The VF Chrysler Valiant (1969-70)
In March of 1969, the new VF Valiant was introduced. As with the AP5/6 to VC transformation, the VF shared it's middle section with the previous VE Valiant, but now featured new front and rear end styling. The main noticeable difference was the new front end with it's horizontally convex grille, as opposed to the VE's concave design. In an unusual design decision, the front indicators were placed on the top leading edge of the front guards, instead of in the more traditional position of in the bumper, thus allowing the VF's front bumper to be thinner and less prominent, which in turn made the single round headlights look larger, making the front end seem more aggressive.
Standard and Regal models were once again available, but the VF range also saw the introduction of the Valiant 'Regal 770' and as before, an even more upmarket VIP model. As with previous model changes, the VF boasted even more safety features including a padded instrument panel and energy absorbing steering column.
In the motor department, a larger 318 V8 (5.2 litre) replaced the old 273 V8 (4.4 litre) taking the V8's top speed to 109 mph (175 kph), while the slant six's power increased to 175hp. Transmissions available were the 3 speed manual and the ever reliable 3 speed "TorqueFlite" auto.
The most significant introduction to the VF range was the all new 2 door Valiant Hardtop - a beautifully sleek design based very closely on the US Dodge Dart. At nearly 17 feet long, this was the longest 2 door ever made in Australia. The Hardtop used the same front end treatment as the VF sedans, wagons and utilities, however from the A-pillar rearward, the car was pure Dodge Dart.
Up until now, Chrysler Australia had previously ignored the youth market by not offering any 'sports models'. This all changed however in mid 1969 when Chrysler released its own fast four-door named the PACER. A low-cost, red-hot version of its bread-and-butter Valiant sedan, the Pacer featured a high-performance six-cylinder engine and three-speed manual gearbox. Despite a lack of exterior chrome, the VF Pacer stood out with its red and black grille, 'fake alloy' hub caps, special body striping, 'Pacer 225' decals, and choice of wild exterior colours.
The sparsely trimmed interior featured high-back bucket seats, and distinctive black on white instrument dials with a dash top mounted tacho. Although lacking the V8 grunt of its rivals, the Pacer could race to almost 180km/h and, at $2798, was a lot cheaper - $400 less than a basic GTS Monaro.
The Pacer was powered by a high-compression version of the trusty 225cu.in (3.69-litre) 'slant six'. With two-barrel carburettor, it pumped out 130kW at 4500rpm and an (undisclosed) bucket load of torque.
Standard stoppers were finned, servo-assisted drum brakes all round, although most buyers wisely opted for the front discs which were an option.
Underneath was Valiant's basic torsion bar suspension, lowered by 125mm to improve handling and with a front anti-sway bar fitted. A 'Sure-Grip' limited-slip diff with either 3.23:1 or 2.92:1 ratios was optional.
Contemporary road testers were mostly full of praise for the Pacer, noting there were few cars that could match it on a performance for price basis.
Modern Motor (May, 1969) took a VF Pacer sedan to 60mph (100km/h) in a respectable 10.5secs, the quarter-mile in 17.5secs and topped out at 178km/h.
In 1969, Chrysler's market share reached 13.7 per cent and 52,944 VF Valiants were built.