Chrysler Royal, Valiant and Centura Reviews and Road Tests

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Chrysler Australia

In 1951 Chrysler Australia came into being when the American company bought a controlling interest in Chrysler Dodge Distributors (Australia) Pty Ltd. This previously wholly owned Australian company had been formed in 1935. It was the result of eighteen Chrysler distributors getting together to improve their bargaining position with Detroit. Previously each had dealt independently. Soon after Chrysler-Dodge Distributors was formed, it bought a controlling Interest in T.J. Richards and Sons, the Keswick, South Australian body builders. Richards and Sons had been designing and building bodies for Imported Chrysler chassis. In 1937 they produced the first Australian all steel body before Holden. When Chrysler Corporation took over, it was with the intention of expanding operations In Australia aiming at an eventual 90% local content. This intention was actually announced before Ford made Its plans public, but Chrysler took considerably longer to get things under way. Meanwhile part manufacture and assembly of Chrysler Royal and Dodge Phoenix progressed.

In 1958 Chrysler took over 30% of Simca and began importing various examples of the French make. The first Valiant was announced in 1959 in the US, but it wasn't until 1962 that it made its appearance in Australia, assembled hers fror CKD kits. Less than 1100 were available so demand far exceeded supply, but further plans included $36 million expansion soon after the first locally manufactured Valiants appeared late in 1962. This was aimed at 50,000 units a year. In 1961 Chrysler sold 6,878 units of all makes in a market total lire 237,611 units. When the Valiants went into production this increase; to 16,921 units in a 323,546 unit market. Year by year Chryslers market share increased and in 1964 Tonsley Park in Adelaide was opened as a means of reaching this 50,000 unit goal.

In 1965 Chrysler took over Rootes Limited bringing Hillman and Humber cars, together with Commer trucks under Its wing In Australia. It also acquired Rootes Port Melbourne factory, although little by little its facilities were transferred to South Australia, leaving what remained for use by Australian Motor Industries - and ultimately Toyota. In 1966 the Lonsdale engine plant was going ahead well near Adelaide and things were looking rosey for Chrysler's biggest assembly facility outside North America, under the guidance of managing director David Brown. By 1967 Chrysler Australia had 13.5% of the Australian market and was third of the "Big Three", General Motors Holden, Ford and Chrysler. In some months it even beat Ford, but this success did not to last.

Sales began to decline in the late sixties and to bolster things a deal concluded with Mitsubishi to assemble the Galant. Despite every effort Chrysler fortunes continued to go from bad to worse until 1977 when ever increasing ties with Mitsubishi saw the Sigma enter local production. Sigma's star rose, so Valiants dropped closer to the horizon, and Mitsubishi increased its ownership of Chrysler Australia. The closing stages of the Japanese takeover saw Chrysler's complete assimilation and change the name to Mitsubishi Motors Australia. The final act came on August 1981 when the last link with Chrysler was cut and the 565,338th crept off the Tonsley Park line. Undoubtedly, towards the end, the Valiant was a severe embarrassment to the Japanese, but it was, in its final form, a pretty good car. To many Australians its final demise was a sad occasion.

Also see: Chrysler Australia History | The History of Chrysler (USA Edition)
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Chrysler Royal   

Chrysler Royal

1957 - 1964
The Royal was always a style-leader, but unfortunately was well beyond the price range of the majority of new-car buyers, and as such was overlooked by many when searching for their next new car. That makes them very rare, and highly collectable. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant R Series  

Chrysler Valiant "R" Series

1962 - 1962
Understanding the R series Valiant requires taking a look back in time so that the car can be put into perspective. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant "S" Series  

Chrysler Valiant "S" Series

1962 - 1963
The Valiant "S" series, or SV-1, was an evolution of the R Series, it continuing the theme of a US design being locally assembled. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant AP5  

Chrysler Valiant AP5

1963 - 1965
It was in 1963, with the introduction of the AP5, that Chrysler Australia began manufacturing Valiant’s rather than just assembling them. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant AP6  

Chrysler Valiant AP6

1965 - 1966
The Valiant AP6 was an evolution of the AP5, having a facelifted split grille and introducing to the range the V8 engined Valiant "Regal", along with the “Wayfarer” utility. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant VC  

