By on February 5, 2012

I just spent two days in California (returning to find my Civic completely buried by the Denver snowstorm I thought I’d dodged), visiting family and 24 Hours of LeMons co-conspirators. Time was short, but there’s always time to visit the junkyard! Colorado junkyards are good for finding long-forgotten four-wheel-drive cars, but you can’t beat the San Francisco Bay Area for doomed classic Detroit iron.
Yes, this wagon has the Chrysler pushbutton automatic shifter.
It also has California-style rust. That’s the kind of rust that results from bad weatherstripping allowing rainwater to get into the car, where it sits all winter… for years. Yes, that’s moss growing in the hole; I suspect this car spent a decade or two in a damp, shady back yard overgrown with weeds and wild blackberry bushes.
Then you get pine needles filling the rain gutters, which leads to this sort of rust.
These cars were cheap, reliable (by 1960s standards), hauled a lot of kids and groceries for their size, and sold in huge quantities. Sadly, most of the Valiant (and Dart) wagons were crushed at least a decade before station wagons become hip among old-car freaks.

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32 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1964 Plymouth Valiant 200 Station Wagon...”


  • avatar
    dejal1

    That license plate looks like it has 20XX sticker on it in the upper right of then plate. So, maybe it sat a decade. Normally you don’t sticker a POS, so there was a good chance this was runnable through the 90s.

  • avatar
    Bryce

    Great find very similar to the AP5 we had out here 225 slant pushbutton auto 14 inch rims these were good cars but a bit too eager to rust

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I had a ’63 Dart wagon in ’74, and even in Sunny San Diego, there was rust, mostly in the rear wheel wells and especially the liftgate. A quick look at the rain gutters should tell you why.

      Funny thing about the push button A-727 torqueflite is that the owners manual actually recommended putting it in low while going down long steep hills. That’s not recommended on ANY auto transmission today.

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        Its an A-904 in the A-body cars, minor point, but my 2005 Tundra manual recommends downshifting the automatic manually for downgrades. If its not recommended by others, that must be why I smell so many burning brakes up here in the mountains. I just thought the masses had no idea what the other gear selector ranges are for.

  • avatar
    dancote

    I had one of these in the early 70s in Maine … land of salty roads.
    It served me well for a couple of years even though rusted-through bits kept falling off any time I hit any kind of bump. When it would no longer pass its annual inspection, I passed it on to my college student sister in Massachussetts secure in the knowledge that my well-connected brother could get it inspection stickers forever. She graduated college and sold the Slant Six for nearly what I had paid for the car used. Those were the days.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      She was my first car. Used. $200. It looked it too. Couldn’t be driven. Couldn’t have been plainer. Made the folks happy and made my friends snicker.

      She wore faded aqua paint. Four doors. In an attempt to make her look more decent, I sanded off rust and applying Bondo and Rustoleum so that she looked like an ugly aqua Dalmatian puppy. She parked in front of the house and leaked colorful fluids into the curb. She always smelled like old carpeting, Pall Malls and a some kind of auto chemical. Cardboard pine trees would work for 54 minutes.

      Everyone was embarrassed to be seen riding with her, but me. I worshipped every inch of the faded beauty and admired the places where her paint wasn’t worn. I smeared dollops of wax and bubbles over every piece of chrome, stainless steel and aluminum foil. I pin striped over dents and Armor-Alled the cheapest rubber tires I could buy new. Every moment not in school was spent fantasizing over where she could take me. I saw us alone on a beach, hiking in the Rockies, cruising down Lake Shore Drive, and having real girls in the back seat.

      Filled with every cheap auto interior accessory, I drove her to college in Colorado. I had to worry about nearly every mile. The brakes were spongy, the transmission thudded, and the exhaust required hangers and duct tape. After dining on ramen noodles for a week, I could roll up a few, grab some friends and head for a mountain pass and camp in a national forest for the weekend. We knew we could leave her for a week while we fished, camped and hiked across the Great Divide, and that no one would bother with, or try to steal her away from me.

      Perhaps it was my youth, perhaps it was my dull ignorance, perhaps it was the pot, but there were moments behind the wheel when I couldn’t have been in a finer car. On a downhill grade on an empty mountain road, cruising through aspen groves filled with sunshine and the scent of pine, the fears of upcoming daunting adult responsibilities flew out the open windows. It was at those moments when that plain little car worked magic. She broke through the ties of reality and took me where I had always hoped the two of us could go when we first met – a world without worries, a world that was all mine.

      Remember your first? While I had my way with far more expensive lookers and had good times with many others, this plain jane made me a man.

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        Dude,

        Well said. You should submit an article to this site (if you haven’t already).

      • 0 avatar
        jason

        Wow, nicely written! My first was a ’63 valiant 170 slant 6, 3 on the tree, white with a seafoam green interior. It had radio and heater delete–it didn’t have backup lights, windshield washers, nothing.

        I found it at our family mechanic’s place out back and fell in love. It had tiny 13 wheels with dog dish hub caps and no floor boards. I bought it for $750, which was probably too much–you can still buy them for next to nothing here in FL.

        I bondo’ed it up had it painted at Maaco in refrigerator white and tinted the windows. I lowered the front using the torsion bar adjusters and put wide wheels and 245/60-14 tires on the back. I took the bench seat out and put in some Honda Civic bucket seats in it and added a Mr Gasket 3 speed floor shifter. It wouldn’t outrun a vw bug, but it was indestructible and good on gas.

        It was famous at my high school–everyone knew me as the guy with that old white car. After graduation I drove it all over the place–Dead shows at stone mountain, to the outer banks to surf and all OVER florida multiple times. Slept in it in the keys under bridges on weekend trips during college.

