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Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth in South America:
Reskinned Valiants and More

 

Chrysler in South America - broad overview

Dodge GTXOur primary source in this section is John Predgen, who provided information from the Italian Automobile Club's books. He also recommended www.dodgenews.com.br

Most Valiant-based vehicles came with familiar US “economy” drivetrains - slant sixes and 318s. 340s seem to have been rare South of Texas, if they were imported at all. Some have the 273, which was designed for performance, if not the barnstorming power of the 340. (slant six pages | small V8 pages)

The A body (Valiant/Dart) platform formed the basis of a number of Dodges, including the Polara, Polara R/T, Coronado, Super Bee, and GTX. Lower models (such as the Polara) had the slant six standard; the GTX came with the 318 V8 and a vinyl top. (The only GTX by Dodge!). The Charger R/T looked similar to the US Charger - but it was based on a completely different platform! If Chrysler US had tried some of these body styles, small car history might have been quite different.

The Dart-based 3700GT (two door) and 3700 Nuevo (four door) came with slant six engines. The 3700 GT was very upscale, quite rare, and museum pieces today. The Dart De Luxo was also sold, as a sedan, grand sedan, and coupé.

There were also "econoboxes" with both diesel and gas engines - based on the Hillman Avenger, then owned by Chrysler - the 1500 series. The 1200 Series was made by Simca, and titled accordingly; it was available with 52, 65, and 85 horsepower engines.

In the mid-1970s, Chrysler assembled in these countries (as well as North America):

Argentina Valiant series, Simca
Australia Valiant series, Simca
Brazil Valiant series, Dart series
Colombia Simca, Dodge Dart
Peru Dodge Coronet
South Africa Valiant
Venezuela Dodge Dart, Coronet

Hillman assembled in Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Uraguay, Trinidad, Costa Rica, Ireland, Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran, Malta, Thailand, South Africa, Portugal, and New Zealand.

Mike Sealey wrote:

Gavin Farmer has done it again. His article in the February 2003 issue of Collectible Automobile, "1971-81 Australian Chrysler Valiant: Sounding Retreat" provides a great deal of info I did not have on these cars, eclipsing even the excellent book by Tony Davis.

This paragraph covers the VH and its successors in South Africa. I believe Farmer meant "sourced from Canada" when he wrote that earlier models were "imported from Canada" (a phrase I interpret as implying completed cars), and even then I would differ with him on at least some of the pre-'67 models, which have more in common with US Valiants than Canadian Valiants. Nevertheless, this is the best explanation I have read of how South Africa got the "fastbody":

"An interesting sidelight to the VH Valiant program was the South African export business. Until 1971; all Valiants sold in South Africa were imported from Canada, but following the release of VH, the sourcing switched to Australia. But it was not the same VH, even though it looked identical. Assembled in a factory at Silverton, near Pretoria, the South African Valiant was assembled from Australian-made body components, electrics and trim; most of the rest of the mechanical parts - the heavy components, given South Africa's import requirements - like the 225-cid engine and the rear axle were locally made. David Brown [1] was responsible for the South African operation. Early in the VH program, he sent engineer Ian Webber [2] over to supervise setup of the VH line. The car was sold on the South African market for five years [3]."

[1] David Brown was managing director of Chrysler Australia when the Valiant was being developed in the US, and he and Chrysler Australia engineering director Roy Rainsford are rightly considered the "fathers" of the Australian Valiant. They might actually qualify as fathers of the South African A-bodies as well, since their original request for an Australian Valiant was denied by Highland Park on the grounds that it had never been engineered for right-hand drive!

[2] Ian Webber later became Chrysler's last managing director in Australia before the Mitsubishi takeover.

[3] It appears to have lasted a couple years longer than that, although by that time it was being built by Sigma and referred to as "Chrysler by Sigma". I have a 1978 South African road test of what appears to be a Slant Six-powered CL.

Valiants in South America - by Francisco J. Bóscolo

I had a Dodge GTX V8, and I am a fan of Chrysler. I have a Repair Manual from 1970 and four Corsa magazines from the era. The first cars were Valiants. I know the Valiant II (first body style) and the Valiant III and IV (second body style, the one you have pictures from). All of them had slant six engines.

