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1979 Valiant CM Regal 'Survivor' Thread

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    There is some information in this thread which would have been useful about five years ago! The missing cylinder ended up being just a bent plug connection, so I just bent it back together.

    Anyway, by this stage we had been some 1500km on dirt and a lot of cars were beginning to come apart. There was a Swift with the front guards both strapped to the roof, a previously suspiciously pristine AU Falcon had hit a roo and Pain Train I had hit a washout at speed and was now running on other people's spares and hope.

    The Valiant, both inside and out, had obtained a protective sheet of red dust and was beginning to look better than when we started. Turns out taping up the vents would have been a great idea, particularly because our heater didn't work and they were jammed open.

    We lost the sill trim at some stage, mainly because I duct taped the bottom of the doors to get through a river and forgot to peel it off before opening them again. fortunately it fit in the back. Sort of.

    We had another hellish night run into Heartbreak Hotel but were one of the first teams in, just in time to catch Origin I, 2011. About a hundred people camped around a 32 inch screen. At one stage a large bird hit the windscreen just in front of me just as the high beam was giving up again, and I thought it was a cow for a fraction of a second. We'd actually hit four birds and two snakes in the first four days. Fuck you, nature.

    Cars were arriving until about 1AM that night, in varying numbers of pieces.


      This was at about the point we realised we were actually going to make it. It was a pretty easy dirt/tarmac run from here into Katherine and the car was holding up well.

      This photo shows just how much shit there was in the boot, and somewhat diminishes our achievement because there's a mint looking Magna wagon in the foreground.

      So again, it was fluffy dice in position, both hands on the wheel.

      When you can only do 82km/hr you can do arty shots.

      And decent tarmac for the first time in three days.

      Followed by a barra burger at the Daly Waters Pub.


        There was a quick run from Daly Waters to Katherine to finish the day, and we actually got into the campground during daylight hours for the first time for four nights.

        Given actual sunlight we set up camp early and gave the car a proper going over. There was only one day left, and failing on the first day would have been comedy, failing the last; tragedy.

        I have owned truly shit cars before, so I knew the importance of carrying fluids. We had two 4L bottles of oil and about 15L of water on standby for this trip. By this point we hadn't opened any of it. Oil and trans fluid were both still at the 'F' line, and the radiator was full to the brim, though admittedly there wasn't even a hint of coolant. She hadn't burned a drop.

        Note the complete absence of other cars. 82km/hr average was fast at this point!

        The tyres we start off with were running down, it had three different brands of tyre on it when we started and we hadn't bothered changing any, we never really figured we'd make it this far. The right front was almost canvas and the left front wheel bearing was getting a bit suspect but otherwise it was running better than we started. I even changed the air filter at this point, the old one was not even vaguely white any more

        This thing hated wildlife, too. We had a pretty complete bug collection on the grill by now.


          The final day was a pretty leisurely run into Darwin after a Katherine Gorge boat cruise.

          This started early, fuck it was cold!

          The Shitbox Rally rules were that the cars were all auctioned after arriving into Darwin, with the profit going through to charity. So this was to be our last day with the Valiant.

          I suppose a bit of context is needed at this point. I'm a doctor, my teammate a radar engineer. We had no idea what we were doing and yet our car was looking more immaculate and running better as this thing went on. I had five people approach me on the morning of the last day asking to buy it. It was clearly immortal.

          My car history consists of things that handle and turbocharged euro hatches. I generally hate big sedans, anything Australian, and autos, and this was all three. By this last day I was feeling strange things, and it seemed that a week of driving slowly through the desert, windows open and AC/DC and Jimmy Barnes on the stereo had reawakened some dormant bogan heritage.

          It's probably a version of automotive Stockholm syndrome but I was beginning to enjoy the overpadded seats, the wandering steering and probably just the fact that this thing would not falter whatever was thrown at it.


            You probably know where this is going. We rolled into Darwin that afternoon to a fanfare of drunken backpackers and small scale celebration.

            It was probably a combination of a few small things - the drunk guy who yelled 'Go the Val!', the exhaust developing new holes so it now sounded like a spitfire with a sore tooth, and the guys with his snipping off the hood ornament of their early 80's Fairlane just before the auction started, but I really wasn't keen on leaving the thing here at this point.

            There was probably also the beer, admittedly.

            I didn't have a beard when the rally started.

