I know we’ve had a few ’63 Plymouth Valiants featured on CC, but I saw this one for sale in Marlton, New Jersey on Facebook Marketplace, and I thought I’d share photos because . . . it’s just so dull! Or maybe I should say “minimalist”! A 60-year-old, low-priced, dun-colored, compact sedan. Blackwall tires. Small hub caps. Manual transmission. Six cylinder. Not hot-rodded. No, this is not a Thunderbird, or a Corvette, or a Mustang, a Buick Riviera, or even a ‘Cuda. Not something that would be embraced by the mainstream classic car hobby. Just “Basic Transportation” that was meant to be driven, used up, and thrown away. It has no business surviving well into the 21st century. And that’s what I find so intriguing about it!
It’s an undeniable fact that cars reflect their owner’s personality. Somebody walks into a Plymouth dealer and says, “I want ‘no frills’–just a basic car. And the price has to be low. I’ll take it in that light beige–it’ll help hide the dirt!”
Yes, let’s talk about that color. In the early 1960s, this rather lifeless beige became a very popular choice for some unknown reason. GM, Ford, and Chrysler each had their own versions. They went by various names like Desert Frost, Adobe, Fawn, Sandshell Beige, Sahara Mist, etc. A lot of cars were made in these colors, but very few restorers select them today.
Back to the ’63 Valiant:
So there it is–a most unlikely (but I think, rather likable) survivor. If you drove this car in the 1960s, you would really “blend in”. But if you drove it today, boy would you stand out!
very cool find
I bet it is low miles too. Great car.
Nice & original but one important thing someone up-graded to duel master as that did not happen till 67 on all cars But 2 non Mopar cars did it in 62
I love it! I do wonder about the quality of the work that went into the driver’s side…and of course if there was rust there (certainly seems like what was repaired), why not the passenger side. But that could be an easy thing to check out.
Question…why did Valiants get their own names for all of the Plymouth colors?
Marketers work in mysterious ways. If you’ve watched “Mad Men”, you might get an idea the mystery comes in tax-stamped bottles.
That’s not unusual, Ford did the same thing. The same color from Mercury got a different name than the Ford version. Ford’s “Grabber Blue” became Mercury’s “Competition Blue”. Of course both GM and Chrysler did the same thing, calling the same color “Plum Crazy” or “In-Violet” depending on whether the car was a Dodge or a Plymouth, or a Camaro used “Hugger Orange” but the same color Pontiac was “Carousel Red”. Valiants were almost considered a separate case in the Plymouth stable, as entry-level economy cars, they were seen as almost not quite good enough to be a “true” Plymouth.
To be fair, the same color got many different names from different manufacturers, because the same three (3) companies made paint for the “Big Three” as well as many of the imports. Dupont, Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) and Dietzler were, and still are, the big three names in auto paint manufacturing. Since most car companies buy their paint from one of these three vendors, the chance that two or more manufacturers will share a paint color is quite good.
I don’t believe that paint colors were created by paint manufacturers and sold to automakers. I think the auto designers specified what they wanted and the paint manufacturers mixed and sold it. It was unusual for any given color/formula to not be exclusive to a particular manufacturer.
Perhaps. That may have been true at one time, but today, walk into any auto body supply store, and they can mix a factory color into a spray can for touch-ups in a few minutes, and they don’t stock hundreds of variations to suit every auto manufacturer. More likely, they mix the color on the spot from a formula provided by the paint manufacturer. I suspect that the paint vendors show prospective color palates to the various automakers at trade shows every year, and they may add or delete a color or two every year based on sales figures for each color and style trends, but recent trends in auto paint colors has been towards a very limited color palate. Generally white, black, grey, blue and red, with the occasional green or yellow thrown in for variety, but the rainbow of colors offered in the past has, sadly, largely disappeared, due to the twin bogeys of cost reduction and consumer indifference.
Love it! Very period correct trailer hitch as well.
Original Valiant styling was to me best of the first 60s compacts .Dad had a 61 with some options. Believe they were designed by Exner. This basic 63 looks like a stray dog 🐕 begging to be saved! Hope someone rescues it! Basic transportation BUT check out how the rear deck slope, small fins, and tail lights resemble the 63 Imperial.
Sorry, looked again. Imperial tail lights were actually in the small tail fins 🤔 but still see resemblance. 👀
The ‘64 had the vertical twilights you speak of.
I do know that my ’65 Dart still has the “octopus” pedals, so they used them for at least a couple more years.
