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1971 Valiant Charger XL - How to overcapitalise for the long term

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    1971 Valiant Charger XL - How to overcapitalise for the long term

    So due to popular demand, well three posts in the stamp duty thread, here is the story of a 17 rebuild that was supposed to take six weeks of an old Chugger......

    Way back in 2000 I ended up working in New Zealand for a six month contract, Wellington to be exact, when I worked as a surveyor/drafter for Telstra. Don't know who I pissed off to get punished for that, but it got me a permanent position at a two level higher scale, so I didn't complain too much, plus accommodation and $100 a day to live on.

    When I was coming to the end of the contract I had a bit of money saved and wanting to be spent on cars. At the time I had my ZG Fairlane, the 240Z race car and a XD ute to tow the car with, so I really needed a another one. Feeling nostalgic as I had previously owned a Charger for 12 months, I wanted another one.

    I am slightly broken in that for some reason I like old Valiants, previously owning a late VH XL Charger that had the 245 replaced with a 2 barrrel 265 at some time in its life, a VE with the 160HP "leaning tower of power" 225 slant six, and the only car I have ever made money on, a VC with 225.

    My first Chugger was a shit brown XL column shift witha 2 Barrel 265 swapped in at some stage, no rust in the right chassis rail, but plenty in the plenums, floor rear quaters and dog legs and I don't know how it was never defected off the road. I owned it for 12 months paying $1200 with 4 new tyres and 12 months rego, sold it for $600 with no rego and bald tyres, so I did all right in the end. Was a fun car, but it had issues, burnt oil quicker than petrol, could use 40 litres to travel from the old start of the F4 at Emu Plains to the original end of the F4 at Prospect when travelling at 160-180km/h, which was sketchy as fuck thanks to the great aero lift of the front end. It didn't handle at all and the body roll at anything above walking speed was unbelievable, but it was fun and as a six seater myself and five mates would have a ball out and about on a Friday night. It wasn't really looked upon favourably by parents of the young ladies I was trying to court at the time for some reason.

    So back to October 2000 and sitting in my office at the Wellington waterfront shaking, not sure if from cold or earthquakes, a couple of weeks before I would finish my punishment in Unzud, looking at the precursor to Ebay on the newfangled 56k interwebs I found a Charger in Buderum for $1000, black and no rego, but told it would be no problem to get a RWC. I paid the dollars by sending the nopics of the time around to the owners in Zillmere to drop off half the money as a deposit and arrange to get the car picked up and pay the remaining dollars when I got back to Australia.

    Once back to Australia, I sorted a trailer, hitched it up to the ZG and made the trip up to Buderum to pick it up and see it for the first time. It wasn't quite as good as I was led to believe by the pictures and description, but I wasn't too worried as the Chargers were just starting to go up in price. I expected rust in the usual places and wasn't disappointed, plenums, sills, boot floor near the quarters, bottom of the quarters, doors, right hand chassis rail at the steering box. It didn't look too bad and I had paid for it, so I loaded it up and made the drive back to Hemmant to dump it in my driveway of a new estate to make the neighbours happy.

    The original plan was to get it on the road in about six weeks, fixing up what was needed for a RWC and put rego on it, drive it around while I saved for stage 2, build it as a Group Nc touring car to play in Historic racing and move the Zed on to pay for most of the build.

    That plan didn't last long. I was recommended to go to a shop in Wynnum that was supposedly old school and new what they were doing, so some good money was spent there to get the rust repairs done ready for rego. Car was finished, but I was off on another adventure, another stint in Unzud for work, so my neighbours at the time graciously let me park the Chugger in their back yard while I was away for a two month stint. Got back, moved the car up to where I was then living at Petrie and had a month or so in Brisbane before I went to Indonesia for a 3 month, that turned into a 4 month stint in Jakarta as a CAD manager/designer for HFC networks. get back from there for a month or so then with three weeks notice was off to Thailand for three months to be a CAD manager/consultant for a mobile network build in Bangkok. Get back from there in time for Christmas, and no work done on the Chugger obviously.

    Just about to think about getting the Chugger sorted, and off we go again, this time 3 days notice and I'm off to Malaysia to be a CAD manager for a rail communications network project, so the Chugger is yet again left to sit under the nopic's carport with nothing happening.

    So finally after finishing my working off shore I buy a house, so no money for the car for a while.

    And now two years or so after buying the car I can make a start on the new plans, to get the car sorted for rust and ready to get a cage built for it. After calling some shops and speaking to various people and doing research I approached Gasoline Alley, the owner John came out and had a look and said yes he would take on the job, but the car would have to be stripped and blasted so he knew what work was actually needed to be done. So I pulled pretty much everything out of the car in the garage at home and it was picked up as roller and sent off to be blasted.

    What we found was not so good, the previous repairs were shit and some were already showing signs of failure, the chassis rail repair was terrible and if not redone would have probably killed me in about 2 years. So the first stage was to fix the rust properly. The good news was the car was straight hadn't been in any real crash other the odd car park dent and a few little taps in the corners from braille spec parking. A list of repair panels needed was made and I sourced the new panels from the two main suppliers at the time for repro and repair panels. So rear quarters boot floor, all three sections, doglegs and outer sills were sourced, plus chassis frame rail reinforcements for both sides to go over the repaired rails.

