From Q to G  . . . .  Some History




VF

 

At the beginning of 1969, and even though the V8 was far from lethargic, Chrysler Australia had no specific performance model and it was clear that the youth of the day were keen to get behind the wheel of something a little more spirited than the average family sedan. The perceived lack of a sports themed model was having a definite effect at the showroom, although it was not enough to cause any panic at Chrysler Australia HQ.

VF Valiant Front StylingIn March 1969, the VE was replaced by the VF model. The new car shared its middle section with the previous VE Valiant, but there was new front and rear styling. All models benefited from the styling makeover, which saw the front turn signal indicators integrated into the top of the front guards and looked extraordinary. This allowed the VF's front bumper to be thinner and less prominent, which made the single round headlights look larger, and the front end appeared more aggressive as a result. The downside to the good looks of the front indicator system was that the turn signals themselves were rather difficult to see, particularly on sunny days.

Other changes to the new front end featured a horizontally convex grille, replacing the VE's concave design. The sedans featured unusual repeater lights at the rear and the VF was the first Valiant to offer the option of a factory installed air-conditioning system for an extra $460 available across the range. There was now a wider range of metallic paint finishes available to all models excluding the new model Pacer, which was limited to a range of only three colours, Wild Red, Wild Blue and Wild Yellow.

LA 318 ci V8 (5.2 Litres)Valiant and Valiant Regal models continued to be available, with the addition to the VF range of the Valiant Regal 770 and an upgraded VIP model. The VIP was introduced two months after the Valiant range but was now marketed as a Chrysler VIP and offered in sedan form only. The Chrysler VIP was designed around a stretched (112 inches or 2800 millimetres) wheelbase, with longer rear doors than the Valiant. As with the previous model changes, the VF provided even more safety features including a padded instrument panel and energy absorbing steering column.

The slant six cylinder engine and the various transmissions remained unchanged, with the exception of the V8 which was enlarged to 318 cubic inches (5.2 litres). Two versions were available, one with 210 bhp, the other the "Fireball" V8 developing 230 bhp. As with previous models the V8 was only available with the Torqueflite automatic transmission.

Red VF PacerIn mid 1969, Chrysler released a new model the fast four-door Valiant Pacer, a low-cost, high-power version of the Valiant sedan. The Pacer featured a high-performance six-cylinder engine and three-speed manual gearbox with floor shifter.

Based very closely on the US Dodge Dart, the Pacer was menacing, powerful, a great drive and cheaper than its competition. Identified by a black and red grille treatment, red paint-filled boot lid moulding, sports style faux mag wheel covers, narrow waist high body striping and Pacer 225 insignia.

The Pacer was powered by a high-compression (having been increased from 8.4:1 to 9.2:1) version of the "Slant Six" engine. Fitted with a two barrel carburettor and high-flow exhaust system the engine was good for 175 bhp (130 kW) and provided huge torque. Chrysler may have expected greater power output from its tuned 225 engine than was achieved, as the company never published an "official" power output figure for the Pacer engine.

The tuned slant six was coupled to a Borg Warner three-speed floor-shift gear box. The transmission used an "H" layout, but there was an issue with reverse gear being directly above first, and no lock-out. This pattern was very different to the layout used in almost all other cars, and attributed to many minor "accidents" when drivers accustomed to the more traditional layout would accelerate away from the traffic lights .  .  .  . backwards into vehicles behind them.

Pacer InteriorEven with the gear-box layout quirk, the Pacer was a performance vehicle with finned drum brakes front and rear (power front discs available as an option), front anti-roll bar, optional Sure-Grip differential and suspension lowered by half an inch.

The sparsely-trimmed interior featured high-back reclining seats, the instruments were finished in white with black lettering, and a tachometer was mounted on top of the panel.

At $2798, the Pacer was $400 cheaper than the base GTS Monaro and although not offered with a V8 like its rivals, the Pacer could reach a top speed of 108 mph (174 km/h) and was capable of 69 mph (112 km/h) in second and 42 mph (68 km/h) in first. A sprint to 100 km/h took 10.8 seconds and over the standing quarter mile the Pacer crossed the line in 17.8 seconds while returning 23 mpg. Chrysler had even considered the manufacture of a Pacer wagon; however after the manufacture of two pre-production cars the idea was shelved.

Following the success of the Pacer, and in an attempt draw customers away from the Holden 2 door Monaro Coupe, Chrysler released the VF Valiant Hardtop in September 1969. Those who thought the new model was an attempt by Chrysler to take on the likes of the Holden Monaro and the Ford Falcon GT were disappointed to find the new hardtop aimed more at the prestige market than the sporty vehicle driver, despite its sporting overtones.

