Production - Model Spotlight
R & S Series (1962)
Prelude - Q Series
The first Valiant to hit Australia was the Q: a single Q was imported from the US in 1960 for evaluation, but after it was sold it was wrapped around a tree. The main problem with the Q was the difficulty in converting the American version to right-hand drive, because the slant of the engine prohibited a simple gearbox move. Soon after, the first locally produced (assembled) Valiant was released - The R Series.
After the Plymouth Valiant turned out to be a success in the United States (starting with its 1959 introduction), Chrysler created the 'R Series' - Australia's first locally-assembled Valiant (from mainly American components), which was officially unveiled by South Australia's Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, in January 1962.
The R Series Valiant was an instant success in a market where people wanted cars that were roomy enough for the whole family, but not tanks. Whilst not everyone was taken instantly by the looks, the general concensus was that the car had a "modern", almost space age quality about it.
Also impressive was the Valiant`s performance - 145 bhp from the 225 Slant Six (inline six cylinder and single barrel Carter Ball & Ball carburettor). This was a lot of power when you consider the Holdens and the Fords of the time had only 75 and 85 respectively.
Transmission was a choice of 3 speed manual (floor mounted), with syncro on first only, or the 3 speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission. The auto was engaged using pushbuttons to the right of the instrument cluster, and proved to be one of the finest transmissions available. On the other side of the instrument cluster, it was possible to order a pushbutton heater unit, aswell as a Moparmatic Deluxe Pushbutton Transistor Radio.
For the first time an Australian car came with an alternator instead of a generator, and instead of coil springs, the Valiant came with torsion bar suspension. Brakes were hydraulic drums, front and rear. This model also had the "Rear Deck Lid Tyre Cover Stamping", to use Chrysler-speak. This was a fake spare wheel moulding on the bootlid, but the spare wheel was actually under the floor of the boot.
The base model sold for 1299 pounds and with only 1008 "R" series Valiant's sold in their short two month model run, they are now a very collectible automobile.
In March of 1962, Chrysler introduced the new 'S' Series Valiant. The S Series were basically a twin of the R Series with outward cosmetic changes distinguishing it at a distance. Gone was the fake wheel mould on the boot lid, replaced by a neat chromed emblem bearing the word "VALIANT". The "cat's eyes" tail lights on the 'R' were gone, and instead a more conventional round tail light lens and indicator assembly was used.
The chequered grille was now very neat looking and side chrome work was slightly changed also. The floor mounted manual shift was now on the steering column and various other minor things such as bottom ball joints were now of a design that would continue throughout the Valiant range for years.
10,009 'S' Series Valiants were sold, of which 5,496 were automatics and 4,513 were manuals.
Fastlane.com.au (Trevor Hedge)
Charger Club of WA (Matt Roper)
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