VH Valiant (1971-73)
The VH Valiant was an entirely new design from Chrysler Australia. It was the first iteration of the fourth and final generation of Valiants, and was the birth of a completely new design.
Released in mid-1971, the VH was the product of a $22 million investment by Chrysler which saw a diversification of the Valiant range. This included a more modern and sporty look for the new decade, as well as new models added to the lineup. The straight lines and boxy 1960s style of the previous model, the VG, were replaced with a much curvier, smoother and more contoured car.
The Valiant lineup expanded with a vast amount of models to cover every possible gap in the market. The Ranger model was introduced seemingly to fill the gap between the budget models and the more luxurious Regal and sportier Regal 770. The Ranger replaced the base model Valiant wagon though the sedan remained. The Ranger line comprised a basic sedan and wagon, as well as more luxuriously equipped Ranger XL sedan, wagon, hardtop and utility models.
The most exciting new release from Chrysler was the Charger coupe in August 1971. Although produced as part of the VH Valiant range, the Charger was almost an entirely different car, being built on a shorter wheelbase and taking less than half its bodywork from the Valiant sedans. It came initially in four trim variants with a variety of different engines to fit each specification.
The variants were base model Charger (215cu), XL (245cu), 770 (265cu) and 770 SE (340cu V8), and for the die-hard racer, the R/T which was fitted with a tuned 265 Hemi capable of 0-60mph in an impressive 6.3 seconds. The Charger was an instant success and won praise from motoring journalists and the public alike. The R/T E38, E49 and 770 SE E55 models have since become highly collectable.
The Pacer, which was first introduced with the VF model in 1969, was also continued but in four-door sedan form only. The Pacer had previously been offered also as a hardtop, but the addition of the Charger, which now filled the sports coupe roll, rendered it somewhat superfluous. With a new high performance version of the 265cu (218bhp) Hemi-6 engine and its all round good looks, the Pacer won much praise from the motoring press. At the time of release, it was the fastest production six-cylinder car in the country.
The VH Valiant range had a choice of four engines, three of which were Hemi-6s. There was the 3.5L (215cu) which had replaced the slant-six as Chrysler’s basic engine. The 4.0L (245cu) was optioned on the budget models and came as standard in the Regal and Ranger XL. The largest Hemi-6, the 4.3L (265cu), was optioned across the range and various versions came as standard with the high-end Pacer and Charger models. The Fireball 318 V8 was available as an optioned extra on the luxurious Regal model.
The transmission options were three-speed manual and three-speed automatic. The performance-oriented Pacer and Charger models were fitted with manual transmission rather than automatic, while some rare models, E48 and E49, had four-speed manual gearboxes. All models, except those with the 215cu engine, now came with power assisted disc-brakes on the front.
The three wagon variants in the VH range were larger in almost every way than the previous models. They have increased interior space and wheelbase by 3 inches, and their rear track was widened by 2 inches for steadier cornering. For the VH model, the handbrake was moved from the instrument panel to a floor-mounted position at the right of the driver’s seat.
From June 1971, Chrysler Australia built 67,800 units of the VH Valiant, before it was replaced with the VJ Valiant in March 1973.