Curbside Outtakes: 1966 Plymouth Valiant Signet Convertible and BMW 2002 – Brothers From Different Mothers?

Parked right around the corner from each other are a couple of groovy cars on a quiet street corner in Berkeley.  I can only guess that they have the same owner, or perhaps they are owned by members of the same household.  So I assume they are brothers – with different mothers.

Plymouth Valiant Signet Convertible, in really nice shape.

BMW 2002, looks like it has been through a few wars.  I had one of these, a long time ago.  It was a great car, and by the time I had it, it had been through a few wars of its own.  Mine was red, though, and had already seen a few applications of Bondo amongst other indignities.

That’s a pretty nice nose there.  This looks to be a 1966, from the second generation of Valiants, cleaned up from the Exner-excess of the first generation.  It’s pretty similar to a car that was featured in Hemmings a couple of years back.  The nose on these is proud, Valiant even.  I never noticed until now the dividing line down the middle of the grill, splitting the Valiant logo in two.

I always thought the 2002 looked “cute” from the front, but from this vantage point it seems more menacing than anything else.  That kidney grill looks ready to rumble.

The rear of this Valiant is rather plain-Jane, I’m afraid.  Maybe that’s to atone for the previous generation’s fake continental tire stamped into the trunklid.  I cannot say that I love it, but I like it.  Chrysler was pretty proud of Plymouth around this time, as the Valiant was a great sales and engineering success from its introduction in 1960.  Perhaps that accounts for spelling out “Plymouth” in big block letters across the back.  Chrysler kind of forgot about Plymouth as the 1960’s neared the end, to the point that when they killed off the brand in 2001 there was hardly a whimper.

This is a later, rectangular-taillight 2002, which I believe means it’s a 1974 (Note, I checked the California Smog Check Database and my notion was confirmed).  Mine was a round-taillight version from 1969.   If this was a 2002 tii, with fuel-injection, it would be highly-prized (I understand there were a few turbocharged versions made as well, but I’ve never seen one).  Mine was a single-carburetor standard-tune version, but it still had a lot of moxy.  This one has no special badging, so I would think it is also a single-carburetor version.  From what I understand, the later years had very poor performance straight from the factory, but many folks took off the emissions equipment, and then it ran fine.  I think the wing is an aftermarket piece.

That interior looks like a pretty fun place to hang out, especially on a nice summer’s day, cruising along the coast.  You could even tow a trailer if you want!


It was hard to get a good shot of the 2002’s interior.  But the owner of this car is pretty serious driver – he’s got some serious aftermarket seats in there.  One of the notable things about my 2002 was the interior was incredibly flimsy, things like armrests, door panels, center consoles, all were made of what seemed like the cheapest material (vinyl-covered cardboard, pretty much) to someone raised on mid-1960’s Chryslers and 1970’s Volvos, and you had to be incredibly careful not to just rip them off their moorings.   There once was an armrest on the passenger-side door panel, for example.

That looks like a pretty comfortable place to be, as long as you aren’t racing anyone.  I am not sure whether this has a V-8 or a slant-six.  According to the Hemmings article, the Signet came standard with the six.  Either one would be fine by me.

The BMW propeller-logo is much more iconic than the Valiant logo.  Growing up, I used to see the stylized “V” or arrowhead as the Plymouth logo, but now I believe this is really is more for “Valiant” than it is for Plymouth as a whole.  Our 1967 Chrysler Town and Country Station wagon also had the Pentastar logo down on the side.  I always thought that was a strange thing, almost an afterthought.  Apparently it was only applied to the right-hand-side, which is weird as well.  I cannot remember whether that was true for the Town-And-Country.  Why not the left?

That’s a pretty cool-looking gas cap.  If I remember correctly the 2002 has a similar gas-cap, but on the right-hand-side.  In this case it was covered by a bush, so I couldn’t get a shot.

My 2002 had an antenna on the left-front-fender, near the window, in the standard location.  I wonder if this one gets better reception?  I had the world’s ugliest-looking aftermarket AM-FM radio in mine, but it actually got great reception.

Those are some mean-looking wheels on the 2002.  Am I right that those hubcaps on the Valiant let you take the wheel off without taking off the hubcaps?  I’ve never seen that before.

The backseat looks pretty roomy.  I wonder what it’s like with the top up, though.

Just a few more shots of the Valiant.  It really does have some nice details.

One more shot of the 2002.  In contrast to the Valiant, it is pretty much devoid of small little decorations.  But it is such a clean design, it hardly needs it.

So there you have it.  Two brothers from different mothers.  One for cruising, one for bruising.  Which one would you choose?  I’d probably choose the Valiant, but only because I already got the chance for a time to bruise in my 1969 example.