The Corsa magazine (in the price list of used cars) says that there was a Valiant I only in 1962, I think it must look like the Valiant II. I don’t have any numbers from that car. According to the Repair manual the Valiant II was produced only in 1963 and there was only one version. It had the six cylinders engine 225ci. with 7.3:1 compression ratio, 137HP at 4000rpm and about 205lb/ft. of torque at 2400rpm. The only choice was 3 speed gears on the steering column. This car looks exactly like the 1962 Valiant S Series from Australia, the one you have a picture from (at least from that angle) in the "Chrysler in Australia" page.

In 1964 Chrysler introduced the Valiant III with the second body style, the one you have the pictures from. It was basically the same car with a different sheetmetal and a little bit bigger measurements. In 1965 appeared the Valiant III Coronado (the same car, but with luxury options) and the Valiant III GT with a shorter differential and two carburetors and (logically) a different intake. Today these intakes are very rare and who has a Chrysler inline six wants it to have 2 carburetors in their engine. I don’t have the numbers from the power, but the torque was 217lb/ft. at 2400rpm and the compression ratio 8.2:1.

In 1966 the Valiant IV, the Valiant IV Coronado and Valiant IV GT appeared. These were basically the same than the Valiant III, except for the carburetors in the Valiant IV and Valiant IV Coronado and the shift on the floor for the GT. In 1968, the Valiant IV and Valiant IV Coronado raised their compression to 8.4:1, ending with 145HP at 4000rpm and almost 215lb/ft of torque at 2400rpm. That year the Valiant IV GT changed the carburetor to a single double barrel.

1974 Dodge Charger R/T A-bodyIn 1969 the Dodge line came up. It looked like the Dodge 3700 GT that was built in Spain, the one you have in the pictures from the Chrysler in Spain page (except for the grille and the lights). The first I have in the Repair manual is the Dodge Valiant with the 137HP engine with 7.3:1 compression ratio and the measurements of the Dodge Polara. I—ve never seen this particular car, except in the numbers. I think this must be the same car as the Dodge Polara with even basic equipment and with the less powerful slant six engine. In the used cars price list, it says that this car were produced from 1969 to 1971. In 1969 appeared also the Dodge Polara and Dodge Coronado (with vinyl roof and luxury options) with the 145HP engine with 8.4:1 compression ratio and front disc brakes. There was also the Dodge GT (Dodge Polara GT) with the engine of the Valiant IV GT —68 with 155HP at 4500rpm, almost 220lb/ft at 2400rpm and four speed.

According to the Repair manual, in 1970 the Dodge Valiant changed his name to simply Dodge. The Dodge Polara was available with 3 or 4 speeds, the Dodge Coronado was available with automatic transmission and the coupe was introduced on the market. The only choice was the Dodge GTX (with vinyl roof), but with two engines: the inline six from the Dodge GT and the 318ci V8 both with four speeds. The V8 had 212HP at 4400rpm, 308lb/ft at 2600rpm and 8.5:1 compression ratio. This car was road-tested by the magazine and they obtained 189km/h (117mph) of top speed and 10.2 seconds from 0-100km/h (0-62mph).

By 1972 there was a restyling from the whole Dodge line. Not a big thing, but the grille and the lights were different. The GTX you have in the picture (the red one on this page) has this restyling. The instruments were also different. The numbers from all were a little more modern. It appeared a new color inside: beige. The seats, the door panels and the dash came in black or in beige. And the instruments came white with black numbers or black with white numbers.

After this restyling, the GTX inline 6 wasn't available anymore, but appeared the Dodge Polara Coupe with basic equipment, 4 drum brakes and 3 gears on the steering column and optionally the front disc brakes and the 4 speed to the floor. It doesn’t say the power numbers, but it says that the torque was 215lb/ft at 2400rpm and the compression ratio 8.4:1. I think it must be the same engine that was used in the Dodge Polara and Coronado. That year, Corsa made the road test of the Dodge Polara Coupe with front drum brakes and 3 speeds on the column. They obtained 172km/h (107mph) of top speed and 12.1 seconds from 0-100km/h (0-62mph). According to that magazine, the Dodge Coronado with manual transmission was available up to 1973. After that year, the Coronado was available only with automatic transmission.

