Valiant In­foBase

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Maniac -

In

our story on the White Knight Charg­ers we men­tioned that Bill Pa­pan­i­co­laou, owner of the red WKS on the cover, had pre­pared a Valiant In­foBase to help other own­ers of Aus­tralian­made Valiants trace their car’s his­tory.

Ini­tially Bill started this project to find out how many White Knights had sur­vived, and where they were now. Other mem­bers of the Chrysler com­mu­nity be­gan to ask if he could ex­tend this con­cept to all other Valiants pro­duced here.

This he has done and although the data­base is a work-in-progress it’s al­ready an im­pres­sive doc­u­ment, one that we reckon could gain Bill a PhD in sta­tis­ti­cal anal­y­sis one day.

Here’s how it works. Own­ers of Chrysler Australia cars are in­vited to fill in a form de­tail­ing in­for­ma­tion such as: proof of own­er­ship, time of own­er­ship and the known his­tory of the car.

“Sta­tis­ti­cally, it is im­por­tant that ba­sic in­for­ma­tion such as the owner’s date of birth is given,” says Bill. “This al­lows us to see de­mo­graph­i­cally what age groups are driv­ing what mod­els.”

The ques­tions he is of­ten asked by own­ers are, “Where can I find the orig­i­nal en­gine?” and “Can you tell me what chas­sis (car) my en­gine orig­i­nally be­longed to?”

In most cases he can an­swer this by cross­check­ing en­gine and VIN num­bers against his col­lec­tion of orig­i­nal records. If the own­ers give per­mis­sion he can then help connect the orig­i­nal en­gine to its orig­i­nal chas­sis.

“It’s like putting a BIG jig­saw to­gether,” he says.

The data base also iden­ti­fies the cur­rent state of cars by clas­si­fi­ca­tions such as ‘reg­is­tered, re­stored, wrecked, re­birthed or stolen’. He stresses that all de­tails re­ceived are held in strict con­fi­dence, as spec­i­fied by the NSW Pri­vacy Act, 1988.

Cars an­a­lysed so far in­clude all model Valiants (from the 1962 RV1 sedan to the 1977 CL Panel Van) plus sub­sec­tions on spe­cial pur­pose ve­hi­cles like po­lice cars. He’s found that a to­tal of 4236 of th­ese were pro­duced by Chrysler Australia, span­ning VH to CM mod­els, in­clud­ing utes, panel vans and wag­ons. 1072 Charg­ers were built for po­lice use. Of th­ese over 95 per cent are listed in the un­known cat­e­gory, 20 have been re­stored, 19 are reg­is­tered and 6 have been writ­ten off. None were stolen that he knows of.

The In­foBase can be ac­cessed on­line – see www.valiantin­fobase.com – or pur­chased as a spi­ral-bound printed doc­u­ment. De­tails can be found on the web­site.

* Also in that White Knight story, Bill sug­gested that with­out the sup­port of Greeks and Ital­ian buy­ers, Chrysler Australia would have closed down even sooner than they did.

That’s a claim sup­ported by Ital­ian co­me­dian Vince Sor­renti in the book Wide Open Road, based on the ABC Tele­vi­sion se­ries shown in 2011.

Vince says: “It was a huge state­ment, the car, an ex­ten­sion of who you were. And in those days there weren’t just Ford and Holden men. You had Valiant men too. Us Wogs drove Valiants and that cliché grew out of fact. A lot of peo­ple I knew, a lot of Greeks and Ital­ians hap­pened to have Valiants. I don’t know why.”

New South Wales read­ers will re­mem­ber that in Syd­ney the Valiant was known as the Mar­rickville Mercedes.

Other celebri­ties who are proud to ad­mit they were Valiant own­ers in­clude the leg­endary AFL com­men­ta­tor Den­nis Cometti, whose fa­ther was Ital­ian. Den­nis’ first car was a Charger.

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