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Valiant Cars of Canada

Introduction

Like its Australian cousin, the Canadian and U. S. Valiants started from a common ancestor, developing into distinctly different cars around the 1963 model year; however, the Canadian car would become nearly identical to the American version by 1967.

The Valiant was originally a new make rather than (after 1961) a smaller Plymouth. Before the 1960 model year, nearly all Chrysler Corporation dealers in the United States sold Plymouths as a companion to other corporate brands.

Plymouth lost Dodge dealers when the Plymouth-based Dodge Dart was launched in 1960 — this was the original one, not the Valiant-based Dodge Dart. Dodge having a car the same size as the popular Plymouths hurt the most popular Chrysler brand, and Plymouth fell from its traditional third place in U. S. sales; the new Valiant car also competed for the traditional Plymouth buyer. For that reason, executives changed their strategy and put Valiant into the Plymouth lineup. Valiants were, in any case, sold in the States by Plymouth dealers, leaving Dodge without a comparable car until the 1961 Lancer.

Canada is a smaller market, which had two dealer chains — Chrysler-Plymouth-Fargo and DeSoto-Dodge. Making Valiant available to all Chrysler Canada dealers was probably based on smaller volume, which would not support two very similar cars with fairly low margins. Thus, Valiant stayed separate in Canada for years after that policy was abandoned in the States, giving the DeSoto-Dodge dealers a compact car.

The differences between the two Valiants are the result of these different paths.

1960 - QX Series Canadian Valiant cars

The original, QX series Canadian Valiant cars had a slightly different nameplate on the front fenders; it added “by Chrysler” underneath the Valiant name. The same nameplate was used on the deck lid (and also on the Australian R and S series Valiants).

There were also detail differences in interior trim (color option differed, other minor changes). The alternator was standard in the US, but optional in Canada, where a 35 amp generator was still standard.

1961

In Chrysler's 1961 model year, DeSoto production was finally stopped in most markets. Canada's DeSoto-Dodge dealers were, like DeSoto-Plymouth dealers in the States, given Chrysler franchises as compensation. This move probably cemented the Valiant's identity as a compact Chrysler car (as opposed to a compact Plymouth car), though the "by Chrysler" words were dropped after 1962.

The situation continues in Canada to this day, where dealers sell the "Chrysler Intrepid." Canadian Plymouth dealers also sold Dodge trucks, the Fargo name having been dropped in that market in late 1972, until Plymouth was folded in 2001. Canadian phone books from this era had listings for "Dodge-Valiant Dealers."

The 1961 Valiant RV series was again mostly identical to U. S. Valiant except for "Valiant by Chrysler" badging.

1962: SV Series

In 1962, Dodge launched the Custom 880 to DeSoto’s niche. While the 880 was an attractive car, its undisguised combination of 1961 Dodge front clip and 1962 Chrysler tail were obvious, and American fans were taken aback. With Canadian Dodge dealers selling the Chrysler line, the 880 was unnecesary in Canada. The mixing and matching of fronts and rears would reappear in the Canadian Valiant line the following year.

Bill Watson added:

Chrysler US adopted the reduction-gear starter for its engines, but Chrysler Canada hung on to the direct-drive starter for the six until 1967 or 1968. The only time this is a problem is when switching starters or replacing torque converters / pressure plates. The space needed for starter engagement is greater for the reduction-gear starter than the direct-drive. Thus a Canadian starter mated to an American-model torque converter will crack the starter pinion gears!

The Dodge Lancer continued to be unavailable in Canada as well. This would become more significant in 1963.

The SV Valiant appears identical to U. S. cars with the exception of the "Plymouth" emblem being deleted.

1963: TVXL Series (TV, TL series Valiants)

The Dodge Lancer was an excellent car, but had never sold well, because, executives believed, of its similarity to the Valiant. So, for the 1963 model year, the compact Dodge was given a longer wheelbase and distinctive styling from the Valiant. It also received a new name, inheriting "Dart" from the larger Dodge cars, while continuing to use the "L" model designation which originated with Lancer, i. e., 1963 Dart = TL Series; 1963 Valiant=TV series.

The Valiant was noticeably smaller, except for the station wagon body which used the Valiant wheelbase (106") in both applications. The Dart was not only larger, but bore a distinct resemblance to the '63 Chrysler as well. The Canadian Lancer was exported mainly to the Commonwealth countries, other than Great Britain and South Africa.

