With an exotic all-aluminum big-block between the framerails, the Valiant had deviated profoundly from its keep-it-simple design mission. As such, the car began taking on a distinct circle track vibe. “I wanted to give the car a NASCAR-inspired road racing look, and Delaney knocked it out of the park by fabbing up a custom deck spoiler to help accomplish this,” Jon says. “The side pipes are an interesting story in themselves. I have a friend who works at Texas Motor Speedway who informed me that he had a bunch of exhaust systems laying around that were pulled off of some ARCA cars. We took some measurements and realized that they would fit the Valiant perfectly.”

Although all hopes of keeping things low-buck had gone out the window, Jon insisted on keeping the paint as low key as possible. “I was at the Detroit Auto Show one year and ran across a matte-finish AMG Mercedes-Benz SLS at the very back of the booth. I saw the flat metallic gray paint oozing across the body and went nuts,” Jon recalls. “I told Matt Delaney that I wanted to paint the Valiant the same color, but he wasn’t too thrilled about it at first. After he finished painting the car, he called me and said, ‘You would not believe how good the car looks in flat paint.’ The Valiant is supposed to be a grandma’s car, but the flat paint really brings out the incredible character lines of this body style. Since the car didn’t turn out how I originally planned, and it had flat paint, we started calling it ‘Flat Bastard.’ ”

Perhaps Jon is too harsh of a critic, but referring to the project as an illegitimate child seems rather extreme. As he explains, it’s not just about the money that went into the project, but how he corrupted his own vision for an A-Body. “I wanted this project to serve as a rallying point for the humble A-Body Mopars, and I picked the most humble of them all, a Valiant, Obviously, somewhere along the way I screwed that all up,” he laments. “I think the interior is too complicated because it has a radio. Then I decided I didn’t want to fry my innards, so I broke down and put air conditioning in it.”

Despite his disappointment, potential emulators can easily tweak certain elements of Flat Bastard and build a similar machine on a lesser budget. “People can snap up a light Dart or Valiant and go have fun using the parts in my car, or substitute the 528 with a late-model Hemi or a mild LA-series small-block while retaining the aftermarket suspension pieces,” he reasons. “Then you’d have an inexpensive, lightweight car you can have a ton of fun with on the autocross and lift the front tires with at the dragstrip. The best part is that you can build it yourself using off-the-shelf components.”

Regardless of how anyone chooses to build an A-Body, they offer practical benefits that even B- and E-Body diehards can’t deny. “I take my ’Cudas and GTXs to car shows, but I’ve been racing Darts and Demons my entire life. Of all the cars in my fleet, I drive my A-Bodies most often,” car builder Delaney explains. “Even with an iron big-block, rollcage and subframe connectors, an A-Body still only weighs 3,200 pounds. These cars are also much easier to drive through the cones on an autocross than a ’Cuda or Road Runner because they have a shorter wheelbase, and you can see the corners of the car more easily from the driver seat. Relative to the rest of the car, A-Bodies just have a much better seating position than a B- or E-Body.”