PLUM CRAZY

IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME COMING, BUT ROB BARBIERO’S 10-SECOND VC VAL WAS WORTH THE WAIT

STORY BORIS VSKOVIC PHOTOS TROY BARKER

I’VE never understood why the VC Valiant is often overlooked as street machine material. They’re as handsome as any other mid-60s offering from GM and Ford, and they even came with a V8 from the factory. Admittedly, they weren’t anywhere near as handsome as Rob Barbiero’s VC Regal – and they didn’t pack over 600hp under the bonnet like his, either – but I think people are starting to cotton to the VC and we’ll be seeing a few more in the pages of SM in the future.

VC VALS ARE AS HANDSOME AS ANY OTHER MID-60S OFFERING FROM GM AND FORD, AND THEY EVEN CAME WITH A V8

01 One of the few cars running around SA without Auto Drags, but don’t worry, they’re still Center Lines – Pro Stocks, to be exact. The reverse-cowl has been neatly integrated into the bonnet, flowing beautifully into the factory bonnet peak

02 What you’re looking at is 410 cubes of Mopar goodness. A brand new R3 block is topped with Indy 360-2 heads, single-plane intake and a 950 Quick Fuel carb. The 17 /8in 4-into-1 pipes snake their way back into a 3in system before dropping down to 2.5in after the mufflers

Rob’s story with this VC starts around 25 years ago, when he picked up the car from a friend of his. “It was damaged. My friend had taken it into a workshop and it was halfway up on a two-post hoist when it tipped over and damaged the front guard and bumper, he recalls. “He decided to get it fixed; his cousins were beaters and painters and I was in the trade and knew them. Then he changed his mind and put it up for sale.

When Rob got the car it had been stripped and was ready for repairs. It had a pretty good body and it wasn’t too long before the panelwork was sorted and it was ready for paint, but not before Rob put in the Walker Chassis tub kit. This relocated the leaf springs and opened up enough room to easily fit a set of 295s under the back. The car was then sent off to Rob Zganec to work his magic. He applied the Plum Pearl – no, it’s not purple – that was originally found on PT Cruisers.

“It looks completely different because I didn’t use a base coat; I just went straight over a beige primer, Rob says. It definitely hasn’t caused a problem, because the car has been painted for 18 years and still looks mint.

Rob admits there were some hold-ups with the build, mostly centred around the engine, but once he found the right bloke to screw it all together, things progressed a lot more quickly – as would the car’s quarter-mile performance once it was on the track. There’s no re-ringed 273 or warmed over 318 sitting in the engine bay, and a 360 wasn’t going to cut it, because Rob wanted to build something a little special, something that would see him cut 10-second quarters. The man for the job was Con Sagiaris from Pro Race Engines, and he knew exactly what Rob needed.

The starting point for the 620hp small-block was an R3 race block from Mopar Performance, which was developed because the factory blocks have a 59-degree lifter angle, making it tough for valvetrains to survive high-rpm situations – and you know we all love revving it up. So the boffins at Chrysler developed the R3 block with a 48-degree angle, which allows a much better pushrod angle. It’s science!

The four-bolt bottom end holds a Mopar Performance stroker crank in place while it throws around a set of Scat rods and Arias pistons for a total displacement of 410ci. Having big cubes is fine, but you gotta fill those big holes with lots of fuel and air, and that’s where the heads come into play. A set of Indy 360-2 oval-port heads were fitted and topped with a matching Indy single-plane intake. The Quick Fuel 950cfm carb sits on a two-inch Super Sucker spacer, necessitating the neatly done reverse-cowl scoop for street duties, although there is also a bonnet with a Hornet scoop for when Rob’s racing.

The rest of the driveline is pretty focussed towards straight-line performance as well, with a set of 4.33 Richmond gears in the narrowed nine-inch and a 5000rpm TCE converter in the fully manualised 904 Torqueflite. But Rob insists it’s not too bad on the street: “It’s quite nice; people freak out when they’re in it, he says. “I’ve got the stereo in it for a few tunes, and to be honest, the diff is probably the noisiest thing.

