By the late 1960’s it was clear that the young people of the day were keen to get behind the wheel of something a little more spirited than the average family sedan. Holden’s Monaro and Ford’s Falcon GT were quickly garnering stellar reputations, particularly on the racetrack; it was evident to even the most casual observer that Chrysler desperately needed a sports model in its line-up if it wanted to capture the hearts and minds of young, and young at heart.
Based very closely on the US Dodge Dart, the Pacer was the right car at the right time, menacing, powerful and most importantly, a great drive. Identified by a black and red grille treatment, red paint-filled boot lid moulding, sports style (albeit fake) mag wheel covers, narrow waist high body striping and Pacer 225 insignia, the first Pacer was powered by a high-compression version of the 3.69 litre “Slant Six” engine (the compression being raised from 8.4:1 to 9.2:1).
With the fitment of a two barrel carburettor, the engine was good for 130 kW (175 bhp) and offered truckloads of torque, making it extremely would benefit from the awesome power of the Hemi engines. Then with the release of the VH model came the wonderful Charger – as keenly sought today as it was back in the early 1970’s. The stunningly beautiful two-door design set the benchmark for Australian design, and under the skin the Charger was just as well sorted – balanced, powerful and always fun to drive, and be seen in, it should have paved the way for Chrysler to be the biggest of “The Big Three”.
But a hero car alone does not a profitable company make, and despite the brilliance of layout, design and brawn it, along with the rest of the Valiant range, would remain somewhat devoid of technical innovation throughout the 1970’s, allowing other far less spirited sporting pretenders to usurp the King. There was a time when the Charger accounted for 50% of Valiant sales, but by the time of the CL series this had dwindled to just 8%. But there are still plenty of baby boomers out there that say…"Hey Charger".
1969 - 1970
Some indication of the Pacer's accelerative ability can be taken from the fact that a Falcon GT from that era recorded 0-60 times in the high eight seconds bracket, while the Pacer could manage around 9.1 seconds – so while it may not have beaten the V8 monster in a straight line, it would loom large in the rear view mirror. More>>
1970 - 1973
The VG Pacer had a higher performance 265, and it set a record for being the fastest mass-produced four-door six cylinder sedan produced in Australia (the record was undisputed until 1988). The relatively inexpensive Pacer's 265 had 218 hp, leading to a 15.9 second quarter mile, 8 second 0-100 km/h, and top speed of 185 km/h - all with a 3 speed transmission! More>>
1970 - 1973
A new star rose on the Australian motoring scene in 1971, with the arrival in the VH Valiant range of the short wheelbase, fastback Charger. Chrysler's TV campaign featured the young adults at whom it was targeted, waving at one as it swept by them and shouting "Hey, Charger!" - one of the more memorable TV ads of the time, it created a cliché that haunts today's owners. More>>
1971 - 1973
What was so good about the E38? Up front it was all VH Valiant, which helped to keep the costs down. The rear end treatment was an entirely different story, but it was not extrordinary nor revolutionary. The E38 ran on a 105-inch-wheelbase, and apart from the highly developed Hemi, the Charger featured power disc brakes up front and drums at the rear, twin fuel fillers and 16.0:1 steering. That was it, basically. More>>
1973 - 1975
Despite the withdrawal from touring car racing, the Charger range had proved to be one of the most successful marketing moves ever made by Chrysler. The car was a breakaway from the established principle that coupe derivations of four door sedans should be priced into a slightly more exclusive market. Charger models were, in fact, about $100 cheaper than the nearest sedan equivalents. More>>