A38 Police Package: 1976 Plymouth Valiant

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We don’t normally start out with an engine photo, but when a lot of the uniqueness and value of a car like this 1976 Plymouth Valiant relies on the engine and drivetrain, it makes sense. This rare project Plymouth can be found here on eBay in Cleveland, Georgia. There is no reserve on this auction and the current bid price of just under $800.

This photo may be shocking with smashed windows, a missing grille, mismatched hood, and who knows what else, but this is a rare car that is worth restoring, in my opinion. Yes, it’s also a four-door – it was, after all, basically a police car or police duty ready. The 1976 Valiant was the only official police car that was a Valiant, according to Allpar. If any of you know of another one I’m sure that you’ll mention it in the comments. This car was in an accident in the 1980s which explains the missing and/or added parts. Then, it was traded in and sat until some punks (about as polite as I can be with that description) vandalized it and it was moved to indoor storage.

This is a much better view. The seller talks about some #$%! vandals smashing the windows but thankfully they didn’t touch the curved rear window! This could be a great sleeper and would surely be popular at a Mopar car show or really any car show. The 360 cubic-inch V8 four-barrel-equipped Valiant police package cars were fast and could reportedly outrun or at least stay with most of the “fast” cars of the era, making them great police cars. They handled better than most bigger police cars did, too, with a beefed-up suspension and other special bits and pieces.

The seller says that the original owner of this car was a jailer for the local sheriff and the only way he could get the car that he wanted was to buy this one that was intended for the fire department, hence the red paint. If all was right with the world this car would be on a trailer being delivered to a restoration shop with all invoices being sent to my special post-Powerball-car-fund. According to the tag, this is an E58 360 V8 with 4-barrel and dual-exhaust which put out 220 hp and 280 ft-lb of torque. That was a very decent amount of power in 1976, especially for such a light car. That lightness may have been one of its downfalls, not having a beefed-up underside, which I would fix during restoration as I’m sure most of you would. How would you restore this A38 Police Package Valiant? Back to a fire chief look or full-on police look? Or, as I would do, restore it to sleeper mode?

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Comments

  1. KevinR

    Police detective look. Light metallic (blue, green, beige… take your pick…) paint; black wheels with dog dish hubcaps. At least that’s the look I planned as a teenager in the late ’70s when it looked like I was going to inherit my great aunt’s ’74 Valiant. It didn’t happen, so those thoughts got shelved.

    Like 15
  2. Moparman MoparmanMember

    Grandpa/grandma’s “Sunday go to meeting” car look: dark blue, green, or brown, Magnums and whitewalls. Maybe just to confuse the issue, a front grille from an earlier model!! :-)

    Like 4
  3. Rhett

    I like this project- a lot.

    Like 9
  4. David

    Nice car. I’ve got a soft spot for sedans with bigger v8’s. Add the cop suspension and I’m in love. My feeling is this will sell well in the future because those potential next gen buyers were acclimated to 4 doors, and no so much two doors. It’s a tail-end era Mopar too. That aside, and my personal opinion, I’d like to see this one done in a high trim line exterior finish for the time with a standard rubber floor and bench seat interior. Not sure it’s really necessary to be a purist to exact VIN factory standards.

    Like 8
  5. Ralph

    Why did they have a vinyl top on a police car?

    Like 6
    • LynnMember

      More aerodynamic. Like the dimples on a golf ball.

      Like 5
    • Sunshine

      It was a Fire Chief car, red & white!

      Like 1
    • Nevadahalfrack NevadahalfrackMember

      The seller said in his article it was intended for the fire dept, hence the white over red…
      Hosedraggers usually get what they want regarding equipment…😆

      Like 3
  6. Bill shields

    If I remember correctly Car and Driver did a test of the fastest cars available at this point in time and a Dart Sport with this drivetrain pretty much cleaned everybody’s clock.

    Like 12
    • Sunshine

      One of Petersen Publishing magazines at the time did a review of the Police Package Valiant, with speed tests. The article you quote did show the 360 Dodge Dart Sport [aka, Duster] did equal a 74-76 Corvette.

      Like 4
  7. stillrunners

    My name is Friday…….

    Like 6
    • Llewellyn Keller

      You’re close, but Sgt. Friday drove a Ford Fairlane.

      Like 4
      • Miguel

        Didn’t his partner actually drive the car?

        Like 3
  8. Gaspumpchas

    Looks like a cool project. Roof needs to be checked for rust out from the vinyl. You could get the parts you need from a 74 ish valiant, looks similar. Freshen up the mill and the tranny, put some duals on with flowmasters and you have a sleeper. Keep the vented dog dish hubcaps!! Good luck think its got good bones!! Love the police Certified speedo…

    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 6
  9. James M VanTress

    Hmmm…..not to far from me and my co-workers’ home town.

    Like 2
  10. Miguel

    This is an interesting car to me because, for some reason, Chrysler offered a Dart 4 door in Mexico with a factory 360 engine. It was the first and only year it was offered.

    I found one for sale and they want around $3000 USD for it in really good condition.

    Since I already drive a 1974 Dart 4 door as a daily, it will be an interesting car to add to the stable.

    This is a picture of the 1976 360 Dart.

    Like 20
    • Miguel

      I just realized an odd thing about this Mexican car. It actually has a Plymouth front end and a Plymouth rear end. 1976 was the first year they did that.