The Dart was the best value on the U. S. market at that time, being roomier and better appointed than its competitors without becoming too large. This was no help to Chrysler Canada, who had placed all its chips on the Valiant. Someone must have realized also that a car marketed as a "compact Chrysler" and a sibling compact which actually looked like a little brother to the full-size Chrysler, should be the same car. Hence, the 1963 Canadian Valiant, which was actually a Dodge Dart with a Valiant front clip. All models had side chrome identical to the 1963 U.S. Valiant, with some modifications to mate with the Dart quarter panel.

Bill Watson added:

The brochure illustration artist used American Plymouth Valiant models - thus showing incorrect rear quarter windows on the 2-door sedan. All Dart-based 1963-1966 Valiants used the reverse angle on the 2-door sedan. Had to - otherwise the window would not roll down. So there were no Dart-bodied Valiant 2 dr sedans with straight quarter glass. Another error in the brochure was the lack of rear quarter panes in the sedans on the driver's side - the vehicle used for inspiration, I suspect, was the prototype Plymouth Valiant that was a Signet hardtop on the driver's side and a V-200 sedan on the other. (It was updated for use at the 1964 introduction) This was the first year for the Valiant convertible - in fact for all Chrysler Canada built convertibles! The model number was TVX1 (-L, -H, -P). The "X" denotes export in Chrysler-speak and these Vali-Darts were built in Detroit. They were exported in right-hand drive to the UK and were reviewed by "the Autocar." (They used Dart upholstery, though).

1963 Canadian Valiant (believed to share TV series designation with U. S. cousin but in many ways has more in common with TL series):

Clone of 1963 Dodge Dart from firewall back except for ornamentation and minor trim differences as follows:

Canadian V-100 (clone of Dart 170):

Dodge emblem on C-pillar replaced with Valiant crest; "DODGE" block letters on trunk lid replaced with "Valiant" script as seen on '60 trunk lid (no "By Chrysler" tag).

Canadian V-200 (clone of Dart 270):

"Two Seventy" badge with Dodge "delta" on C-pillar replaced by very similar "Valiant 200" badge with Valiant crest in same location as Dodge delta. "DODGE" block letters on stainless panel located on trunk lid between backup lights (if any) replaced by "Valiant" script as seen on V-100.

Canadian Signet (clone of Dart GT):

Dodge delta with "GT" insert replaced with Valiant crest. "DODGE GT" plastic insert in middle of stainless panel between backup lights replaced by black plastic insert, silver "Signet" script in middle flanked on either side by Valiant crests. The Dodge Story shows Signets with V-200 chrome adapted for the Dart body; however, it's been so long since I've seen one that I can't remember if production Canadian Signets had these pieces or not.

Ironically, the '63 Dart station wagons were virtually the same cars as the '63 U. S. Valiant wagons other than the adoption of Dart taillights. As a result, the Canadian Valiant wagon was a near clone of the U. S. version, except for the Dart taillights.

1964: VV Series, Barracuda, 273 V-8

April's introduction of the Barracuda was the biggest news in A-Bodies in 1964, followed by the introduction of the 273 V-8. The Canadians did not graft a Dart tail section onto their Barracuda, but it did have some subtle differences.

The Canadian Valiant continued as a 1964 Dart (VL Series) with Valiant front clip and ornamentation changes.

All Canadian Valiants, including Barracuda, had a "Valiant" badge on the hood in place of the "Plymouth" badge seen on the U. S. Valiants. They also had the U. S. Valiant gauge cluster and hubcaps.

Valiant 100 (Dart 170 clone)

Valiant nose on Dart car. Valiant script as seen on '63 Canadian replaces "Dodge" badge on trunk lid. Valiant crest with "100" banner across middle replaces Dodge delta with "170" model designation on C-pillar. Side chrome as normally seen on U. S. Valiant 100 with appropriate change to piece mating with rear wheel well. Two or four door sedan or wagon.

Valiant 200 (Dart 270 clone)

Valiant nose on Dart car. Valiant crest replaces Dodge delta with "270" model designation in middle of trunk lid. Stainless strip which reads "Dodge" at bottom of trunk lid replaced with similar strip reading "Valiant". Some seen with Valiant crest with "200" banner across middle replacing round badge with "270" model designation on C-pillar; others seen with Valiant-crest "TWO HUNDRED" badge as seen in '63. Side chrome as normally seen on U. S. Valiant 200 with appropriate change to piece mating with rear wheel well. No "Valiant" badges on front fenders as seen on U. S. model. Four door sedan, wagon, convertible, and hardtop.

