Chrysler Valiant R Series

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Chrysler Valiant R Series

1962 - 1962
Slant 6
3.686 ltr.
145 bhp
3 spd. man / 3 spd. "TorqueFlite" auto
Top Speed:
Number Built:
4 star

Understanding the R series Valiant requires taking a look back in time so that the car can be put into perspective.

In the early 1960’s the Australian motoring landscape was filled predominantly with Holden’s and British cars, although the all new Ford Falcon XK was certainly making some inroads.

Chrysler would decide to enter the foray in January 1962 with their unquestionably superior R Series. The stage was set for a showdown, the idiom “The Big Three” quickly entering the vocabulary of most baby boomers.

We simply couldn’t put it any better than Chrysler themselves, who prepared a press release clearly marked “Not for Publication before 11am, January 18th, 1962”. It read…”VALIANT SUITED TO AUSTRALIA – Engineers road-tested the Valiant over thousands of miles to ensure it was entirely suited to Australian conditions. The Valiant passed all tests with flying colors”.

The good news didn’t end there, Chrysler detailing the performance and economy of the newcomer to Australian shores, the Valiant boasting a top speed of 94mph, and able to complete the standing quarter mile in a little over 19 seconds.

Chrysler engineers did indeed put the Valiant through some grueling testing before its release; in a concession to the standard of Australian roads, the new Valiant was fitted with 14 inch wheels to allow better ground clearance, and the decision was taken to only use the bigger 225 cubic inch (3.7 liter) slant six motor, rather than the usual 170 cubic 2.8 liter motor fitted to US Valiants.

The 225ci slant six produced a healthy 145bhp (108kW), which compared more than favorably with the Generals 138ci engine developing a mere 75bhp (55kW), and the Ford Falcon XK’s 144ci engine developing 90bhp (67kW).

Officially unveiled by South Australia's Premier Sir Thomas Playford in January 1962, the Chrysler Valiant R Series (or RV-1) was assembled in Australia from US parts - and as a consequence was almost identical in appearance to the 1961 US Valiant. This model would also find its way to other countries, sometimes sold as a Dodge or Plymouth.

The base model used a three speed manual, although unlike the competitors with their “three-on-the-tree” configuration, the gear lever was mounted on the floor, an indication of just how much more advanced the new Valiant was. Then there was the ₤136 ($272) optional automatic, state of the art and push button, it simply blew the competition away. The gunmetal dash was also way ahead of its time, other manufacturers taking years to catch on with the trend.

At ₤1299 ($2598) when new, it was not cheap when compared to the competition, but Chrysler were soon to learn that it didn’t need to be, demand far exceeding supply. Holden’s iteration was the EK, bulkier and without the beautifully sculpted and timeless lines of the Valiant, nor anywhere near the power, Chryslers new model was a winner, and deservedly so.

The Motoring Press Sing The Valiant R Type's Praises

The motoring press and driving public were soon singing the cars praises, noting its lively performance, maneuverability, tractability (thanks largely to the vast reserves of torque, the slant six being good for 291Nm), stopping power, quality of finish, design, handling…the list went on and on.

The Valiant wasn’t without some minor faults however, many lamenting the lack of synchromesh in first gear, and the 23 miles per gallon fuel consumption (12.3 liters per 100 km) proved far from being frugal, the small 10 gallon (48 liter) fuel tank ensuring the owner was always reminded of the cars like of a drink.

There were also some styling features that proved contentious, although we would argue that they represented what was best about styling at that time. Most detractors likened the fake spare tire mount to a garbage bin lid, while others though the profile overly “sculptured” and predicted the car would soon become a panel beaters night mare. Not many listened – nor they should have.

Inside the Valiant appeared similar to the competition, but then to do the car justice you had to look beyond the fact that all in the big three were fitted with bench style seats. The gunmetal dash on the valiant housed far better instrumentation, including speedo, fuel, temperature and ammeter gauges, and with the push button automatic transmission option the interior looked far more futuristic than the competition.

The Valiant was also the first of the big three to adopt the use of an alternator instead of the then usual generator, smaller and lighter few would have realized the attention to detail in the R Series. The stage was set, the new Valiant was in every way a winner. That it sold out in a matter of days should have come as no suprise.

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Also see:

Valiant RV1 Specifications
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