      That center trim that says Dodge should not be there. On my other Darts it is the same style but with no name at all.

      Like 5
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      Beautiful looking car. I’ve always loved the 1970-76 Plymouth Valiant.

      Like 1
  11. Troy s

    I like old cop cars, especially the pursuit versions, but somehow I just can’t imagine a Valiant as a squad car.
    Not intimidating at all. The red Valiant in the movie Duel ruined it for me with these. Haha!
    That’s the same engine they used in the little red express pick up, right? Good engine…maybe in something else.

    Like 3
  12. Rock On

    My guess is that the engine and transmission get pulled and installed in somebody’s 318 powered Duster or Challenger. Body and frame would be parted out.

    Like 3
  13. steve

    It’s got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. It’s got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. It’s a model made before the catalytic converter so it’ll run good on regular gas.

    Like 4
    • Sunshine

      1974 was the final year for non-catalytic and leaded-gas for Mopar, and most of Detroit. 1975 was the first year of the lead-free requirement due to catalytic exhaust. Robbed power, and some dignity.

      Like 3
  14. steve

    There are 106 miles to Chicago, we have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.

    Like 5
    • Troy s

      Great movie, great car chase, lots of laughter.
      This Valiant don’t have the swagger to pull off the bluesmobile theme, still getting chased by that crazed semi truck driver down the mountain at nearly 95 miles an hour!

      Like 2
  15. Gay Car Nut

    Nice looking Valiant. Assuming all the parts are there, this would make an awesome restoration for anyone interested. I’d have it restored to driveable condition. And instead of making it a police car, how about a taxi cab?

    Like 1
  16. Pete Phillips

    Looks like changing the spark plugs on this engine would be a real challenge–not much room left on either side!

    Like 3
  17. Tim

    Plymouth’s response to Chevrolet’s Nova police package. In the era of rising gas prices, progressive police departments were looking for smaller squad cars that were cheaper to operate. Yet still having the power of older full size squads with larger engines. Seattle, WA police began using 318 equipped Valiants and found that using smaller squad cars resulted in less crashes by officers. This is one rare police package vehicle, as not many departments bought them. Unlike the Nova, which was quite popular in the mid 1970s.

    Like 3
  18. cmarvMember

    Back around 92ish I was buying stock for my car lot at a local dealer auction . Saturn of York dumped most every trade-in at that auction . I was always looking for odd-ball cars and trucks . That day I bought a 76 or 77 Volare wagon, fire engine red with the police package 50 couple thousand miles , red on red with a 360 4bbl. , posi , 15×8 wheels , etc. with a badly leaking rear main seal(it would still lay rubber through all 3 gears) . It had the window sticker in the glove box and I got the original one owner “A” title with a name and address . I called the guy and he had been a local volunteer fire chief when he ordered it (he could get state pricing as the “Chief”) , he retired and traded it on a Saturn . The rear main repair at the Plymouth dealer’s cost was “crazy stupid” he told me in his Pennsylvania Dutch accent . I was going to fix it when time allowed , but a Mopar nut saw it sitting up back and asked what I’d sell it for as-is . I priced it at double what I gave for it ($800 to him) and he didn’t blink an eye and paid me . He still has it and shows it locally . Another one I should have kept .

    Like 6
  19. Nevadahalfrack NevadahalfrackMember

    Cmarv, I think we can all say something like that, like not buying the Packard version of the Studebaker Hawk for $600-62000 miles, but then $2600 got me a super clean ‘72 Charger 340 instead. shudda cudda wudda….

    Like 3
  20. Sunshine

    Please notice the rare accessory for Georgia and the South: Rear window defroster! Since this was delivered in Georgia [N/A California] it should have dual exhaust [one broken off in pic]! Rare for first year [1975] of catalytic converters. It should also have an 100 amp alternator, verses standard V8/AC 65 amp. Remember, the rear sway bar pictured is for only radial equipped cars.
    “A38” does not appear on the vin tag with options; or, I need younger eyes.
    I’d do it up as the Fire Chief car it was intended. Don’t understand the black vinyl top [A1X], especially in the South.

    Like 2
    • Jonathan F.

      Black vinyl top in south is not a problem-car has a/c. Even if it didn’t, it still gets hot in the summer in much of the USA- and a/ c was pricey.
      A38 is on the tag – it’s difficult to read.
      Personally, this car deserves to be restored to as delivered status. It’s just too rare to part or half way restore.

      Like 4
  21. JimmyJ

    I had a 79 monte carlo back in the day,305 4barrel and my buddy had a four door dart 318 2 barrel and he would dust me…like embarrassing all the time!
    That was the last chevy i owned
    Chevs are reliable but the mopars are faster always have been and always will be…

    Like 0
  22. Del

    Another joke

    Like 0
  23. Car Nut Tacoma

    I’ve always liked police pursuit cars, and Mopars are among my favourite. I’d buy either a Plymouth Valiant, or a Dodge Dart police car if there were any left still driveable.

    Like 0
  24. Leo

    In 1973 I drove a 440 police valiant on the L.I.E. In Nassau County as a police officer. That 440 nobody wanted to drive except me ,no classy enough for others. I scared the pants off a Lt Stapleton one night chasing a speeder from a standstill to 90 + mpg . He never rode with me again , it worked great. I’m retired 26 yrs and chuckle at some of my experiences .

    Like 1

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