VF HardtopModel designations for the Hardtops followed those for the rest of the Valiant range, Valiant, Regal and Regal 770, with the trim and specifications in line with other variants. The sheet-metal forward of the windscreen was that of the Valiant sedan, which retained the required local content quota while helping keep the cost of manufacture as low as possible. Rearwards of the windscreen the remainder of the body panels were imported from the US.

Size was always going to be a negative in the performance stakes for the Hardtop, with a 111 inches (2820mm) wheelbase and at nearly 17 feet (5 metres) long, it was, and remains the longest coupe ever built in Australia; even the door openings were massive at 42 inches (1070mm) in width. The immense tail section from the door rearwards extended just over 200 inches (5000mm), 4 inches (100mm) longer than the VIP.

The VF Hardtop was available with six or eight cylinder engines and either automatic or manual transmissions with steering column mounted shift levers. The old 273 engine was replaced by the larger 210 bhp 318 cu in (5.2 L) version of the LA V8. and slant six was a retuned version developing 160 bhp. Transmission options remained the same: three-speed manual or three-speed TorqueFlite automatic.

The Hardtop was offered with a range of two-tone and vinyl roof finishes, and the optional bigger "Fireball" 230 bhp 318 V8 engine. Despite its size, the Hardtop was not a wallowing float that many thought a car of its proportion should be. A well sorted chassis and Chrysler's careful attention to detail, provided a car that remained well disciplined and turned into corners well, albeit with a hint of under-steer. If anything the biggest obstacle to driving the huge Hardtop was not an open windy road, but manoeuvring in a supermarket car-park. The Hardtop's prices started at $2898, rising to $3838 for the Regal 770.

VF Regal 770 InteriorIn the luxury vehicle range Chrysler offered the Regal 770, similar in specification to the VIP and marketed as its replacement. The Regal 770 enabled the manufacture of an even bigger and more up-market VIP to follow. The 5.2 litre "Fireball" 318 V8 replaced the 4.4 litre 273 V8, and a wider range of seating arrangements was offered.

A "Sure-Grip" limited slip differential was offered as an option across the entire range, the slant six models were fitted with a ratio of 3.23:1 and the V8's were fitted with a 2.92:1 ratio, although the latter was also available as an option to the six cylinder cars, as was a third ratio of 3.5:1.

During the production cycle of the VF, and in anticipation of new government legislation, Chrysler increased the number of safety features including a full length padded instrument panel and energy-absorbing steering column. Noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) was improved with the fitment of additional superior sound proofing material. The entry level asking price was $2598, and went to $3628 for the Regal 770 sedan.

Chrysler needed to plug a gap in its model range in the large car market, as the Ford Fairlane was now being contested by the Holden "Brougham" model which was returning healthy sales figures. Chrysler introduced the all new VIP in May 1969, with the announcement; "Chrysler Australia Ltd is to enter the luxury segment of the larger popular vehicles with a long wheelbase car intermediate between its Valiant range and Dodge Phoenix. The new car will be marketed as VIP by Chrysler".

The VIP was available in sedan form only and had a wheelbase of 112 inches (2850mm), which was 4 inches (100mm) longer than the Valiant. It was styled with dual headlights and an elegant tail lamp assembly adorned the rear. It had a rear window treatment that was accented by a thickly padded vinyl roof that embellished the lines of the window to create what Chrysler described as a "limousine" look. The VIP by Chrysler customer could choose from either the 160 bhp (120 kW) slant six or 230 bhp (172 kW) Fireball V8, the 175 bhp (130 kW) slant six being reserved for the Pacer.

VF VIP rearSpecification levels on the VIP by Chrysler were high; included among the many features were full carpeting, armrests on all doors and in the centre of both front and rear seats, heater-demister, dual horns, courtesy lamps in the boot and engine bay, a vanity mirror mounted inside the glove-box, soft grip steering wheel, distinctive wheel trims and fake wood-grain finish on the instrument panel and door trims, and white-wall tyres. Coaxial power steering and front power assisted disc brakes were standard on the VIP by Chrysler V8 variant, and were offered as an option on the 6 model. The V8 version had the transmission selector lever mounted in a floor console, although integrated air-conditioning remained an option many purchasers opted to have the car delivered with it installed. Chrysler also offered a "family special" VIP by Chrysler, which was fitted with a front bench seat.

The base price for the VIP was $3598 for the slant six version, and $3998 for the V8. In 1969,

Chrysler's market share reached 13.7%. Another important commercial factor was that Chrysler had now reached the 95% local content plateau and in some models local content was as high as 97%. This was achieved when all Valiant panels became exclusively Australian pressings.

By the end of its production run, 52,944 VF Valiant's were manufactured. 

 

   
   


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© go_charger 16 August 2013