Valiant Signet (Dart GT clone)

Valiant front clip on Dart body. "Signet 200" emblems on front fenders as on U. S. model. Trunk lid ornamentation as on Canadian Valiant 200 with appropriate 270-to-GT chrome strip between backup lights upgrade. Some seen with Valiant crest replacing Dodge delta with "GT" markings on C-pillar; had chrome louvers as seen on '63 GT/Canadian Signet C-pillar. Canadian '64 Signet convertibles and hardtops had '63 louvers mounted near rear wheel well. Side chrome as usually seen on U. S. Signet with appropriate change to piece mating with rear wheel well. Barracuda "fake mag" hubcaps occasionally seen on late production Signets.

Signet 200 came as convertible or hardtop. The "Valiant" in script appeared on the front fenders of the V-200 just ahead of the front doors.

Valiant Barracuda (nearly identical)

"Plymouth" badge on hood replaced by "Valiant" badge. "Plymouth" block letters on trunk lid replaced by "Valiant" block letters as seen on Canadian Valiant wagons. "Valiant" script on panel below trunk lid replaced by "Barracuda" script. While 6-cylinder VIN started with "1", the V-8 started with "7" - thus reading like a Dart VIN. The Barracuda was not available with the stripe that was common in US adverts.

Valiant 100/200 Wagons (Dart 170/270 clones)

Identical to U. S. Valiant except for Dart taillights, Valiant crest replacing Dodge delta with model designation on tailgate, "Valiant" block letters replacing "Dodge" block letters on tailgate.

Allan Bowes added: "I had a 64 Valiant Signet 200 (Dart GT clone) which I bought new in 1964. This car had a 273 V/8 with a 4 speed transmission and Hurst shifter. Neat car. Biggest problem was that the transmission came with 140 weight oil in it and the first winter it was a bear (Saskatchewan at 40 below). The dealer had to overhaul the transmission in the spring. Another note when I bought the car there was an earlier 64 Valiant Signet 200 (Dart GT clone) in town which had a slant 6 and a 4 speed tranny. I think this combination disappeared with the introduction of the V/8 in the spring of 1964."

1965: AV and AL Series

The U.S.-Canada Automotive Trade Pact (a distant ancestor of NAFTA) was signed in January 1965. This was the beginning of the end for many distinctively Canadian cars, including Fargo trucks, the Chrysler Windsor (a renamed Newport), the Chrysler Saratoga (a renamed 300 4-door pillared sedan exclusive to the export market), the Plymouth Savoy (a C-bodied 2-door hardtop downgraded to Fury I/II trim levels; see below), the C-bodied Canadian Dodge (Polara, Polara 440, Polara 880, and Monaco; all had Plymouth-level engines and interior trim including Plymouth dashboards, and a Canada-only Monaco convertible was offered), and TWO different styles of Canadian Valiant. Note: some records show that the Savoy was a Dodge in Canada, but I have seen one, and it definitely is not.

Bill Watson wrote:

The 100 (US Valiant 100) came as two and four door sedan and wagon, while the Custom 100 (US Valiant 200) came as four door sedan, hardtop, and convertible - no wagon. The 200 (US Dart 170) came as two and four door sedan - no wagon, while the Custom 200 (US Dart 270) came as four door sedan, hardtop, convertible, and wagon.

The Canadian 1965 models also had a different VIN then the American - an extra digit for the body style. Although 1965 Valiant illustrations show the "Valiant Signet" nameplates on the front fender behind the wheel opening, production models had them ahead and above the wheel opening. I own a 1965 Valiant Signet hardtop.

For the first time, Chrysler Canada offered equivalents of both the U.S. Valiant (AV series) and Dart (AL series), marketing both cars as Valiants and offering all models through Plymouth and Dodge dealers. There was no mixing and matching of front clips, but there were still enough differences to make visiting Yanks scratch their heads in confusion. I have seen a 1965 Canadian Valiant owners manual which covered (and showed) both versions.

The AL was a 111" wheelbase Dodge Dart with a Plymouth Valiant front clip); the AV was the Plymouth Valiant and Barracuda (106"), but wagons are a special case. The Canadian Valiant 100 equalled the US Valiant V-100, and the Canadian Valiant 200 equalled the US Dart 170. Finally, the Canadian Valiant Custom 100 was similar to the US Valiant V-200, and the Custom 200 was similar to the US Dart 270.

There was also a special Canada-only model AL-1 two door sedan with straight quarter glass instead of the double-angle glass used on US Dart (AL-1) two door sedans. This was offered in 1963, 64, and 65 in Canada only - maybe 1966 as well. Special thanks to the Andrus family for their patience while I scrutinized their Canadian '65 Custom 100, which I believe was probably the only one in Northern California at the time (mid-'70s).

