JUNE 2015: 1962 VALIANT SIGNET 200—THIS BEAUTY WILL GROW ON YOU

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Chrysler introduced the Valiant in 1960 to combat the increasing popularity of cars like the VW Beetle.

 

North America had suddenly developed an appetite for smaller, more fuel efficient cars thanks to the rise of two-car families and gas prices.

 

The Valiant debuted with the Chevy Corvair and the Ford Falcon in 1960 so the competition was immediate and intense.

 

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Valiants developed a reputation for reliability thanks to the slant six engine that debuted the same year. They were cutting edge in 1960 because the bigger Mopars were still fin equipped while the Valiant told you, “you’re in a new decade”.

 

Most observers either loved or hated the 1960-62 Valiant and Dan Barnhard definitely was on the negative side of these little Mopars.

 

Despite his bias against the 1st Gen Valiants, Dan had to stop when he spotted a 1962 Valiant peeking out of a garage door. Dan found out the door “hadn’t been opened in ten years” and the owner was interested in selling his Valiant.

 

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Dan’s a handy guy so he wasn’t fazed by the dismantled Valiant. The owner had taken it apart and “gotten in over his head” with the project…in Dan’s own words. The owner was more than fair so Dan bought the car for 300 dollars because the current owner wanted it to go to a good home.

 

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This project was definitely not one of those decade long, wife-alienating jobs because Dan said he “just put it back together” so this car was back on the road faster than most cars in the make-believe world of a TV car guy show. Dan also explained how it “already had a splash job” on it so the combination of skill and luck brought the car to this point.

 

Dan is a student of all things automotive so he started to study the Valiant from top to bottom. This is a Canadian Valiant so it still has a generator in ’62 while the American Valiants were outfitted with alternators. Dan’s Canadian Valiant has a few other parts mismatches because the fuel pumps are different so he has to improvise.

 

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This Signet 200 is an upscale model with a lot of “Cadillac-like” upgrades not seen on the lower end cars like the vacuum heating system. He called it a mini-Chrysler 300.

 

Dan also believes the Valiant was designed to be a sports car based on the concept cars because they had a fastback roof that would appear later in the Barracuda.

 

Dan’s V-200 is the anti-trailer queen because he actually drives this car in real Canadian winters. He said the heater is “actually pretty good thanks to the upgrades” and the car handles great because it’s so well balanced-they were actually planning to race them and Lee Petty actually drove a Hyper-Pak 6 in NASCAR”.

 

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Valiants from this era are an acquired taste and Dan has clearly acquired a fondness for his ’62 Valiant. He explained how they “kind of grow on you” and the more he dug into the history of these unique little cars, the more he liked them.

 

The final words on this car are Dan’s and they’re definitely about how a ’62 Valiant can grow on you.

 

“It’s a chick car because they recognize the shapeliness of it”.

 

Jerry Sutherland

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