Barra-swapped 1966 Chrysler VC Valiant

Building this tough, purple, Barra-powered VC Valiant has reacquainted the Peters clan with their car enthusiast roots

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

NATHAN Peters’s race-spec Barra-swapped VC Valiant was borne from a want to bring his tight-knit family even closer together. “My parents, daughters and I have been around the drags our whole lives; it’s part of us,” Nathan says. “So in mid 2017 my dad Peter and I felt that it was time to get back on the track and to other events, instead of being spectators.”

This article was first published in the October 2019 issue of Street Machine

The VC had copped a couple of prior freshen-ups, which included recieivng the HoK purple paint, a cammed-up 225ci slant six with an auto conversion, new interior, tubs and Convo Pros. It had been sidelined as houses and other rides took precedence

Father and son were keen to build a ride worthy of cutting decent quarters while also being a turn-key family cruiser that would hold its own in the show arena. Nathan has owned the VC for two decades but it’d been off the road a while. An epic comeback was planned – this time it’d be stripped bare then finished to a superior standard with a bunch of fresh driveline upgrades.

“I’ve already ‘been there and done that’ with the low diff gears and a big-stall converter having the motor screaming its guts out at 70km/h on the highway just so that the car is quick over the quarter-mile”

At the project’s core is Ford’s venerable Barra six, and there was sensible reasoning behind the decision to bolt it under the bonnet.

“My daughters helped out in many different ways, from pulling down to bolting back up, cleaning, offering ideas and just being around to enjoy the build and learn from Dad and me,” Nathan says. “They’re beautiful girls who also know how to get greasy on the jobs as well. They detailed the car for the photoshoot too; it’s really encouraging for me to see”

“To swap out the 225ci slant for a small-block Chrysler was about $30,000, for around 600hp at the flywheel,” Nathan says. “But my old daily, a slightly modified BA Falcon Series II Turbo, made nearly 500hp, plus I could drive it everywhere. And as Dad and I are both Ford and Chrysler men, we said to each other: ‘Righto, let’s do it.’ So yeah, adding a Barra was going to upset a few purists but it’s 2019, everyone is putting LS in everything, so why not?”

A mate at a local Ford dealer gave them a good price on a new F6 turbo long motor, which they’ve kept relatively stock. Only the turbo and head acquired upgrades, while the lot will run on a flex fuel arrangement. Behind they’ve added a stout manualised Reid TH400 with 3500rpm converter and a transbrake, feeding down to a Competition Engineering sheet-metal nine-inch.

While it may look like an easy enough fit, slotting a Barra into a car that’s over four decades old and of another make was never going to be straightforward.

“It was a last-minute decision to change the wheels from the Convo Pros – which we did to make it look like a completely different car – and the 15-inch Weld V-series were a great choice,” Nathan says

“After the dummy fit of the motor, the sump was notched out to go around the VK Commodore steering rack,” Nathan says. They also strengthened the K-frame and uprated the brakes before sending the project out for the heavy lifting.

“Johnny at Monro Racecars did his magic on it, he has amazing talent,” Nathan says.

John fabricated the engine mounts and trans crossmember, re-shaped the trans tunnel, notched the firewall and built the fuel cell and swirl pot.

Underneath, he attached sub-frame connectors, moved the rear leaf springs inside the chassis rails, fabbed the exhaust and set up both the fuel system and suspension. Up front, John altered the radiator support for the intercooler and added the obligatory ’cage in the cockpit.

“Johnny put in a lot of time and effort,” Nathan says. “Once a week we’d go over the build and there weren’t any dramas because of the good communication between the three of us.”

Lee Bloom from Real Dyno Performance also proved to be another great help during the build. Yet the project’s true strength is the sense of unity and purpose that it provided for Nathan and his family.

The remote brake booster and a second catch can reside in the left inner guard, while the other side houses a custom-made alloy airbox in a bid to source cooler air. Johnny also patiently whipped up the neat spaghetti pipe work

“Throughout all of this I was also going through a separation with my ex-wife,” Nathan reveals. “I have my daughters full-time. It’s been a massive process for us and I think that building the car has helped.”

