VK Valiant (1975-76)
The VK Valiant was released in October 1975 and was the third iteration of the fourth generation of Australian Valiants. It had a short production run of only a year. On the 1st of July 1976, a new Australian emission regulation, the ADR 27A, came into force and all cars produced in the country after that date had to comply with it. The three major automotive manufacturers, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors-Holden, developed models to be released after that date.
The VK filled the gap between the VJ model and the ADR 27A compliant CL Valiant. The VK was a minor facelift on its predecessor the VJ model, which was itself only a slightly facelifted version of 1971 VH model. This meant that Chrysler Australia had been producing a very similar model for almost four years. For comparison, Chrysler’s biggest market competitors, Ford and GM-Holden, had released three quite different models in the same period of time.
With the release of the VK, the Valiant range was reduced to seven different variants from 11 on the previous model. The base model Charger coupe and Valiant sedans were discontinued, along with the Regal hardtop and the Valiant utility model. This left a small but respectable lineup of Valiant Ranger and Regal in sedans and wagons, Charger XL and Charger 770 models, and the basic Dodge ute.
At this time, the Chrysler name was becoming more prominent on all vehicles. Previously, the Valiant brand took centre stage, but it would now be referred to as Valiant by Chrysler. The Valiant Charger models were rebadged as Chrysler Chargers.
There were few aesthetic changes with the new model. The VK gained a new grill, revised taillights and different badges, but nothing too significant. Under the bonnet, there were some useful new upgrades, including a new two-barrel carburettor that came with all Hemi-6 powered vehicles. There was also a new hot air intake that preheated the air going into the carburettor to allow for better combustion and cold starting.
It’s worth noting that, at this time, fuel prices in Australia had risen by nearly 50% from the previous decade. This required the new Valiants to be more economical in order to compete with smaller cars that were on the market. To adjust with the fuel price hike and comply with the new emissions law, Chrysler discontinued using its smaller 215cu six-cylinder engine and the 360cu V8.
Chrysler also optioned what it called a “Fuel Pacer” warning light to help drivers realise when they were driving uneconomically. This worked by means of a vacuum switch that triggered a warning light when it sensed low manifold vacuum under harsh acceleration.
At the time of release, there were four engines available in the VK range. Three Hemi-6s, a 215cu, 245cu and 265cu and a 360cu V8. After July 1976, the 215 six-cylinder was replaced with a low compression 245cu unit and the 360cu V8 was replaced with a 318cu V8. There were a range of transmission options available with the VK range including three- and four-manual, and three-speed automatic.
The list of optional items for the Regal model was pretty extensive for those who wished to personalise the car to their own tastes. This included power steering, air conditioning, radio/cassette player, more luxurious upholstery, vinyl roof coverings, a choice of steel or alloy wheels, and console mounted automatic transmission.
During production of the VK model, Chrysler produced a limited edition Charger called the “White Knight Special” in a short run of only 200 units. Of these, 100 units were painted Arctic white and the other 100, Amarante red.
From October 1975, Chrysler Australia built 20,555 units of the VK Valiant, before it was replaced with the CL Valiant in November 1976.
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