Strong thought-pro­vok­ing con­tent, myths de­bunked, facts only, no nu­dity. Writ­ten by Gavin Farmer.

Australian Muscle Car - - R-Rated -

It’s amaz­ing what’s still com­ing out of the wood­work from Chrysler Aus­tralia’s hey­day. While we were re­search­ing AMC #80’s story on the V8 Pacer racer, we came across some im­ages that were su­per­flu­ous for that story but would be of in­ter­est to AMC read­ers in another con­text.

While many Chrysler en­thu­si­asts will know that the Charger pro­gram was out­side the scope of the orig­i­nal VH pro­gram – as signed off by Chrysler Aus­tralia Lim­ited’s head hon­cho David Brown and the Chrysler hi­er­ar­chy in High­land Park, Michigan – the fact that it was an un­planned ad­di­tion has be­come part of the folk­lore sur­round­ing the coupe. It was very much an off-the-reser­va­tion pro­ject con­ducted in se­crecy at Ton­s­ley Park.

As lo­cal styling chief Brian Smyth said, “It was one of those once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­ni­ties that we stylists dream about. It was un­doubt­edly the high­light of my automotive ca­reer!”

Like all fairy­tales, it had an un­unusual ges­ta­tion and sur­pris­ingly some of Smyth’s orig­i­nal sletches have sur­vived against all the odds. I say sur­pris­ingly, be­cause so much of Chrysler Aus­tralia’s history in the pho­to­graphic sense was tossed into the rub­bish bin by so-called man­agers who re­ally should have known bet­ter.

When I viewed them I im­me­di­ately thought of the XB Ford Fal­con, be­cause from the rear the sketches have a slightly Fal­con ap­pear­ance. And the way the tail­lights were an­gled in shape was rem­i­nis­cent of the 1966 Dodge Monaco, the styling of which hap­pened to be a Smyth favourite. But as Smyth said, “Those sketches rep­re­sented our ini­tial ideas of what could be pos­si­ble, they were never de­fin­i­tive.”

In­deed, what Smyth and his small team of nine col­lab­o­ra­tors were try­ing to achieve with these ideas was only to look at what kind of pack­ag­ing could be pos­si­ble. Af­ter all, the de­ci­sion had been made by David Brown, Walt McPher­son and Roy Rains­ford to shorten the car’s wheel­base from 111- to 105-inches, a re­duc­tion of 6-inches which would have had a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on the in­te­rior’s roomi­ness.

The most amaz­ing part of this whole pro­ject was that it took around three months from go to whoa! The clos­est to this re­mark­able achieve­ment was that of Mike Sim­coe and the last Holden Monaro.

Late one Thurs­day af­ter­noon in Novem­ber 1969, Roy Rains­ford wheeled into Smyth’s stu­dio a sec­tioned body of a pro­to­type VH sedan, and the doors and roof panel from the Chrysler by Chrysler hard­top, the de­sign of which had al­ready been signed-off. Smyth re­mem­bered it thus, “We worked al­most non-stop un­til the fol­low­ing Tues­day and in that time I com­pleted a se­ries of sketches and the modellers com­pleted mock­ing up in clay a new rear end based on my sketches. Can you imag­ine that hap­pen­ing to­day? I don’t think so!”

At first they tried to model it us­ing the roof press­ing from the CH hard­top, but Smyth (cen­tre of group photo) re­mem­bered that its pro­por­tions were all wrong and so in the end only the doors were used, at least ini­tially. Hav­ing now built a full-sized mockup of the Rebel, as it was called at the time, the team com­pleted a com­pre­hen­sive port­fo­lio of the se­cret car in prepa­ra­tion for Brown, McPher­son and Rains­ford trav­el­ling to Honolulu where they were to meet up with col­leagues from Chrysler In­ter­na­tional. The key

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