I don’t recall the asking price, but I do remember thinking it seemed very high when this ’61 Valiant was advertised repeatedly over several years, I think out of somewhere in New York. Going by the rust we see—up to and including the rearview mirror—it’s easy to imagine there’s a lot more rust we don’t see; probably not much left of the floors, the torsion bar anchors, and everything else in the lower 25 per cent of the car.
It’s still interesting, though, because that ain’t no Slant-6. Also, take a careful look through the windshield and see what you don’t see: no instrument cluster or steering wheel, because they’re hidden behind the hood; this car is a right-hooker.
Squack? A right-hand drive diesel ’61 Valiant, what even is this? There aren’t a whole lot of threads to tug at. This car was built many years before Chrysler experimented with diesel Slant-Sixes Given who was making what kinds of engines at that time, Perkins comes to mind as a reasonable guess as the source of this car’s engine. An old expired auction tracker provides a few images—only at stingily small size, sorry about that:
It’s apparently a brochure printed in the UK by Chrysler International to promote the 1962 diesel Valiant. This what’s shown here is a left-drive model.
Ah, yep, there we go—it’s a Finest Ever Perkins Diesel in the brochure car.
There’s the brochure engine, and here’s the only other pic I have of that flat-tired ’61:
I think that’s a match, judging by the area where the upper radiator hose connects to the engine. I imagine these cars were noisy, slow, smoky stinkpots, but they probably got relatively terrific mileage. They weren’t the only factory-built diesel-powered A-body Mopars, but they’re the only ones in this post; the others deserve one of their own.
Love the title, Daniel; worthy of an NYC tabloid.
Thanks, but Paul’s the one who buffed it to a high sheen; he replaced my “ran” by “clattered”. Much better!
Wow! Thanks for this article. This is a first for me. I wonder what the fuel mileage comparison was between the Perkins and a Slant 6.
The artist’s rendering of the Valiant in the brochure looks rather attractive over the real thing.
Wow, never heard of a diesel Valiant. Ever.
I wonder, is the finest ever Perkins diesel still coarser than other diesels?
That sales booklet doesn’t hide the “working dog” intent of just such a beast. If driving a cab with a Chevy V8 and Powerglide sucks, imagine how much fun a diesel Valiant isn’t. The Valiant got to be every thing to every man over its life, from a diesel taxi in England to a luxury car in Australia, I guess that shows how versatile it really was. The styling isn’t quite great, but it’s far from boring. I rather like the Valiant.
Chrysler’s import and export aspirations always seemed all over the map, I imagine depending on who was in charge at the moment.
Apparently, these Perkins Valiants were popular with British and Israeli taxi operators.
According to Wikipedia, when this Valiant was built, Perkins was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Massey Ferguson.
Never,never seen one in the UK at ether a show or taxi rank. Even Spain had the slant six gas engine, the biggest engine on the market.
Make it Work. I love that brochure slogan. I suspect that’s what the engineering team muttered when tasked with replacing their clever slant six with the Perkins lump. “Yeah, whatever. We’ll make it work.”
Let’s finish that sentence:
Management to workers: “Make it work, or your successors will.”
Most of us working under management have heard this thinly veiled threat in one form or another, at one time or another.
Back in the day I read that’s what happened at VW when management wanted cleaner running diesels.
As dman notes, they made it work.
Though not factory original, taxis in Uruguay were for a very long time diesel only, and adapted brand new. So, the Argentinian Chevy (i.e. a 68 Nova made for a long while beginning in 69) and Dodge Polara (somewhat based on the Valiant but with a different styling) were commonplace cabs at the beginning of the 70s and up to…well, up to when they self destructed. All had the 4.203 Perkins, some kept their 3 on the tree, others had a 3 on the floor, and still other had some 4 on the floor. All were slow, smoky, outragoeusly noisy. But ample and comfortable for a dweller of a city where a Fiat 600 was a commonplace car and a Fiat 125 was a middle-higher class vehicle. Of course, they wouldn’t be able to keep up with traffic today. There were barely able to do so 50 years ago.
I remember all of them as I arrived in BsAs in 1972. The only car that I wanted there was the IKA Renault Torino, as you probably know, a Rambler based body, re-styled by Pinin Farina. Understated, Italianized and fun to drive
A true Sternmobile.
