By on May 7, 2012

Sharp-eyed readers noticed the old Valiant parked next to last week’s Eagle Summit Junkyard Find, and some wondered if I’d photographed the Chrysler A-body while I was there. Of course I did!
I’ve owned a few late-60s Darts and Valiants and ridden in many more; these were the cheap, reliable, and semi-fuel-efficient beaters of the 1980s, before the prices of used Civics and Sentras came down to earth. I consider the 1967-75 Dart and Valiant to be the best basic-transportation cars Chrysler ever built; with the optional V8 and 4-speed manual transmission, they were also just as quick as more expensive Mustangs and Camaros.
Someone has already grabbed the head off this Slant Six, along with the instrument cluster and much of the car’s trim. That means there’s a Colorado Valiant getting nicer, even as this one prepares for death.
The Signet was the upscale version of the Valiant, with nicer interior and more chrome. “Nicer” is a relative term, of course; this car was all about the sweaty vinyl and cardboard-backed door panels.
It’s too bad that Chrysler 86’d the Plymouth marque, because a new Valiant to go with the new Dart would be just right for the dig-up-the-bones retro philosophy so much in vogue in Detroit.

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32 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1968 Plymouth Valiant Signet Sedan...”

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    I see the hard plastic diamond patterned seat covers were also removed. In the 70s, I encountered so many Darts and Valiants equipped with them I thought it was a standard feature.

    At least the driver’s side has been smashed: I’d hate to think an example that clean and – almost – straight was needlessly being scrapped.

    And having worked on hundreds of vinyl covered cardboard door panels, I find their ease of removal and reinstallation to be orders of magnitude quicker than today’s Gordian Knot interiors.

    • 0 avatar

      My Uncle Bob had those seat covers on a 1963 Galaxie. I remember the first time I sat on them. Of course, the car had been in sitting in the sun. Oh so hot!

    • 0 avatar

      The fender and door are not that big a deal. I have to say the body is in much better shape than the 65 Dart wagon I just sold for a grand. Mine “ran” but the buyer was more safety consious (chicken) than me and had it towed away. It had rust on just about every panel and was missing most of the interior. But it was a wagon and a Hurst 4 speed manual.

      These years 68-69 are I the most coveted I think. At least I think they look the best.

  • avatar

    That’s not a ’68. The Valiant got those rectangular side marker lamps in ’69 and kept them through ’71. In ’68, it had the small round lamps without reflectors. I’m guessing this is a ’69, as I *think* that was the last year for the Signet name.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. I believe this is a 69.
      Over the years, I owned every body style of this series, at least briefly. Both Dodge & Plymouth, 6 & V8, auto & manual. They were so reliable and easy to maintain, I tended to take them for granted. My prizes were a 69 340 Dart Swinger, and a rare 75 Duster /6 with the 3-speed W/OD on the floor. When I sold my final model, a 73 Duster V8/auto, I never sought to buy another in this series. Big mistake!

      • 0 avatar

        You are both correct. The way to identify any 68 Mopar is by the “bullet hole” side marker lamps. I like them and wish they had stayed with them.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Correct this is a 69, the 68 had the round side markers, the 1st year they were required under NHSTA. The 68 also had the smaller more tapered head restraints. I learned to drive stick on my dad’s 68 Valiant yellow 4 dr 225-6 3 on the tree, rubber floor mats and a very effective vacuum floor pump windshield washer. Also learned how to do a valve job on it. It’s a shame there was never a wagon version of the 67-76 A-Body.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I learned to drive sitck on a 69 Valiant stripper with three on the tree. That car was indescturtable and was in use as a DD well into the 90s. The slant six was one of the most durable engines ever sold in this country.

  • avatar

    Vinyl interior with cloth inserts. Vinyl covered cardboard door panels. Simple heater controls. WOW! Takes me back to my 67 Valiant 100. Except the 100 had all vinyl seats, no radio, and no carpet.

    The 68 had round marker lights, so what’s in the pics has to be a 69 or 70. Still a very clean body.

  • avatar

    At first, I thought oh man, nice paint and body, but looking at the photos, the paint isn’t perfect, but a lot better than some that hit the junkyards but that major damage on the driver’s side, the clue that it might not be as nice as it first seemed was the dings along the top edge of the trunk lid.

    I can attest to the durability of both the slant six and the torqueflite as my parents had a ’64 Dodge 330 wagon that they bought brand new in the summer of ’64, finally selling it in 1977, still running, but not well, nor reliably and rusting to a HS kid for $150.