1965 Valiant 100:

Virtual equivalent to '65 U. S. Valiant 100, except for use of '65 Dart instrument cluster and "Plymouth" emblems on hood/trunk lid replaced with strongly similar "Valiant" emblems. V8 models used same emblem as U. S. Valiant.

1965 Valiant Custom 100:

Virtual equivalent to '65 U. S. Valiant 200 with changes as noted above, plus replacement of "Valiant 200" molding in curl of front fenders with strongly similar "Custom 100" molding. V8 models used same emblem as U. S. Valiant. Custom 100 convertible was offered (thanks, Rejan Sayak of Winnipeg, for confirming this, and also for saying there were 4-door Custom 100 sedans; both seem quite rare now).

1965 Valiant Custom 200:

Virtual equivalent to '65 Dart 270 with following changes; circular emblem at center of front hood which held Dodge delta replaced by similar emblem with Valiant crest; "Dodge" emblem deleted from hood; "Valiant" emblem (possibly same emblem as seen on 100/Custom 100 trunk lid) mounted lower right corner of grille; side molding same as Dart 270 except for piece near headlights, where "Dart 270" molding is replaced by strongly similar "Valiant 200" molding; "Dodge" block letters on trunk lid replaced by "Valiant" block letters; Valiant crest centerpiece in steering wheel; 2-door models had "Valiant 200" emblems near front of interior door; Valiant hubcaps used. Valiant 200 convertible and 2-door hardtop versions may have been offered in Canada but this is not confirmed. V8 models used same emblem as U. S. Dart.

1965 Valiant Signet:

Virtual equivalent to U. S. Dart GT with hood emblem, grille, trunk lid and interior changes as described under Valiant 200 heading. "Valiant Signet" emblem as used on '65 U. S. Signet located on front fender in about the same position as on Valiant fender on U. S. Signet. "GT" emblem on hardtop B-pillar replaced by Valiant crest. Convertible did not have Valiant crest relocated to rear quarter panel as was done with "GT" emblem on U. S. Dart convertibles. Of course, "DART" block letters on back fenders were deleted. Valiant hubcaps used including fake mag hubcaps, which were not available on U. S. Dart.

1965 Valiant Barracuda:

Same as '64 except for use of '65 Dart instrument cluster (and of course no TorqueFlite pushbuttons).

1965 Wagons:

All sedan observations seem to apply here as well. Tail sections match whatever front clip is applied.

1966: Last of the Canadian Valiants - BV/BL

1966 was the last year for the Dart-based Canadian Valiant. While Ford and GM (particularly Pontiac) continued marketing unique cars for the Canadian market, Chrysler's unique Canadian efforts from 1967 to the middle 1970s were limited to the Fargo truck line and the occasional car such as the Dodge Monaco convertible.

Low-end models based on the U. S. Valiant were dropped in 1966, leaving only the Dart-based cars and the Barracuda, which was built in Detroit this year and onwards.

Bill Watson wrote:

Canadian Valiant wheel covers were like the American Plymouth Valiant, only with the Valiant emblem and not the Plymouth on the centre hub. The reverse this year was true for the "Valiant Signet" fender plates - ads showed them ahead of the wheel opening in the fender depressions, but production models had them between the opening and the front door. The Dart GT in 1966 had little air splits on the front fender tips with "GT" etched into them. The Canadian Signet had the windsplits, but less the "GT" etching.

The Barracuda had the Barracuda emblem on the steering wheel, rear window trim and front grille. Apparently early models had "Valiant" on the trunk, but I have only seen "Barracuda" nameplates on the trunk. The name "Plymouth", naturally, was nowhere to be seen.

Basic Dodge Dart Equivalent

"Valiant" block letters replaced "Dodge" block letters on hood. "Dart" block letters on front fenders near door leading edge were missing and not replaced.

Model designation on C-pillar. '66 Dart dash and interior with exception of Valiant crest horn button as seen on '62-'65 Valiants. Hubcaps and wheel covers same as '66 Valiant, including full wheel cover as seen on U. S. model with Plymouth emblem in middle. No "Dodge" script in right hand corner of trunk. "Valiant" block letters between taillights as seen on '65 Dart-based Canadian Valiants.

Dart 270 Equivalent

Believed to continue under "Valiant 200" name although one source shows this as "Custom 200". All Canadian updates to basic Dart equivalent apply here with the following differences: (1) "Dart 270" nomenclature at back of lengthwise stainless moulding believed replaced by plain piece matching rest of moulding; (2) Pictures I have show model designation on B/C pillar; and (3) "Valiant" block letters located above moulding between taillights as seen on '65 Canadian Signet.