It’s got a full exhaust – three-inch to the mufflers and then two-and-ahalf over the diff and out the back. With the big Mickey Thompsons on the back, the car sits at around 3300rpm at 100km/h, which isn’t too hard to live with.

Inside is the finest luxury you could get from Chrysler Australia in 1967, with bucket seats, floor shift, console and wall-to-wall carpet, and that’s precisely how Rob left it, although it’s not quite how it came from the dealer in 1967. Originally the car was white with a black vinyl roof and blue interior, but with the exterior colour change, Rob opted for a less confronting and much more tasteful tan interior. Wayne & Jeff’s Trim Shop handled the job, replicating all the factory stitching on the doors and seats. Those peeking inside will notice the Hurst shifter handle and Auto Meter gauges.

Outside is a similar story, with Rob keeping all of the factory VC V8 jewellery, and why wouldn’t you? The body trim that kicks up over the rear wheel and goes all the way to the tail-light, and those three little strips that identify the car as a V8, are both glitzy yet understated. I’ve never really noticed before, but there were never any badges to clutter up the bodywork signifying the model, make or engine size. Instead, there’s just a very cool V8 badge on the C-pillar to match the bonnet mascot, and ‘Valiant’ in block letters across the boot.

There’s no point messing with something if there’s nothing wrong with it, but let’s face it, a little more horsepower is always nice to have and that was always Rob’s plan. “I was only ever building it to run a 10-second pass in race trim, and it surpassed all my expectations running a 10.7@128mph in street trim, he says. “Con built me a stout small-block Chrysler! We worked solid days at our normal jobs and then at night on the car, which almost cost me my marriage! can’t thank Con enough for his commitment and awesome work to finally get my Valiant on the road when so many times I was going to get rid of it.

We’re glad s you found the right people and stuck with it, Rob. Mopar or no car!

THE STARTING POINT FOR THE 620HP SMALL-BLOCK WAS AN R3 RACE BLOCK FROM MOPAR PERFORMANCE

01 The Plum Pearl paint is the perfect contrast to the extensive trim on the car. Rob left all of the factory jewellery in place. The narrowed 9in, mini-tubs and relocated leaf springs mean the 15x10 rims and 295 rubber fit under the VC perfectly

02 The interior features all of the awesome 60s styling still intact, with the addition of some Auto Meter gauges and a Hurst shifter handle on a B&M Pro Ratchet. The stock radio is still in place but the tunes are now played via a Pioneer deck hidden under the dash. The seats were retrimmed in tan vinyl to replicate the stock pattern

ROB BARBIERO VC VALIANT REGAL

Paint: Glasurit Plum Pearl

DONK

Type: Chrysler R3 410ci

Inlet: Indy single-plane

Carb: Quick Fuel 950cfm

Heads: Indy 360-2

Valves: 2.10in (in), 1.65in (ex)

Cam: Crow solid

Pistons: Arias

Crank: Mopar Performance stroker

Conrods: Scat

Radiator: Aluminium

Exhaust: 17/8in 4-into-1, twin 3in to 2.5in system

Ignition: ICE 7

SHIFT

Box: 904 Torqueflite, full-manual, everse pattern

Converter: TCE 5000rpm stall

Diff: Shortened 9in, 4.33:1 Richmond gears

BENEATH

Front end: Standard torsion bars

Shocks: Competition Engineering

Steering: Rack-and-pinion

Brakes: Wilwood four-piston (f), drums (r)

ROLLING STOCK

Rims: Center Line Pro Stock; 15x5.5 (f), 15x10 (r)

Rubber: Hankook 205/75R15 (f), M/T ET Street 295/55/15 (r)

THANKS

Con and Andrea Sagiaris from Pro Race Engines; Rob Zganec for the magic paintjob; Carmine and Dino at CDS for the diff; Wayne & Jeff’s Trim Shop; my mum; my wife and son for putting up with my obsession!