Some bigger tires and it’s perfect.
Interesting juxtaposition with Joseph Dennis’ post of a Rolls-Royce that follows this post.
Spare tire would have been under that plastick-y mat in the trunk. If it was in the molded receptacle.
Wonder what they want for this.
Spare would be under the trunk floor/lining. Can’t see enough of the engine to tell, but very probably the 170 cid slant six. Foot operated windshield washer. A little too much rust for me to justify that price $8500
Another nice old survivor .
Not as rusty as I’d expect .
Excellent write-up! Yep, one would definitely stand out driving that today. And I happen to like cars without a lot of frills. I wish they still made manual crank up windows and stick shift transmissions in regular production cars as an option at least.
Wouldn’t take much to really bring that car back. I’d remove the trailer hitch and either have the paint professionally restored or repainted. I’d keep the dog dishes, but would also purchase a set of full wheel covers to use as well. And narrow stripe whitewall tires would be nice too.
You said it. This car is basic transportation at its best.
This is how I recall most A bodies – indeed most Mopars from the ’60s and ’70s – looking. Seemed to be a higher proportion of base models to high-trimmed and optioned-out cars than Ford or GM. There would eventually be a Valiant Brougham, but I’ve almost never seen one.
I do have a few questions:
– Why do Valiants have different names for most of the paint colors than other Plymouths?
– What’s that round thing above the headlamp dimmer foot switch?
– Why did so many cars of this era have deck lids that were considerably lower than the fenders on either side? It reduces luggage space significantly, and doesn’t have much effect on the overall styling.
– Not a question, but that exposed fuel filler pipe sure looks vulnerable, and inconvenient too.
Why did so many cars of this era have deck lids that were considerably lower than the fenders on either side? It reduces luggage space significantly, and doesn’t have much effect on the overall styling.
It was mostly Chrysler Co. products, because Virgil Exner really liked that look, and took it ti its extreme in the ’60-’62 Valiant/Lancer. The ’63 Valiant’s tail reflected that, and originally the fender lines tapered down too, but incoming new design chief Elwood Engel had that changed, adding the rear fender peak so that from the side, one wouldn’t notice the downward sloping rear end as much. It’s the only significant change he made to the ’63 Chrysler lines.
As to the paint colors, it’s an artifact of the Valiant having been its own brand initially. Even though it was now nominally a Plymouth, it still had something of its own brand identity.
– My guess it’s a holdover from the original concept of the Valiant being a completely separate line of cars from Plymouth. At some point, they finally relented and the Valiant became a Plymouth, but the paint-naming guys didn’t get the memo.
– Vacuum-operated windshield washer activation.
– Period styling.
– That whole intrusion into the luggage compartment of the fuel filler pipe was a Mopar thing due to the perceived benefit of easier access to the fuel filler port in the quarter panel on the driver’s side at the cost of trunk space. The typical placement on most cars was behind a spring-loaded rear license plate frame.
Interestingly, it took Chrysler over ten years to ‘finally’ modify that filler pipe in the A-body so it went immediately down the side of the interior quarter panel, then made a right turn, following the trunk floor before it entered the gas tank.
I recall ’70s B bodies (at least the sedans) had the behind-the-license-tag fuel filler location and still had a protruding pipe leading to the tank that could easily get in the way of squared-off luggage. I can’t find a pic online.
AFAIK, the last big Mopars that used the quarter panel fuel filler were the 1959 cars. Then, it was continued with the 1960 A-body.
Originally, it was low enough in the quarter panel that it didn’t interfere (much) with trunk cargo. But in subsequent models, it kept inching up on the quarter panel until, by the 1970 Duster, it was a real intrusion into the trunk.
So, don’t really know what it might have been on the seventies’ B-body sedans, but I think all non-A-body cars had the license plate door from 1960 forward, so it couldn’t have been for the fuel filler door.
What’s that round thing above the headlamp dimmer foot switch?
That is a rubber bulb that was an optional windshield washer. There is no switch under it – it is just a bulb pump that squirts out the washer fluid onto the windshield. Mine never worked due to a hole somewhere in the system.
The Chevy Vega and the Opel Manta/1900 used a similar low-cost system. Step on the rubber bulb on the floor, get a squirt of washer fluid. If you need more than one spritz of fluid, keep pumping! The problem, of course, was that the rubber bulb would eventually fail, leaving you without “bug juice”, LOL!
