VG Valiant (1970-71)
The VG Valiant was released in early 1970 and maintained most of the stylistic features of its predecessor the VF. With only a basic makeover, the VG received subtle changes such as rectangular headlights, new tail lights, and an updated grill. The cosmetic differences were modest but noticeable. It was under the bonnet that the real changes took place.
A new six-cylinder engine was introduced to the Valiant range, the Hemi-6. The Hemi-6 was an Australian designed and built six-cylinder engine that had been in development for the last five years, reportedly costing Chrysler some 33 million dollars. The Hemi-6 gained its name from its hemispherical combustion chambers, which, due to their shape, allowed for larger intake and exhaust valves. The increased airflow it provided, as well as improved valve positioning, made for a more economical and powerful engine. Chrysler was confident about its new engine, stating it was “a generation ahead of any six-cylinder engine in Australia.”
The 3.7L slant six-cylinder engine, which had been the staple engine of the Valiant line since its inception with the RV1 Valiant in 1962, was replaced by the Hemi-6 across all variants for the Australian market. The slant six was, for the time being, still fitted to some vehicles that were built for purely for export. Though the slant six had been a great engine and was, in many ways, superior to those offered by Chrysler’s biggest market competitors, the Hemi-6 was a better engine. It was also significantly lighter, weighing 18 kg less than the larger, older design, partly due to its thin wall design.
By choosing to develop a high performing six-cylinder engine, Chrysler was showing its individuality as it had often done before. Ford and General Motors-Holden were at this time putting a lot of effort into developing ever more powerful V8 engines geared towards racetrack success in the hope of selling more cars. For Chrysler to invest so heavily towards the manufacturing of a somewhat more economical engine shows great foresight by the company, especially as the looming oil crisis was just three years away.
The Hemi-6 was adapted by an Australian team which was based on a design intended for the United States market that never made it to production. The Hemi name was already well known in the US, having been used in different formats in various Dodge and Plymouth vehicles since the 1950s.
The VG range included 11 different models – the luxurious VIP model was undoubtedly part of the VG range, but was never officially called a Valiant, instead being known as the Chrysler VIP. Aside from the VIP, Chrysler Australia offered the base Valiant sedans and wagons, Regal sedans and wagons, Pacer and Regal 770 in sedans and hardtops, and Wayfarer utility models, as well as a heavy duty Dodge ute model.
Entry level VG Valiants were fitted with the 4.0L (245cu) Hemi-6 which was capable of outputting 160 bhp. This was an improvement on the basic 3.7L slant six which was rated at 145 bhp. The more upmarket Regal 770 and VIP models were fitted with a 185 bhp version of the Hemi-6, while the pacer got a unique high performance unit that was reportedly capable of producing 195 bhp.
The premier Regal 770 and VIP models were optioned with three-speed automatic transmission while the base model Valiant and Regal were fitted with three-speed manual transmission, as were all Pacer models. To counter the additional horsepower, the Pacer and Regal 770 models had front disc-brakes fitted as standard, while the base Valiant and Regals had drum brakes front and rear. Interiors remained largely unaltered from the previous model.
The 5.2L Fireball V8 engine, as introduced with the previous model, was also available but could only be optioned with the VIP, Regal 770 and VIP models. From March 1970, Chrysler Australia built 52,944 units of the VG Valiant, before it was replaced with the VH Valiant in May 1971.
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