    We drove that car across country 3 times. The first being that summer when my parents and older sisters moved from Jacksonville FL to Washington St for the first time as Dad transferred to McChord AFB. I was born early in ’65, we left the state in 67, first to Oklahoma, then back to Jacksonville, moving back here for Dad’s retirement from the AF in the summer of ’69.

    It took us to the Washington coast at least a couple of times (2 hour drive), to Yakima in eastern Washington on several occasions in the early 70’s, the transmission finally dies in ’73 on our way back home from Yakima on I-90. The original motor soldiered on until we sold it.

    I think it had at least 145K on the clock, when it was sold too. A major feat back in the day – and no, I don’t think the motor was ever rebuilt, just kept maintained all that time.

  • avatar

    1969 was also first year for mandatory head restraints on new cars. So it’s a 9-er.

    Looks like it was totaled by ins. company after the side wreck. At least some of it has been recycled, but the sedan body isn’t, ;-/

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Agreed, but Chrysler had offered headrests as options since around 1965. At least on other models.

    • 0 avatar

      yeah, that was my thought too, that this is an insurance total. The body damage looks recent, and the car was tagged “Vehicle Starts” meaning, I assume, that it was running when brought to the yard. Sad end for a survivor.

  • avatar

    My Parents had a ’68 Valiant 100. Coupe, Slant six w/3 on the tree with no radio and carpet. Basic car. The least exciting car I have ever driven. Get you from point A to Point B and that is all. Gone with 87K, thank goodness.

  • avatar

    They ran forever and were generally reliable but… they were slow with the six, didn’t handle, didn’t brake, had crazy over boosted steering with power steering option, leaked and were noisy to drive on the thruway, rattled, required tune ups points, spark plugs, carb adjustments each year and the interiors were terrible and spartan with cardboard lined gloveboxes and door panels plus thin vinyl seat material that split after 3-4 years of Summer heat. The Slant six also needed valve adjustment every 30k or so with it’s solid lifters and I often remember hearing the tell tale ticking when adjustment time was near. This is the time era when one spent just as much time under the hood of there car as they did driving it. Many today have no clue how good they have things with today’s vehicles and probably never experienced these older 60’s cars. Even still these had much potential and could be easily upgraded in the engine bay and suspension, had better interior space utilization and large trunks and had uber personalities.

    • 0 avatar

      Poncho, I’ll start with the brakes. A slant 6 A body had 9 inch brakes, the same size as GM’s midsized cars of the 60’s, including the musclecars. The V8 equiped A bodies had bigger 10 inch brakes, even the models equipped with the small 273. Chrysler’s mid sized cars were equipped with 11 inch brakes, and a few V8 powered A bodies were equipped with the 11 inchers due to a shortage of the 10 inchers.
      The slant 6 was much more robust than either the ford or chevy straight 6, and there was no comparison between the design of the intake manifold of the slant 6 and other inline sixes of the day. The slant 6 manifold had long individual runners as compared to the atrocious log manifold used on the others. The slant 6 also used a better exhaust manifold with separate outlets compared to the log types on the other engines. The solid lifters in the slant 6 always made a clattering sound, that was the normal sound of solid lifters, there was no “ticking” sound indicating the need for adjustment, which was easy and only took a few minutes to do.
      The A body also used the torqueflite transmission, with a nova you got a powerglide, and the A body was the first to use an alternator and electronic ignition. The 62 and later mopars also used the excellent gear reduction starter.
      As far as handling goes , the torsion bar setup was light years ahead of GM’s coil spring setup, with horrendous geometry. The 62-67 nova used an especially awful setup similar to ford’s design.
      As far as gloveboxes go pretty much all cars in the 60’s used a cardboard glovebox, who cares? It’s a glovebox.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed. Chrysler engineering always seemed a notch above the others in the 60’s, to me at least. I’ve driven models from all 3 of the Big 3 made in the 60’s, and the Mopars always seem the best driving. For their time, at least, they were pretty good cars. I still have a ’63 Dart convertible, and even with the slant 6 and pushbutton, its a surprisingly sprightly car. Never had any issues with the drum brakes working well enough, or being unable to attain super-legal speeds!

      • 0 avatar

        A word about the 273..that was a quick little engine in the Valiant. I remember my dad drive testing a new ’65 Signet with the V8. It was beige with much nicer interior than the ’65 Valiant he ended up buying..a base 100 with 3-speed stick. I remember that car too, because a couple years later, I learned to drive in it!

