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My new '66 Valiant Signet Convertible...

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Slotcarwon
Advanced Member
Post Number: 31
Registered: 3-2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 1:27 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
I just bought a '66 Valiant Signet Convertible thanks to the "jaXed" web site. If you have not checked out the www.jaXed.com "site mash" you should, it combines various for sale sites like Hemmings and local trader publications and all of the craigslist sites to combine them into one listing for specific types of cars - it's very cool! Thanks to this site I found my Valiant convertible. I was checking this site every day for '66 Valiants and to my surprise on Saturday there was a craigslist ad for a local car. I probably would have eventually found it but there are so few ads for Valiants that I would only check the local stuff maybe once a week. But with the jaXed site it only took a minute to check the whole country so I'd check every day.

The heading of the ad said "1966 Plymouth Valiant Signet" with no mention that it was a convertible. The small photo in the ad itself did have the top down and the ad did mention it was a convertible. But the picture was so small I had to look closely to see it was a convertible and even in this small picture rust on the fenders and quarters was evident. I expecting this to be a total rust bucket, I thought this would be a glorified and very expensive parts car. But it was only a 20 minute drive away so I could not resist checking it out. I emailed to get some more info as there was no phone number in the ad. I received a reply from the current owner and was told I could see the car, it was parked at an auto repair shop which was owned by a friend of his.

When I arrived I found a pale yellow Valiant convertible that did have A LOT of rust, there was holes through the top of the fenders and the bottom of the quarter panels were rusted out. I'm sure this is due to the salt that is put on the roads around here in the winter. Surprisingly the underside of the car looked really sound, the structural parts looked really good - the frame, floors, torsion bar mounts and rear spring mounts all appeared to be very solid. The car had a current license plate and new radial tires so it appeared to be a driver and not a project that would take a lot of time to get on the road. The exterior trim could be called "driver" quality; it looked like it was all there and it was presentable. The material of the black top looked very good but the rear window was really foggy, almost completely opaque. It was difficult to tell how the interior was, there was stuff covering the front seat, I could see the arm rests were missing and I couldn't really see the back seat area. The car looked like it was in "original" condition, it had been used a lot but had NOT be re-painted or in any accidents, how refreshing to find a 40 year old A-body that had not been molested. Overall the car had potential as a "rat" driver. Considering the price being asked, that looked like it was being driven and most importantly that it was a convertible I was very interested.

I called and left a message. I had a lot of questions, I wanted to drive the car to see if it drove well and know what did or did not work. A few hours later I received a call and I found out it had been in one family since it was purchased as a new car in '65/66. Yes, the car was licensed and drivable, some of the things on it worked and some didn't such as the fuel gauge. We agreed to meet at the car at four o'clock.

I found out a lot more details about the car when I talked to the current owner in person when we met at the car. Originally it was his wife's aunt's car, she lived in Hamtramak, Michigan which is the same city where it was built. Then his wife's cousin drove it for a number of years, it was probably parked around '79 or '80 judging from the license plates that were on it. In the spring of 2005 he literally had to drag it out of the aunt's garage, the car had sat for so long the wheels were frozen. But he said it started easily after it's long dormant period - gotta love those slant six engines! To get it on the road the brakes were re-done with new linings and hoses, plus new radial tires and a new muffler were also installed. In the last three summers it has been driven and enjoyed for approximately 3000 miles which is not too bad considering the owner has other vintage cars on the road. He was contemplating a restoration but he realized (actually his wife did) he had too many other car projects so this one needed to go. He had taken the car to an auto repair shop his friend owns because it is on a major road and he had the intention of putting a large "for sale" sign on the car for passing traffic to see. Before he could put up the sign I had contacted him because luckily for me his son had placed an ad on Craigslist or I would never have found it through the jaXed site-mash.

The interior looked decent but not great, it showed the signs of over 80,000 miles of usage; the front seat has some rather large tears in the cover along some of the seams, the door panels had wear, neither of the arm rests were on the front doors, there were plastic floor mats protecting the carpet so it wasn't too bad and the dash pad looked good but did have a crack in the center but this was difficult to see. Overall the interior did need some attention but it wasn't completely shot. The car started very easily but surprisingly had a very noticeable miss when it was revved past idle. I took it for a short drive and the engine ran really BAD! There was very little power and it couldn't accelerate past 40 MPH. It did steer and stop about as nice as a stock or unmodified 1966 vintage Valiant should, but it needed new shocks (I think they are original!). I figured I was in a good position to negotiate, the car was rusty and it wasn't running right. The owner was VERY willing to lower the price significantly. We quickly agreed on a much lower price and that the engine would be "looked at" by his friends repair shop. Since this was Sunday I would come the next day to pick it up the car since I needed to get the funds from the bank.

