Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Plymouth Valiant was an automobile manufactured by the Plymouth division of Chrysler Corporation in the United States from 1960 to 1976. It was created to give the company an entry in the compact car market which was emerging in the late 1950s. The vehicle was sold in Australia (and other export markets such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand) as the Chrysler Valiant.
The Valiant appeared in 1960 as its own marque and was advertised as the Valiant by Chrysler Corp. For 1961, it was assigned to Plymouth, while Dodge's 1961 version was called the Lancer. The 1960–1962 Valiant and Lancer rode on a 106.5" wheelbase.
The Valiant was not nearly as radical as the competition from GM, the Chevrolet Corvair, which was rear-engined and air-cooled. It was considered more daring than the also-new Ford Falcon, however. The Falcon was totally conventional, while the Valiant boasted fairly radical styling and a new engine configuration, the famous Chrysler Slant 6 engine, which had its cylinders inline but canted sharply to one side.
Chrysler used the name Valiant in Canada from 1960 and 1961, again as a stand alone product, but applied to a full sized Dodge bodied car with Plymouth trim. Chrysler products manufactured by marrying parts from one make to another specifically for the Canadain markets were nicknamed Plodges. After 1963, Valiants sold in Canada were Plymouth by brand and were almost identicial to their American counterparts.
The Valiant was mildly refreshed for 1963, with a shorter 106" wheelbase. The Valiant was successful, and as was the usual Detroit practice, several different models were spun off it. Dodge's Lancer was renamed the Dart with this redesign, and it rode on a longer 111" wheelbase. The Plymouth Barracuda, often considered the first pony car, was built off the Valiant platform in 1964. This generation featured a station wagon version, but this bodystyle was not continued in 1967. Also manufactured for the 1963 through 1966 model years was a five passenger convertible.
The Valiant/Dart line reached its greatest heights after a total redesign in 1967, with the wheelbase now 108". This generation acquired an excellent mechanical reputation and produced such hot-selling variants as the 1970-1976 Plymouth Valiant Duster/Dodge Dart Swinger and 1971-1973 Plymouth Scamp/Dodge Demon. A stretched version of this chassis was used for the Dodge Challenger. But the Barracuda got its own platform after 1969. There was a Dodge Demon for 1971 and 1972, and a Dodge Dart Sport from 1973 to 1976.
With these cars Chrysler took 40% of the total US compact market in the early ’70s. They also enjoyed considerable success in foreign markets, where they were often assembled by Chrysler affiliates or subsidiaries.
It was also on this platform that the Australian Valiants began differing from their US counterparts, particularly with the VE series of 1968, the VF series of 1969 and the VG of 1970, where the four-door sedan had a different, though related, bodyshell.
The Australian Chrysler Valiant was revamped for 1971 to the VH series and included a short-wheelbase fastback model called the Charger , favoured for club sports due to its six-cylinder Hemi engine. Other model variants included a sedan, a station wagon, a pick-up ('Ute') and two long-wheelbase luxury models, a two-door hardtop coupé and a four-door. The latter was called, ridiculously, the ‘Chrysler by Chrysler’, while the coupé was officially known as the Chrysler Hardtop. The Australian models featured swoopier bodywork than their American counterparts.
Chrysler was not that consistent with its use of its own name. As with the United States in 1959, Valiant was considered a separate marque by Chrysler Australia , and the first 1970s Mitsubishi Galants sold in Australia were badged as Valiant Galants.
The VJ series, with some revisions, débuted in 1973. The VK was launched in 1975.
The CL took over in 1976, with a more formal grille. A panel van version (including a sports version called the Drifter) was added in this model series, and the long-wheelbase models were dropped. The Charger was cancelled after 1978. The late-1970s models were not known for good build quality.
The CM was released in 1980 and was cancelled in 1981.
Mitsubishi Motors Australia , which took over Chrysler's Australian operations, did not renew the Valiant, although there had been some development work in Detroit on project 'CM-41', a boxier replacement reminiscent of the Dodge St. Regis and Plymouth Gran Fury of 1979, that was to have been launched in 1980.
In fact, under-bonnet compliance plates for the Valiant began to have the Mitsubishi name on them with the Chrysler name being mentioned as used 'under licence'.
The Valiant was refreshed again in 1974, getting the Dart's long 111" wheelbase. In 1976, the Valiant and Dart were replaced by the somewhat larger Plymouth Volaré and Dodge Aspen, which unfortunately did not maintain their predecessors' reputation for quality. The change hurt Chrysler's reputation and profitability, contributing to its near-bankruptcy in 1979.
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