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BUDGET-BUILD CHRYSLER VG VALIANT SURFIN' SAFARI WAGON

By Jamie Smith | Photos: Michael Coppola, 25 Jan 2018 Features

chrysler vg wagon 1896 nw

A rescued VG wagon transformed into a cheap but cool 'Surfin' Safari'

Jamie Smith and a mate rescued a neglected VG wagon and transformed it into a cheap but cool 'Surfin' Safari'

This article on Jamie's VG Safari wagon was originally published in the August 2012 issue of Street Machine

THERE have been more than 70 cars down the driveway over the years but I’d never owned a Valiant. They were starting to grow on me and I figured one would make a cheap but cool daily to punt around in. A mate saved this VG Safari wagon from a backyard where it had languished for 10 years but he had nowhere to store it, so I jumped at the chance to take it off his hands.

chrysler vg safari wagonThe patina was near perfect and I hatched a plan to build a ‘Surfin’ Safari’. First up was to sort the exterior with some woodgrain panelling and pinstriping. I’m a signwriter and tattooist, so it was a pretty straightforward job to sort the digitally printed vinyl woodgrain and add legit striping.

A healthy lowering job, new brakes, a service and a tune-up by Simon Major and Mike Davis were traded for some paint and vinyl work on their cars, while the floorpan repairs were traded for ink on various body parts of my good mate Tim Hall.

chrysler vg safari wagonInside, the Safari reads like a who’s who of Hawaiian and tiki styling melded with a Bunnings catalogue. Fake grass carpets, Mexican blankets sewn into fitted seat covers and bamboo blinds rejigged for the headlining and door trims replaced the rooted stock interior. I woodgrained the factory twirler and dash in matching shades.

chrysler vg safari wagonThe Val runs the original 245 Hemi and BW35 auto for easy cruising, while the factory ventilated discs were a nice score and are more than capable of pulling up the old girl. Rims are Tasman 1s running whitewalls, and the whole package is set off by a Moon-themed surfboard in complementary turquoise colours.

Chrysler VG safari wagonAfter plenty of easy miles and a lot of laughs, the hankering for another Chevy truck got the better of me — the Safari was sold to a mate who continues to drive the wheels off it.

THE DAMAGE

Purchase price: $500
Brake parts: $250
Service: $80
Radiator repairs: $200
Bunnings: $300
Trimmer: $300
Wood vinyl: $300
Bodywork materials: $80
Rims: $200
Tyres: $180 fronts, trade swap rears
Labour: My own and trade swaps

TOTAL: $2390 + rego