CK Chrysler (1975-76)

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Vehicle Overview

The CK Chrysler was released in October 1975 and is an Australian-made luxury class vehicle. Chrysler developed this model as a competitor to Ford’s Fairlane and General Motors-Holden’s Statesman models.

The CK was released simultaneously with Chrysler’s flagship model, the VK Valiant which featured only minor stylistic differences from its predecessor the VJ model. The bodywork and look of the Chrysler range had hardly changed at all since the CH model was introduced in 1971. Though the CK model may have seemed a bit dated by this point in the mid-70s, it was tastefully styled and luxuriously equipped even by modern standards.

Though obviously a close relative of the Valiant, the CK was officially called the CK Chrysler, not CK Valiant. It was part of the company’s effort to distinguish the luxury range from the standard models. Eventually, the two-door hardtop version of the Chrysler range was discontinued with the earlier CJ model, while the CK was available only in four-door sedan format.

The CK has a slightly longer wheelbase than that of the Valiant models and is distinguishable by its twin headlights and distinctive grill. It also has a unique tail light configuration that appears to span the whole rear of the car. The Chrysler models had additional badging and chrome trim that edged the windows and vinyl roof covering.

The standard engine that came with the CK models was Chrysler’s 265 cu (4.3L) Hemi-6, but a larger V8 was optional. With the CK models measuring just under 5 meters in length and weighing over 1.5 tons, most people opted to pay a little extra for the more muscular V8, which has power to spare.

The early CK V8 models came with a 360 cu (5.7L) engine, which was the largest engine Chrysler Australia offered at this time. The 360 engine had been modified since the last model with lower compression and improved economy and performance. In July 1976, however, the 360 V8 was discontinued in favour of the smaller 318 V8. This was necessary to comply with new emissions laws that came into place across the country.

All versions of the CK came with automatic transmission. The 360 V8 models benefitted from Chrysler’s beefy a727 transmission. The company switched to using the a904 transmission with the introduction of the 318 V8 in July 1976.

The Chrysler range, though not a great market success, was ahead of its time. The CK was one of the first Australian produced cars to feature electronic ignition. It also had a timed light above the driver’s head that remained on long enough after getting in the car, for the driver to find the ignition.

During the manufacture of the CK range, the bodywork was primed with an electroplating process and the paintwork was hand finished. Additional care was taken to remove noise in the passenger compartment and thick sound-proofing and carpeting were added throughout. Interiors were trimmed in a combination of leather-look vinyl and wood grain panelling. Air-conditioning, electric windows, and an electrically operated driver’s seat were available as optioned extras.

The first Chrysler model the CH was released in 1971, but failed to sell as many units as Chrysler Australia hoped it would. This meant a short production run of only five years for the Chrysler models.

The luxury car market in Australia was always a narrow one. By this point in the mid-70s, it was oversaturated with vehicles from the big three auto manufacturers, namely Ford, GM-H and Chrysler. The public’s desire for large cars with thirsty V8 engines was also waning and rocketing fuel prices meant these luxury behemoths were simply no longer economical to run.

The fact that the Fairlane and Statesman models were far outselling the Chryslers also meant that the CK would be the third and final model of the luxury Chrysler brand automobile. It was superseded by the smaller Chrysler CL Regal SE sedan in October 1976.