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Automotive Program Breathes New Life into Classic Car

STANTON/WILMINGTON - The Delaware Tech Automotive program has done it again.

Almost a year after transforming a 1964 Dodge Dart affectionately known as Rusty from, well, rusty to a drag racing demon, instructor Frank Adkins and a class of his students worked the same magic on a 1965 Plymouth Valiant, a close cousin to the Dart.

The Valiant, a car Adkins describes as “the smallest, lightest, and arguably the most rigid of all of the rear wheel drive Chrysler built vehicles,” was acquired via a Craigslist listing from Parsonsburg, Maryland. With a solid body but a rusted-out interior, the Automotive students had their work cut out for them.

Adkins and the students revived the car’s engine, which had seized following more than 10 years of storage and idle time in a damp building. Once the car ran, students in the Manual Transmission and Driveline class removed the three-speed column shifted transmission and installed a floor-shifted four-speed manual transmission in its place. Then the students in the Brakes class replaced all of the rusted brake lines and revived the brake system.

This past fall semester, the students built a 318-cubic inch V8 with plenty of performance extras for the Valiant and replaced the car’s original six-cylinder engine with their own creation.

The car was recently completed and Adkins is pleased with how excited his students have been to work on the projects.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised in the interest they’ve taken in cars that are much older than them,” Adkins said. “They haven’t been exposed to these kinds of cars, so I’m grateful and encouraged by their enthusiasm.”

Adkins says both Rusty and the Valiant (unnamed at press time) will be raced at tracks and showcased in cruise and show events in the Delaware Valley. He said both cars will “continue to serve as rolling billboards for the Delaware Tech Automotive Department. “