Chrysler Valiant VF

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Chrysler Valiant VF


Chrysler Valiant VF

1969 - 1970
Slant 6 & V8
3.7 litre Low/High Comp, 5.2 litre V8
120/130/172 kW
3 spd. man / 3 spd. "TorqueFlite" auto
Top Speed:
109 mph / 175 km/h (V8)
Number Built:
3 star
Chrysler Valiant VF
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3


Ask someone which model Valiant is their favourite, and the most likely answer will be either the one they currently own, or the one they regret parting with. 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.

By 1969 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. Chrysler had no specific performance model, even though the V8 was far from being lethargic. Nevertheless the perceived lack of a sports-minded model was having a definite knock-on effect at the showroom, although not enough to cause any panic at Chrysler Australia HQ.

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 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 tractable. Perhaps Chrysler had hoped for a better power figure than was achieved, as the company never published an “official” power output figure for the pacer.

The tweaked slant six was mated to a Borg Warner three-speed floor-shift gear box, a welcome return reminiscent of the layout of the original R Series. But there was one small problem however; the transmission used a “H” layout, with reverse gear being directly above first and without any lock-out! This rather strange set-up was at odds with the layout being fitted to almost all other cars, and would obviously have caused countless minor “accidents” as those accustomed to the more traditional layout speed away from the traffic lights…backwards.

The gear-box layout aside, the Pacer was indeed a performance machine, boasting finned drum brakes front and rear (with power front discs available as an option), front anti-roll bar and a low restriction exhaust system. The suspension was lowered by half an inch, even though it still used the now dated torsion bar system.

Inside there were high-back reclining seats, while the instruments were finished in white with black lettering, while a tachometer was mounted on top of the panel. Motoring writers of the day declared they were able to achieve the 17.5 second quarter mile, and the car was good for a top speed of 173 km/h (108 mph). Chrysler had even considered the manufacture of a Pacer wagon, however after the manufacture of two pre-production cars the idea was shelved.

The Luxury Regal 770 Replaces The VIP

At the luxury end came the Regal 770, similar in specification to the VIP and marketed as its replacement, it would allow 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, while a wider range of seating arrangements were offered. In anticipation of new government legislation during the production cycle of the VF, Chrysler increased the number of safety features including a full length padded instrument panel and energy-absorbing steering column. NVH was improved with the fitment of more and superior sound proofing material, and the VF was the first Valiant to offer the option of a factory installed air-conditioning system.

All models benefited from the styling makeover, which included a new grille, headlights and tail lights, while the front turn signal indicators were integrated into the top of the front guards and looked simply sensational. The downside to the good looks of the front indicator system was that the signals themselves were rather difficult to see, particularly on sunny days. The sedans also featured unusual repeater lights at the rear. There was now a wider range of metallic paint finishes available to all models excluding the Pacer, which was limited to a range of only three colours, Wild Red, Wild Blue and Wild Yellow.

A “Sure-Grip” limited slip differential was offered as an option across the entire range, the slant six models fitted with a ratio of 3.23:1 while 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. The entry level asking price was $2598, and went to $3628 for the Regal 770 sedan. Cheap – No. Good Value – Yes.

Under Fire From The Fairlane And Brougham

In the large car market the Ford Fairlane was now being challenged by the General’s new “Brougham” model, and with healthy sales it was obvious that Chrysler also needed to plug a gap in its model lineup. The all new VIP was released in May 1969, the announcement reading…”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”.

Available in sedan form only, the VIP had a wheelbase of 2850mm, some 100mm longer than the Valiant. Dual headlights were fitted up front, while a beautifully elegant rear tail lamp assembly adorned the rear. Arguably the best touch though was the rear window treatment, the thickly padded vinyl roof embellishing the lines of the window to create what Chrysler correctly described as a “limousine” look. The purchaser could choose from either the 120 kW slant six or 172 kW Fireball V8, the 130 kW slant six being reserved for the Pacer.

As you would expect, equipment levels on the VIP were high. Among the many features were full carpeting, armrests to all doors and in the centre of both front and rear seats, heater-demister, dual horns, courtesy lamps to both boot and engine bay, a vanity mirror mounted inside the glove-box, soft grip steering wheel, distinctive wheel trims and fake wood-grain finish to the instrument panel and door trim and white-wall tyres.

The New Valiant VIP

And just as Ford had done with their Fairlane, Chrylser offered a “family special” VIP, fitted with a front bench seat. Coaxial power steering and front power assisted disc brakes were standard fare for the VIP V8, and were optional on the 6. The V8 had the transmission selector lever mounted in a floor console, while integrated air-conditioning remained an option (but many purchasers wisely opted for its inclusion). The base price for the VIP was $3598 for the slant six version, and $3998 for the V8.

Following the success of the 4 door Pacer, and in an attempt to swing some customers away from the Generals 2 door Monaro Coupe, Chrysler released the VF Valiant Hardtop in September 1969 in both slant six and V8 versions. Many thought the new model would be a genuine attempt by Chrysler to take on the likes of the Monaro and Falcon GT, however they would have been disappointed to find the hardtop a more luxury oriented vehicle than outright muscle car.

The size was always going to count against it in the performance stakes, it being somewhat of a behemoth, the 2820mm (111 inch) wheelbase falling just short of the VIP’s. The massive (but impressively beautiful) tail section from the door rearwards extended just over 5000mm (200 inches), 100mm longer than the VIP! It was, and remains the longest coupe ever built in Australia – even the door openings were a vast 1070mm in width.

Model designations for the Hardtops remained the same, Valiant, Regal and Regal 770, with trim and specification levels remaining in line with the smaller iterations. The sheet-metal forward of the windscreen was obviously Valiant sedan, allowing Chrysler to retain the required local content quota while helping keep the cost of manufacture as low as possible. Rearwards of the windscreen was another matter, the remainder of the body panels being imported from the US.

A range of two-tone and vinyl roof finishes were available. As was the Fireball 318 V8 engine. Despite its size, the Hardtop was not the unruly beast that many thought a car of its proportion should be. Thanks to the already well sorted chassis and Chryslers careful attention to detail, the car remained well disciplined and turned into corners well, although always with a hint of traditional Valiant under-steer. Perhaps its biggest obstacle was not on the windy stuff, but in the supermarket car-parks across the country. The Hartops prices started at $2898, rising to $3838 for the Regal 770.

By productions end, some 52,944 VF Valiant’s were manufactured, clearly indicating the decision to broaden the Valiant model lineup was working. Unfortunately it came at considerable cost, the question would remain if the decision to create such a stellar line up was the right one. For those lucky enough to own a VF Pacer, VIP or Hardtop today, the answer is unquestionably yes!

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Also see:

Valiant Colour Codes
Valiant Option Codes
Valiant VF Specifications
Chrysler Valiant History
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