Not a Dai, but…
G’day Folks, I got nowhere else to currently post this build thread for posterity, so, you are going to be subjected to seeing the painfully slow progress. Hope you guys don’t mind.
The idea of ‘dream cars’ is much romanticised in car culture and examples of peoples dream cars often are unattainable either through rareness or expense. However, I am lucky enough to own my dream car in one 1969 Chrysler VF Valiant Regal. It’s not that VF Valiants in general would be my dream car, it is this specific car is my dream car. I will own this car until I can no longer drive, then I will hopefully pass it on to one of my sons.
So, what is the history of the car and why is it so special to me?
The old girl came into my family in the early 80s when it was purchased second hand by my Nan & Pop. The story goes; the original owner could no longer drive it had traded it in for a car with power steering with the express instructions not to sell it to ‘Some hoon’. My Nan saw the ad in the local paper (I still have this newspaper clipping) for Val and as she had always been taken by the looks of the Valiants, persuaded my Pop to buy it for her to get to and from work. My Nan was the 2nd owner of Val and it was her pride and joy. She would drive it everywhere and as much as my Pop pretended that he disliked the car, would always choose to drive it when going on a road trip.
Now, I was born in North QLD, but grow up in Papua New Guinea. My first recollection of Australia was visiting the Gold Coast for Christmas when I was about 6 years old. This trip was the first time I remember meeting my Nan & Pop, and on the 2nd day after arriving in Australia I was placed in the middle of the front bench seat of the old Valiant and off we went on a road trip to the Sunny Coast to meet my Uncles and Aunties. This was one of many road trips in Val around South QLD and Northern NSW that happened over the next few years of Christmas visits to Australia. Sitting on the bench seat between my Pop with his right arm resting on the windowsill, whistling as he drove and my Nan with her unfaltering zest for life and love for the Val, these road trips would become some of my favourite memories of my childhood.
Medallion of St Christopher my Nan put on the dash:
Around 1995, my family decided to move back to Australia from PNG. The road trips in Val continued. But also, in winter of 1995 at age 11 I started to wash and polish the Val to earn pocket Money. $2.50 for a wash and polish once a fortnight. Looking back, I think I was under charging .
In 1998 I started working my first real job and no longer needed the pocket money. I would still wash and polish Val every month or so, just because of my affection for the car.
In the early 2000s Val was getting driven less and less due to my Nan’s retirement. And one day in 2007 I received a call from my Mum & Dad saying that my Nan was selling Val. I quickly called my Nan and she sated that someone was coming to look at Val the next day. My response was “Like hell they are!” I caught a lift from Toowoomba where I was living and a few hours later was handing over a bank cheque to make Val mine.
She had a few issue straight away: worn out steering box, rusted chassis rails at the front (very common in Vals), ‘reconditioned radiator’ was a POS, exhaust manifold was warped and cracked, driver’s seat belts worn and frame for drivers chair cracked. I got all this fixed over a few weeks and started driving her.
Here are some pics of her in 2007/2008:
Around this time, I was driving her as my daily and enjoyed the experience immensely. However, in early 2009 I got a job working near Robina Town Centre on the Gold Coast. The only place to park was in Robina Town Centre, which had a reputation for car thieves and windows getting smashed in. So, I bought a Magna for my daily and drove the Val on weekends. However, I started to have more and more trouble with the Borg Warner gearbox. Eventually, these issues would get too much, and I let the rego lapse in August 2010.
Trans fluid leak:
I moved about a few times between 2010 and 2015, but the Val would always stay with me and be either garaged or under covers in a car port. However, this didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. Some time in 2012 while Val was garaged at a set of units I was living in, some local teens decided to run along some rooftops. One of them bent the roof of the garage the Val was in enough to cause a leak every time it rained. I hadn’t expected to stay at this unit long, and so had flat packed moving boxes on and around the Val in this garage. Every time it rained, they would get soaked and sit wet on the Val. I don’t know how long the leak was happening for, but the wet boxes caused a lot of damage in a short amount of time. I have kept her under covers and garaged since then, but the damage had been done.