Home Car Stories One Family 1971 PLYMOUTH Valiant Scamp- Abbotsford, BC
1971 PLYMOUTH Valiant Scamp- Abbotsford, BC PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Saturday, 09 June 2012 17:46

1971 PLYMOUTH Valiant Scamp- Abbotsford, BC


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown


A recurrent theme in the ONE FAMILY stories starts when an older relative babies a nice transportation car and then passes it down to a younger relative who immediately transforms it into a hot cruiser. Nothing radical: just mags and wide tires, and maybe glass packs. In serious cases four barrel carbs, headers, and dual exhaust get swapped in.

71-scamp-abbotsford-full view

This Gold Metallic with White accent stripes Scamp looks pretty rough after sitting for about 14 years. The relentless rain and damp of British Columbia is capable of disintegrating anything made of metal. It's too bad, because the OOCC Scamp spent half of its life safe and sound in the care of an old granny. It also has a nice color reminiscent of the popular 'Gold Duster' special edition popular during the 1970s.


The OOCC Scamp enjoyed a few decades of zero wear. The old lady was a typical owner in that she drove slowly and minimally. She also weighed very little and moved carefully which keeps interiors pristine. The car was preserved during her watch while other Scamps completed their life cycles in a junkyard. Despite the good start, time caught up to this car eventually.


The Scamp is a 1970s equivalent of today's Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. The difference is that there was just enough size and style in the Scamp remaining from its origins as a hot car that it bridges the gap between budget car and the ponycar 'cousin' segment. Nothing you can do to modern old lady cars such as a Civic or Corolla no matter how loud or big the exhaust some guy bolts onto it will transform it into a hot car.

The Scamp retains vestiges of the sporty car that birthed it while the ancestry of the Corolla or Civic has been relentlessly prosaic. The Scamp came to market via a convoluted path that weaves a trail through sporty performance models.

Going back into the 1960s we can trace the birth of the Scamp to inter corporate rivalry/ sharing of body platforms. Plymouth's 108 inch wheelbase Valiant was a pure economy car while their sporty fastback Barracuda staked out the performance arena. Barracuda was based on the Valiant 'A body' chassis. The Formula S had some decent handling and power.

The Dodge boys called their version of the Valiant the Dart. Dodge's 'A body' was a bit larger, using a 111 inch wheelbase. Dodge rejected Chrysler's offer to piggyback on the fastback Barracuda design. Instead, Dodge used the intermediate sized Coronet platform to create their own fastback; the Charger. This left the Dart without a sporty compact fastback. Dodge built up a performance image for the Dart with the GT and GTS. The Swinger 340 was a bona fide budget mini muscle car version of the Dart GT in the same way the Roadrunner was a budget GTX.

Starting with the 1970 model year, the Barracuda was no longer being built off the Valiant 'A body' chassis. The new 'E body' Barracuda was pure ponycar and more expensive. Dodge had their version called the Challenger.

At first glance, it looked like Dodge was ahead of the game with the compacts. Dodge had grocery getter compact Darts, and it had performance Darts all the way up to musclecar territory. With the Barracuda gone from the A body cars, Plymouth had just one compact: the basic econo Valiant. It was a big price and concept leap from Valiant to the new E body Barracuda. The Dart performance cars fit into that middle price spot nicely right where Plymouth had a gaping hole.

Plymouth surprised everyone by turning the tables when they creating their 1970 Duster to plug the price gap between Valiants and Barracudas. The Duster was a Valiant with a fastback body that filled the spot previously occupied by the old 'A body' fastback Barracudas. The Duster looked good, was cheap and was a true muscle car when built with a 340. It sold like crazy.

In 1971 Dodge demanded and got their version of the Duster, named the Demon. Dodge had to give something back to Plymouth as consolation for stealing some fire from the Duster runaway hit. Dodge let Plymouth clone their Dart Swinger and that is how the Scamp was born. The Scamp is a two door built on the same 111 inch wheelbase as the Dodge Dart Swinger. Meanwhile, the four door Valiant stayed with the smaller 108 inch wheelbase it had always used.

The new for 1971 Scamp was advertised with a bias towards females. Single working women, students, families buying a second car and yes, old ladies bought the Scamp. The Scamp lines derive from the Dart Swinger which was a strippo performance model for Dodge. The name Scamp and its advertising campaign neutralized any performance image, but the looks still hint of the fun car it was birthed from.

The OOCC Scamp was built in March, 1971 according to the door sticker show below.


The VIN decodes as follows:

V= Valiant
H= High price class
23= Two door hardtop
C= 225-1 barrel
1= 1971 model year
R= Windsor, Ontario, Canada factory
230127= Sequence number

The rust on the fender tag is pretty astounding but it is still legible.


The left hand bottom code E24 means the 225 one barrel 145 HP engine. Beside this, D31 means light duty 904 Torqueflite automatic transmission. The fender tag numbers along the bottom from this point forwards repeat the VIN as discussed above.

The code on the left second line up from the bottom GY8 means Gold Metallic paint. Beside that D2XW means Deluxe, vinyl bench seat in a black interior, with W indicating white seats. TX9 means black upper door frame. The 318 code doesn't have anything to do with the famous engine. The code means 3 for March, 18 for the day= March 18, 1971 assembly date. The long number beside this is the order number.

On the third line up from bottom, code VLW or perhaps VLM is the roof code. The single C code means it was built for Canadian specs. Code 22 indicates a 22 inch wide radiator. G33 means left hand outside chrome mirror. J31 means single horn. M21 is roof drip rail moldings. V7W means white accent stripes.

The grandson of the original owner of the Scamp was able to set himself up in a pretty cool car. The color was good, it was a two door and it had nice lines. There is no quick fix for the slant six performance, short of an engine swap. The grandson installed a new Holley carburetor to add some zip to the engine. Luckily, Granny had sprung for the one step up the rung 225 engine which is a decent performer. I had a friend who had a 225 that would burn rubber. The 225 can do quite a bit with a lightweight car.

The remains of the 225 can be seen below. British Columbia rust has worked its wonders on the engine bay. The Scamp was ordered with manual brakes. The power steering pump is rusted in place just as badly as everything else under hood indicating it is probably original to the car. The only fresh items are the Holley carburetor, alternator and water pump.


The grandson added a picture of a girl to the rear view mirror, installed raised white letter fat B.F. Goodrich tires and presto: he had a cool cruiser. And cruise he did: in about four or five years he racked up over 40,000 miles on the car. He managed to accrue almost half the mileage grannie put on the Scamp in her twenty year ownership. The mileage sat at 86,000 miles in 1993. By 1995 it was reading 97,000 miles. When the car was taken off the road in 1997 the odometer read 126,000 miles.

The grandson's cruising days were put to a stop by a routine police stop. He was driving around minus the front bumper, which is typical of teens. Teens seem to have their cars under constant modification in a quest for a 'cooler look'. They also spend time in the limbo of partial rebuild mode following a misjudged high speed maneuver. This was nothing the police hadn't seen before. They required him to have a safety check done on the car.

The spot check resulted in the Scamp going off the road slightly before the plate expiry date. The license plate expired March 30, 1997 which is 26 years and 12 days after the car was built back on March 18, 1971. The car hasn't been driven since then, but is still registered to the grandson as of 2012.

Time went by. Distractions occupied the grandson who was maturing and moving onto other things. The Scamp got bypassed for a decade of wet time in the open and began to rot. In 2009 it was hauled away as a parts car. The car is still titled to the grandson since there is no need to register a car that isn't going to be driven.


Last Updated ( Saturday, 17 May 2014 20:38 )