Chrysler Valiant Galant S2
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
The second generation Galant was one of the best and quickest small sedans of the early 1970's. It had a sporty feel which made it ideal raw material for enthusiasts who wanted to build up a real
little road rocket. And it was the second generation Galant that was
more widely exported as Mitsubishi's ambitions grew.
It was sold by Chrysler in many different guises; as the Dodge Colt in the United States, as the Plymouth Colt and Plymouth Cricket in Canada (from 1974), as the Colt Galant in Europe and as the Chrysler Valiant Galant in Australia. It was more curvaceous than the original (released in 1969), being influenced by then contemporary "coke-bottle" styling.
Australia was first introduced to the "Saturn" engine in 1300cc form, and then 1400, 1500 and 1600cc iterations. The Valiant Galant was fitted with the gutsy, noisy 1600cc Saturn unit
which Mitsubishi claimed produced 100 bhp at 6300 rpm. The Saturn 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
But it was an undersquare engine, in contrast to
nearly all other fours of the era, having a bore and
stroke of 77 mm x 86 mm.
The excellent induction/exhaust
setup gave plenty
of power at high revs - the engine was willing to keep
on winding out for as long as you were prepared to endure the noise. On the other hand, the undersquare design made
it a punchy performer at low speeds.
The Galant had the typical Nipponese gearbox - light,
notch-free and with excellent syncro - and many road reviews claim that it "felt more
robust" than other gearboxes then on offer.
The ratios were quite well chosen, though many thought a slight
closing of the gap between second and third would
have made spirited driving more enjoyable.
Even though the 2nd generation Galant had a taller final drive
ratio (3.889 as against 4.222 for the old 1300) it still
felt low geared when you were cruising in the mid
However, as speed rose, engine noise became less
of a problem and 80 mph was a relaxed
The Galant was one of the quickest 1600 cc cars
of the early 1970's, covering the standing quarter in the early 18s
and running to 95 mph in top. Down hill, and with a tail wind, it is claimed that 100mph was possible - although we have not unearthed any review that confirms this.
The Galant's handling
was safe and predictable,
but rather uninspiring.
It was a basic understeerer - perhaps a little too much so. In tight bends the Galant would turn to
oversteer tending to lift a rear wheel.
The response to throttle back off in sweepers was
commendably quick, but at high cornering speeds it was
accompanied by a little lurch which did not inspire confidence.
The Galant was shod with Dunlop SP41 radials as standard, which needed about 35 Ib. pressure in the front to keep
tyre scrub to an acceptable level during fast work. Most found 32 lb in the rears to be the ideal balance.
suffered from the familiar Japanese
vagueness in the straight ahead position rife on cars of the era, but
otherwise was quite light and transmitted a good deal of
road feel At 3.6 turns from lock to lock it was obvious that it could (and should) have been
more direct. The turning circle was 30.5 ft., large for a small car.
But the worst part about the steering
was the wheel
Not only was it huge, the rim
felt thin and slippery, and did not
compare well with the grippy leatherbound ones
you could option in the larger Valiants
In many respects the Galant was a conventionally designed
small sedan, which meant the ride was never going to be a high spot. But it did cope with rough going pretty well. The suspension's
biggest shortcoming was that it
allowed a good deal of pitching on short, sharp bumps.
Many test drivers seemed to think the Galants ride was excellent, but it is likely they thought the car's ride was better than it actually was
because the suspension
was devoid of the usual thumps and rattles.
Perhaps part of the reason was also due to the body's strength and tightness, which quickly set the benchmark for other manufacturers, Nipponese and European alike.
But, like most cars, there was always some bad news. Most at fault was the positioning of the pedals, which were cramped and caused the driver to hit their legs on the dash - in a word, the layout was diabolical. The seats lacked rearward travel and had excessively upright
backs - worse still they were not
adjustable for rake. The steering
wheel was adjustable, but it did not go far enough to helping you find a comfortable driving position.
Inside, the Galant was fitted with a radio as standard on the GL model and in the Japanese
tradition (which Chrysler were successfully maintaining)
everything worked well. The instruments were minimal - a strip speedometer
, temperature and a (inaccurate) fuel gauge.
For the driving enthusiast, these were things that could be sorted. Get rid of the ridiculously sized wheel, adjust the pedal layout, fit better (and adjustable) seats, wider wheels and adjustable dampers and you had a real pocket rocket in the making - the closest thing these days would be a "hot hatch".
Of course, things would improve as Mitsubishi introduced a range of larger 'Astron' engines developing up to 125 PS to complement the 'Saturn' units. During the second generation, the first Astron 80 engines were introduced using Mitsubishi's newly developed "Silent Shaft" balance shaft technology for reduced vibration and noise. Things were looking good - and the Galant's reputation for quality, performance and value for money ensured the success of its replacement - the very popular Chrysler Sigma.