The chassis rail on Scotty’s dad’s old VE Valiant ute was always going to be a suspect area, but we didn’t realise it would be quite this bad.
It’s a known problem for Vals of this era, with cracked right-hand chassis rails being about as common as broken door handles on an XD Falcon.
The reason for this is that VE Vals are based on the US-designed-and-built Dodge Dart, which in original left-hook spec saw the steering box mounted firmly to the crossmember. To make the chassis RHD for our locally built VEs, Aussie engineers simply bolted the steering box straight to the right-hand chassis rail, which over time flexes the chassis enough to make it crack and then rust.
We’ve seen this before on the VE wagon that Scotty has been restoring at home, but his dad’s ute was far worse. The chassis was cracked in three places, with a couple of decent rust holes, meaning Scotty had to rip the entire front end apart to fix it.
The front suspension and crossmember were dropped out; then Scotty had to carefully cut off the bump stop and brake line mounts before peeling all the crusty old metal away from the chassis rail. He then bent and sized some new metal and welded it into place, before using a pre-bent chassis sleeve to seal it all and give it some extra strength.
With that rail repaired, the coming episodes of the Valiant ute build will involve all the front suspension going back in, and by then the 318 small-block should be back from Top Torque so we can throw it in the car – so stay tuned!