        All sorts of adventures were had in that car. I learned how to work on cars on that car mainly by trial and error. It was totally durable and forgiving. I form a bond with most cars that I own, but that one will always be my first and my favorite.

  • avatar
    dancote

    I had one of these in the early 70s in Maine … land of salty roads.
    It served me well for a couple of years even though rusted-through bits kept falling off any time I hit any kind of bump. When it would no longer pass its annual inspection, I passed it on to my college student sister in Massachussetts secure in the knowledge that my well-connected brother could get it inspection stickers forever. She graduated college and sold the Slant Six for nearly what I had paid for the car used. Those were the days. The fact that someone could make this car last to 2010 just blows my mind (gratuitous 70s reference).

  • avatar
    skor

    It was the 4 door station wagons from this era that all went off to the crusher. The 2 door versions…as well as the “sedan deliveries”…..were mostly snatched up by restorers, rodders, and customizers right from the start.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      What was so bad about 4-doors?

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        They had FOUR doors! Definitely not as cool, but with the two-door models more and more scarce, four doors aren’t uncool anymore. Lots of tri-five Chevy 4 doors restored now.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        Like Zackman says, the 4 door versions were considered PTA mom(early versions of soccer moms) rides. The 2 door versions were considered cool right from the jump, and the sedan delivery versions were hipster before anyone knew what hipster meant.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        At Zack and Skor: Well aside from reduced handling and added weight I never saw the problem with 4-doors.

        I’m kinda disappointed if most car restorers are more bent on looking “cool” in a classic than restoring one just to revive a classic.

        Then again, my last 2 cars have been hatchbacks.

  • avatar
    skor

    Almost forgot, check out Paul Niedermeyer’s article on two door station wagons.

    http://www.curbsideclassic.com/automotive-histories/automotive-history-the-short-and-odd-life-of-the-two-door-station-wagon/

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Some nice compact wagons from Chryco during those years. It’s a shame there weren’t any A-body wagons from the late 60s until the Volare and Aspen debuted, as the ’67-76 Dart and Valiant’s lines would have translated into a sharp looking wagon during that period.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    A gf had one in Austin in the seventies , a wagon in exactly this color except with three-on-the-tree. Another friend had another one, also a 64 but a sedan , also with a three-speed stick. This one I drove one time to Houston. They were impressive compared to later similiar Chrysler products, late 60s and early 70s Dart Swingers and Dusters. other friends had. The later ones looked badly put together. At the time I was impressed and it was a 14-year old beater at the time but still solid. The wagon I borrowed once to move a couch that wouldn’t fit in my Squareback VW I had at the time; the Valiant wagon easily held it.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I’m not familiar with Chrysler’s pushbutton transmission’s operation (or any pushbutton tranny, really). Why is two of those buttons are pushed in simultaneously? Or are they just broken?

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Its broken. The mechanism is connected to a push-pull cable, not electric. The lever is for Park. Early Valiants, Lancers and Darts had no column shifters at all. The standard trans was floor shift. Just another oddity that helped the ultra-conventional Falcon far outsell the Valiant.

  • avatar

    Nice front seats. Wonder what they come out of?

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    I know the Valiant has always been considered rather ugly, but the better-balanced wagon styling and missing bumpers here make this one look pretty decent to my eyes. Would be cool to fill those body gaps behind the bumpers in, toss the chrome, and fit some decent looking wheels/tires (no DUBs!! Period-correct stamped steel with wider-than-stock tires, please!).

  • avatar

    I have always had an affinity for those old Valiants. Not svelte but still, I’d love to own one.

  • avatar
    nikita

    No underhood shot? It could have a 273 V8 hiding under there instead of the assumed slant six.

    Wagons generally are too costly to restore, more interior surfaces, more glass and weatherstripping, tailgate mechanisms, etc. Unless its a ’55-’57 Nomad, that is.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      …and those Valiant/Dart wagon tailgates were known rusters well before other parts of the car were.

      That car would have had V8 emblems on the front fenders if it’d been V8-powered.

  • avatar
    87CE 95PV Type Я

    It is really painful to see a Black Cali plate in such condition.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    My dad owned a 63 Valiant 4dr in white with the 170 slant 6 and 3 on the tree. It was his commuter car in the late 60′s and 70′s up through the 1st gas crunch delivering decent for the era about 23 mpg. With normal maintenance, plentiful compared to today-tune ups, brakes, a valve job, a clutch, numerous mufflers and tailpipes, ball joints etc. he got 175k out of it which for it’s time was very high mileage since a typical vehicle ran to 100k before it was ready for the boneyard. What did this car in was the rust especially the floors and rear qtrs. The early use of unibody construction was innovative but they left out the need for proper drainage and rust prevention.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Always beware the all-pervasive black widow spider(s) residing in a California car that has been sitting.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I’ve been accused of being some sort of effete snob who values contrarianism because of my defense of the CTS Wagon I drive. THIS car is proof that that is categorically untrue.

    Almost this very car (although ours was a ’65) was one of the major cars of my childhood. My dad bought it after his time with the company Volvo Amazon wagon ended. We hauled our bicycles to the repair shop in it. There were several pounds of beach sand in it from the two-or-three times weekly trips to Jones Beach or Point Lookout. My butt is still sore from riding in the back on family trips to D.C. We hauled furniture, firewood and newspapers collected for recycling at .55/100 lbs.

    The love of wagons is deep because of the sheer experience with the basic form, much of it gained from this very car.

    I don’t really care what other people buy and drive except where those choices tend to limit what I want to buy. Wagons are cool. It’s not fashion. They are cool because they are really useful.

  • avatar
    jmdazed

    I just bought one of these from original owner. She wrecked the front end. I wish I knew where this junkyard is?


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