IT TOOK a couple of years longer than he’d planned, but Jason Behan’s full-house pro touring VG Valiant hardtop is finally done. Back in the July 2016 issue of SM, when we featured it in bare metal, we said it would probably need another 12 months of work before MINTVAL was finished. But good things come to those who wait, and this is most definitely a good thing.
This article was first published in the November 2019 issue of Street Machine
While we’ve featured a number killer Mopars in reccent years, few have been taken remotely as far as this one in terms of custom metal fabrication and modification. According to Jason: “Every bit of sheet metal on the car except for the roof was changed.”
We featured Jason’s car in bare metal back in our July 2016 mag, it is well worth a look, particulary if you are a fabrication junkie!
It’s had a lot of nips and tucks to make everything tighter, smoother and much more modern-looking, but it still retains its identity as a VG hardtop. Starting at the front, the bumper has been deleted and functional brake ducting vents were added. A custom grille was made from laser-cut alloy, and the rectangular headlights have made way for round projector lights from Dapper Lighting. The smoothing continues to the window openings, where the front and rear screens have been flush-fitted, flowing down to the rear bumper that has been narrowed and tucked in nice and tight to the body. Finishing off the clean look are exhaust tips that exit through the bumper.
There’s a fair bit going on here, with the leading edge of the bonnet extended to remove the stainless trim. The grille is custom-made from three pieces of laser-cut alloy. The bumper has been removed, and inlets duct air to the brakes
There’s just as much work done underneath the car as on top, with a custom chassis fabricated by BMV Engineering tied into new floorpans – to keep the car’s original monocoque construction – allowing it to sit on the deck over coil-over suspension but still achieve full travel. As you’d expect, the torsion-bar front end and leaf-spring rear are long gone and replaced with a tubular IFS up front and triangulated four-bar out the back.
The rear bumper has been tucked in nice and tight and a set of Dodge Dart tail-lights were fitted. The rear window also got the flush-fitting glass treatment for a clean and modern look
“The thing drives like a Skyline,” says Jason. “With the power steering and all the sound deadening, it’s as quiet and easy to drive as my brand new Ranger. With the windows up and the air-con on, it’s so good.
Because the engine was lifted to ensure adequate sump clearance and Jason didn’t want a reverse-cowl, a scoop was fabricated in metal
“Chris at BMV designed the whole car to work with the engine – engine relocation, 3.5-inch exhaust, fuel lines, wiring, full console all worked out at the start of the build.” That’s the secret to success – having a plan and sticking to it!
To allow the stock glass to be flush-fitted, BMV modified all of the openings to create a tight, even and smooth finish
When we last saw the VG in mid-2016 it was all but complete bar the paint and trim. And, while it seemed like the car was in the home stretch, getting it to the painters took a bit longer than planned, partly because there was a bit more work to do, but mainly because Jason had his heart set on a particular painter.
The boot features more custom sheet-metal work and carries through the same swage-line design and satin-black finish as the rest of the car
“After the bare-metal photoshoot I took the car back home, so trying to get it back to BMV to finish it off took a bit of time,” Jason says. “I took the car to Peter Wells – who is Chris from BMV’s uncle – to do all the paint and panel. He painted Angela Dow’s HER350 Torana [SM, Aug ’09] and he does a lot of carbonfibre drag car stuff because he lives about five minutes from Willowbank. So to get into him took a while because drag cars are crashing every weekend and he’s so busy!”
The bonnet and boot are both located and held down using a Quik-Latch system, but the real story is the way the fixtures are integrated into the bodywork
With all of the effort put into the bodywork and underside of the car, you might expect some kind of crazy, in-yer-face paintjob, but that was never the intention of the build.
The rear end features a sheet-metal 9in located by a triangulated 4-bar set-up built by BMV Engineering. They also managed to sneak a twin 3.5in exhaust past it all
“I wanted the car to speak for itself and be timeless,” says Jason, but he also wanted to be able to use the car as much as possible. “I tried to hold off driving it until Chris came to photograph it, but I’ve done about 1000km in it since then. I had PDR TECH Automotive ceramic-coat everything – the engine bay, boot, glass, leather, a heat-proof coating on the brakes. I used to think it was a bit of a wank factor, but it’s staying clean underneath.”
