Frank Stosic’s VF Valiant hardtop

An enduring love for 1960s Vals led Frank to build this sweet cruiser

Photographers: Shaun Tanner

I have always loved the lines of a Valiant hardtop since we had one as our family car back in the 70s and 80s. I remember my dad being proud of the comments from his workmates when they commented on the American styling. We didn’t know it back then that the hardtop was an Australian version of the US Dodge Dart.

When I turned 18, I missed the opportunity to buy a Valiant hardtop as my first car, but the itch to own one never left me. Several years later, I just had to own a hardtop. The VF Valiant had sentimental value for me and I just couldn’t think of a better looking car for a bargain price at the time.

With the help of some close friends, we went on the search for a respectable example and we came across several cars, some in very interesting condition. When it came to this Valiant, it was an immediate reaction. I knew that this car could be the one as soon as my friends and I saw it parked in the previous owner’s driveway.

It was a simple, relatively clean car and it just had the basic 60’s styling that I liked. It was a clean slate and I knew it was a perfect opportunity for me to work on it myself and make it my own… and that’s what I did.

After purchasing the car there was the usual process of going through the car and getting it roadworthy and tidied up. From there it was one winter project at a time with the aim of generally improving the car both inside and out, from a completely reupholstered interior and restored instrument cluster and dash pad to fresh bodywork and a repainted exterior.

A few changes were made along the way according to my taste but the car still retains the 60s Valiant feel. The VF has some noticeable imperfections for anyone who wants to look for them, but it is a car that I can enjoy driving and still get appreciative comments from a range of people, both young and old.

The engine is a 225ci slant six. It was rebuilt several years ago and now has a displacement of 232ci. The usual work to the block and head was done in order to boost compression. It has been bored out 0.040 and now includes bigger valves from a 302 Windsor. A mild performance cam topped off with an Aussiespeed long runner intake manifold and Holley carburettor have helped boost the overall performance of the Valiant, especially at highway speeds.

It’s my aim to drive and enjoy the car as much as possible. A highway cruise with my kids or a ‘Valiant run’ with friends is what it is all about for me. I love being behind the wheel on an open road. The Valiant is, in many ways, an extension of my personality and my creative outlet. I love the good and even the not-so-good aspects of the hardtop. It’s all about the experience!