Chrysler Valiant VC

1965 - 1966
The release of the VC Valiant heralded the true beginning of the “Battle of the Big Three”. The Chrysler stylists had been busy creating a car that looked longer, lower and sleeker than any previous model, even though it was basically only a facelift of the previous AP5/AP6 design. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant VE  

Chrysler Valiant VE

1967 - 1969
The Valiant VE was an all new design, the bodywork sharing some sheet-metal with the US Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart; despite the US content the VE was unquestionably the most Australian Valiant to date. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant VF  

Chrysler Valiant VF

1969 - 1970
For our money, the face-lifted VF ushered in a new elegance and style lacking in so much of the competition, and with the introduction of the “Pacer” Chrysler clearly indicated the new found good looks would be matched by equally impressive performance. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant VF Hardtop  

Chrysler Valiant VF Hardtop

1969 - 1970
Based on the Stateside Dodge Dart, the two door utilised VF front panels but from the bulkhead back was strictly imported metal. Chrysler began with the importation of Dart panels – although they were intending to switch to local pressing if production volume had warranted it. The profile was distinctly American Dodge with a very slight hipline kicking up just to the rear of the door. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant VG  

Chrysler Valiant VG

1970 - 1973
Differentiating the VF over its predecessor is a little like playing a “spot the difference” test in a weekly magazine. Externally there were very few differences, apart from the now rectangular front lights, while the interior remained almost identical in every way. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant VH  

Chrysler Valiant VH

1971 - 1973
There was a collective sigh from Valiant aficionados in 1971 with the release of the all-new VH, particularly with those salivating for new Chrysler sheet metal. More>>
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Chrysler by Chrysler CH Hardtop  

Chrysler by Chrysler CH

1971 - 1973
The Chrysler by Chrysler CH model was released in November 1971 in both two and four door models. Released as a replacement to the ever popular VIP model, the Chrysler CH moved even further up the luxury ladder, and was often described as a “limousine”. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant VJ  

Chrysler Valiant VJ

1973 - 1975
By the time of the release of the VJ Valiant, Chrysler’s market share was in its fourth consecutive year of decline. More>>
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Chrysler by Chrysler CJ  

Chrysler by Chrysler CJ

1973 - 1975
By 1973 the CJ version the Chrysler by Chrysler lowered its social status - and its price - a little by shedding some of its luxury trappings and moving down into the realms of its less lavishly-equipped competition. Judged in its own right, however, the Chrysler was a pretty fair match for its main opposition, the Fairlane and GMH's Statesman. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant Galant  

Chrysler Valiant Galant

1973 - 1976
The Valiant Galant was fitted with the gutsy, noisy 1600cc Saturn unit which Mitsubishi claimed produced 100 bhp at 6300 rpm. The engine was an interesting mixture of both modern and traditional features. For the time, it featured what many considered to be a sophisticated breathing system - single overhead cam, cross flow head, hemispherical combustion chambers, twin choke carburettor and smooth-l-branch exhaust manifold. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant VK/CK  

Chrysler Valiant VK/CK

1975 - 1976
The VK Valiant was yet another mild makeover of the previous VH and VJ models. The obligatory new grille design combined with a revised tail light assembly made up the more obvious of only a handful of changes, leaving many to ask why Chrysler had indeed bothered. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant CL  

Chrysler Valiant CL

1976 - 1978
The CL Valiant was supposed to be something special. Chrysler had been touting the fact that the all new Valiant VL would be an Australianised edition of the Plymouth Volare / Dodge Aspen intermediate sized car proving to be very popular in the US. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant CL  

Chrysler Valiant CL Panel Van, Drifter and LeBaron

1976 - 1978
The model range of the CL was certainly nowhere near the heady days of the VH series, when 56 different model variants were available. The development then of an entirely new model seemed at odds with the conservative approach being taken by Chrysler. More>>
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Chrysler Valiant CM

Chrysler Valiant CM

1978 - 1981
The last re-styling and packaging of the 1971 VH design was to be seen in the CM Series Valiant – unfortunately this would also be the last of the prestigious lineage of Valiant’s that had graced our shores since 1962’s introduction of the “R” series. More>>
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Chrysler Centura  

Chrysler Centura

1975 - 1977
Based on the French "Simca", the Centura was considered by many to be too little too late, being released in 1975, some 8 years after the Torana and TC Cortina had made inroads and established their market share. More>>
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