Although the 1962/3 Valiant was slightly dearer than the equivalent Holden or Falcon models, it was bigger and far more powerful and soon established a reputation for being a superior performer.
Encouraged by the popularity of its models Chrysler Australia began a $36 million expansion programme in late 1962, aiming to increase production to 50,000 units per year by 1967, with local content increasing progressively. Construction of the new Tonsley Park manufacturing plant began in 1963 and on 31 March 1964 the first Valiant was completed at this new plant, and in April 1963 it was announced that the expansion program had been doubled to $72 million.
On 30 May 1963, Chrysler Australia produced the first fully Australian manufactured Valiant, the AP5 (the "AP" referring to Australian Production). With the introduction of the AP5, Chrysler Australia had officially begun manufacturing Valiant's locally, rather than just importing and assembling kits. With high local content and a design adapted for local conditions, the 'AP5' Valiant strengthened the brand's position.
The AP5 was an entirely new design and considerably more straightforward in styling than its R- and S- model predecessors. The AP5 only shared the four doors, windscreen, and front guards with its U.S. counterpart. The left hand drive cowls were initially imported from the US with wipers sweeping to the left.
The continued importation of these parts was a financial decision, money could be saved by having the Australian operation stamp the rear panels, and by importing the sheet metal forward of the windscreen Chrysler was to be able to take advantage of any US facelifts at minimal expense. While the level of US content did drop during the AP5 manufacture, significant items such as the engines were still imported - actual Australian content only reaching 60%.
The AP5's transformation included the fitment of a unique extruded aluminium grille and a larger boot than the US model, along with a different rear deck and flat rear window. Chrysler claimed the AP5 offered a 12% increase in body torsional stiffness.
The interior had higher quality upholstery, in keeping with the car's more upscale status. The standard features list grew, with sun visors, cigar lighters and ashtrays added as no cost items.
The AP5 retained the torsion-bar front suspension that prevented "nose dive" during braking, and combined cornering with ride quality. The rear suspension had a conventional leaf spring setup, engineered for traction under power. Wheels had double-sided safety rims; self-adjusting brakes had twin servos and a total 154 square inches of effective area.
The AP5 also retained the R and S Series 3.6 litre 225 slant six engine, although it was now fitted with a new single-barrel downdraft Holley 1920 carburettor; the Holley provided a slight improvement in fuel consumption, although the power remained the same at 145bhp (or 109kW). Chrysler used electrical components from non-Chrysler suppliers, notably Bosch and Prestolite.
An upmarket Regal version was introduced to the range. Having more bright work and badging than the standard model, the Regal offered better seats and interior trim, auto transmission, a heater with integrated demister, two tone steering wheel, carpets and even white-wall tyres. Chrysler Australia produced the “Regal” to take on the Holden "Premier" and the Ford "Falcon Futura" models.
Chrysler certainly had produced a winner with the AP5. It was widely praised by the press of the time, who like the public liked the new smooth lines and less fussy appearance, while the highly obedient 225ci engine remained extremely pleasing for the driver looking for some spirited performance.
The new AP5 certainly opened up a buyers' market, as the new model was £35 cheaper on the manual, and £40 on the automatic, the new prices being £1220 ($2440) for the manual, £1345 ($2690) for the automatic and £1498 ($2996) for the Regal.
In November 1963 the "Safari" station wagon joined the AP5 Valiant model range line-up. The new wagon range was available in manual, automatic and even an upmarket Regal model. The main selling feature of the new wagon was its huge luggage space.
Priced from £1320 ($2640) the wagons used the same mechanical components and front-end styling as the sedans, but were fitted with bigger tyres and heavier rear springing. Additional features on the wagon were the low-level counterbalanced tail gate and the wind-up rear window which could be locked in any position.
Helped by the price drop over the outgoing models and with sales across the range of 49,440 in 22 months, Chrysler was unable to build enough Valiant AP5 cars to meet the demand, and inevitably the waiting list for a new Valiant AP5 grew even longer,