Curbside Outtake: 1969 Plymouth Valiant – Wonder What’s Under the Hood?

I was walking by the garage here in our suburban Tokyo neighborhood where I spotted the 1970 Dodge Charger last summer (it’s still there by the way – you can see it in the background), and came across this beauty. I had a similar ’68 Valiant during my college years and seeing this one sure brought back more than a few memories.

If your driving career started in the decade of the ‘70’s, there’s a good chance you have a Valiant/Dart/Duster/ Demon/Scamp story to share. Here’s mine – around 1974, after having significantly dented my ’64 Ford Fairlane when a light pole jumped out in front of me in a supermarket parking lot, I needed some cheap wheels to get to both college and a part-time job. My best buddy was selling his ’68 Valiant Signet Coupe, B5 Blue with a navy blue roof, Slant Six/Torqueflight, with about 75K miles. I knew it was a tough little car, but really didn’t understand how tough until I became the owner.  Even though I had little money for any maintenance, it never failed to start in four years of ownership. Get in, hit the “hummingbird”, wait for the “leaning tower of power” to fire, slip the Torqueflight into D, and off you went. It was indestructible.  Two memories stand out;

I remember it was slow, but I didn’t need to get anywhere fast, I just needed to get there.  I do recall asking another buddy who worked at a gas station if we could hook it up to the Sun Machine and see if all was well. What we found out was that No. 5 cylinder was dead. We checked the electric connections and it was getting spark, so it must have been an internal engine problem. No worry – it drove fine and I just left it as is.

With winter approaching, I found a place that had two pretty decent used snow tires – $25 for both, mounted and balanced.  With two sandbags in the trunk, that car plowed right through four Midwest winters – never got stuck.

Enough reminiscing – this Tokyo-based Valiant is a 1969 model, as identified by the grille. I prefer the ‘67/68 front end – a little more distinctive.

The interior looks like it has been re-done – and the body has obviously been refurbished with most of the emblems and tags removed. The big question – what’s under the hood? Unfortunately the owner wasn’t around, but based on the stance and tires, I’d say it’s probably something larger than a 225 cu in Slant Six.

I’ve had lots of cars over the intervening 40-some years; quite a few I wish I still had – but I have a soft spot and a lot of respect for that Valiant – and at times it’s the one I’d like to look out and see in the driveway again.