1960s Valiant Acapulco a simple car, no matter the year …
We all have our first car stories, but in 1963 my dad brought home our first new car, at least in my lifetime. It was a white 1963 Plymouth Valiant convertible with black soft top and red vinyl interior and a push-button automatic transmission.
It was nothing fancy, but to have a convertible was certainly exotic. Plus the car’s slant-6 engine was solid and the car ran like a top for 7 years.
So there’s a certain nostalgia I felt when WhiteBox’s red Chrysler Valiant Acapulco arrived for review. The 1/43 scale model is a nice reproduction of a mainline car that a lot of folks owned, and only a slight change from that ’63 model of which I was so fond. In fact, more than 225,000 Valiants were sold in 1963, its record year.
The Chrysler Valiant was a rebadged Plymouth Valiant sold in Mexico, hence the Acapulco model designation. Dodge also had a similar model, the Dart. There’s a bit of confusion with the labeling here in that the Acapulco was sold in Mexico starting in 1967 and the review car’s license is a 1967 Oklahoma plate. I confirmed with American-Excellence, who had sent the car, that it’s mislabeled as a 1965 model. It is in fact a 1967 Valiant.
Valiant was Plymouth’s compact car entry and was remodeled in 1963 to be less radical looking. It appeared slim and trim with a slightly longer hood than trunk. The fake spare tire on the trunk lid from earlier models was abandoned. Continue reading Die-cast: Whitebox’s Valiant Acapulco
Town & Country S(exy?) … no, but Special for a family
Are minivans sexy? No, but they are family friendly and if you have a large family, well, sexy may be something you’re needing to put behind you.
Chrysler, via its Dodge and Plymouth brands at the time, started the minivan movement decades ago and still has the segment nailed.
My test van, a Chrysler Town & Country S, was as sexy as a van can be, which means it looked good in its monochromatic dark red paint scheme with black headlight bezels and grille, smoky black chrome wheels and chrome trim strip along each side.
At its core the T&C is strong with a powerful 283-horse 3.6-liter V6 that delivers 260 ft.-lbs. of torque. Even with kids and luggage aboard it’ll get to highway speeds with authority and provide reasonably smooth shifts via its 6-speed automatic.
Ride, due to its monster 121.2-inch wheelbase and compliant suspension is comfortable, even on rotting Midwestern roads.
But let’s be honest here, a minivan is all about what goes on inside, about comfort, safety (a 5-star rating here) and conveniences to keep junior and his or her siblings at peace while the parents shuttle them to and fro. Continue reading 2015 Chrysler Town & Country S
A car built in the big fin era
I love big fins as mentioned in my previous post on another Chrysler product, the Imperial. For me it’s as much a piece of art as it is an automobile. Think about it, what car stands out for you now? Sure some do like the Corvette for me or the Mustang or Camero but outside of that, not much. Quick, tell me what was the last car you saw drive by? Now if a ’57 Plymouth Belevedere drove by, you’d really notice that, wouldn’t you?
America loved the car
For the third generation of cars from Chrysler Corporation and completely changed its car lines, dropping the bodies that had been brought out for 1955 and replacing them with the designs heralded as Virgil Exner’s best 1957 would be a banner year for the Chrysler Corporation, and Plymouth as its design was so revolutionary that Chrysler used the slogan “Suddenly, it’s 1960!” to promote the new car. Belevederes were loaded and positioned as a top of the line Plymouth. Unfortunately, the cars were rushed into production (argh!), and while they sold extremely well, they also ticked off customers, and destroyed Chrysler’s reputation for quality and reliability. Rust was everywhere and parts broke off. Gee there is a surprise. The car did have its claim to fame later on as a ’58 appearing as the star in the movie Christine. After 33 years, this car still lives as you can see in this video.
Collectors love the car now but have their work cut out for them
Since the cars were pretty much rust buckets at the end of their lives restoring one will require lots of time and deep pockets. Here’s a video of a ’59 which is rare and boy does it look good. On ClassicCars.com I found this ’59 for sale for $45,000 which is about the going rate for a restored model. Look closely in the first picture. This guy is into Mopar. A Dodge sits right next to it while in the background is I believe a ’59 or ’60 Rambler. Sorry, had to get that in.
And now for the promo model
So think about that promo model of the Plymouth that your dad gave you as a kid. If you haven’t blown it up or burned it (which by the way does look cool) it is probably sitting in a box somewhere. Occasionally you look at it and say to yourself, maybe one day. Well check out this professionally rebuilt model I recently found on eBay and it sold for 898 bucks! Now you ready to start? I have featured this builder before and he does off the charts restorations. If you don’t look to long at the background, this Plymouth looks like the real deal. Everything is better than like new. Check out the chrome where it looks like it just came out of the box. Look at the fins and spare tire on the trunk. Don’t forget to gaze at the finish to and it doesn’t take too much to imagine your reflection on it. And he always goes the extra mile with the underside where the exhaust and bottom of the engine are painted the correct colors. Cherry, cherry, cherry is what I say about this restoration job. Doesn’t it inspire you? Now go find that car you have and get going.
It carried a bad nickname for some owners, Ruster.
OK, so right out of the gate, Mopar fans, I really like the Duster. Easy now. We OK? My personal experience comes from my best friend who owned one. He bought it used and I’m not sure how many miles he had on it. I do remember it had a 3 on the floor, the slant six and was some sort of orangish/yellow. I also remember kicking the rear quarters and it raining rust. It was a solid car though otherwise. Rust wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for the cars of this era. They all rusted. He traded it for a Chevy Nova when he had to I think buy a new manifold for his Duster and didn’t fare much better because the Nova he got caught on fire while he was driving it. Good name, Nova. Puffffff! Continue reading Plymouth Ruster….err Duster
It could have been named something else
From the what were they thinking category. Plymouth’s executives had wanted to name the car Panda, an idea that was unpopular with the car’s designers. Well duh, you think? In the end however the person who came up with the name was locked in a closet or ???? and the, suggestion of Barracuda was selected. Panda???? Can you imagine a guy showing up at a drag strip with a Hemi Panda? Geesh, that would be wrong. Continue reading Plymouth Barracuda: They were going to name it what?
The rarest of the rare for both the real deal and the promo model
I track a lot of auctions both on eBay and some of the others specific to promo models. This weekend, on eBay, I was watching a ’69 Dodge Coronet 500 convertible with bidding in 4 figures, something I have not seen in a long time. While waiting for the auction to end, I started checking into the real deal as I get excited about rare cars.
In 1949, Dodge introduced the Dodge Coronet, a full-size car. The Dodge Coronet was initially Dodge’s highest trim line car although from 1955, but then became the lowest trim line. During the 1960s, Dodge Coronet name was moved to Dodge’s mid-size entry. Dodge made eight generations of the Dodge Coronet which ran from 1949 to 1976. It was placed just above the Plymouth line in the Chrysler lineup. Continue reading Promo model: 1969 Dodge Coronet 500 Convertible