Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Valiant effort (groan)

I was way out in the hinterlands of either Brooklyn or Queens when I passed by this dirty little ride. At 50 years old it holds up nicely!
This is a 1966 Plymouth Valiant 200 in White. There is a Plymouth Beige that's not far off from this but the color chips I could find from this year show a White that's not super bright so I think this is it.
Plymouth in the '60s was an exercise in doing a lot with a little. Each year brought frugal changes that drastically altered the appearance. For instance the grill and taillights changed each year making essentially the same car seem fresh with each vintage. However behind this grill is an identical opening to the years before and after this ride.
This little Plymouth looks like it's cowering and dejected with that one dead eye. It's a shame because overall it's in great shape. The windshield looks like it was replaced hastily with that thick black rubber all over the surround.
These Valiants and their siblings the Darts were considered compact cars in their day. The lines are clean as a whistle and the dimensions are nicely balanced. I love the no nonsense approach to Mopar in the '60s.
These cars remain very usable today. The compact dimensions are about the same as a modern Accord, the performance of the Slant-6 or small 273 V8 engines is adequate, and the miles per gallon can easily be in the mid to upper 20s.
Plastics were in heavy use in the interior with the cool off-center speedometer and gauge cluster sporting faux chrome. A missing radio and lack of air conditioner means this is basic transportation.
This ride is fitted with the legendary Torqueflite automatic transmission. The Torqueflite (written some years as TorqueFlite) was introduced in 1956 and continued in production all the way through 2015! This is fantastic news when you own one of these cars and need a replacement. I had a '72 Plymouth Duster with a slant-6 and the Torqueflite. After delivering pizzas with it for a couple months it needed to be replaced. I found a rebuilt unit for $300 with a 1 year warranty!
The taillights are different for each year in the '60s but I find this year to be exceptionally tidy. The top lens is the brake/turn signal, the center a reflector, and the lower are nicely incorporated reverse lights. I believe '66 was the first year where reverse lights were federally mandated.
I'm not buying that single out of state plate on the back. I've said it before but all you need to do to park with impunity in the outer boroughs is to tack an out of state plate on your ride and every cop will walk by it forever. I've seen several cars roosting on side streets for years with a sketchy plate.
The 200 was the mid-tier trim level in '66. The base model 100 had no chrome trim whatsoever and could be ordered in a very frugal package; small 6 cylinder with a three on the tree manual, radio delete, and even heater delete for the warm climate penny pincher. The highest trim level was the Signet series which offered the only convertible in the lineup.
I love this detail so I always point it out on '60s Mopars. This little Pentastar logo can only be found on the passenger side fender. The thought process is that when it is parked passersby will see it from the sidewalk.
The name Mopar covers all of the Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth lines. It stands for Motor Parts which is the official name of the company parts manufacturer. As a result there are Mopar car clubs and the like.
Well that's where we'll leave this smart little Plymouth. I highly recommend any '60s (and most '70s) Mopars for people looking to buy a classic car as a daily driver. I've had both the aforementioned Duster as well as a '74 Dart and both were totally reliable. These cars never want to die, especially with the slant-6 engine. Aside from the fragile plastic dashboard components parts are widely available. Hats off Valiant!  

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