When The Chips Are Down….Get A Valiant

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The Nostalgia Drags was an interesting experience – part sport, part party, part car show, and part confusion.

To their credit, the organisers – the Cranksters –  seemed to have the thing flowing smoothly. There were no breaks in the races,  nothing died in the blocks and had to be flushed away, and everyone seemed to have a good time. If they weren’t there to do just that, it was a long way to go to be miserable.

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I liked the cars on display as much as the running racers – because so many of them had a hook to my youth. This Valiant amongst them – it was reminiscent of the company car that was issued to my father when we arrived in Australian in 1964. He was working for Morrison- Knudson as a project manager for the laying of a standard gauge rail line to Northam and had to be out on the right of way between Perth and the country towns at 4:00 AM. – hence the Valiant.

It was a salesman’s special in every way. Like many Australian evocations of North American cars, it had been stripped of what might have been considered necessities in the northern hemisphere – like a heater or demister. Make no mistake – Toodyay at 4:30 on a wet winter morning needs both of those things. Chrysler Australia’s idea was to put a straight through vent from outside the car onto the screen and two bread boxes under the dash near the front seat passengers to allow them to get the same freezing air.

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This was about the same in Ford and GM products of the time – it was economy motoring and any man who could not take being frozen was considered effeminate. Real men sawed away at the inside of the windscreen with an old bath towel… Wussies could buy cheap screen demisting bar heaters that suction-cupped onto the inside of the windscreen and plugged into the cigarette lighter. They did not work but they looked like they might.

The car was reliable, apart from this, and as it was fairly similar to North American ones, it was easy to drive. Mind you, in his first week he did drive up the wrong side of Canning Highway near the Raffles motel for three blocks before realising it…

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This example may have been racing. it has the sharp graphic flames to do it. Also the red wheels. The owner was friendly, and I promised that his car would make it into the blog. I’ll watch for it at future meetings and report progress.

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