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Valiants, Valiant Chargers, Pacers, and other Chrysler Australia/New Zealand cars

Hear a 265 Hemi 6! This one makes 380 to 420 hp and has triple Webers and a 6 into 1 exhaust (courtesy Graham Pratt). .wav (800K) | .aiff (350 K).

Australian Valiants | Special photo pages: Ranger, Safari, and Regal | Pacer | VIP | Other Models | Hey Charger! the book

Damian Birch (New Zealand) wrote:

Damian Birch's ValiantsI have two Valiants, both 1970 VG Valiants to start, both built in July 1970, three cars apart on the assembly line. Both were top of the line for New Zealand, being Regals with the 770 option which was buffalo grain bucket seats, vinyl top, usual extra trim, and console mounted automatic shifter. (By the way, in New Zealand, no V8s came in manual; when valiants used to clean up all the racing in New Zealand, those Chargers and Regals were all automatics — and they still beat everything GM and Ford could throw at them).

The VF Valiant came out in 1969; the hardtop had the 69 Dart body with the longer Aussie VF front. Those longer Aussie fronts were prone to frame rail cracks around the steering box that the earlier Valiants didn't seem to experience. The 1967/1968 VE valiant used the Dart style front.

Since both of my Valiants had similar front damage, the turquoise one being jumped Dukes style, as was common on some cars in the early eighties, I swapped fronts on both. The funny thing is I started planning this kind of swap years ago when I was in high school, and didn't even know what a Dart was, as locally the only American cars we got were big cars like Polaras and our funny local Plymouth-based sedans that had Dodge fronts (Pioneers), DeSoto fronts (Diplomats) too, and the actual Plymouth Savoys. Most of these cars had 318s and 904s. Many people have asked when are you gonna put a bigger motor in, but I'm determined to stick with the 318. Nobody tells Mustang owners to pull their 302s.

We sometimes had different optional mags and hubcaps than the Aussie valiants. Those mags are original VG Pacer mags and required longer studs than the usual steel wheels.

Most New Zealand Valiants were similar to Aussie ones except that the NZ ones of the 1970s had four headlights whereas the Aussie ones only had two until the 1976 CM.

I made the fiberglass bonnet myself and it needs some improving. Only Pacers and the bigger 71 onwards Valiants had front sway bars but our standard T-bars are the same as US 340 T-bars, no matter what engine you got, all V8s got ventilated front disks in 1970 and they work great with or without boosters. We only had three differntial ratios to choose from, 2.93, 3.23 standard for 6 cylinders and 3.55 LSD all in the same 8inch Borg Warner differential that the Ford Falcons had here too. Mine are both 2.93 for now.

Despite having no sway bars on the Regals, my grey one still manages to flick following Club Sport Holdens off the road.

Thom McIntyre wrote:

If you tune the 265 right up or run the six pack they get thirsty. I have the later sedan with the Electronic Lean Burn computer which does pretty well, although it doesn't have the horses of the E series chargers it's reasonably quick. It does have a towing cam which helps it off the mark.

Worked 265s will beat many hot 308s - my mechanic had one in his shop producing 350hp. On the highway at legal speeds, mine does a bit over 20mpg - while the aerodynamics of the sedan are good in terms of roadholding at speed, they do cost a few mpg in x-country cruise. Par for the era. You will see less than 20 in a Charger with the points ignition and warmer cam, although a 4th gear would help. They are definitely reliable motors too, but getting one properly tuned as time goes by would definitely require some research in the absence of mechanics who know the motors.

Compared to other cars' power steering Vals are very light and fluffy, but I think it's not all bad when you get used to it - when you do, I don't find it inhibits the ability to track a corner by feel or deal with oversteer safely, at least in my '79 which is the only power steered Val I've driven. It's also very comfy when you've only got one hand free. Earlier versions may well be worse. I'd agree the smaller Charger feels good without the power steering.

"SCS" (name lost) wrote:

I have owned a range of Australian Chrysler products over the years and am something of an enthusiast. My first car was a blue AP5 Valiant Regal Safari 1964 Push Button TorqueFlite - I think the most expensive car in the range. It was a sound, but well used car and I thrashed it mercilessly for about a year before the big end bearings went after I ran it out of oil. I bought it for $250.00 in June 1976.

