to take a drive and check it out. Pulling up to the
house, I could see the '67 Barracuda sitting in the driveway.
My heart sank. The paint was horrible, looked like it had been painted
with spray cans. The “new” interior had a cracked dash
pad that was melted together into a big blob. The owner opened the
hood for me and I was shocked to see holes rusted through the cowl
large enough to put my fist through! The owner then claimed the engine
"must have been" rebuilt because it ran so well. After
much difficulty he was able to get it started, it sounded terrible.
me take it for a test drive. I graciously declined and left, saying
the car needed too much work.
"The Valiant arrives, we conclude the transaction and I can't
believe my good fortune. After the previous owner leaves, I start checking
the car over to see what repairs might be needed. I was about to get
a rude awakening and an education in the "hobby" of classic
car ownership. Lesson number 1, never shop for an old car without someone
who's been there before, especially if you're new to the hobby.
The first thing I found was the rear wheel well openings were packed
with about 2" of body filler. Then I pull the carpet back and
saw holes through the floor. The lower front fenders are filled with
Bondo, the tops of the front fenders are filled with Bondo, the car
won't start without a shot of starting fluid, the rear springs
are coming through the trunk floor, the passenger's side torsion
bar support is rusted, etc... I was depressed. I thought about
donating the car to a charity and taking a tax deduction.
"Since completing the car, I've driven about 3000 miles. In 2001 I received first place in my class at an Antique Auto Club of America show in Rhinebeck, NY with over 1000 cars present. In 2002, I received the President's Choice award at the AACA Central Connecticut Region's show. Also in 2002, I received first in class at the Northeast Chrysler Convention. It's nice to have recognition for all the hard work and craftsmanship that's gone into this car, but the best part is putting the top down and cruising the back roads of Connecticut, watching people smile and wave. And of course, meeting all the great EVBC members!"
July 2003 newsflash:
"I'd like to thank everyone for the kind words and concern extended to myself and family after the recent fire. Right now I don't have any plans to restore the Valiant. After spending so much time and effort on the car over the past 5 years, it's kind of hard to think about doing it again. Maybe it's too soon to make a decision. I will remain a member of the EVBC because of all the great people here.
Thanks to all,
December 2003 update:
Best of luck to ya, Don- we're happy things are turning out OK. May your next project be even more rewarding (and less frustrating) than your previous one!