    • 0 avatar

      The Valiant handled much better than a Falcon/Maverick or Nova of the same period, due to its torsion bars. As for overboosted power steering, that was a universal American characteristic. Plugs, points, spark plugs? Welcome to the world of pre-electronic-ignition cars. You had to go through this for just about every 1969 car. Chrysler was the first of the Big Three to adopt electronic ignition in 1971 and it was fitted in every Mopar car by 1973 – two years before GM and Ford.

      • 0 avatar

        There were several reasons why the torsion bar suspension was better. For one they allowed the engine to be mounted lower in the chassis for a lower center of gravity. The T bars were 100% sprung weight. The bars placed the suspension loads rearward, which was handled by the beefy torsion bar crossmember. This also allowed the forestructure to be lightweight. The upper control arms were mounted with the rear mounting point lower than the front for even more anti dive characteristics, along with near flawless geometry.
        Richard Ehrenberg, S.A.E, tech editor of Mopar Action shows photos of the suspension setup in this month;s issue and explains it. He has explained it many times over the years for new readers.
        He has a 69 Valiant dubbed the “green brick” which he has run in the Lap One America series many times with a basically stock suspension. He added good aftermarket bushings, better sway bar and shocks and good tires as well as a quicker ratio steering box, but the basic suspension is factory. He was almost always near the front of the pack racing against ferraris, lambos, vipers, vettes, porsches and just about any exotic car you can think of. One year he made 2nd place, I believe it was in 99. The car that came in first was a moser raptor. The green brick runs a Ray Barton built 340 with an 833 4 speed.
        Chrysler’s leaf spring setup also used a bit of clever engineering in all of their cars. They were offset mounted to prevent wheelhop during acceleration and for better axle control during braking. Mopar’s legendary super stock leaf springs were the best setup in the business, they helped to plant the tire on the pavement during launch.

  • avatar

    Love the slant six. Had a later version for 8 years. No Problems. After 7 years it needed a starter. Any engine you can change the starter in without crawling under the car is a good one.

  • avatar

    My Signet was a red on red 1969 2-door with the 318 and 4-speed. I agree with Murilee – this car could really move. The fact that no one expected it to be a 318 4-speed car didn’t hurt either.

    I saw an ad for it in the Little Nickel and went to look at it, figuring that someone had probably installed one of those horrible later 4-speeds into it, but as soon as I saw the bare red floors and the obviously original 4-speed I had to have it, burnt valve or no. I got the engine rebuilt, repainted it the original deep red, found straight bumpers and rally wheels in wrecking yards. It had a gold front seat in it; I never could lay my hands on a red one. The red interiors were almost nonexistent on that generation of Darts and Valiants, as far as I could tell. I ended up selling it to a collector in Wisconsin and driving it to him.

  • avatar



  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Had a 71 Scamp with the 318. Loved that car! my favorite car of all the ones I’ve owned.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    That’s “Old Ironsides”! At least that’s what my late cousin Jamie (a Golden Knight, by the way, but killed in a car crash-NOT in his Valiant)called his. Bulletproof. And he stupidly used it as an off-road vehicle, and it was none the worse for the wear. Memories….

  • avatar

  • avatar

    Looks like a nice car for it age. Wish old cars in Maine looked as nice as this junk. In Maine it would have been rotted out by the early or mid 80s due to our salty winters. The Valiants and Darts were awesome cars. My Dad bought a 65 Dart a week after I was born and I have loved these cars ever since. My Grandmother had a ’66 Dart that lasted till the late 80s. My first car was a ’66 Dart and I also had a ’75. One of the most practical and long lived American cars. The ’67 to ’76 body styles were awesome and have almost a timeless flavor to them like the Volvo 240s. Excellent Cars and really missed!!! Wish I still had one. Lots of good info abut them on Allpar and on the web.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    My brother bought a 66 Valiant that was loaded and had the big 6 in it. It was a little old lady car with under 20k miles on it. He lavished all sorts of attention on it. The car was perfect until he was the middle car in a 3 car pileup. Minor cosmetic damage. He sold it to me for 500$. It ran great for 5 yrs. I would have kept the car, but in a power disc brake world, manual drummies just couldnt cut it in rush hour traffic. Later I had a 74 Dart I bought for 50 bucks and drove for nearly 2 yrs. My 88 528e is a good update of the 60s Valiant sedan.

  • avatar

    “…this car was all about the sweaty vinyl…”

    Hey, maybe they should have called it Leatherette, like BMW does?

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