1970 Chrysler VG Valiant Hardtop – flashback

Love for a Valiant Hardtop gets a new bride to the church on time

Photographers: Nathan Duff

HIRING the suit was the easy part,” Tyler Wilson muses, recalling the lead-up to his wedding. “We were still finishing her two hours before the ceremony, so things got tight.”

This article was first published in the August 2014 issue of Street Machine

The ‘her’ in question is wife Jodie’s Valiant VG Hardtop. And fortunately it made it to church on time to share in the couple’s big day.

“I was born and raised in a Mopar family. My dad Roger and brother Dan have an impressive collection of Dodges and my nan owned a VG Hardtop from new, so it really is Mopar or no car,” Jodie laughs.

After many years pining for a coupe, Jodie finally found a perfect daily cruiser locally, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. A Hemi 265 with low stance and whitewalls saw her trucking in style for a few years, before she decided on a makeover.

Mark’s Customising was entrusted with repairs and shaving the shell of excess brightware, with additional attention paid to smoothing the engine bay and door jambs.

Dodge Dart-based styling is complemented by Aussie front sheet-metal. Excess chrome was shaved and the body was bathed in custom red paint. Clean lines and stance are highlighted by 18in Weld wheels

The original plan was for a respray in factory blue with a white roof, but fate intervened on the tow to the panel shop. “We saw both an HK Holden and a Mini Cooper wearing blue-and-white paint schemes so we knew we had to do something different,” Jodie says.

The distinctive wine-red shade she eventually plumped for is a custom mix that saw three litres of paint poked and tweaked before it was deemed perfect. Coastal Collision Repair’s Gavin Anderson was then called upon to coat the swoopy coupe in the striking seven-layer hue.

The fresh hardtop shell was fitted with refurbished chrome courtesy of Albury Electroplaters, with the stainless trim painstakingly restored by Tyler after encouraging words from the now-retired guru of trim repair, Val Neill.

With the wedding just weeks away and a partially assembled shell ready for the offering, Jodie and Tyler switched to the mechanicals.

Jodie explains: “I wanted to replace the Hemi six with a 318 to give the VG a V8 rumble. The donor engine was residing in Dan’s ride-on mower – it’s a long story.”

The standard crank was retained and surrounded with Clevite bearings and Eagle rods. JE pistons and Pro Seal rings sort the compression duties, while a Comp hydraulic cam and Crow lifters form a solid platform for the timing package. Comp pushrods, valves and springs round out the top-end valvetrain, with the latter components nestled in ported stock-cast heads. A Mopar Performance M1 intake is a sure thing when it comes to a stout small-block, and was treated to a Holley HP 650 double pumper carb.

Lively 318 Fireball fronts a column-shifted 904. Engine bay uses touches often overlooked by the non-Valiant savvy, but is easy to maintain to enhance its ‘cruiser’ status

Exhaust gases are extracted using Pacemaker four-into-ones flowing to a dumped twin two-and-a-half-inch system. A high-volume oil pump keeps the internal lubrication in check, while a Champion aluminium radiator, thermo fan and shroud combination handle cooling duties.

The ignition system is the tried-and-proven MSD, incorporating a Pro-Billet mechanical distributor, digital 6AL module and HVC blaster.

The ’teen is backed by a column-shifted 904 Torqueflite trans running a shift kit and 2800 stall. The BorgWarner diff was retained and filled with a 3.23-geared LSD. The small early-Valiant four-inch PCD is a serious anchor when it comes to wheel choice, so both the rear axles and front discs were converted to the more common Ford stud pattern.

Jodie chose 18-inch Weld Phoenix rims (seven inches wide up front, eight for the rear) and 225/40 and 245/45 tyres to retain some big ’n’ little attitude. The front discs are PBR slotted-and-drilled items that mate to factory calipers, with the rear retaining rebuilt drums. V8 torsion bars and two-inch drop-stub axles round out the front end, while reset leaves entrench the car’s cruiser status.

Jodie and Tyler added a modern twist to the stock interior, refinishing the benches in leather and deleting the dash pad to enhance the custom gauge fascia. Matching babyseat will be needed soon

Swing open the pillarless coupe doors and you’re treated to a tastefully appointed and user-friendly interior. The front bucket-bench and rear bench seats were stripped, resprung and covered in leather, while the custom door trims, hoodlining and ancillary surfaces were treated to a mix of leather, vinyl and suede. Warrick at Ideal Auto Upholstery was responsible for the cabin stitching and custom carpet.

The factory column was rebuilt and polished for an individual touch while the stock twirler was restored and finished with a 770-spec ‘8’ badge.

The finished Valiant performed faultlessly on the big day, delivering Jodie to the church in fine style and allowing the newlyweds a chance to catch their breath and fully enjoy the double celebration.

Since the nuptials, the coupe has earned its fair share of awards. “It was never meant to be a show car but the attention it receives is humbling; it’s a cruiser that gets driven and enjoyed,” Jodie says.

“It will probably never go down the quarter-mile, but I don’t mind – that’s what Tyler’s XY ute is being built for!”


Colour: Custom Red Wine-light

Make: Chrysler 318
Carb: Holley 650HP
Intake: Mopar M1
Heads: Cast Chrysler, port-matched
Crank: Chrysler
Rods: Eagle I-Beam
Pistons: JE
Camshaft: Comp 227@50 486/473
Lifters: Crow
Ignition: MSD digital 6AL, Pro-Billet distributor, HVC Blaster coil, Eagle leads
Cooling: Champion 22in aluminium, 16in thermo and shroud
Exhaust: Pacemaker 4-1, twin 2½in system

Gearbox: Torqueflite 904, 2800 stall converter
Diff: BorgWarner, 3.23 gears, LSD centre

Front: V8 torsion bars
Rear: Re-set leaves
Shocks: Monroe (f), Gabriel (r)
Steering: Factory rebuilt
Brakes: PBR slotted and drilled rotors, VG calipers (f); VG drums (r)

Rims: Weld Phoenix; 18×7 (f), 18×8 (r)
Rubber: 225/40 (f), 245/45 (r)

Tyler; Dad; Dan, Julian, Brendan, AJ, Wazza, Sammy G, Jordan and Joel; Warner and Tracey Smith; MAD Racing Engines; Mark’s Customising; Coastal Collision; Sound In Motion; Ideal Auto Upholstery; Brendan, Diesel Power Systems; ABM Wiring; Nathan, Noosa Exhaust; Tye, Qld Valiant Spares; Keyn, Autopro Noosa; Graeme, Bob Jane Noosa