Leah Bartolo’s 1966 VC Valiant

Leah Bartolo wasn’t from a car-mad family; her strong passion for rumbling chrome-bumper rides didn’t develop until she was a teenager

Photographers: Troy Barker

Over the following years, Leah kept her desires at bay until she finally took the plunge and invested her hard-earned into what she had always wanted: a tidy, V8-motivated 1966 VC Valiant.

First published in the August 2021 issue of Street Machine

What got you into cars?

As a teenager, my friends had Valiants, Monaros, Ford coupes and the like. I always loved V8-powered VC Valiants, but they were out of my price range. When I met my husband Paul in 1992, he had a Drifter panel van (which he still owns) and worked on old cars. That made me want a VC even more!

Was it tricky to find what you were after?

I had been looking at VCs for six or seven years, and every one I looked at was rusty or dented up. Then, in 2014, a work friend saw this VC for sale parked out the front of a house, 15 minutes away. When I got there, the Valiant wasn’t outside, so I knocked on the door and found out that the seller had just agreed to trade it with a Harley – that was meant to happen later that day! But he talked to his wife about it and they decided to sell the VC to me instead.

What condition was it in?

It was in really good nick and for a good price. The body was pretty-much perfect, but the tan interior needed doing, with the bench seat falling apart. Not long after I bought it, I had my mate Paul Amato from Brockys Upholstery do the interior and swap the bench for a Regal one that also came with the car. And we changed to black vinyl with green piping. Everything was replaced, including all-new door and boot rubber.

And the donk?

It had a 225ci slant six. When that gave up on me in winter 2015, I decided to convert it to a V8, as the car already had a disc-brake front end and we had a spare 360ci. So, the Bergamin Brothers rebuilt the V8 with a mild hydraulic cam and ported J heads. While that was being built, Paul and I resprayed the engine bay; I did the sanding and Paul did the paint. By February 2016, I got to start the V8 and hear it run for the first time – it was awesome. Then getting to drive it was the best!

What’s the rest of the driveline?

It has a 904 trans with a Stage 2 shift kit and a 2000rpm stall. My diff has been rebuilt with an FG XR6 centre, LSD, 3.7:1 gears and 28-spline Currie axles.

It’s a ’66, so what’s the go with the MYVC67 plates?

I wanted the MYVC66 plates, but they were already taken. So, I went with MYVC67 as VCs were built both years and I thought most people can’t really tell the difference.

What’s next?

I left it as a column shift to keep it original, but I should have put a floor shifter in it – I’m still thinking about making that change. But I love taking it out on the weekends and to SMASA [Street Machine Association of South Australia] cruises; some days I even take it to work!

Girls — wanna be famous? Send pics, car details and contact details to: Iron Maiden, Street Machine, Locked Bag 12, Oakleigh, Vic 3166. Or email: [email protected].