    So Gasoline Alley had the car blasted, made good the shit repairs, finished off the other repairs and it was a complete shell dropped off back home ready to save dollars for a cage.
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    These phots are the earliest digital photos I have of the car and were taken at the time it was blasted and the second round of repairs done ready for the planned cage.

    After a couple of months of sitting in the garage and doing some sums to work out what sort of dollars I was looking at to finish it as a Nc touring car, particularly engines that will make good power, but still a hand grenade, I approached John about changing direction and asking what type of dollars would be needed to finish it as a nice street car, not to flash, just something that made some noise, looked good and would be a be of fun on the track if I wanted to do that, or just cruise on the streets.

    He thought that the base was there for a good car and it was really too good to turn into a race car as the base was nice and straight and now was in good condition.

    So that was the start of going down the rabbit hole I have. The original scope has blown out to be basically a show quality car with a reasonably cranky 265 in it to let the neighbours know when I am coming and going.

    As the car is only an XL I wasn't worried about originality so I am doing what I want with it, but keeping it fairly old school '70's technology with one or two upgrades.

    The Chugger is the 129th XL made, built late October 1971 with a 2 Barrel 265 and 3 speed floor shift auto with quarter flipper windows and fixed rear windows and no other options.

    The original spec was pretty original engine wise, running the 265 with hopefully some triples thrown at it and a 4 speed box. Paint was going to be black with the A84 stripe package done in royal blue.

    Inside was going to be pretty standard, rear seat cleaned up, I had bought a pair of reclining Autotechnica seats off a mate in Sydney for cost price to throw in the front. The car came with a VK wood grain tacho dash which I was able to swap for a VH RT strip dash for a few hundred dollars thrown in as well, just before they went stupid in price.

    I was trying to find a set of RT or 770 driving lights and grill but even in the early 2000's prices were stupid so it will still run the standard XL front with the two square lights only albeit running Halogen 120/90w globes with wiring upgraded to cope.

    The first variation was when UPC first released their big brake options for the Valiants, so with patience I got a set of brakes for $450 off the Ebay store.
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    And at this stage we are about 4 years or so into a six week rebuild




        Something tells me the $450 brake upgrade is like the gateway drug here. Only 13 years to go!


          Awesome. You're happy with John's work?
          Rust is lighter than carbon fibre.

          My Italian 510


            John's a good bloke and they do good work, certainly not the cheapest but there is a reason people are waiting to get in there. They did all the compliance stuff on mine when it arrived including belts front and rear and it's super neat and tidy. They also did all my suspension work fitting the front subframe kit U & L control arms, sways etc, all spot on. I'd happily take my car there for a once over of body and paint - I'll need to save some more for that.

            So yeh, they do good shit (my opinion anyway).
            Hide yo' wife!!!


              Yep, very happy with the work he did installing the rear belts in my 125. I have panel/paint guy but he's so unreliable.
              Rust is lighter than carbon fibre.

              My Italian 510


                Awesome story so far


                  Continue, Matt!


                    As someone who knows little about Chargers or general Mopar stuff, what's a dogleg? And when you say "2 Barrel 265" does the 2 Barrel relate to the carby that feeds it or something else?


                      Completely out of hand! I rate it.


                        The dogleg is the panel between the door and rear wheel arch, above the sill, they tend to rust when water gets trapped between the inner guard and that outer panel.

                        And yep, 2 barrel is a 2 barrel carby, the Val's came with 2 versions of 265 for the cooking models and a 4 barrel plus the 2 triple webered spec motors for the different years of the VH, E37 and E38 for the early 3 speed cars and E48 and E49 for the later 4 speed cars.

                        You could also get a 215 hemi in the base model Val's, and the next step up for the mid priced models was the 245 or option of 265.

                        Sent from my XT1635-02 using Tapatalk



                          Worthy car for such a build

                          VC Valiant


                            Originally posted by Guido View Post
                            Awesome. You're happy with John's work?
                            Yes very happy or the car wouldn't still be there after all this time and money

                            He is pretty hard on his workers to get things right and I have seen a few come and go, but Brendan who has been at the shop for a few years now also has the same philosophy and desire to do things right and not to a price.

                            It's pretty easy to have cost blowouts at the shop. I got my MX5 in for a rear quarter repair and replace front guard after a little mishap at Lakeside put a racing stripe down the left side of the car. A quote of $2500 for a quick scuff and squirt to make all tidy turned into a $10k full closed door respray with new rear garnish, rear bumper, full sticker and badge kit, stone guard applied in colour along the sills, and new short mudflaps so it would look right. That little scope creep saw the relationship become a little frosty as I wasn't expecting a big jump in costs, but looking back I know why it was done. In hindsight I should have asked for a recommendation for a shop to do teh scuff and squirt I wanted, but in the end I got a much better job that the new owner of the hairdresser car still gets compliments on the paint near 10 years later.


                              I'm looking forward to some mental mechanical specifications. High comp 265 with CHI alloy head and three Jenvey throttle bodies on a triple weber manifold?

                              That's what I've always wanted to do (before I added it up).