Chrysler Valiant VG

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Chrysler Valiant VG


Chrysler Valiant VG

1969 - 1970
Hemi 6 & V8
4.0 ltr 6 & 5.2 ltr V8.
123/138/146kW Hemi
3 spd. man / 3 spd. TorqueFlite and Borg-Warner auto
Top Speed:
109 mph / 175 km/h (V8)
Number Built:
3 star
Chrysler Valiant VG
Chrysler Valiant VG
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3


Those waiting anxiously for the release of the VG Valiant were in for considerable disappointment if they were expecting loads of new sheet metal. As far as updates go, externally at least, the transition from VE to VG was almost a non event. But ask any Valiant fan and they will tell you the minor body changes were not what made this model so important, and spectacular, for those with performance at heart.

Differentiating the VG 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.

There were restyled rear tail lamps, and a slightly revised grille and badge set. Indeed Chrysler did not make any claims as to better roadholding or improved ride. And square headlights did not a new model make – so what was it about the VG that had everyone, fans and detractors alike, sit up and take notice of the new Valiant?

The answer lay under the bonnet with the new Australian made 4 litre “Hemi” 245 engine. As Chrysler put it…”After five years development work by a team of engineers at Lonsdale (SA), Chrysler Australia has introduced a completely new six-cylinder engine to give its 1970 Valiant range a power and fuel economy advantage over all other six cylinder engined cars produced in Australia. Chrysler believes the new engine, named the Hemi 245, to be the most advanced six-cylinder power plant made anywhere in the world”. A pretty bold claim – but as it turned out it was right on the money.

Apart from the hydraulic valve lifter, the Hemi was an all-Australian affair, and demonstrated both Chryslers commitment to its Australian outpost and the veritable large capacity six cylinder engine. Chrysler backed the “big six” as the engine of choice for most Aussie motorists – it standing in contrast to the approach taken by the General, with their small capacity 4.2 litre V8 obviously appealing to the same market; it is worth noting that Chrysler spent some 33 million in the development of the Hemi, while GMH had spent a more modest 22 million on the development of the 253 V8.

Tracing The Origins Of The Hemi

The origins of the Hemi can be traced back to the US when, in 1966, the Chrysler engineers began their development of the “D” engine intended for use in a range of medium sized trucks. Before any Ford or Holden fans start to grin at the more utilitarian origins of the Hemi, it was only a few short months after work had begun in the US that the Australian engineers started their own development – and to a level of perfection rarely seen outside the more glamorous European marques.

Starting with a single-cylinder development unit, once the configuration was sorted the decision came down to which would be the best configuration. A single overhead camshaft version, along with a V6 version were considered, before the adoption of the overhead valve “straight-six” design was finalised. The original prototype engines were made in the US, identical units then being manufactured at Chryslers Lonsdale (SA) facility.

The majority of the design detail was developed in Australia, with Chrysler setting up a new Engine Design and Development Department in early 1967, this division then completely taking over the development of the engine. The engineers used then current VF Valiant’s, designated as “VFX”, to trial the new Hemi 245 engines – allowing the engine to be fully and properly evaluated prior to its release in the VG. The Hemi engine was of oversquare design with hydraulic tappets and a seven bearing cast-iron crankshaft, and combined the technological innovations incorporated it was unarguably the most advanced Aussie six cylinder engine of the day.

The engines moniker was derived from the hemispherical combustion chambers, the hemispherical head allowing the use of larger intake and exhaust valves to bring about improved flow of the fuel-air mixture and the exhaust gases. It also allowed the valves to be placed in better positions to facilitate the swirl of gases inside the combustion chamber. 16% more powerful and 18kg lighter than the slant-six it replaced, a really good motor was quite literally being replaced by a great one.

Three Hemi versions were offered; the 123kW (165 bhp) unit was fitted to the base Valiant, while the VIP, Regal 770 and Hardtop came fitted with the 138kW (185 bhp) two barrel carburettor version, this iteration also featuring a modified camshaft. Best of all was the high performance unit, fitted exclusively to the Pacer model. Once again Chrysler offered no specific power claims for the engine, however testing by motoring authorities of the day put it at somewhere between 142-146kW (190-195 bhp).

Each of the three Hemi’s came with their own colour scheme, the base 245 single barrel version having a red block and silver rocker cover and air cleaner with matching white fan; the 245 two barrel Hemi had a red block and “black crackle” rocker cover and air cleaner, again with a white fan.  The high-performance Pacer engine featured an orange-red block, yellow rocker cover and air cleaner, and a white fan. Each carried a decal bearing the words “Made solely in Australia – By Chrysler”.

