Kaine Fiorenza’s VF Valiant hardtop

Kaine Fiorenza's love of Valiant hardtops began as a 12-year-old, now he's got three of them, including this Drag Challenge-bound big-block VF

Photographers: Jordan Leist

Kaine Fiorenza might be just into his 30s, but he’s had a passion for early Valiant hardtops for over half his life. In fact, he owns three of them!

First published in the Street Machine 2022 Yearbook

“I dropped out of school at 14 to buy my first one,” Kaine says. “The idea was to strip it and paint it, but I broke the [rear] window trying to remove it.” In his defence, Kaine was pretty young at the time and didn’t know that you shouldn’t try and lever a toughened screen out with a screwdriver!

The rear window on Val hardtops is a pretty odd shape, and back then Kaine couldn’t find one for sale anywhere. Instead, he bought a whole car – the VF you see here – which came with heaps of spare parts, all for $2200. “I popped the back window out, chucked [the car] in the shed and advertised it, but it never sold,” he recalls.

At the time, Kaine was doing burnout competitions in a Calais, but when that blew up, he figured he would turn the spare hardtop into a burnout car. He got it to a point where the VF was fitted with a 245 Hemi and a single-rail and ready to be wired, but he never completed it. Work, house and kids got in the way for a while, but seeing Drag Challenge for the first time ripped Kaine away from the hamster wheel and got him excited about doing something with the hardtop.

“That’s a challenge to a vehicle, having to do heaps of kilometres and go drag racing,” he says. “You can have all the power in the world, but making it last is another thing. That’s why I went with a nitrous combo; I wanted something that was driveable on the street, but then when I wanted to play, I could open the bottle.”

Kaine’s idea of “driveable” on the street is a 500ci big-block Chrysler. It started out as a 440 but has been stroked with a 4.25-inch forged crank, filled with Scat rods and Icon pistons, and topped with a whole bunch of aluminium goodness from Indy. The heads are CNC-ported Little EZ 295 items with massive 2.19-inch and 1.81-inch valves, fed by an Indy tunnel ram topped by twin APD carbs.

Exhaust is handled by Hedman Husler fenderwell headers and a twin 3.5-inch system. A Comp roller cam and Crower lifters round out the package, which was expertly assembled by Mainline Motors.

The rest of the driveline is a mix of Mopar and Ford. A Ricky Wood-built 727 Torqueflite fitted with a transbrake and reverse-pattern valvebody handles the gears, while a nine-inch with 35-spline axles, Strange nodular-iron centre, full spool and 3.7:1 gears rounds out a bulletproof driveline. Koni adjustable shocks up front and Strange adjustables out back, combined with a set of CalTracs, help the old girl hook up on leaf springs.

Kaine’s first hit-out on the drag strip netted a 10.80@127mph, but they ran out of time to get the suspension fully sorted. With the hardtop hooking up properly and a big hit of nitrous – Kaine’s thinking a 300-shot or more – it should be capable of low nines. He’s also taken it out roll racing and loves how the big-block’s torque sees the Val easily pull away from the turbocharged cars he comes up against.

That’s a pretty good result considering this car could have been turned into a skid pig instead. That would have been a real shame, as this hardtop had a very good body with very little rust. Someone had started fixing it up before Kaine got it, so it had mismatched doors, was a few different colours and had a bit of a hit in the quarter, but it was a pretty low-mileage car.

The body and paint were sorted out by Dan Vokes, with the final colour choice, New Maple Gold, coming straight out of the VF Valiant brochure.

Remember we mentioned that Kaine has three hardtops? We’ve only talked about two so far. That first one he bought is now an empty body awaiting its turn, but his third hardtop is a cruiser. “It’s white with a black roof, with a 318 and hubcaps,” Kaine says. “It’s my granddad-spec cruising car, but it’s still got forged pistons and a bit of a cam, so it’s still fun on the street.

It sits pretty low as well. It was a slant-six car, but the 318 I put in it was paid for with the money I made on my paper round when I was 14. I bought the engine and trans for $2000 getting paid $40 a week.”

Having this VF featured in Street Machine truly closes the circle on Kaine’s love of Valiant hardtops: “The reason why I first fell in love with these cars was because I went to Summernats at the age of 12 and one of the first cars I saw was Mark Arblaster’s WAR440. I was like, ‘I want one of these.’ I said, ‘What is that, Dad?’ and he said, ‘It’s a Valiant.’ Obviously my old man appreciated Mopar, even though he’s a Ford man.”

Of course, being of Italian heritage, it’s not too much of a surprise that Kaine’s family has a Valiant-owning history. “We’ve got a VC Valiant as well, which was my nonno’s car that he brought brand new. We’ve still got that in the shed, and it’s a perfect, rust-free car. They’ve got big boots, too, so you can put heaps of vegies in there when you go and see the rellies!”

While Kaine might not be hauling too many vegies in the VF, there will be plenty of cruising, and with Drag Challenge on the cards, he’ll definitely be hauling arse.


Paint:New Maple Gold Metallic
Type:500ci big-block Chrysler
Inlet:Indy tunnel ram
Carb:Twin 750cfm APD
Heads:Indy Little EZ 295 CNC
Valves:Ferrea; 2.19in (in), 1.81in (ex)
Cam:Comp roller
Pistons:Icon forged
Crank:Forged steel
Conrods:Scat forged
Cooling:Alloy radiator with thermo fan
Exhaust:Hedman Husler headers, twin 3.5in system
Gearbox:Ricky Wood 727 Torqueflite, transbrake, reverse-pattern
Diff:9in, 35-spline axles, Strange nodular-iron centre, full spool, 3.7:1 gears
Front:Sway Right torsion bars, Koni adjustable shocks
Rear:Strange adjustable shocks, CalTracs
Brakes:Wilwood discs (f & r)
Rims:Weld V-Series 17×4.5 (f), Weld Vitesse 15×8 (r)
Rubber:Achilles ATR-K Economist 175/55R17 (f), Mickey Thompson ET Street 275/60R15 (r)

Mainline Motors; Jesse Murphy; Jye McCall; my dad and brother; Dan Vokes; Rod Brown; Pinjarra Tyrepower for the sponsorship; my wife Megan and kids Layla and Louie – the car wouldn’t exist without them