Damian Cannone could have pumped his ’62 S Series Valiant to bursting point, but it appears he found that approach could be put to more enjoyable use elsewhere (see mirror ornament). But just like covering a lush T-bone with cream cheese and apple sauce, there’s no need with a car like this. Eye-catching paint, trick rims, killer stance and plenty of grunt is all that’s required to out-flash the fast-four set.
First published in the November 2002 issue of Street Machine
Growing up in Newcastle, NSW, and feeling the influx of cheaply-modified hatchbacks, Damian wanted to prove to his generation that street cred is not a Daewoo Lanos with a big exhaust. However, he’d had a go at that with his first affair with an older vehicle.
“My first car was a 1959 Morris Minor which I fully restored,” he says. “Three months after I finished it, some bastard stole it! My parents forced me into buying a four-cylinder sports car, but I really wanted another old car. I love the shape of the S Series and I love lowriders as well, so I decided to combine the two.”
And why not, as the S Series was a pretty flash unit right from the start. Not only did it look a million miles an hour quicker than the more conservative EJ Holden or XL Falcon, but it had the grunt under the bonnet to match. Next to the Holden’s 75hp Grey motor and the Falcon’s 101hp Super Pursuit donk, the Val’s 145hp slant six was simply intimidating.
Still what made grown men cry in 1962 wouldn’t necessarily get anyone aroused today, so Damien’s Val has been rubbed up accordingly with a ported and polished head, a Wade camshaft, solid lifters, and ACL rings, bearings, and flat-top pistons. Polished and shotpeened conrods and chrome-moly pushrods keep everything nicely rigid, and oversize stainless valves (with competition valve springs) feed as much juice as possible into larger combustion chambers.
Instead of a single downdraught carburettor, Damian’s Val heavy breathes through a four-barrel Holley and exhales through custom extractors feeding into a three-inch mandrel-bent exhaust with a single glass-pack muffler. A punchy package to be sure!
But it doesn’t matter how impressive the package if you don’t know which buttons to push. And in this case, there’s five – on the dashboard, to the right of the protruding instrument pack. These act as the shift for the Chrysler Torqueflite auto, which, with three forward gears (instead of an XL Falcon’s two), has more than enough leverage to vigorously haul its modest curb weight. However, Damian has gone several strokes further with a modified tailshaft, a Chrysler limited-slip diff, and a 2800rpm stall converter.
“When I bought the Val, everyone said it was no good and looked ugly,” says Damian. But it’s what you do with it that counts, and this Pentastar beast now pulls stares like a nun having a bong on a public bus. Sprayed in PPG Barbados Green with pearl flames by Dr Hops and Custom, Damian’s S Series has had its rear door handles shaved, and most badges stripped, but the rest is pretty close to how nature intended. To keep it sexy, Damian sourced some fat Dragway billet rims – 15×6 front and 16×8 back – and to keep it wipe clean, Damian chose green, grey and black vinyl for the interior.
Dave at Cardiff Motor Trimmers tidied up the inside bits, including custom front buckets mounted either side of a low, fat centre console. The remaining colour scheme would have Norman May screaming for medals, but the original white dials are a strangely modern touch. With the reduced seat count, shagging is now mainly restricted to the back, although this all depends on many variables best left to The Picture magazine.
And if this rig’s a-rockin’, it’s probably because Damian is tweaking the Val’s hydraulic suspension. The system is based on a hydraulic ram that replaces the original shock, with a pump and four (!) batteries in the boot.
“That gets the front of the car about 1cm off the ground,” says Damian, “so I get plenty of sparks off the crossmember!”
Not a bad party trick and neither is the Val’s flamethrower, based on the good old ‘spark plug screwed into the exhaust’ trick. “A mate of mine built a kit for it that shuts off power to the motor, while sending the volts to the plug. I just pump the gas and whooshka – five feet flames!” Good for dissuading tailgaters, we hear…
1962 S Series Valiant
|225 slant six
|Ported and polished
|ACL flat top
|Extractors, three-inch system
|Rear view mirror mounted
|Dragway DB64 billets, 15×6 and 16×9