In 1974 the Dodge Polara RT appeared, and Corsa make a road test from the car. It had the 225ci inline six, but 174HP at 4400rpm, 246lb/ft of torque at 2400rpm, 8.5:1 compression ratio and an electronic distributor. It had the most powerful inline 6 from Chrysler Argentina. It had some nice black stripes on the side and over the hood. The Polara RT had all the luxury stuff, except for the vinyl roof. In the road test, they obtained 181km/h (112mph) of top speed and 11.5 seconds from 0-100km/h (0-62mph). I don’t know if the Dodge Polara RT replaced the Dodge Polara with basic equipment, or they were produced in parallel. In the last magazine I have (1977), in the price list from new cars, it was a Dodge Polara Diesel. I—ve never heard about this car.

In the street the people say that there were 3 different 318 engines. The first one was produced in Mexico with a Carter carburetor and mechanical distributor. The Corsa magazine I have confirms so. The second one appeared in 1974, and the people say it came from Canada (the one I had). This engine had an electronic distributor. The last one, was first used in 1976. Some people say that it was from Brazil and some others say that it was from USA. The way you could differentiate it from the Canadian and Mexican is the carburetor, that was a Holley instead of the Carter BBD. I—ve once seen two world car catalogs from Quattroruote. One from 1974, and the other from 1976. They said that the Dodge GTX V8 had in 1974 212HP and 215HP in 1976, so I think it’s true all about the three engines. I think all these cars ended production before the end of 1979 when Chrysler from Argentina closed. I think the coupes ended production first.

Apart from the big cars, Dodge also made the Dodge 1500, the one that John Predgen wrote about. The one you have in the pictures weren't from Argentina, because we hadn't a 2 door car. All of them were 4 doors, even the GTs. In the magazines I have, it is said that there were 3 models at first : The Dodge 1500 Standard, the Dodge 1500 SPL (the luxury one according to the price) and the Dodge 1500 GT-90. The three started production in 1971. I have another magazine that says that the 1500cc had 72CV, but I don’t have any more numbers. The GT-90 was the sport one. Once I saw one that was yellow with the black hood.

According to the magazine, in 1974 appeared the Dodge 1500 SPL Automatic and the Dodge 1500 1.8 (1800cm3 instead of the 1500cm3 engine). In 1975 the GT-90 ended production and in 1977 appeared the Dodge 1500 Standard Automatic and the Dodge 1500 GT-100. From this one I have the Corsa magazine with the road test. It had 120HP (~105HP DIN) at 5300rpm, 119lb/ft of torque at 4200rpm, 8.9:1 compression ratio, two Stromberg (?) carburetors, 170km/h (106mph) of top speed and 11.5 seconds from 0-100km/h (0-62mph). They were available only in black or dark blue with gold stripes.

In 1979, when Chrysler closed, this car was manufactured by Volkswagen with some little restyling outside (grille, lights and bumpers) and a complete restyling inside. Those years Volkswagen started the production of a station wagon with the 1.8 engine. I don’t really know how many models were produced in that period. I am sure that at least Volkswagen produced a 1500 ‘Standard’ (my father had one from 1979), a 1500 ‘Full’, a 1500 1.8 ‘Full’ and a 1500 Rural 1.8 (station wagon) ‘Full’ (my father had one of these too from 1981) with luxury options.

The last restyling around 1982/83 came up. They changed again the grille, the lights and the bumpers (this time they were of plastic) and the look of the instruments. I have a magazine from April 1992 and in the price list for used cars there was a Volkswagen 1500 Básico (basic) with the 1500cm3 engine that I think it must be a model that came with the new look, but with the old steel bumpers, instead of the plastic ones. It was only produced in 1987 and 1988. I have seen a couple of them and they were really awful. There was a Volkswagen 1500 with 61HP (DIN) and a top speed of 145km/h (90mph) that was produced until 1991. Some of them had a 5 speed gearbox. There was also a Volkswagen 1500 Rural 1.8 STD (Standard), an Automatic and a Full, all with 1800cm3 engines and 76 HP (DIN) and top speed of 152km/h (94.5mph). I can’t find anything about the 1.8 Sedan with the new restyling.

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