Chrysler Valiant CL

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Chrysler

Chrysler Valiant CL

1976 - 1978
Country:
Australia
Engine:
Hemi 6 & V8
Capacity:
245-265ci Hemi / 318ci V8
Power:
152kW Hemi 265
Transmission:
3/4 spd. man / 3 spd. auto
Top Speed:
109 mph / 175 km/h (V8)
Number Built:
32,672
Collectability:
3 star
 Chrysler Valiant VL
The CL Valiant was supposed to be something special. Chrysler had been touting the fact that the all new Valiant VL would be an Australianised edition of the Plymouth Volare / Dodge Aspen intermediate sized car proving to be very popular in the US.

But cost cutting measures were enforced upon the manufacturer in light of the growing trend of Australians to favour smaller 4 cylinder cars.

In early 1976 the idea of creating a truly all new VL were all but shelved, and so the decision was made to once again make over the existing VH, VJ, VK model that had, with the latter models, been fast losing market share.

Released on the 21st October, 1976, there were some major styling changes that at least went some way to making the CL look considerably different to the earlier models, and at last some new sheet metal was evident in the design.

The front featured a new nose cone and bonnet, while new rear panels included the boot lid, lower panel and quarter panel.

A sleeker new bumper was fitted below the obligatory redesigned tail lights, and the fuel filler cap was relocated in the lower panel of the rear deck.

The revised front and rear treatments were complemented by full wheel covers, sill and door frame mouldings and different ornamentation. Once again Chrysler Australia performed a model rationalisation, reducing the range of models to seven and the engine range to four.

And again there were fewer options available across the range, although it could be argued that the new CL came with such a plethora of standard equipment that made the need to a large options list unnecessary.

The biggest of the V8’s was dropped (the 5.9 liter 360) along with the flagship Chrysler by Chrysler model, the entire range therefore assuming the big Chrysler’s “C” designation.

Compliance with ADR 27A legislation necessitated several mechanical alterations, and from July 1976 both the Valiant sedan and wagon came standard with the 4 liter Hemi 245 low compression engine, de-tuned to run on standard low-octane fuel, the previous 215 engine being phased out.

New features on the Valiant sedan and wagon included 185SR radial tires, a front anti-roll bar, dual horns and reclining bucked seats with a centre cushion armrest. The instrument panel featured a constant voltage fuel guage and parking brake warning light. The network of interior lights, formerly exclusive to the more expensive Chryslers, was extended to the base models as well.

The Chrysler Regal sedan and station wagon received a distinctive grille taking advantage of the same sheet metal changes. In addition to the features included on the base model Valiant’s, the Regal’s were equipped with an engine bonnet ornament, front fender repeater lights and a remote control external mirror on the drivers side door. The Regal sedan also featured some stainless steel body mouldings and a “Regal” fuel filler cap.

The wagons featured a “C” pillar stainless steel appliqué, special tailgate mouldings and a chrome plated roof rack. The sedan was fitted with the 4 liter engine mated to a three speed automatic transmission as standard, while the wagon came with the 318 V8, again mated to the atmo transmission.

The Regal SE Becomes The Flagship



The flagship of the range was now the Regal SE, although it did not use the longer wheelbase previously reserved to for the more prestigious of the Chrysler’s. The Regal SE came standard with the 5.2 liter 318 V8, power steering, air conditioning, automatic transmission and a higher equipment level than any other Chrysler or Valiant.

Features included overriders on the front and rear bumpers, quartz halogen high beam headlights, color-coded wheel covers and coach lines on the body sides. A vinyl roof was standard, as was a lockable fuel-filler cap with SE ornament. The dash was finished in a fake walnut wood-grain, the instrument cluster incorporating a quartz clock, trip odometer and ignition key delay light.

Then there were the power windows, a roof console (with front map reading lights), retractable front and rear seat belts and fully carpeted boot. Although the Regal SE came fitted with cloth interior as standard, for the first time in a Valiant you could factory option leather and, if you needed to keep costs down, you could “de-option” the Regal SE to be fitted with the Hemi six cylinder engine or without air-conditioning. The CL range brought 7 new colors, each given a typical Chrysler name; Sundance Yellow, Amazon Green, Harvest Gold, Lemon Twist, Alpine White, Impact Orange and Moonstone Metallic – and these were in addition to the eight colors already on offer!

With sales of the Charger flagging, it was restricted to one only model, the Charger 770. Thankfully it also benefited from the new front-end panels, and was identified by a honeycomb grille. There was a stainless steel moulding around the front windscreen, along with a glove box vanity mirror, engine compartment light and dual horns.

It was fitted as standard with the High Compression 245 Hemi six cylinder engine, although you could option the 4.3 liter 265 Hemi along with the 318ci V8, which now also ran on standard fuel. Chrysler stuck with the 3 speed manual for the Hemi’s, but thankfully you could option the 4 speed, something most purchasers did. It was an auto-only affair if you choose the V8, although to ensure better performance Chrysler fitted a less direct first gear.

The commercials also benefited from the new front end sheet metal, and the Dodge name was dumped in favour of Valiant. The base CL Valiant was priced at $6309, the Charger 770 at $6948, while the flagship Regal SE came in at $11,401. A total of 32,672 CL Valiant’s were manufactured, and during its production run Chrysler Australia celebrated its 25th birthday, while the 500,000th Australian made Valiant also rolled off the production line – this particular car being presented by then South Australian Premier Don Dunstan to the Adelaide Children’s Hospital.

But with the decision to shelve development of the VL Valiant everyone knew the writing was on the wall…the question remained, would there be another model Valiant?

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Valiant CL Specifications
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