All of the sheet metal in the engine bay is custom-made, with removable panels to access the a/c receiver-dryer on the right and the radiator overflow on the left. The cold-air intake is fashioned from sheet aluminium and is fully sealed to the carb. To ensure the engine didn’t run out of air, the volume of the plenum and piping was carefully calculated and then fabricated to fit around all of the engine accessories and under the bonnet scoop. It’s tight! The intake leads to a VE OTR filter located aft of the radiator
While the colour combination is your basic black-and-white, there is still plenty of variation in the finishes and textures to keep it interesting. Satin black is used extensively on the engine bay sheet metal, while the engine itself is detailed in gloss black. The all-black interior is broken up by using several different textures and surface finishes, with satin-black metal combining with black leather and suede. Throw in a smattering of machined aluminium surfaces and it all comes together nicely.
Under the engine cover is a stout 514-cube big-block, based around a Mopar Hemi block which is filled with Scat crank and rods and flat-top forged pistons. Up top are non-Hemi Indy 440 alloy heads and an Indy single-plane intake, topped by a 1050 Dominator carb. The mill made 650hp on the engine dyno, but Jason has since swapped out the mechanical flat-tappet cam for a mechanical roller with less lift and better road manners
The machined pieces aren’t something pulled off the shelf, either – they’re custom-designed by Craig at BMV and then machined by Joe at Macro Machining in Yandina. The gauge cluster, shifter surround and speaker grilles showcase the clever work and they all feature an elongated hexagonal shape, which is reminiscent of the factory gauge cluster’s shape. It’s a motif that is used throughout the car and also features on the custom grille and the pattern in the seats and door trims.
The interior features four highly modified VE Commodore SS seats. The front pews are ute items, meaning they flip forward to allow access to the back seat. The seats are split by a full-metal-jacket console that sits atop a higher tunnel to accommodate the raised driveline
With a dad who worked at a Chrysler plant, the love for Valiants goes way back to Jason’s childhood. “I grew up with a dream to restore an old Valiant and always liked the shape of the VF/VG. I thought it had the potential to look good with the correct ride height laid out on coil-overs,” he says.
The hexagonal pattern is inspired by the stock gauge cluster’s shape and features throughout the car on the seat trim, door cards and even the speaker grilles
With a Meguiar’s Superstars invitation for MotorEx 2020 awarded at the Queensland Hot Rod & Street Machine Spectacular already in the bag, Jason and the team at BMV have obviously done enough to impress the judges. The next step will be a crack at the Top 60 hall at Street Machine Summernats 33. And you never know, with a bunch of miles on the car already and all of the bugs ironed out, it could be a contender for Grand Champ!
VG VALIANT HARDTOP
Paint: Glasurit White
Type: Chrysler 514ci big-block
Inlet: Indy single-plane
Carb: Holley 1050cfm Dominator
Heads: Indy 440-1
Valves: 2.19in (in), 1.81in (ex)
Cam: Comp solid-roller, .660 lift, 283-degrees duration
Radiator: Custom aluminium by BMV
Exhaust: 2in primaries into twin 3.5in stainless
’Box: 727 Torqueflite, full-manual
Converter: Dominator lock-up
Diff: 9in, 35-spline axles, full-floater, 3.7:1 gears
Front end: CRS tubular IFS
Rear end: BMV Engineering four-link
Shocks: QA1 coil-overs (f), Viking coil-overs (r)
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Brakes: Wilwood (f & r),CVR electric vacuum pump and VH44 booster
Rims: American Racing VN407; 20×9.5 (f), 20×13 (r)
Rubber: Nitto; 245/35/20 (f), 555 315/40/20 (r)
Chris, Craig, Jesse and the entire team at BMV Engineering; Peter Wells for the impeccable paintjob; Cam from North Coast Custom Trim; the team at American Racing Wheels; Mark Tralau for the gearbox build; Blake at Deluxe Body Werx for final touch-ups; Brad Cavanagh from PDR TECH Automotive for ceramic-coating and detailing; Jax Auto Wax for detailing products; Tyler from Rewire; Prestige Paint for paint supplies; finally, a big thanks to my customers at JB Tyre & Mechanical