You take that back!
Next you’re going to tell us that Chrysler made some of these with column shifts in Iraq or something.
Pre CC effect strikes again. I was driving to work yesterday and at passed an early Valiant parked at a business near by. I’ve seen it there before a few times.
It is a 4dr with a two tone paint job, that looks like an old school rust repair special. Black on the wheel arches and below the crease on the doors. But it is a nice gloss black and the blue on top certainly isn’t factory either.
I didn’t read the byline on this one as I started reading the text, but as soon as I saw “squack” I knew it had to be Daniel Stern.
Yep! I was looking for “Okeh” in the text but not this time….
A turbo diesel slant six option on the Diplomat/LeBaron wagon, would have been sweet.
My first thought was how expensive an imported, RHD, Valiant would have been in Britain in the 1960’s. It turns out the diesel conversion thing though was relatively common.
I was trying to find the price of a base Valiant in Britain in one of my old Autocar mags. What I found instead was a report on a Perkins diesel conversion of a Ford Consul in 1960. Apparently the conversions were available on a fairly wide range of cars including Vauxhalls, Hillmans, Morris/Austins, and Bedfords.
Autocar praised the conversion but figured it could take up to 50,000 miles to pay off the additional cost based on fuel consumption. Overall expected consumption was 36.9 mpg Imperial, versus 24.3 mpg Imp. for the petrol version.
Longer term savings related to engine durability and servicing costs however were seen to be significant.
The problem I see with those fifties or sixties diesel conversions, is that you’d really have to really love the car as a diesel to keep it long enough to pay. By 1965 a 1960 Consul looked quite old-fashioned; nice, but based on a 1956 body and way out of style. Not to mention the nose, vibration and harshness of those sixties diesels.
(Sorry, meant ‘noise’ but it was too good to change!)
The car and I are just about the same age. Similar condition too..lol
My post about a 1960 Autocar article on the diesel conversion of a Ford Consul doesn’t seem to have shown up. But here are photos of the two page article.
Interesting, Ive never heard of the Perkins Valiant but that P4 was an option on Hillman Superminxs like mine when new never seen one of those either but I did come across a car being parted out that had the Perkins conversion in it in Finland of all places,
Diesel conversions were a minor industry here years ago, Fordson tractor diesel to replace a flathead V8 in old pickups was common a mate bought one a jailbar, yes it was slow glacial acceleration and 48mph maximum speed but 48 mpg taller sidewall mudgrip tyres on the back would have improved the cruising speed but that pickup died in a rollover before the tyres were done, replaced with a 48 Bonus that had a Humber Blue Riband six installed.
“They weren’t the only factory-built diesel-powered A-body Mopars” … I’d never heard of a diesel Valiant, but your last sentence leaves me well intrigued. Looking forward to the follow-up post!
In Israel we did have quite a few diesel Mopars as cabs; most were on stretched chassis by a Belgian (yes) coach builder. Perkins indeed provided the engines and believe me at 80 hp at the most they were no balls of fire but, with speeds rarely going over 55 MPH back then, it was a very secondary consideration to robustness/fuel economy. They were – as was the case in Turkey and some other Middle Eastern countries – used in town-to-town services with fixed fares. More expensive than a bus but (slightly) faster and more comfortable. When Chrysler decided to pull out of that sector its share was picked up by Checker which used the same Perkins clatterbox. By that time other makers like M-B, Peugeot and even Fiat joined the market. Checker then foolishly decided to fit the GM diesels in its cars but that’s another story…
The cab in the pic belonged to Taxi Aviv which had offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I’m fairly certain the pic (by Itshak Saàd) was taken in Jerusalem, waiting for passengers to Tel Aviv.
Adding: no diesel Valiant cabs were ever in Israel, the Perkins engines were always fitted in the full-size chassis. Here’s another (pic: A. Friedman).
One more rarity found .
I can’t imagine it has any monetary value but it’d be great to sacrifice and old rust free California junker to make it like new again .
I remember Perkins Diesel Powered buses in Guatemala, they were noisy and slow but never, ever broke down and did not smoke at all .