CC Capsule: 1964 Valiant Signet 200 – Don’t Say the P-Words

This is not a Plymouth. Ceci n’est pas une Plymouth. If it were—if this were an American car—the callout on the front of the hood would say P L Y M O U T H.

Instead it says V A L I A N T, because…

…it’s a 1964 Valiant Signet 200, Canadian-specced, -built, and -sold at Chrysler-Plymouth-Fargo and Dodge dealers alike. Hell of a fine one, too, apparently well kept and well loved. If not for the body-coloured paint instead of factory matte black on the front face of the radiator support panel, visible through the grille, I’d have a hard time deciding if this were a repaint. Back when Bosch H4 headlamps like this were still made, Canadian Tire used to carry them.

People tend to think of Canadian Valiants as Plymouth Valiant front ends on Dodge Dart bodies, but they only did that for ’63 and ’64, number one. Number two, please don’t say Plodge, either. Even back in 1964 there was intelligent life outside the United States—actual, real, going-concern, developed countries with their own economies and cultures and everything—and the sheetmetal parts that went together to make this car weren’t begged, borrowed, or stolen from a Dodge or a Plymouth. They are what Chrysler Canada decided to build.

They go together well; all the ’63-’66 A-body front end assemblies fit and match up with all the bodies. I think the effect is more coherent overall than either U.S. model. The lines and angles work for me from any angle, though I’m not so hot on the underslung turn signals—too low, and too easy to foul with mud or slush.

I might like this even better with a ’64-’65 Barracuda nose, but now I’m being unreasonably picky.

As a kid I resented Elwood Engel for throwing conservative cold water after Virgil Exner, but there are just no false lines here at all.

I also dig the trim package Chrysler Canada came up with. Those sergeant-stripes ahead of the front wheel remind me of the ones on the rear quarters of my ’62 Lancer; the line running from the front wheel arch to just ahead of the rear one, then overtop of that to wrap around and tie together the quarters and deck lid…this was thoughtfully done.

The lack of a V-8 badge, and this small tailpipe, make me pretty sure this car has a 170 or 225 Slant-Six engine—a very good kind. It’s got the optional reversing lamps, too!

See? It’s a Valiant. The double angle to the trailing edge of the rear side glass has always made me smile (I don’t feel like saying the H-word, either; he wasn’t the first to have the idea, and he had nothing to do with this).

Driving a car with a pushbutton Torqueflite is good for the mental health; that’s a scientific fact.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this car around. It might be a good job I haven’t encountered the owner (yet?); I’d probably embarrass myself being that old guy prattling on—I used to have, etc—but who knows? Maybe the owner would offer me a brief ride in it. I’d like that, for old times’ sake.