Welcome to Found Around Town, where we feature cars we find in a city where interesting ones are rare because everyone drives a Prius or rides a bicycle: Austin, Texas.
Actually, I found this one in Marfa, which is in West Texas not far from the Mexican border. For those who haven't heard, Marfa is this tiny, tiny town that was kind of adopted by artists beginning in the 1970s and is now full of cool restaurants, art galleries and some other fairly crazy attractions.
The cars here reflect this dichotomy. You have the older, longtime West Texas residents in their hardscrabble pickup trucks, and you have the tourists and New York second-home-owners in their M-Class Mercedes-Benzes, Audi wagons and Lexus hybrids.
But there's a surprising amount of classic American iron in various conditions around the town too, including a mid-60s Pontiac Bonneville and an International Harvester. But this one was my favorite: a 1962 Plymouth Valiant owned by the famed Food Shark food trailer.
What a cool car the Valiant was! Designed to compete in the emerging compact car segment, this Plymouth has a laundry list of awesome features: unibody construction, torsion bar suspension, Chrysler's famed Slant-6 engine, and a transmission controlled by buttons on the dash are just a few of them.
Styling-wise, it's pretty unique too. I love the little rocket-shaped taillights, the fins on the trunk and the hood, and most of all, the sloping rear end. In its day the styling was called "European" by many, and I tend to agree. It almost looks vaguely Citroen-y, doesn't it? As with most American cars from the late 1950s and early 1960s, future generations of Valiant become far more boring to look at.
The one I found wasn't in the greatest shape, as you can tell from the photos, but it appears to run just fine. It gets extra points for character in my book; here's hoping the owner gives it a full restoration some day.
What are your favorite old-school Plymouths?