Mike Meserve
70 Plymouth Valiant Duster


The car was given to me in late 2003 for free. I was told to just come and take it away or it will be towed off to the junkyard. It is very possible that the car only has 80,000 miles on it; if not then it could be 180k, that’s still less miles than I have on my 96’ truck. I was told that it had made a few trips out to Sac. Int’l airport every once in a while and also went to the bay area only a couple of times. Aside from that the car was driven once a week to the bank for the last 20 years.

When I went to see the car to figure out if I wanted it the car was a mess. It was dented on every corner and the engine looked like it hadn’t been touched in years. I couldn’t help but notice plumber’s tape for a battery hold down, a piece of rope holding the heater hoses, and the throttle return spring attached to a piece of coat hanger which was wound around a valve cover bolt. I figured that the price is right and if it doesn’t work then I’ve lost nothing but the cost of renting a tow dolly.

These are the pictures we call DAY 1 - (purchase)

So, a week later I towed it home. At first it didn’t look good, but after about 4 or 5 times of cranking it and pumping the pedal it shuddered to life. Spewing smoke all over the place, it was a real sight and since it started, I had to go down the street & back. Surprisingly it had good pick-up for an old car. The brakes made a sound like a chain rattling around in a coffee can, but it stopped well enough for the first time around the block. When I did the brakes it looked like they were the original shoes; very worn, not only through the lining but also through the steel (looked like Swiss cheese). So it was also time for new drums and a master cylinder.

Here it is the first part of October 2005

After finding a "Super Six" out at the bone yard in a Volare or Diplomat; not sure which, I grabbed the whole manifold set-up as one piece. I got a can of high temp Chrysler Red and shined up the whole thing; had the carb rebuilt. I had to find an aftermarket air cleaner because the one that came with the new assembly was too large and hit the AC pump. I ordered a replacement Super Six sticker online and slapped it onto my new chrome air filter. After the new intake was installed and was running great, we decided to go ahead and install an electronic ignition.

Most recently the car got all new belts & hoses, a new water pump, thermostat, radiator cap, some fresh paint here & there in the engine compartment and I got a chrome breather and oil cap.

I’m currently looking for a professional body shop to do it right; strip the entire body down to metal, have the new quarter welded in, paint the whole car dark red and put new factory pinstripes and stickers all around, then we’ll replace the interior with a new tan one.

Future plans are to refresh the suspension, re-do the engine with dual carbs, headers, a cam, some head work, 727 transmission and a new differential. With all that I’ll also need front and rear power disk brakes.  

To be continued.

  And when he is tired of working on the car, he works on the computer on his car.


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