1964 PLYMOUTH Valiant Signet 200- Victor Print
Written by Double Dragon
Monday, 10 August 2015 20:28

1964 PLYMOUTH Valiant Signet 200- Victor


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

64 valiant victor fender logo

By the time 1964 model year rolled around the Plymouth Valiant had come a long way since its introduction in 1960. When the domestic manufacturers responded to the foreign imports by creating their own compact cars the plan was to plug the sales leak that had been led mainly by VW Beetles. Rather than emulate the route taken by Rambler, the big three were rethinking the situation.

64 valiant signet 200 victor front

Over at Chrysler the solution was to meet the foreign cars in all ways, not just size. Since the foreign cars had some sophisticated technology so would the new Mopar compact. The slant six engine is famous today for being indestructible but its original claim to fame was based on its brilliant design.

64 valiant signet 200 victor slant 6 dr side

By tilting the cylinder banks on an angle there was room to create long straight intake runners that made more efficient use of fuel. The slant six made more power and enjoyed better gas mileage than a comparably sized engine would be capable of with conventional intake runners.

64 valiant signet 200 victor slant 6 front view

Chrysler didn't stop with engine design. Aluminum was used extensively in various parts such as transmission cases, intake manifolds and alternators to lighten the car. The following year a cast aluminum engine block was available. Later on the Chrysler pushbutton automatic transmission was a feature of the Valiant. General Motors went with the innovative approach as well. The Chevrolet Corvair was air cooled with an independent rear suspension just like the VW. Later GM compacts would go even further with rope drive and transaxle, aluminum blocks, V6 and supercharging.

Ford stuck to conventional engineering for the Falcon by simply producing a miniature version of the typical Ford passenger car. Ford won the sales race and when the 'enlarged' compacts came out as intermediates over at GM it was back to conventional engineering once more. Chrysler left the slant six the way it was and continued to use torsion bar suspension.

64 valiant signet 200 victor passenger side

When the Valiant first appeared for model year 1960 Chrysler wanted it to be a stand alone nameplate rather than a model within one of the Chrysler divisions. This didn't last long and within a year it was badged as a Plymouth. The strange styling of the early Valiants had been toned down by the time the 1964 models appeared. In 1964 the Valiant served as the basis for Chrysler's 'ponycar' the Barracuda which first became available a few weeks prior to the Ford Mustang.

1964 also marked the debut of the small 273 V8 engine which was designed to fit the Valiant engine bay. In conjunction with the newly available V8 underhood the Valiant offered a bit of image with optionally available power and style. The sporty style of the imports (bucket seats and stick shift) had caught on with buyers and gave the compacts a zesty fun image in addition to the staid economy angle.

64 valiant signet 200 victor interior

The Valiant Signet 200 was conceived in the spirit of the 'fun' compact. The Signet has bucket seats and a higher level of trim which disguises the thrifty virtues of the car. Note that the Valiant is narrow so that the bucket seats amount to two separate front seats separated by a seam. The pushbutton transmission to the left of the instrument panel negates the need for a console mounted shifter between the seats.

64 valiant signet 200 victor driver seat

The upscale compact buyer tended to look at the car as more than just an economical car and this was the case with the owner of this Valiant. Victor's aunt Nellie owned this car but it was registered in her husband Jack's name. He handled the sales process and paperwork.

64 valiant signet 200 victor instrument panel

NellieĀ  traded in her Plymouth Fury for the Valiant and is described by her nephew Victor as fussy. Victor has high standards for cars himself so readers can imagine how much she cherished this car.

64 valiant signet 200 victor radio

The Valiant was babied and didn't log many miles during her ownership. Nellie lived at the corner of Oak and Laurier which happened to be within walking distance of most of the things she needed to do. The Valiant was a typical 'old lady' car seeing minimal use and meticulous care.

64 valiant signet 200 victor driver door

Her husband looked after the car. She insisted on factory brand parts.

64 valiant signet 200 victor driver pedals

The interior is all original and hasn't required any replacement parts or repairs.

64 valiant signet 200 victor rear seat

Note the logo embossed into the back of both bucket seats and the rear seats. This logo is also repeated on the C pillar of the roof with a chrome medallion.

64 valiant signet 200 victor c pillar medallion

In the trunk there is a stash of 1969 era Chrysler oil filters and some old dealer brochures and ads that she saved from back in the day.

64 valiant signet 200 victor trunk

Stockpiling necessary parts in the event that they are discontinued is a time honored practice for car preservation nuts but not something frequently encountered with regular 'civilian' car owners.

64 valiant signet 200 victor owner manual

All the garage bills were also saved throughout the years which verify the low mileage on this car.

On June 11, 1979 when the car was 15 years old Hastings Brake and Wheel at 1841 E Hastings Street installed 2 sets of return springs in the brakes of the car with mileage recorded at 30,423 miles.

The brakes were cleaned and bearings repacked 20 years later on June 2, 1997 by an Esso franchised garage and mileage had only advanced to 36,349 miles.

When she passed away in 1983 at age 68 the Valiant showed 35,000 miles which works out to 1,800 miles per year. Since then Victor has added minimal mileage. He drives the car enough to keep it running properly and attends shows with it. Currently the Valiant has 39,000 miles.

Victor added a correct factory style vintage battery from Nostalgia Speed Auto Parts & Collectibles. The $328.19 battery not only resembles the correct original but it has removable caps to check the water level. Many reproduction batteries are modern sealed units with the appearance of the old vented style batteries.

64 valiant signet 200 victor rear

The rear trunk lid has a repeat of the Signet logo.