CHRYSLER VALIANT CHARGER
Posted on Mar 1, 2015
The Chrysler Valiant Charger is a muscle car introduced by Chrysler Australia in 1971. It was a short wheelbase two door coupe based on the concurrent AustralianChrysler Valiant sedan. Introduced within the VH Valiant series, it continued as a variant through the subsequent VJ, VK and CL series, until production ceased in 1978. It was marketed and badged as the Valiant Charger in the VH and VJ series and as the Chrysler Charger in the later VK and CL series.
The Charger was extraordinarily popular in Australia during the VH series. The VH Valiant Charger achieved critical acclaim, winning the 1971 Australian Wheels Car of the Year Award. It was also popular in New Zealand where they were assembled from imported kits.
The 'muscle' image of the Charger faded through the VJ range of cars and was neutered altogether by 1975 release of the VK series.
During the seven years of production, the Charger carried many variations of essentially two basic powerplants, based around the Chrysler Hemi-6 Engine and versions of the Chrysler LA engine V8.
The Chrysler VH Valiant Charger range, introduced in 1971, consisted of Charger, Charger XL, Charger 770 and Charger R/T (Road/Track) models.
The R/T version carried on Chrysler's performance image from the VG series Valiant Pacer, and soon became the platform for Chrysler's participation in production car racing in Australia. The range of cars was broad-based to appeal to all manner of people:
Charger - 215 cu in (3.5 L) base engine (140 bhp (100 kW), 3spd manual, $2795.00
Charger XL - 245 cu in (4.0 L) base engine (160 bhp (120 kW), 3spd manual, $3195.00
Charger R/T - 265 cu in (4.3 L) HP base engine (218 bhp (163 kW), 3spd manual, $3395.00
Charger R/T E38 - 265 cu in (4.3 L) HP base engine (280 bhp (210 kW), 3spd manual, $3975.00
Charger R/T E49 - 265 cu in (4.3 L) HP base engine (302 bhp (225 kW), 4spd manual, $3975.00
Charger 770 - 265 cu in (4.3 L) HP base engine (218 bhp (163 kW), 3spd automatic, $3625.00
Charger 770 - 318 cu in (5.2 L) 2bbl V8 engine (230 bhp (170 kW), 3spd automatic, $4105.00
Charger 770 SE E55 - 340 cu in (5.6 L) 4bbl V8 engine (275 bhp (205 kW), 4spd automatic, $4850.00
The Charger R/T option E37 featured a tuned "Six Pack" version of the engine characterised by triple sidedraught Weber carburettors, formed the basis of Chrysler's touring car racer for 1971.
The Charger R/T E49 engine produced remarkable torque on a seven bearing configuration which enabled considerable power development previously unobtained from 6-cylinder engines and not surpassed until the Porsche Turbo 911 (300) release of 1975
The Valiant Charger was raced in Australia in an official capacity during 1971 and 1972, with most effort concentrated upon the annual Bathurst 500 mile touring car event. Chrysler Australia employed the services of racing driver Leo Geoghegan to assist in the development of the Charger as a touring car racer. The Charger won the first race it entered, the Toby Lee 100 at Oran Park, driven by Doug Chivas. In the 1972 Hardie-Ferodo 500 at Bathurst, a VH Charger R/T E49 driven by Doug Chivas placed third outright behind a Ford XY Falcon GTHO and a Holden Torana GTR XU-1. In 1971 they were comprehensively beaten by the XY Falcon GTHO lapping some 6 seconds per lap slower
With the furor that erupted politically in 1972 regarding the supercar scare, Australian touring car regulations changed in 1973 such that manufacturers no longer had to produce strict street versions of their racing cars. These rule changes led to principally Chrysler and then Ford abandoning official racing touring car programs in Australia.
In New Zealand, where the touring car rules were less open, the Charger proved to be virtually unbeatable from 1971 through to 1979 at the famous B&H 500 mile (later 1000 km) series held at Pukekohe Park Raceway. The most successful of New Zealand drivers were Leo Leonard and Jim Little.