Aussie Valiants abroad
Fifty years ago this year Australian-built V8 Chrysler VC Valiants went on sale in the Old Dart. Dutch AMC reader George Koopman reminded us of this fact when he spotted a report in a 1966 issue of Autocar.
“Numbers would have been very limited despite the positive press reports. Now imagine what a Stirling Moss Special of the VC would have done in 1966. I bet a handsome amount would have been sold,” George enthused. “I was reminded of the VC being exported to Britain in ’66 after reading about the SMS in AMC #82.”
George was kind enough the scan the cover and the news story inside, which reads: “It’s a sign of the times that is possible, and indeed advantageous, to ship a car all the way from Australia and be able to sell it here for £200 less than the equivalent model imported from the USA. Preferential tariffs and the fact that Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road and use R.H.D. cars are two such good reasons behind this.
“Such a car is the Chrysler Valiant, the first Australian-built car to be offered on the Australian market. Imported by the Rootes Group, and distributed by Warwick Wright Ltd, it one of the tangible results of Rootes’ association with the Chrysler Corporation which has already given them valuable export outlets, through Chrysler dealers, in the USA, Europe and Australia.
“Six versions of the Valiant are available, based on two basic shells – a four-door saloon and an estate car.
“Simple and luxurious 6-cylinder models of the Valiant are known as the Medium (!) and Regal saloon and estate car. The vee-8 engined equivalent models are identified by the name Premium and are available with automatic transmissions only.
“We collected our test Premium saloon immediately after its presentation in London. A wet night in town is not the best place to get to know an unfamiliar, high-powered car. However, Australian tastes in steering ratios are obviously the same as our own, and the springing required to cope with the ‘outback’ gives a firm ride by American standards.
“Small by American standards, but large by ours, the 4,473cc Valiant vee-8 could not be faulted on the scores of starting, smoothness and freedom from flat spots.”
Meantime, Daniel O’Grady, an Australian living and working in Japan since 2001, and the man who last year tracked down an Aussiebuilt Isuzu Statesman in his adopted home, has been in contact with details of his next hunt. It’s a Chrysler 318 or 770 which were imported into Japan in the early 1970s.
Daniel, who operates carspotting website wasabicars.com, will no doubt eventually track down the Charger or Valiant in the land of the rising sun, if examples still exist.
So who will your your money be on to first deliver photographic evidence of these rare Aussie-built Chryslers? Daniel in Japan or George in Europe?