CL Chrysler (1976-78)
The CL Valiant was released in late 1976 and was a heavily facelifted version of its predecessor the VK Valiant. Chrysler Australia was originally planning that the CL would be an entirely new design based on American Dodge and Plymouth models. Declining sales of the previous models and the company’s low market share forced it to change tack. It opted to redesign the current model instead.
The CL featured a redesigned front and rear end. The front end treatment included a revised unique grill for each model and twin headlights, which gave the CL a high-end look similar to the company’s now discontinued Chrysler CK luxury model. The rear end of the sedan received a simpler, rounded boot lid and wrap-around light design.
With the release of the CL, the Valiant model range was trimmed down to only the bare essentials. The Ranger brand, which had previously been the most basic Valiant model, was now known as the Valiant. There were eight models in the range, including base model Valiant sedans and wagons, Regal sedans and wagons, Charger 770 coupes, as well as a Valiant utility model. There was also the Regal SE sedan which replaced the Chrysler CK as the range’s luxury model.
The Regal SE model had a wealth of extras. Power assisted windows, power steering, air conditioning and Chryslers 318 cu V8 with automatic transmission were fitted as standard. Other refinements included tinted glass, laminated windscreens, rear window defroster, quartz halogen high-beam headlights and electronic ignition. These, along with the luxurious trim of the interior, raised the standard once again.
The Regal SE was the only Valiant up to this point to be optioned with a leather interior. Customers also had the option to downgrade the engine from the 318 V8 to the 265 Hemi-6 if they preferred.
The largest and smallest engines Chrysler had previously offered, the 360 cu V8 and 215 cu Hemi-6, were phased out of use. This was to comply with the new ADR27A Australian emissions standards. This reduced the number of engine options to four, but they were four of Chrysler’s best.
The standard engine, which was fitted to the base model Valiants and utes, was a low compression version of the 245 Hemi-6 that could run on regular fuel. A high-compression 245 was available which ran on premium fuel, as well as a 265 Hemi-6 for those who wanted a little extra power. The largest engine in the range was the 318 cu V8. This was fitted to the Regal wagon and Regal SE models. There was a choice of 3- or 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmissions. All Valiants were now fitted with 185 Radial tyres.
Even the most basic of Valiant models now came with an array of accessories designed with comfort and convenience in mind. These include reclining bucket seats, prismatic mirror to reduce glare at night, an array of interior lights including under the bonnet for visibility in the dark, and thick carpeting and sound insulation.
The Dodge utility, which had been introduced in 1967 with the VE model, was rebadged as a Valiant. The Dodge ute had always been the most basic model of the Valiant range with few refinements. With its rebranding, Chrysler applied the Charger’s interior to the CL model, particularly the bucket seats, carpeting throughout, sports instrumentation and three-spoke steering wheel.
Chrysler also released a Valiant panel van during the production of the CL. The company was likely aiming the panel van and Valiant ute at the younger crowd in an attempt to rival the success that the Holden Sandman was having. The CL was the penultimate model of Australian Valiants and would be the final model to offer a Valiant utility vehicle.
The Charger XL model was still produced in limited quantities as a police pursuit special.
In 1978, a limited number of 400 Chrysler Le Baron luxury sedans and wagons were produced.
From November 1976, Chrysler Australia built 32,672 units of the CL Valiant before it was replaced with the CM Valiant in October 1978.
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