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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking for a project car for my 14 year old son who is quite mechanically inclined to work on for the next few years. I have a chance at a 61 Valiant two door with 3 speed on the floor. It runs and drives, but not reliably, so it will need a fair amount of work to make road worthy. The owner wants $1000 for it. So two questions. First, is that a fair price? Second, would a Valiant make a good project car in terms of the difficulty or ease of working on them, information available on working on them, and price/availability of parts? Your expertise is much appreciated!
 

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Well, the earliest A-bodies (which weren't even called A-bodies yet) are a little harder to get some parts for, and their engine bays are a little tighter, but they have an advantage in not really having any emissions rules to follow and using a lot of the tech that continued for decades. I assume that this car is powered by an inline six cylinder engine, referred to as a "slant six", which continued in production in one displacement or another until the eighties, so donor engines and other parts are available.

Another disadvantage is that this car predates most modern safety equipment being standard. No advanced crash testing compared to modern cars, obviously no airbags, and it's fairly likely that seatbelts were optional or were aftermarket. It also probably has four-wheel-drum brakes.

If you aren't looking to go crazy with a V8 engine swap or other "personality change" then this is probably a good vehicle to learn the basics on, but keep in mind the downsides.
 

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My main suggetion would be to thoroughly check out the body and sub-frame conditions - thoroughly. This also applies to inside the trunk and interior floors. No need to pay someone else a king's ransom to restore a car body when the ultimate value of said car will never match what the restoration cost. Of course if you do most of body and paint yourself then it may be worth the time and effort. But, at the end of the day, this will never be a collector vehicle and the resale value will only reflect the overall condition. It is a very unique body style. A friend once had a '62 in really good cond. but his wife rear-ended someone at an intersection and, despite fixable fender and hood, the front-end trim and bumper were beyond repair - so, the car was 'written-off'. He had a chance to buy it back from insurance company but declined. End of car, end of story. I do have a factory service manual for 1962. Now, as suggested by TWX, there are many ways to upgrade for performance, reliability and safety. The entire running gear can be modernized so small parts are cheaper and easier to locate. I would also look at the interior condition and design and get estimates for replacing the upholstery and maybe door panels, headliner, dash, etc. (did this model even have a padded dash?) Let us not forget those (nasty) push-button tranny shifters - used thru 1964.
Yes, there is soooo much to ponder and you must price out some parts and services, otherwise this will not be a good choice for son's first car -for sure not the best choice but, it is your choice, not ours. Perhaps something 10 yrs. newer? Keep us informed with what you decide.
 

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If re-sale is a consideration get an early Mustang. Parts are cheap and plentiful and the resale is good.
 

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If I had my choice of years for an A-body, I would probably go for something in the '67-70 range, mainly due to the widened K-frame and greater interchange and upgrade options.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks everyone. You guys know much more about these vehicles than I do, and it sounds like I should keep looking. Thanks again!
 

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i drive a 1960 Valiant. i believe the 61 is almost exactly the same. mine is PERFECT as far as mechanically. the body is straight although the floorboards need redone. but i drive it EVERYDAY. engine wise, its a slant six. can get parts for it..only really bad part about these cars is if something happens to the body, it will be a royal pain to find replacement body parts.

my favorite part, no electronics, computers, or fuses. its basic and straight forward. if it'll run/drive and u got the cash, its well worth $1000 in my opinion, i have people stop me DAILY everywhere i go asking what kind of car it is, what year is it...and several try to buy it, ive been offered $3500 going down a 4-lane road while driving...people go nuts over these cars..its a head turner.

get it, enjoy it.
 

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If runs and drives, I would buy it. Good fun car to fix up.
 
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