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".
Also see: Chrysler Valiant History