As a result of delays in the commencement of full production, the first "Australian Valiant" was assembled from complete-knock down kits shipped in from Chrysler America. The idea was to bring one thousand Valiants to market as quickly as possible.
Initially a rebadged Plymouth Valiant from the U.S, the first locally assembled Valiant RV1's (R-series) were assembled at Chrysler's Mile End and Keswick facilities, Adelaide, South Australia and were officially unveiled by South Australia's Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, in January 1962.
The main differences from the American model were the RH drive configuration, 14" wheels and the 145 horsepower 225 slant-six as standard rather than optional. The 225 (3.7 litre) slant six, provided more horsepower than its rivals, (producing 145 hp as opposed to 75 hp for the popular Holden and 85 hp for the comparable Ford) and came with a non-syncro first gear, three speed manual transmission with floor mounted shift or a £136 pound ($272) optional Torqueflite automatic controlled by push-buttons on the RH corner of the dash.
Mounting of R-series Valiant engine with a 30° inclination in order to reduce bonnet height, created a tight squeeze under the bonnet on the right side of the engine. Located on the right of the engine was the coil, distributor, fuel pump, along with the RH steering box on the chassis.
The R-series Valiant retained the "Rear Deck Lid Tyre Cover Stamping". This was a fake spare wheel moulding on the boot lid, with the actual spare wheel being under the floor of the boot. Other styling gimmicks included a strong egg-crate grille treatment.
Suspension design consisted of a torsion bar sprung front and a leaf sprung live axle at the rear. Wheelbase was 106.5 inches (2705mm) for an overall length of 184 inches (4673mm). Brakes were hydraulic 9 in (229 mm) drums front and rear.
Options included a heater-demister unit, as well as a "Moparmatic" deluxe pushbutton transistor radio. Bench seats featured in the cabin while instrumentation in the facia mounted binnacle was restricted to a speedometer and a matching dial containing other minor gauges, the entire panel was a single plastic moulding. Noteworthy in the RV-1's design was negative earth electrics and an alternator which replaced the traditional generator.
Top speed of the R-series Valiant approached a heady 98 mph (158 km/h) with just over 42 mph (68 km/h) available in first, and 70 mph (113 km/h) in second. From a standstill to 60 mph (97 km/h) took 18.5 seconds which in 1962 was considered fairly quick. As was the R-series time of 19.4 seconds for the standing quarter mile.
All this startling performance came at a price though; fuel consumption of 23 mpg (12.3 litres/100 kms) was not that economical especially when you only have a fuel tank capacity of 10 gallons.Nonetheless the R-series Valiant was an instant success with the general consensus being that the car had a modern, almost space age quality about it.
Demand certainly exceeded supply for the "R" series Valiant, with only 1008 cars sold in their short two month production run this classic is a very rare collectible car. The base model sold for £1299.