Later on in 1977 I had a 3 speed AP5 sedan that was even more tired than the wagon. I bought it for $350 at an auction. It looked nice but had a lot of rust in the rear panels behind the rear wheels - a common rust spot on them and the boot floor was rusted through in many spots. The rust was so bad I had to get the rear spring mounts welded up with extra steel because the car was sagging. After that repair I lowered the front end by winding down the torsion bars and for extra horsepower and thrills ran it without the air cleaner. The gearbox made a hell of a whine in all gears but 3rd. The gear ratios were not well suited to the car- in first at about 20 mph the motor would be screaming and you couldn't get it to go much past 60 mph in 2nd. Racing changes were difficult too as the column gear shift was clunky and slow - nonetheless I would power shift undaunted by the crunching of the gears as I drove around Adelaide.

After about 7 months of my merciless driving style the motor began to show signs of deterioration and it began to blow blue smoke from the tailpipe under acceleration and developed quite an appetite for oil. On a visit to an auto wreckers I happened to find the High Performance 225 ci 160 hp "blue" motor that came out of a VE. It looked clean enough and I got the wrecker to start it on the floor w/out any exhaust - sure sounded loud enough and not too much smoke - so I forked over $170.00 and took it to a friends place to install it.

The guy at the wrecker said it was an easy bolt in job. [Expletive]. The 160 hp mill has a bigger sump and wont fit past the AP5 crossmember! I had the motor hanging from a tree by a block and tackle outside this guys house and we tried for about 2 hours to jam the thing in. Eventually following a phone call to a Chrysler dealer we fitted the sump from the old motor and bolted it straight in. For expedience we bolted on the old one barrel Holley instead of running with the 2 bbl Carter from the blue motor. It fired up fine and ran well.

I located a 160 HP badge at a wrecker and stuck it on the trunk as a cautionary note to other motorists that I was packing serious horsepower.

The other Chrysler I had was a 1960 Chrysler Royal - a huge barge of fins fore and aft which featured either leaden tractor steering or when I could find the money to top up the power steering fluid, "float-o-matic" — no feel, one finger power assist. I paid 150 bucks for it at private sale. It had the old Chrysler flat head six that needed a run up like a Mack truck but would wind out to about 80 mph. It would regularly boil so I ran it with the radiator cap off - it seemed to work ok. One big problem was the engine mounts which after 6 months of my "take no prisoners" driving style became worn out so that when you engaged drive or as I frequently did to slow it down, 2nd - the motor would lurch from side to side.

With very little money I came up with a novel solution. I wound out a centre head bolt, got some heavy gauge wire wrapped it around the bolt and strapped the mill down by attaching the wire to either side of the engine bay. I ran it for about a year or so until the steering box became to worn to drive the thing in a straight line. The car, with its large interior was a favourite of a friend of mine who particularly liked to borrow it to take his girlfriend out in. Unfortunately after he had used it a few times the front seat locking mechanism became difficult to "lock in" so that whilst driving the seat would slide forward and back on the runners making the thing even more of a challenge to pilot.

rose wrote:

I have driven Dodge trucks with the 318 and 361 engines. My honest impressions are:
1. the 318 really gets stuck in as soon as you hit the pedal and gives its all (a nice engine)
2. The 361 pulls very well but always feels lazier (guess that's the lower compression). Two very different truck engines.

The 215/245/265 sixes were rugged and durable (rattly and noisy) and all went well once they got "up on the cam," I'm talking standard engine here. They were not true hemispherical heads, more like a canted valve head (like a Cleveland 351 or bb Chev). They were pretty gutless down low but boy they took off once they got a few revs up!! You always knew when a Valiant started over here - a distinctive low geared starter motor gave the game away!

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This page describes the Australian Chrysler Valiant series - Chargers, Pacers, Utes, Safaris, and more variants of the A-Body Valiant line (sold as Plymouth Valiant in the US).

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