Mechanical and paperwork problems have frustrated Javier Milei’s dream, if it was one at all. The libertarian leader’s request to use the famous “Perón Cadillac” for the journey down Avenida de Mayo from Congress to the Casa Rosada has been knocked back.
There will be a convertible used in the libertarian economist’s inauguration on Sunday, but it will be a model that started being produced a few years after the black car Juan Domingo Perón commissioned for such events. The general never got to truly enjoy it – he was ousted before he could use it.
The 1955 Cadillac was ruled out when experts from the Car Museum, who had renovated it thoroughly during Mauricio Macri’s government, went to see it and noticed some problems with the gearbox, the brakes of one of the wheels, and the petrol tank, which needed replacing. Getting it out of the museum and repaired in time was unlikely, and besides, it has no insurance, it hasn’t had a VTV Technical Check, and the registration isn’t up to date.
It is impossible, said the planners. An alternative must be found.
That will be, according to the ceremonial team, a car of a make which in Argentina debuted in late 1961, but a model which started being produced in this country in 1964. A Valiant III convertible is being prepared for Javier Milei.
What will not change is that the incoming president, an open admirer of the superpower from the north, will have those few minutes of pomp in an American car. The Plymouth Valiant, with the advertising slogan – “Nobody’s kid brother” – was manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation from 1960 to 1976, with two- or four-door options and also came in a convertible.
In Argentina the lifespan of the car was shorter. Early on, the “Plymouth” part disappeared, and “Valiant” went from model to make. The Valiants were then produced and sold in Argentina in four versions, commonly known as I, II, III and IV.
The first two had the design of the Plymouth Division, and remained the most iconic, with their striking wings on the mudguard. The III and IV, with their more conservative straight lines, were an offshoot of the Dodge Dart.
The company Fevre y Basset Ltda. SA, Chrysler Argentina SA, started this era by launching the Valiant V-200 at the La Rural Exhibition in late 1961. That is to say, the I, though it was never officially named with that number, and that is why fans of the car say the Valiant I “never existed”. The following year, production at the San Justo plant went on to be 100 percent nationwide and the Valiant II arrived. Between the two models, they sold 4,500 units, a figure deemed a success.
The III arrived in 1964, with the same engine but a totally different bodywork. It is the model in a convertible version Milei might use on Sunday, December 10. In those days, every year the Valiants had a novelty: the top models arrived in 1965. The Gran Turismo, a sports car with a gear shift level to the floor and four seats instead of the long seats typical of the time. And then there was the Coronado, with electric windows.
They had a 68-litre petrol tank and were quite long cars. The III reached 5 metres, at 4,975.9 millimetres. The IV was longer, at 5,040.
The Valiants made their mark on the road and also in Argentine Road Racing. They helped the maker debut in the category. They competed on the track with two popular cars which made history, such as the Chevrolet 400, and especially the Ford Falcon. They were both launched in 1962, almost in parallel with the Valiant. One of the first to race with a Chrysler was Luis Rubén ‘El Loco’ Di Palma, an Argentine racing legend.
Production of Valiants in Argentina stopped in 1968, when they were replaced by the Dodge; the more basic Polara and the luxury Coronado. At collectors’ exhibitions or every now and then when someone shows up on the street with one, the “car with wings” still shows off its boldness.