VIDEO: Budget Built Valiant

The Plymouth Valiant is not typically brought up when talking about big Mopar muscle – the top of the list is usually reserved for Road Runners, Chargers and Barracudas.  In its day, the Valiant was an economy car better suited for trips to the grocery store rather than trips down the track and not so much for the power that languished under the hood.

However, many overlook the potential that the Valiant brings to the table; affordability, a low curb weight, and having a better stock suspension than its competitors thanks to the addition of torsion bars.  The short wheel based A-Body car is the perfect building block for a great muscle car.

Already having his heart set on a Mopar, Shannon Hudson was given a 360 motor from a wrecked Canadian cop car and, with a little help from a reputable book written by one of our colleagues, was able to rebuild it. But where would it go? After searching for possible candidates, he determined that the Dart was far too common, before he realized that the Valiant would be a perfect fit. Shannon was turned on to the Valiant after following the “Green Brick” street legal road racer.

Shannon purchased his 1969 Valiant project car for $400 in 1994.  Owning a speedometer shop, he was able to make connections with Hotchkis, who used his car as the prototype for their A-Body TVS suspension.  He later added a Borgeson steering box to help with play and finished it off with the drag car look; skinny tires in front and drag radials in back.

This is what Shannon started out with! It's made quite a leap over the years, hasn't it?

This is what Shannon started out with! It’s made quite a leap over the years, hasn’t it?

Twenty years later, Mike Musto takes us on a cruise with this lime green machine.  The 360 cubic-inch, fuel-injected engine is pumping out 400 horsepower.  Thanks to the solid door frames the interior is relatively quiet and the generic manual brakes work well for what they are.  After 20 years, Shannon has bonded with his car and knows exactly how it drives.

He talks of potentially lightening the weight in the front end by swapping out his 360 for a Neon SRT-4 motor.  When it comes to Valiants, the choice is still his.  It remains one of the few remaining muscle cars without the added pressure of how a rebuild is supposed to be done, and that makes the project even sweeter.

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