VW Beetles used a separate system. They had an air line that you screwed onto the valve stem for the spare tire in the front trunk (frunk), and air pressure from the spare tire would force washer fluid through the lines when you stepped on the valve. I used to work as a “pump jockey” in college, pumping gas, and I would often be asked by Beetle drivers to pump up the spare tire when the washer fluid got weak.
My Dad’s ’70 Opel GT had a washer switch/button there. As I recall it was a switch to turn on an electric pump, but it sat in the same location as the dimmer switch in other GM cars, which could be a source of confusion and hilarity.
The fuel filler pipe was sometimes a bit of a hindrance to loading the trunk, but it was sturdily constructed; you weren’t going to knock it askew or cause a fuel leak no matter how much thrashing around you might do while loading cargo into the trunk. A crash might have been another question, but no car had a crashworthy fuel system at the time.
Except for the four doors and higher trim level, it’s the Valiant counterpart to my father’s ’68 Dart.
These were still designed under Exner’s watch, so it proves that he was capable of something more mainstream. The asymmetrical dash is classic Exner, and is essentially a much simpler/cheaper version of the splendid IPs in the ’62-’63 Plymouths.
Exner just couldn’t resist one bit of weirdness though – that hairpin curve thing in the front fender. It was toned down a bit in the 1965 models and eliminated entirely in ’66 (last year of this generation), so somebody didn’t like it. It used to bother me but it does keep the styling from looking too monotonous.
That’s lovely. Looking back at some brochures, it seems they came with quite a big warranty – 5 years or 50,000 miles, so Chrysler must have had confidence in them.
Seeing a Valiant of this era always brings a smile to my face. I like cars that look more-or-less original but perhaps have a few subtle modernizations (dual-circuit brakes, breakerless ignition, etc.) that enhance safety & reliability.
The “round thing above the headlamp dimmer” is the bulb for the foot-operated windshield washer. We had one in our ’74 Valiant; it was a less-expensive option compared to the electric washer. As I recall, it delivered most of the washer fluid to the windshield, while a token amount would dribble out of the bulb and onto the driver’s footwell – oh well.
The exposed filler pipe was a “feature” all the way to the last of the A-bodies. It required a bit of creativity when filling the trunk.
I wonder if naming the Valiant colors separately was an artifact of the 1960-only marketing of Valiant as a separate line, rather than as a Plymouth model.
“They went by various names like Desert Frost, Adobe, Fawn, Sandshell Beige, Sahara Mist, etc. A lot of cars were made in these colors, but very few restorers select them today.”
My 68 Mustang happens to be called Pebble Beige which looks close to the Light Beige chip above. The take rate in 1968 was very low for that color on a Mustang and in fact I have never seen another one in that color. Something similar for my 68 Cougar in Seafoam Green which also had a very low take rate although I have seen other Seafoam Green Cougars.
Nice looking Mustang!
Once common to see plain as day Dart/Valiant sedans, up until maybe 1988 around Chicagoland. Brown, tan, green, sky blue, or white.
Elder drivers now like small CUV’s, like Trax, Encore, HR-V or Hyundai/Kia ones.
This is my favorite kind of classic car; nothing particularly special about it, just out doing what it was designed to do long after is expiration date. These kinds of cars almost feel like an old dog or an old friend, just valiantly doing what they were designed to do, day in and day out, for decades on end. There is absolutely no reason for this one to have survived, and yet, here it is. That’s what makes it so special.
I had a ’64 Valiant 200 – and it was loaded with options compared to this one. Most notably, mine had the pushbutton automatic. These were good cars and while I love the 1964 update on this car, I definately prefer the 1963-1965 years of styling instead of those tumerous potatoes from 1960-1962 which crippled sales. Thanks to the styling fix Exner did in 1963, the Valiant/Dart became the dominant compact for the next decade.
1964 below: “much better now, thanks for the exterior surgery – I’m popular now!”
Here we go again…
I also much prefer the styling of the ’63-’65 models. I’ve read the original 60-62s were good cars also, but they were just plain ugly to look at!
I don’t think this car is that light beige, which was a nonmetallic sort of used-chewing-gum colour similar to that on uncountable VW Beetles. This Valiant looks to have metallic paint, probably the metallic brown on the paint chip chart—faded on the outside, but look at the underside of the trunk lid.
Not ’63 items; these are later and/or generic.
…with the gasoline gauge bigger than the engine temperature gauge and the ammeter—a tiny scrappet of incongruence left over from the Exnerian Era.
Chrysler used variants of this round-dots pedal design (and matching carpet wear pad, see?) in most or all models from ’57 to ’65.
