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A Vintage Future

Slant Six Daydreaming

For lots of folks winter means keeping the ride under wraps or getting down to the business of getting it ready for the springtime. In between bouts of work there are always magazines and books to re-read or videos to watch to help satisfy the constant pang of car culture addiction. You can always go back out to the garage and re-wax or even just stare at your ride and imagine all the fun you’re going to have on the trips that are beginning to take shape in your mind. Or, if you’re like me, you can somehow look past all the unfinished work on the project at hand and conjure a new one.
My latest daydream project came to me as I was coming down the western slope of the Sierra in “Whitey,” our ’65 Slant Six Valiant. As Route 50 snaked its way down the mountains to the foothills I was thinking to myself what a pleasure it was to wheel this little antique through the esses on her 13-inch rims and stock suspension. Man, what a well-engineered little vehicle; with a bit of work it would be a real animal. Light body, light and torquey little motor -- a little bit here and a little bit there and she’d be ready to tear it up. And it got me thinking even more.
What about a two-door ’62 Valiant? A real Virgil Exener style throwback to the jet age complete with horizontal finlets and futuristic interior door panel motifs would be the perfect little rally car. All the suspension components interchange (K-frame up to ’66) directly up to ’72 and the big bolt pattern ’73 to ’76 stuff is an easy deal too. That’s nearly 15 years of parts with much of it still in aftermarket, over the counter production. The only parts that are a problem are sheet metal and trim, so a good shell is all that is needed.

I kept thinking and daydreaming once I got home and the car really started taking shape. The body would be done in a low-key dark green like the 1968 GG-1 Forest Green. The interior would be a lighter, F8-style green with turquoise accents. Bucket seats with late ‘60s style headrests would be the way to fly. The heater would REALLY work too and the defrost ducts would be new instead of the tattered mouse habitrails I usually find beneath the dash. A nice little MP3 system could be hidden in the glove box for a little Joe Henderson or Scratch Acid.

To keep costs to a minimum the small bolt pattern would be kept and a set of 14 by 6 Keystone look alikes that are resting in my garage would be at the corners with 205/70R14 red line radials on ‘em. I’d put a four-piston disc kit up front and leave the rear alone with a prop valve to keep from locking up. A set of 340 torsion bars, six leaf springs and a set of KYB shocks with front and rear anti-sway bars would take care of the suspension. With the six under the hood the weight should be right around 2700 pounds and the handling should be great with the only limiting factor being the rubber.

Hop ups would be kept to a minimum for reliability and mileage. A .060” overbore, bowl cut and blend on the heads with a mill to get compression to an even 9.0:1 would fit the bill nicely. The cam would be P4120243, a 244/244, .436” lift from Chrysler. This cam is nearly identical to the stock ’71 to ’77 cam and should preserve the low end and give a touch more top with no sacrifice in drivability, economy, or reliability. Nice, back-cut valves would be in the heads as well for just a bit more flow. Carburetion would be handled by the old Holley one barrel…wait a minute; this is a fantasy after all. Let’s go for a direct port injection on a factory one barrel manifold and turn the carb into a throttle body passing only air. Exhaust would be factory cast iron into a full 2” system with a nice quiet glasspack and a turndown at the bumper.

A “Feather Duster” four speed OD would be great, but nothing beats a pushbutton automatic for style and that’s exactly what this car would have. A Gear Vendors under/over would follow it to complement the 3.55:1 ratio in the 8 and 3/4 rear end. With the tires just a tic over 25 inches tall the acceleration out of the curves should be nice and crisp with a very comfy 70 mph cruise at 2600 rpm. I can see the cacti flyin’ past the side glass already.

PS: Once I finished writing this piece I found a car somewhat like the one I just described. You can find it at http://www.1962to1965mopar.ornocar.com/giampa62a.html.  


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