            Anyway, because it was my birthday the next week and my family that had come to see us arrive felt sorry for me, they pooled some cash together and came up with the $200 required to buy the thing back. I was the proud owner of a 1979 Valiant with more rust than the titanic, but only on the condition that we signed up for the 2012 event.

            My nopics didn't speak to me for about 12 hours.


              This is awesome and full of win.
              Smug elitist wanker since 2013.


                Awesome read! So where is it now?


                  Pfffft those Roadkill guys are amateur hacks compared to what you've achieved. Well done mate and thanks for posting the whole story!


                    Yeah, but a Val, any model Val, is a huge head start in knowing you have a pretty good chance of finishing a trip.....


                      Originally posted by Setanta View Post
                      Awesome read! So where is it now?
                      Spoiler alert, but the thread is going to get a fair bit longer :)
                      Dirty Subaru owner


                        Originally posted by PXL265 View Post
                        Yeah, but a Val, any model Val, is a huge head start in knowing you have a pretty good chance of finishing a trip.....
                        You're exactly right. I'd imagine the late models are particularly invulnerable because of better suspension design and lower compression ratios as well. This had 370,000km on the original engine by the end of the event and still wasn't burning any oil. The Roadkill guys get it wrong by trying to extract actual power out of their projects.

                        I claim no credit for this, it was all the car. All we had to do was hang on, fill the 70L tank with petrol every 550km or so and point it in (vaguely) the right direction.

                        The true heroes were the guys in the Rover SD1! Plus the team off here that wiped out their bluebird and somehow limped it through 1000km or so to sell it for $35. Even the other CM made it, though was burning roughly equal quantities of fuel, water and oil by the end, the headgasket a distant memory.

                        Thanks Ken! Yep. There's loads more waffling and sketchy photography to come.


                          Bloody awesome read so far. Looking forward to the next update.


                            So at this point we had a newly reacquired Valiant, but realised we needed it to get back to either Brisbane or Adelaide, and we had no idea where next year's event was being run.

                            I'd been parked into the corner of the carpark where the auction was being held, so duct taped the word 'Sold' on the windscreen and went off and drank too much beer, picking it up the next morning.

                            We destickered it, and took it through a DIY carwash. I think it was about $10 worth of vacuuming alone, and I'm sure that vacuum was never the same again. It actually made a pretty handy beast for cruising the streets of Darwin and saved the cost of a rental car, plus you can legitimately fit six people comfortably in a column shift Val!

                            I do realise if we'd turned around and driven the 3,500km back to Brisbane or 3,000km to Adelaide it would have been a better story, but at the time needed to get back to work in three days, plus that's roughly $1000 worth of fuel. Somehow the easiest and cheapest way to get it back home was on a weird backload arrangement with a freight company. It was literally shipped Darwin-Katherine-Adelaide-Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane and showed up about a month later.

                            I picked it up from Pinkenba and it was the dirtiest I have ever seen a car. Seriously, it made the post rally state look clean. The freight depot guy commented on what a massive heap of shit it was, and the RACQ guy that showed up to give me a jump start tried to buy it. It ran as well as always and I took it down to Cleveland to live outside my parent's place until I freed up a garage space.

                            At this stage it looked so disreputable and idled so rough that when I reverse angle parked it in the main street of Cleveland, some lady who had just parked in the spot next to me got back in her car and moved it three spaces down. This thing was awesome!


                              At this stage I decided the thing needed a service so I did literally everything I knew how to do mechanically. Basically just changed all the filters, spark plugs and replaced the year old and 7000km oil. Flushed out the radiator as well and actually put some coolant in it. Apart from the ever present danger of tetanus, this was all pretty straightforward.

                              Called in a favour and had a local mechanic sort out the wheel bearing for me. He also had a look at the tune at the time and fiddled with the timing so it actually ran alright. I can't remember the reasons but for some reason it was impossible to actually use a timing light, so everything was by guesswork. Something to do with the conversion from ELB to normal vac advance.

                              Fortunately we then relocated back to my house up near Mapleton, which has the most epic carport ever. So all the shitboxes fit in together for the first time for a few years.

                              We later extended the roof just to cover the Valiant's bonnet.


                                Keep it coming. Great story. Next time preferably with the Mini Pano in the boot.
                                Originally posted by Walt Kowalski:
                                I knew it. That orange bastard is controlling the weather with HAARP just to save his Mar-a-Lago property where he intends to host his handler, Vladimir Putin, at next years G7 which will be morphed back into the G8.