Valiant Signet

The Dart GT equivalent definitely continued under this name. All Canadian updates to basic and 270 equivalents apply here with the following additional differences: (1) "Valiant Signet" emblem applied to front fender in about the same location as '65 model; (2) Valiant crest in circle as seen on '65 U. S. Valiant and '65 Canadian "Custom 100" trunk lid replaced "GT" emblem on hardtop B-pillar; "Dart" block letters on rear quarter panel near taillight deleted; and (4) Fascia between taillights same as Dart except says "Valiant" instead of "Dodge".

Valiant Barracuda

Believed identical to U. S. Barracuda with exception of "Valiant" nameplates replacing "Plymouth" nameplates. May also have continued with Valiant crest on horn button or sport steering wheel centerpiece, while U. S. Barracudas had Plymouth emblem in this position (but not on the rear window).

Incidentally, Canada was a source for right-hand drive export Valiants. In 1982, I was on the island of St. Kitts in the British West Indies, where I saw a right-hand drive '66 Canadian Valiant 4-door sedan parked next to an Australian Valiant VC 4-door sedan. I recognized the VC as Australian, but not knowing the Australian Valiant history very well at that time I thought from the steering wheel location the '66 was Australian as well. It wasn't until many years later that I learned that the Australians never used a RHD version of the '66 Dart dash, nor did they use a Dart body shell until later.

Epilogue

By 1967, there was almost no difference between U. S. and Canadian Chrysler cars and trucks, exceptions being the Monaco/Monaco 500 convertible and the Fargo line of cloned Dodge trucks. This included the belated introduction of the A-body Dodge Dart and moving the Valiant into the Plymouth car line.

1967 was the only year since the end of World War II that all Canadian Dodges had different instrumentation from their Plymouth counterparts. The '68 B-bodies on both sides of the border (other than Charger and Super Bee) all shared the same gauges, with the Charger gauge cluster appearing on the GTX and Road Runner in 1970. By 1972 one could only tell a Dodge from a Plymouth from the inside by a few small emblems... ...and that was assuming your car was fitted with the correct emblems, which wasn't always the case in that era...

Chrysler Australia introduced the VE Valiant series in 1967. The VE was clearly strongly influenced by the 1967 Dart. The later Australian Valiant Hardtop was essentially a '69 Dart with right hand drive and front sheetmetal somewhat reminiscient of (not identical to) a '70 Dart. And the Pacer Hardtop would have been familiar to American Swinger 340 fans, at least until the bonnet was opened...

The first Dodge Demon was a 1970 Canadian show car, featuring a Dart front clip on a lightly modified Duster body and done for a fraction of the cost of a typical show car.

In 1974, when Chrysler had quit importing the Hillman Avenger-based Plymouth Cricket from the UK [it was not brought in after 1972 but some were sold as 1973 models], Canadian Plymouth dealers got a badge-engineered Dodge Colt which was marketed under the Cricket name. Canadian Dodge dealers in turn got a "Dodge Arrow."

The first non-Japanese MoPar car after 1970 made exclusively for the Canadian market was the 1978 Plymouth Caravelle (actually first made in mid-1977), which was initially a Dodge Diplomat clone with modified grille and taillights; it lasted until its American counterpart died in 1989.

When the E-body (extended K-platform) Caravelle, based on the Dodge 400/600, was brought into Canada, the M-body version was called the Caravelle Salon...but the word "Salon" only appeared on the car when it was ordered with the Salon package. Stu McAllister wrote: “This always causes lots of fun at the auto parts counter, since we had two completely different cars with the same nameplate from 1982-89. Interesting marketing approach.”

There was a two-door front wheel drive Caravelle through 1986 which never appeared in the US.

With the introduction of the G-body sports model (Dodge Daytona) in '84, Chrysler Canada started on a different path. The Dodge Daytona was marketed in Canada as a Chrysler Daytona, and sold by Dodge-Chrysler and Plymouth-Chrysler dealers alike in Canada. This was later followed by the Chrysler Dynasty and Chrysler Intrepid. It appears that Chrysler Canada found this easier than creating Plymouth clones of Dodge cars, or for that matter than selling Dodge cars. The phasing out of Dodge cars was reversed in 2004 when the Dodge SX 2.0 was brought out to complement the Chrysler Neon. Today, Chrysler Canada uses the same brands and models as Chrysler in the United States.

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Also visit the Dodge Dart site, which has its own Canadian section!

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