Street Machine

TURNING PRO

TURNING PRO

- STORY CARLY DALE PHOTOS RICK WELCH

This CL Valiant ute went from crusty workhorse to pro street stomper

WHEN Pat Jones traded his VJ hardtop for an Alpine White 1976 CL Valiant hay-hauler back in 1980, he could never have anticipate­d its transforma­tion into the drag-spec ute before you now. For three decades, Pat dailied the six-pot/ four-speed manual ute, with his sons Tony and Terry also regularly using it as a motorbike hauler and tow vehicle. It’s fair to say the CL copped its fair share of abuse over the years.

When Pat passed away in 2010, Tony became the ute’s custodian and ensured it stayed on the road, but in 2014, the thrashed CL gave up the ghost. “I was going to restore it, but couldn’t get the original stripes and no one was interested in making a set at the time,” Tony says. “So I figured it was time for another V8, plus it needed panel and paint anyway. Then I got the pro street bug.”

With his dad having owned Chryslers since 1964, it’s little wonder Tony’s a Mopar guy through and through. In 1979 he became an apprentice mechanic at the Townsville Chrysler dealership, which is where Pat purchased the CL a year later.

There, Tony spannered on Chryslers and Mitsubishi­s for the next two decades, and owned a bunch of Valiants, including a 1972 VH E55 340 Charger that he bought in 1982 from the original owner for $3500. “It showed just over 48,000 miles on the clock and was in mint condition. I sold it in 1984 for $4200 thinking I was going really well to make $700 in two years – if only I knew then what I know now,” he laughs.

With this solid Mopar background standing him in good stead, Tony set out a plan for his new steed. First, the ute was stripped for the addition of chassis-strengthen­ing subframe connectors. Next, a beefy 410-cuber was planted up front, wrapped in a beautified engine bay. The stroked Chrysler small-block is crammed with tough parts, from a Scat crank and rods to Edelbrock Performer RPM heads, topped with an Edelbrock Performer

HOPEFULLY NEXT YEAR MY SON LUKE AND I WILL DO DRAG CHALLENGE. ON PAPER THE UTE SHOULD DO HIGH 10S ON A PERFECT RUN

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