It was obvious to all that Chrysler Australia were proud of their new engine, and with good reason. Motoring commentators of the day were quick to praise the Hemi’s ample torque and reserves of power, although some criticism was levelled at the high end harshness of the new motor. Not helping matters was the need for Chrysler to quietly phase out the US built TorqueFlite automatic in favour of the Borg Warner three speed unit so as to increase local content on the VG. While the Borg Warner box was clearly less smooth than the TorqueFlite, the gear ratios and torque converter proved a much better match to the new engine.

As previously mentioned, Chrysler had invested heavily in the development of the Hemi, spending some 33 million dollars along the way, and so it was only natural that the company went to great lengths to promote the new engine. Stirling Moss, then retired, was shipped out to Australia to join the publicity campaign, he appearing in a series of lavish commercials extolling the virtues of the all new motor.

The VG was offered in a myriad of different model configurations, with manual and automatic transmissions available, along with three types of Hemi 245 engine, as well as the 318 V8 and the 225 (although this was mainly built for use in export models). To help streamline the production line, the V8 was made available as an option on only the Regal Safari, Regal 770 and VIP models. The Pacer 245 still featured the awkward three-speed manual gearbox, while the Regal 770 sedan and Hardtop had automatic as standard, all other models were available in manual and/or automatic depending on the selected engine.

Base VG Valiant’s featured new black protection mouldings running the full length of the body sides, while larger Valiant emblem hubcaps were used throughout the range. The front guard badges denoted each models Hemi 245 engine category, this also being featured on the rear of the cars. The Regal featured new wheel arch mouldings, larger hubcaps with Regal emblems and a full-width feature panel on the rear deck. New trim materials were offered and a new look instrument panel, with different cluster face dependant upon the model, also featured an open face instrument cluster design. The Regal sported an up-market (but fake) wood-grain dash surround, and both the Regal 770 and Pacer were fitted with a tachometer.

The Pacer had new lower seats and front and rear carpet replacing the former models rubber floor mats. You could also order an optional “Mod Pak” which included black bonnet black-outs (to reduce sun glare), along with spoiler stripes along the sides and across the boot – this option proved very popular. Also introduced in the VG range were ventilated disc brakes –albeit without power assistance. So well sorted were the new disc brakes that, in non-boosted form, they required the same amount of effort as the drum brakes of old. The non-boosted disc brakes were fitted as standard to the Pacer, two-barrel six cylinder Regal and all VIP models.

Another Chrysler Australia First, Standard Air-Conditioning

In 1970 the VIP became the first Australian made car to be fitted with air-conditioning as standard. The up-market Chrysler was also fitted with an electric clock, and came standard with the 138kW hemi 245 engine, with the 172kW V8 available as an option. If you did tick the option box for the V8, Chrysler threw in a push button radio as well! The base 245 VG sold for $2686, with the automatic Regal selling for $3483 in six cylinder form, with the 770 V8 selling for $3748.

The top-of-the-range VIP automatic optioned with V8 sold for $4332, while the Pacer sold for $3229. The middle of the range Regal was to make up approximately 60% of Valiant sales. In August 1970 Chrysler added to their model line-up by combining two popular models, coming up with the now highly collectable two-door Hardtop. This new iteration was some 190mm (7 inches) longer, and naturally enough was fitted with the same high-performance Hemi 245 as the standard Pacer.

The Hardtop Pacer and Mod-Pack

The Hardtop Pacer was came standard with the “Mod Pack”, while the bucket seats were positioned lower in line with other Valiant Hardtop models. Priced at $3178 few would know at the time just how collectable the Hardtop Pacer would be, but one thing is for sure, they knew it was desirable. Available in Bondi Bleach White, Thar She Blue, Little Hood Riding Red, Hot Mustard and the ever popular Hemi Orange, the interior trim colours were a little more restrained, being in red, neutral and black.

Such was the deserved popularity of the Pacer – few could challenge their straight line performance – that they maintained a market leading share in the six cylinder performance car sector. Given the cars popularity, it is such a shame that the 340 V8 VG sedan complete with Hurst floor shift mated to four speed manual transmission was produced. There was a prototype, that obviously proved to be blindingly quick, however the development never progressed beyond the prototype stage.

In 1970 Chrysler finally achieved the requested 96% Australian component content, the following year Chrysler ceasing manufacture of the enduring slant six engine that had remained in production, predominantly for fitment to export Valiant’s. By the end of production some 46,374 VG Valiant’s had been manufactured – somewhat disappointing given the brilliance of the Hemi. Many believed the heavy discounting on the previous VF, combined with the almost invisible exterior makeover kept some buyers away. That some overlooked such a brilliant car is understandable, even though it was blatantly the wrong decision.

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Also see:

Valiant Colour Codes
Valiant Option Codes
Valiant VG Specifications
Chrysler Valiant History
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