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Chrysler released the VH Valiant range in June 1971. The VH was the first fully Australian-designed Valiant and was a major change from the preceding VG range — these were larger cars, styled to look even larger than they were.
The grille treatment on the new VH range was a direct design descendant from the US Mopars with the central recessed area for grille and headlamps, surrounded by uninterrupted trim on the outer leading edge of the whole assembly. The rectangular headlamps were carried over from the VG model.
The model range of the VH Valiant was quite extensive, starting with the new entry-level Valiant Ranger, and progressing to Valiant Ranger XL, Valiant Pacer, Valiant Regal, and Valiant Regal 770.
Carried over from the VG range, the basic Hemi 245ci engine was standard equipment for Ranger XL and Regal, but a new 265 cu in (4.3 L) version offered 203 bhp (151 kW) and was standard equipment for the Regal 770. The Fireball 318 V8 engine was still an option, but only available on the Regal 770 sedan. The basic Ranger sedan featured a new low compression Hemi 215ci engine that operated on Standard grade petrol ... this engine was not available on the other sedan cars in the VH range.
Unlike the VG range, Valiant Pacer was now only available in 4-door sedan form. Apart from vivid paint colours, optional bonnet blackouts and striping, the new Pacer featured a higher performance version of the 265ci engine, with 218 bhp (163 kW) at 4,800 rpm and 273 lb·ft (370 N·m) at 3,000 rpm. The Pacer could run the quarter mile in 15.9 seconds, get to 100 km/h in 7.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 185 km/h.
In fact, at its release, the VH Valiant Pacer set the record for being the fastest mass-produced four-door sedan with a six-cylinder engine manufactured in Australia, a record which stood for 17 years.
The Pacer's days as the VH performance model were numbered, because that same year saw the announcement and introduction of what was to become Chrysler Australia's most recognised new car — the Valiant Charger. In total, only 1,647 VH Valiant Pacer sedans were produced.
The new Valiant Charger was unlike anything that had come before and it had the Australian motoring press calling it, "...the most handsome car Chrysler has ever produced, and probably the best looking car ever produced by an Australian manufacturer".
A short-wheelbase, fastback coupe with an aggressive wedge-like stance, the Charger's design gave the effect of speed, even when it was standing still.
Chrysler's TV campaign for the Charger featured the young adults at whom it was targeted, waving at one as it swept by them and shouting "Hey, Charger!" — one of the more memorable TV ads of the time, it created a cliché that haunts today's owners. Charger won Wheels magazine's Car of the Year award for 1971 and was widely acclaimed by others in the motoring press, as well as the public.
The Valiant Charger came in four model guises, closely mirroring the existing sedan range — Charger, Charger XL, Charger 770, and Charger R/T. The first of the serious "track pack" R/T Chargers had option E38. Despite being hampered by a three-speed gearbox, it still drew favourable comments from Wheels: "We achieved a time of 14.8 seconds for the quarter mile — on smoother surfaces the Charger galloped away so easily that a best of 14.5 seconds is within reach". Being a three-speed gearbox, these quarter-mile runs took only one gear change.
The most recognised performance Chargers were the Six Pack cars. The term six pack denoted the triple side-draught Weber 2BBL carburettors with which the 265 Hemi engine - in option E37, option E38, and later option E49 - produced levels of power unheard of on a naturally aspirated six-cylinder at the time. The triple carburettors also made for a distinctive throaty note when under acceleration.
E38 versions of the Charger R/T featured a 265 Hemi which produced 280 bhp (209 kW) while the E37 was the street tune option made available on Charger 770 and Charger R/T. E38 was a race-ready Charger R/T with the additional A84 Track Pack option, which included a 35 imperial gallons (159.1 l) fuel tank. There was also an A87 Track Pack option that included all the race track goodies, but for the larger fuel tank.
In mid-1972, the E38 option was superseded by the more powerful and greatly refined four-speed transmission E49 option. This drew comments from Wheels such as, "The raw quivering power is instantaneously on tap and with a ratio for every conceivable situation the Charger just storms through. It would take a Ferrari Daytona with racing driver Jackie Ickx at the wheel to stay with one". All E49s came with a Track Pack, 21 of which featured the huge fuel tank with dual fillers.
The E49 six pack engine came with a baffled sump, tuned length headers, special shot-peened crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, rings, cam, valve springs, a twin plate clutch and of course the triple 45 mm dual throat Weber carburetors. Chrysler quoted this engine as producing 302 bhp (225 kW) which, in a 1,372 kg (3,025 lb) car, made for rapid acceleration.
The R/T E49 was the ultimate Valiant Charger, and with only 149 built the E49s are still widely considered today as one of the greatest Australian "muscle" cars ever produced. Road tests of the era recorded quarter mile times of between 14.1 and 14.5 seconds. 0 to 100 mph (161 km/h) in 14.1 seconds was the norm. This compares to times of 14.6 for the next quickest accelerating Australian muscle car, the Ford XY Falcon GT-HO (Phase III).
Although the Six Pack Chargers were the dominant performance players in the VH range, there was another Charger, the 275 bhp (205 kW), 340 cu in (5.6 L) V8 powered E55, that came close. Option E55 was applied to the new Charger 770 SE in August 1972, and this car could reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.2 seconds and complete the quarter mile in 15.5 seconds — all topped off by a top speed of 122 mph (196 km/h).
Overall, Chrysler Australia manufactured 67,800 VH Valiant cars.
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