From Q to G  . . . .  Some History



For the 1966 Valiant range the Chrysler Australia styling team totally changed the appearance of the range (clearly influenced by Chrysler in the United States) to give it a longer, lower look and created the VC model. The car looked very different, even though it was basically the same underneath as the AP5/AP6.

1966/7 VC Regal SedanThe release of the VC Valiant in March 1966 heralded the true beginning of the "Battle of the Big Three". To emphasise the changes the Chrysler advertisements of the day highlighted the new grille and front-end treatment, claiming it possessed a "bold new styling" and "up to the minute sculpting".

1966/7 VC Regal Rear ViewTo achieve the all new look, the designer's fitted a six full width chrome bar radiator grille and deep-set bumper bars with recessed park/turn signal lights. A new look squared off boot-line was created for the sedan, it now had redesigned different and individual panels and vertically stacked tail-lights; the Safari wagons and Wayfarer utilities retained the panels and lights from the AP6, although the Wayfarer did have a new bonnet and front guards.

The VC had higher standard equipment levels, and new safety features were offered. Every Valiant was now fitted with full-width instrument panel crash padding, seat belt anchor points, safety door locks, a modified zone windscreen, lift up interior door handles, wide double-sided safety wheel rims, lower profile tyres and a larger glass area. Although these features increased the safety of a VC occupant they contributed to an increase in weight, of 79lbs (36kg) to 99lbs (45kg) depending on the model.

VC InteriorAdding to the increase in weight were the many now standard features across the range; electric windscreen wipers, windscreen washers (foot operated), fresh air ventilation, dual sun visors with a visor vanity mirror, cigar lighter, armrests on all doors, reversing lights, coat hooks, new-look floor mats and variable intensity instrument lighting, front-door operated dome light, turn signals and reverse lights and to provide some protection at the local supermarket a full length chrome strip ran almost the entire length of the car. In late 1966 front disc brakes became optional on V8 models.

The VC was offered as a standard or Regal sedan, a standard or Regal Safari station wagon, and Wayfarer utility versions. The V8-engined cars were named Valiant V8 / Safari V8 and were principally trimmed and optioned per Regal specifications.

1966/7 VC WayfarerContrasting the high level of creature comforts now gracing the VC models, the Wayfarer utility was an entirely utilitarian affair, although the external rear-view mirror and tonneau cover were included.

The VC came with two engine fitment choices; the slant six, which still pumped out 145 hp at 4,000 rpm (215 lb-ft of torque at 2,400 rpm), although quite some work had gone into making it smoother and more economical, or the 273 pushing out 180 hp (260 lb-ft). Each engine was equipped with an alternator as standard, still a relatively new innovation.

The revised automatic transmission lever had a straight fore and aft selection with a push-button lock-out release. On both Regal and V8 models the three-speed TorqueFlite transmission was standard. The three speed manual transmission was given an all synchromesh mechanism, the first of all the medium sized Australian sedans to gain the feature. This was the first release of Borg Warner's Australian "common industry" manual transmission, and showed those who lamented the loss of the push button automatic system in the previous model why Chrysler had been forced to adopt the "common industry" standards of the day, particularly with the Commonwealth Government pushing the manufacturer to up the local content on the Valiant to 95%.

VC Regal Interior TrimThe Regal variant (including the new Regal Safari) continued to be a high-trim version of the regular Valiant, with upgraded seats and more standard features including standard floor carpeting, front and centre armrests (just front for Safari), a heater and demister with two speed fan, day/night rear-view mirror, courtesy light switch gear to all four doors, a trunk light, "sponge vinyl" trim, carpeted kick-pads on the doors, door-sill scuff plates, two tone steering wheel, whitewall tyres, wheel trim rings, dual horn, and air deflectors on the Safari station wagons. The V8 also sported new bucket seats with full length console plus a glove compartment and ashtray.

Chrysler wanted to ensure a greater degree of individuality between the models, something not seen before, gave the Valiant, the Regal and the V8 individualised hubcaps, horn-rings and steering wheel motif. The V8 sedans carried over the use of a vinyl roof. The V8 wagon was fitted with a chrome roof rack and stainless steel air deflectors on each side of the tailgate, designed to help keep dust and dirt from building up on the rear glass.

The Safari wagon provided 105 inches of space from the tailgate to the back of the front seats (84 inches with the tailgate closed), with the same wheelbase and less than one inch of extra total length. The rear seats had a one-step fold-down operation; the rear window wound down into the tailgate, and if it was all the way up, the gate could not be opened from the inside (to prevent children from opening it). The roof had full length drip gutters, including one over the tailgate.

From 1966 onwards, Chrysler Australia provided right hand drive cars for export. The VC Valiant was the first Australian Valiant to become available in Britain, which was announced at the October 1966 London Motor Show. Chrysler Australia was also exporting to South Africa, becoming the second largest vehicle exporter in the nation.The models available were renamed for the British market (the Australian names are in italics).

Valiant renamed - Medium Saloon

Valiant Safari station wagon renamed - Medium Safari Estate Car

Valiant Regal renamed - Regal Highline Saloon Automatic

Valiant Regal Safari station wagon renamed - Regal Highline Safari

Valiant V8 renamed - Premium V8 Saloon

Valiant Safari V8 station wagon renamed - Premium Safari Estate Car


Motoring writers of the time had mixed opinions towards the VC and both praised and slated the new Valiant.

VC SafariA 1966 a Wheels article praised the Valiants for a having a high resale value and 12% of the new-car market. "From the beginning it set a new standard in has a very enviable record for faithful service."

They also considered Valiant to be "a biggish car" and noted that the standard American 13 inch wheels were replaced by 14 inch wheels in Australia; they said that the average driver with an automatic would get around 21 mpg. "The Chrysler Torqueflite transmission is one of the smoothest and trouble-free units in the world, even when compared to Mercedes Benz and Rolls Royce."

But Wheels writers did not hold back with things they were not impressed by and wrote "that the greatest wear areas were brakes, tires, and suspensions; the standard shocks needed replacement by local units within as little as 6,000 miles, though the torsion bars were apparently more than rugged enough. Brakes were seen as adequate around town but insufficient for multiple high speed stops, with wear distance between 9,000 and 32,000 miles on the pads. The clutch was apparently heavy and not strongly attached given the switch to right hand drive." The short life of the points was also criticized; but that would be resolved with the introduction of electronic ignition in the 1970s.

VC Regal V8Other motoring writers of the day also noted how the Valiant V8's suffered from noticeable under steer, something many forgave when the Valiant was the only Aussie family sedan fitted with a V8, but with the new competition closer attention was being paid to the Valiant's handling, or perceived lack of it.

In February 1966 Australia converted to decimal currency, with 1 pound equalling two dollars. The base model VC's was priced at $2490, a $10 increase over the previous model. The most expensive model in the range, the V8 Safari Wagon, now sold for $3590. Cheapest in the VC range was the Wayfarer Ute selling for only $2128.

In 1967, Chrysler opened a new engine plant in Lonsdale, and hit third place in national sales with over 13% market share which was similar to its position in the United States. By this time, an average of 95% of each car was locally produced.

By the end of production, 65,634 VC Valiant’s were manufactured.  



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© go_charger 16 August 2013