Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge of Venezuala (Chrysler de Venezuala)
Roberto Iregui wrote:
My father had several Mopar products here in Venezuela. He's passed away now, and I'll try to tell you what I remember of his cars and some others we had down here:
1st. Car: 1968 Plymouth Valiant 4 door slant 6 engine. White, red interior. Assembled in Venezuela. Probably the most basic car ever. No power brakes, no power steering, only AM radio, no A/C. It was an excellent car. I learned to drive in it in 1977 right before he sold it. We drove all over the country in it without trouble. It had plain bias ply tires. Never wrecked, only a couple of fender benders.
At the same time Chrysler de Venezuela (all sold in the same dealership) had the Valiant Signet, imported from the US, with a V8, power brakes and steering. Some chrome and bigger hubcaps. Didn't sell well because of a much higher price. Also sold a Dodge Dart, 2 dr. and 4dr., both with a V8 engine, that looks a lot like the Chargers from Brazil you show in your page. The larger Dodge Coronet sold as the luxury model. I can't remember if the had any more US models.
Also sold at the time a Hillman Hunter, 4 door, UK origin, plain, basic. A friend's mother had one (1968) and my friend learned to drive in it in 1979. 4 cyl engine. Basic transportation. We also had the Hillman Humber, same body as above, different 4 speed gearbox, witha little lever (opposite the turn signal lever on the steering column) that had some kind of electric overdrive. It worked great after reaching 100 km/hr. It had a square body, different from any of the pictures you have.
2nd. Car: 1973 Plymouth Valiant, 4dr. slant 6 engine. White, green interior. Also without power brakes and Steering. Only AM radio. Basically the same car as above. This was the car that had the all rubber bumpers over the actual bumpers as the 1973 US models. The Dodge Dart models were exactly the same car. The only difference: more chrome, 318V8, bigger hubcaps. Like the signet in 1968. The Dodge had 2 trim packages: Custom (as explained above) and Special Edition. this one had A/C, vinyl roof, more chrome. Same engine and body. Att this time there were some 2 dr. models, the ones with different rears. I didn't sell well because Camaros were here at the same price and this one looked too much as a regular car.
An aunt of mine still drives daily a 1973 Coronet. She loves her car. The Coronet came in also 2 trim packages, but basically the same car.
3rd. car: 1977 Dodge Dart. 4 dr. 318V8 engine. Toilet bowl green exterior, green vinyl interior. This one finally had power steering and brakes. A year later my dad installed an aftermarket Air Conditioner. This car replaced the 1973 Valiant and a Jeep Wagoneer replaced the 1968 Valiant the same year. I saw the 1968 in 1985 as a taxi cab. It still had a window sticker I had affixed there as a kid, so I recognized it.
The Dodge Dart was the exact same body as the 1973, with minor differences in the taillights and headlights. Dashboard exctly the same, as the hubcaps. That year the Dart had 3 trim packages: Basic (nicknamed here "regulado" because it was a basic model the government mandated to sell without frills, at a low price; this replaced the Valiant); the "custom", slightly more sophisticated, and the Special Edition: this was the dream of every Dart owner: Factory A/C, vinyl roof, radial tires, wide vinyl side trim, large hubcaps, cloth interior and a cassette tape player. We also had the 2dr. models only in custom trim and a large stripe on the side and roof, with half vinyl roof. We had the Coronet with same trim packages (Custom and Special Edition).
Many of the "regulado" models ended as Taxi Cabs, and you can still see may on the streets of Caracas. Of course, most are falling apart by now.
After this, Chrysler left Venezuela in a couple of years, about 1980. The 1978 brought us the Dodge ASPEN (Basic model, no frills, 6 cyl.) the 2 dr. LE BARON (nicely equipped, 6 cyl only), and the 4dr. LE BARON (All Special Edition trim, 318V8) We also had very few imported 2 dr. ASPENS and some ASPEN and LE BARON STATION WAGONS. I had a girlfriend who drove a 1979 Aspen and loved it. Her mother still drives it.
We never got any K cars (officially, probably some people brought some from the US, and are gone by now), Chrysler came back in 1992 with the Neon (4 dr model only in 4 trim packages) and the Spirit and Le Baron (Same car, different trim). 1998/99 now we have the new Neon (Venezuelan Aseembled, 4 models:SE, LE, RT, LX ), Grand Caravan (1 model only, loaded, imported), and the Stratus (1 model, 4 dr. imported) . As Chrysler products, the 2dr and 4 4dr. Cherokee, in different models, assembled here, as well as the Grand Cherokee, also assembled here.