1966 Plymouth Valiant Signet convertible
Sold at $8,960
Bonhams, Greenwich, CT, June 3, 2018, Lot 213
A few years back, the classic car world fired up with excitement over a brand-new 1957 Plymouth that had been buried in a concrete vault in Tulsa, OK. Opened in 2007, a time-capsule finned wonder was to emerge, educate the future on the past, and be handed over to one lucky drawing winner.
Hindsight may be 20/20, but whoever came up with that stunt got it wrong — and not because the vault filled with water at some point and deep-sixed the ’57. If any one old car serves as a window back to the past, it’s no Forward Look car. It’s the Valiant. And these cars took the long way to get here.
Why? Because the Valiant just doesn’t ever seem to die. Maybe it’s because of that trusty slant six, or maybe it’s due to the type of owner who bought these things when new. Frugal. Conservative. Careful.
Either way, a disproportionate number of these Chrysler econocars are still out on the road today, and as such, like it or not, they serve as daily ambassadors for the old car world. Some are loved collector cars, but many are still doing the cheap bare-bones daily grind, which makes them visible — especially to kids who are paying attention.
In the collector world, Valiant values have stayed relatively low. Restoration of these has pretty much always been a losing proposition short of sentimental value, so now, these basically come in two flavors: Showing age or straight-up beater. This one was showing some years, but it was better than most.
The $8,960 price shouldn’t raise any eyebrows, as we’ve seen average sales peak as high as $13,280 in 2015. What is key here is this car’s usability, even today. It has a classic look, a top that goes down, and an engine that will continue to run for as long as you want to own it.
This was a good buy on a frugal, conservative classic that you can drive whenever you want — and it shouldn’t cost the new owner money at sale time, either. It’s a great entry to the classic car world — and as a running, driving, daily classic, it’s a better instructor to old-school motoring than a needy, water-logged rust bucket. — Jim Pickering
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