Only type offered in the ’63 Valiant. This looks like maybe a 170, though it’s harder to tell from this angle in a ’63-up A-body than in a ’60-’62.
That’s right; it’s got the optional reversing lights and Mopar Jiffy Jet windshield washer (bag-type reservoir, actuated by applying a foot to rubber bulb above the headlight beam kickswitch).
Remove the trunk mat or flip it forward. Lift out the hardboard panel: there’s your spare, in its well below the trunk floor.
“That’s right; it’s got the optional reversing lights and Mopar Jiffy Jet windshield washer (bag-type reservoir, actuated by applying a foot to rubber bulb above the headlight beam kickswitch).”
I suspect neither was “mandatory” until GSA in ’65 (hence the quotes around “mandatory”) or National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act in ’68.
However, from my recollection of options pricing from various manufacturers of the era, both were dirt cheap – like under fifteen bucks.
And I recall both were pretty commonly ordered, or selected by dealers for lot stock cars. Heater and AM radio, as well. Only the cheapest of the cheap – fleet buyers, skinflint consumers, and dealers ordering a single “loss leader” for the lot – skipped the windshield washer and reverse lights.
Yep, you’re correct about the GSA spec list.
Fifteen 1963 bucks = $149 in 2023 money, not exactly dirt cheap. My ’62 Lancer was the de luxe 770 model, in the up-from-Plymouth Dodge range, but it did not have windshield washers until dad and I added them with a NOS kit.
I can see your point about $15=$149, but otoh, it’s less than 1% of the purchase price. I guess I can see skipping the reverse lights (who cares about ‘the other guy’?) but windshield washers seem really important to *me*.
I guess I’m spoiled by the ’65 and ’68 rules, but I can’t imagine going without washers, a sideview mirror, and seatbelts. Or a heater, for that matter.
The one thing that Federal safety rules added that I couldn’t do without was the RH rear-view mirror! Before about 1980, the RH mirror was about a $15 option back in the day, so most people were too cheap to spring for it back in the day, but it has saved my bacon before attempting a lane change more than once. I figure I made the $15 back when I didn’t have the accident that the extra mirror prevented!
As a long-ago ‘professional’ Valiant buyer and flipper, the rule of thumb is that the cheapest ones lasted the longest. People willing to throw good money at the extras just didn’t take as good care of them.
Why the rust on the driver side?
Salt is spread down the center line of two lane, slightly crowned roads. That way, the salt could work its evil on both sides of the road. It also meant that in salt country, undercar rust was much worse on the driver’s side.
Also, the first place any Chryco A body rusted was in deep quarter panels aft of the rear wheel well.
Affirm that this one has the 101 (gross) HP 170 cu in Slant Six. These short stroke slants were the ones that set the mileage records.
What do you see in the pic to affirm this?
Just the relative horizontal height eyeballed against the firewall.
That works well on the ’60-’62 cars, because the valve cover height is very obvious versus the heater box. Subsequent cars are a lot harder to gauge accurately that way; the appearance changes markedly with a small shift this way or that in the camera angle. I agree with you that this car probably has the 170, but I’m not so certain about it as you seem to be.
Nice to see this old base model getting the respect and love it deserves .
You had to have been there to grasp how few cars had even driver’s side rear view mirrors until mandated in…?1968? .
No radio, no heater, no backup lights and rubber floor mats were the norm, the average worker’s weekly pay was 4100 if they were lucky, most earned far less so a $100 radio or $75 out side mirror were make it or break it accessories .
Apart from the Friday and Monday cars these Mo Pars were FAR better cars than my beloved GM’s .
This makes my parents’ 64 Valiant look positively sybaritic since it had a push button automatic, air conditioning and red upholstery with grey paint. It was still a slant 6 and was replaced in 1969 with a used Mercedes S class. Spiritually both the Mercedes and the Volvo 164 that replaced were basically upscale European Valiants with a straight six, automatic, AC and not much else.
1965 Plymouth Valiant wagon, Aurora, Colorado in July 1975. Other than a leaky automatic transmission, this car lasted until 1985. An uncle used on a rural mail route, for untold several hundred thousand miles, then sold it to my father for $300. Not exciting, but faithful. Great in the snow, too!
I like it!! If only Chrysler had offered overdrive in these cars.
And boy do I ever remember that (non) color on almost everything made from 1961-65. They were ALWAYS weathered and dull. I don’t think I ever saw an older car in that family of color with a shine on it.