The next day a new set of spark plugs had transformed the car, even at idle I could tell immediately it was running much better. With the title in hand I took off in a cloud of smoke (this has been the only time I have seen any engine smoke). My first problem was I had an enormous blind spot due to no visibility through the rear window and no outside mirror on the right side. I had to stay in the right lane as much as possible or I would never be able to get over to the right without knowing if there was someone in my huge blind spot. The car ran really good, very responsive, but my second problem was the ammeter showed the battery was not charging and it was just starting to get dark so I would have to use the head lights. On the 20 minute drive the car only made it about 18 and 1/2 minutes, I was less than one mile from home when the engine quit, luckily I was facing down hill and rolled into an empty parking lot. I pulled the battery, put it on the battery charger and had dinner. The car started right up with a fresh charge and I was home in two minutes.

Since I got it home I've replaced the alternator, gotten insurance and a new license plate. I've used some plastic polish on the rear window and it did remove some of the fog, it is better but I think it will still need to be replaced. I have some '66 Barracuda door panels and arm rests they aren't perfect but are better than the original Valiant trim, so the interior should look much better very soon. I still need to get some shocks, recover the seats and I think I need to put a mirror on the passenger side door. I haven't driven it very much yet but I'm pretty happy with it so far.
'66 front end
'more '66
Donc1965
Senior Member
Post Number: 273
Registered: 1-2006


Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 4:43 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
Thanks for the interesting story on your newly acquired '66 Signet convertible. Do you plan to restore it or drive as is? Does it have all the trim? Some of the moldings are specific to the Signet.

Don
1965 Barracuda Commando V8 (non Formula S)
Rocky Hill, CT
Slotcarwon
Advanced Member
Post Number: 32
Registered: 3-2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 7:25 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
It will definitely be a driver and it would be nice to get rid of at least some of the rust to make it look better but I'm concerned it'll be a lot more time, effort and money than it's worth.
So for now I'm just trying to get it to be a good daily driver, I've installed Halogen head lights and replaced all of the rear light bulbs and the under dash turn signal flasher. Hopefully new shocks will go on this weekend.
Most of the Signet trim is there, some has dings and dents, what's missing is the rear wheel well trim.
66ragtop
Senior Member
Post Number: 69
Registered: 4-2006
Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 7:46 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
Is this the car that you need the rear panels for?
Drmindburger
Senior Member
Post Number: 94
Registered: 3-2006


Thursday, November 08, 2007 - 9:24 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
Looks great in a vert!
dr.mindburger
1966 Barracuda \6
bored .040 over
Slotcarwon
Advanced Member
Post Number: 33
Registered: 3-2007
Friday, November 09, 2007 - 2:33 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
Thanks for the comments.
It does need some help but I like it.
Yes,the rear panels are for this car.
I've already got some SEM vinyl dye, Landau Black, to revive some of the other interior parts.
Hawaiicommando
Member
Post Number: 12
Registered: 5-2006
Saturday, November 10, 2007 - 12:23 am   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
my favorite mopar,,,,of all the mopars i've owned,,,,i luv this one the most,,,,good luck
66 commando
66 Valiant Signet convertible commando
77 Dodge Adventurer SE150 stepside 440
Drmindburger
Senior Member
Post Number: 97
Registered: 3-2006


Saturday, November 10, 2007 - 12:33 am   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
Got any pix of the new ride with the top down?
dr.mindburger
1966 Barracuda \6
w/'68 Val motor,
1965 Dodge Dart \6
(Dr. Mindburger's
Poison Dart)
Slotcarwon
Advanced Member
Post Number: 34
Registered: 3-2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007 - 6:46 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
I did take it for a short drive today. It was supposed to have a full tank of gas and the gauge doesn't work... yep ran out of gas today.
NOW I know how much gas is in it!
The power top makes the right noises but the top doesn't move. I put the top down by hand, it was really easy actually, but I didn't take any pics. If it's as nice tomorrow maybe I'll take some pics.
Slotcarwon
Senior Member
Post Number: 55
Registered: 3-2007
Tuesday, April 01, 2008 - 1:31 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
I've been working on re-doing the interior this winter, with around 85,000 miles it did need some attention; the arm rests were both broken, the seat covers had some tears, the carpet was faded and there were a few things on the dash that I wanted to change. Once you start on something like this it's hard to do just half even when it's not too bad to begin with, so pretty soon most of the interior will have been replaced or repaired. I had a new cover on the front seat installed (the rear seat is being recovered and should be done soon) and since the seats were out I figured I'd might as well replace the carpet. The carpet hold-downs were corroded along the inside edge, I got some used ones but they were dis-colored so I painted them with "aluminum" paint and they look pretty decent now. I'm also replacing the door panels with some from my Barracuda parts car and I'm also installing the matching rear panels. The rear panels from the Barracuda are a bit different so they need a little modification, the convertibles are a bit shorter length wise so they needed to be cut down, the window crank is about 3/4" higher in the drop-top and the holes for the panels clips are in different locations, these modifications were pretty straightforward with an exacto knife and last night in installed them. I used the SEM Landau Black vinyl paint and it looks really good on the door and rear side panels, it's almost the exact same color and gloss as the original parts. I had to find replacements for both right and left arm rest bases and pads. I did the arm rest pads with Dupli-Color, this is very glossy and I like the contrast against the door panels. Of course I've had to fix one of the rear fiberglass side panels, typically the bottom was broken off but luckily only on one side, these had pretty nice arm rest pads on them, they weren't even hard. With the seats, carpet, doors, arm rests and rear side panels looking good I figured I'd to re-do the dash too, so right now I've got the dash taken apart to be painted, since it's removed installing a better dash speaker should be easier too. I think I'm going to finish the interior resto with installing a tinted windshield.

