The VK Valiant was yet another mild makeover of the
previous VH and VJ models. The obligatory new grille
design combined with a revised tail light assembly
made up the more obvious of only a handful of changes,
leaving many to ask why Chrysler had indeed bothered.
The answer, at least as far as the local distributors
were concerned, was that the VK was only intended as
a stop-gap before the release of the all-new VL model.
Going back as far as the VJ Valiant, it is easier to
compare the strategies employed by Chrysler as compared
to that of Holden, who, with their HQ model, were creating
a more compact looking large car.
In contrast to the
HQ, the VJ looked enormous. The gamble taken in the
late 1960’s was being played out in the 1970’s,
would Australians continue to favour large family sedans
over the more compact Japanese varieties such as the
The designers had probably got it right,
as most even today would prefer to comfort and space
afforded by a large car, but there was one critical
factor few had foreseen in the late 1960’s, and
that was the fuel crisis.
the cost of fuel
skyrocketed by up to 50%, and Australians were quickly
ditching their big cars in favour of small more fuel
efficient models, such as the Toyota Corolla and Chrysler
Galant. For a time there was a glut of near new large
sedans on the second hand market, and non-existent
resale values soon followed.
When the VJ Valiant was
in its design phase family six-cylinder cars enjoyed
a healthy 70% market share, but by the time of the
release of the VK Valiant this had slumped to only
28%. So it came as no surprise then that Chrysler would
claim one of the advantages of the new VK was better
fuel consumption, combined with better performance
and enhanced safety.
The model range was to again undergo
some rationalisation, the model line up being reduced
from 11 to 8; available was the Chrysler sedan, Regal
sedan and wagon, Ranger sedan and wagon, Charger XL
and 770 and Dodge utility.
Unfortunately it was even harder
now to individualise your Valiant, as the options list
was to undergo some rationalisation also. The idea was
to trim the time each vehicle spent on the production
line, thus helping to reduce the total cost per vehicle
and, hopefully, help increase profits. The Chrysler name
was now used for all models in the range, the base Valiant
and Charger models known as Chrysler Valiant and Chrysler
Charger respectively. Even the smaller models in the
Chrysler line-up, the Centura, Galant ant Lancer would
also undergo a name change, now wearing the Chrysler
name badge in favour of the Valiant one.
A Two Barrel Is Fitted Across The Entire Hemi Lineup
The Hemi six cylinder engine fitted to all VK and CK Chrysler models
was now fitted with a two-barrel carburetor, the “solid
fuel” design had
been developed in the US to meet tougher emission control
standards, it also helping the VK Valiant to comply
with the ADR27A clean air law introduced into Australia
in 1976. Also released with the VK was the “Fuel
Pacer” option, which used the vacuum to trigger
a flashing warning lamp to enable the driver to back
off the acceleration to help ensure better fuel economy.
Interestingly the warning lamp was mounted on the front
guard beneath a chrome protector cover.
Helping improve safety was the fitment of a pressure sensitive proportioning
valve to reduce the possibility of rear wheel lock
up during braking, power boosted brakes (originally
introduced on the later VJ’s),
and hazard warning indicators. Radial tires were fitted
to both the Regal sedan and Charger 770. Another new
feature was a steering column stalk containing the
controls for the turn signals, windscreen wipers and
washers, headlight dip and headlight flash functions;
Chrysler were the first of the “Big Three” to
introduce this now standard feature.
The new model was also fitted with more comfortable seats, new trim
styles and colors, courtesy switches on all doors,
a quartz clock on the Chrysler and Regal and illuminated
heater controls. The Valiant Regal was fitted standard
with the three-speed automatic transmission, reclining
bucket seats, centre cushion armrests and heated rear
windows. A flow-through ventilation system was fitted
to the sedan, but it was rather primitive, being devoid
of directional dashboard air-vents – a feature
the competition had offered for over 13 years!
There were 5 engines available throughout the VK range, the
360 5.9 liter V8 made available as an option on most
models, including the Ranger sedan and Charger 770.
The base Ranger cost $5310, rising to $6783 for the
770 V8. The 265 Charger 770 cost $6191, while the Chrysler
V8 cost $8784. In all, some 20,555 VK Valiant’s
would roll off the production line, making it the least
built Valiant model since the S Series.