Nathan’s daughters, 14-year-old Shinae and seven-year-old Sienna, were in the shed, right beside their dad and grandfather every step of the way.

The huffer is a GT3566R high-flow sporting a 66mm front wheel – all upgraded by MTQ Engine Systems

“Everything was run past my family for the final decision; it was fun to do it together,” Nathan says.

While the end result could have easily been marred by so many opinions, instead it’s very cohesive thanks to John’s abilities along with the Peters clan’s tight vision. This involved going the extra mile, such as respraying an already tidy paint job.

Inside copped a massive makeover in classy black suede on vinyl which drapes the Recaro front and VC rear pews. Satin paint adds an extra textural contrast, adorning the door tops, dash and six-point cage, which is complete with removable side-intrusion bars. A B&M Pro Ratchet shifter assists with quarter-mile duties

“A few tiny humidity blisters had come up from having the car sitting around. And as the HoK Pavo Purple formula had changed, blending the paint job wasn’t going to look right,” Nathan says. “So Jared and the boys at Matheson Street Panel and Paint stripped the body back to bare metal; we didn’t want to regret not repainting it.”

“We added the Haltech Street Elite IQ as we need a lot of gauges to run the drivetrain; it was going to become a mess to house eight of them. The three next to the dash are trans temp, eBoost and an ethanol content flex fuel gauge”

Jared and his team then tidied up some old repairs before skilfully laying on the sparkling hue.

The TB arm switch activates the transbrake, while the button is currently tucked away until Nathan is ready to race the car. “The button clips on to the shifter so my thumb operates it,” he says. “With both the switch and button I can’t accidentally hit the transbrake and kill transmission”

“To get it finished, Dad and Mum also helped me financially – I couldn’t have done it to this level without them,” Nathan smiles. And the proud family are already receiving accolades for the imposing Valiant, recently taking out Runner-Up Top Sedan at Willowbank’s 2019 Mopar Sunday show ’n’ shine.

“It hasn’t even been on the dyno yet,” Nathan says. “Once it’s tuned we’ll run low boost around the streets, then wind it up at the track and hopefully get some good numbers – we’re all very excited!”


Paint: HoK Pavo Purple

Brand: Ford F6 Barra 4.0L
Induction: Bosch injectors; stock throttlebody
Manifold: Stock inlet
ECU: BA Series II
Turbo: GT3566R high-flow, 66mm front wheel
Head: Stock; ARP head studs; TBRE valve springs
Camshaft: Stock
Crank: Stock
Oil Pump: Billet oil pump gears
Fuel: PULP / E85; flex fuel
Fuel Pump: 2 x Holley Dominator 12-1800 electric
Cooling: Custom ARE radiator, 16in thermo
Exhaust: 1¼in steam-pipe primary pipes and turbo manifold, 3½in dump pipe; 4in single exhaust; Magnaflow muffler
Ignition: Stock Ford Barra

Trans: Reid TH400 manual valve, transbrake
Converter: Dominator 3500rpm
Bellhousing: Torque-Power
Tailshaft: 4in custom
Diff: Competition Engineering sheet-metal 9in, Truetrac, 3.45:1 gears, Altra9 billet 31-spline axles

Front: Strange adjustable shocks; torsion bar
Rear: Gazzard Brothers adjustable shocks & mono-leaf; CalTracs
Steering: VK Commodore rack-and-pinion
Brakes: Wilwood disc (f), Ford drum (r)
Master cylinder: PBR

Rims: Weld V-series; 15×3.5 (f), 15×10.5 (r)
Rubber: Mickey Thompson; 26×6 Sportsman S/R (f), 275/50/15 ET Street (r)

John from Monro Racecars for the fabrication work, always being on point and an absolute pleasure to work with; Lee Bloom and the Real Dyno Performance team for rewiring the new to the old; Jared of Matheson Street Panel and Paint for the prep and paint; Mistymopar Towing for taking the car to its destination; Ross at Suspension Dynamics for fine tuning; Jason at Bribie Upholstery for the interior; Peter from Dog Tyred; the PlumKrazy Garage; Craig of Image Perfection Automotive Detailing