I hope to finish up in about two or three weeks and hopefully the snow will be melted and I can start using this as a daily driver. I've located a right fender and also some quarter panels, my plan is to drive and enjoy some top down cruizing and after the summer get the rusty fenders replaced and have Maaco do a $200 winter special (one of the local Maacos is very good they do a lot of show cars and also body repair for area dealers).
Slotcarwon
Senior Member
Post Number: 56
Registered: 3-2007
Tuesday, April 01, 2008 - 1:38 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
I also had the original shocks replaced recently, the new ones don't squeek like the old ones. When it was on the hoist I was able to get some good pics of the underside and it looks pretty decent.

Neilb
Administrator
Post Number: 1036
Registered: 12-2001


Tuesday, April 01, 2008 - 6:06 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
It's a good little car man, I'd love to see some of the interior photos.
'65 Barracuda Formula S
Ottawa, Ontario
http://cuda.enbcom.com
Slotcarwon
Senior Member
Post Number: 57
Registered: 3-2007
Wednesday, April 02, 2008 - 3:33 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
Thanks.
When I get the dash in I'll take some good pics out in the daylight and post them here.
It's starting to come together and I can't wait to drive it with the top down.
Slotcarwon
Senior Member
Post Number: 58
Registered: 3-2007
Thursday, April 03, 2008 - 5:09 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
Here's a pic of the side and door panels.

I'll take some better pics when I can drive it out in the sun.
Slotcarwon
Senior Member
Post Number: 65
Registered: 3-2007
Sunday, May 04, 2008 - 1:22 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
On the road!
Still a few details that I need to get done like an alignment and the radio installed but I'll drive it to work tomorrow.
I un-zipped the rear window so I could see out the back but otherwise the car started quickly and runs nice, even without the alignment it drives good. It now has electronic ignition and 10" brakes on the front, I think there's a very noticeable improvement over the 9" brakes. I also put on the deluxe "bolt-on" wheel covers, they aren't in the best condition but are better looking than the standard Valiant hub caps. One of the top cylinders had a leak so the offending cylinder was replaced and now I have my power top functioning. What is really nice is that the fuel gauge now works!
I think the Barracuda door panels and the new seat covers go well together.
I know everyone likes pictures so here ya go...




Neilb
Administrator
Post Number: 1103
Registered: 12-2001


Sunday, May 04, 2008 - 1:39 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
Looks nice man! It seems these convertibles are pretty prone to rusting, but yours isn't bad at all. (I know, easy for ME to say). It's totally worth restoring or just leave it as is and enjoy driving it, and fix while you're driving it, taking it off the road in short spurts.

Did you buy a premade seat cover or have an upholstery shop make it up?
'65 Barracuda Formula S
Ottawa, Ontario
http://cuda.enbcom.com
Clifcuda65
Senior Member
Post Number: 118
Registered: 1-2002


Sunday, May 04, 2008 - 2:09 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
Very nice... SWEET! Enjoy it! (I think you will)

clif of Az.
BALN Co. CEO
Slotcarwon
Senior Member
Post Number: 66
Registered: 3-2007
Sunday, May 04, 2008 - 2:15 pm   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)   
I found these pre-made seat covers on eBay for about $220 (I can't remember the name). They fit pretty good, not fantastic but well worth the price, the front seems to fit better than the rear. I did not attempt to install them, I had someone else do this after I removed the cover from the front seat I realized that it was well worth it to have someone that knew what they were doing install them.

Also I bought a bracket to mount two 3-1/2 inch speakers in the center of the dash, this replaces the single 6X9 speaker.
Here's an idea on how they mount but I had to place the original speaker bracket between the dash and the new bracket.
I thought the speakers should be placed closer together as some of the dash covers the speaker.
I'm interested to see how it sounds or if I can even hear it with the top down.



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