In the early 1970s the two door market boomed in Australia taking 20 per cent of the sales. It was led by the Holden Monaro. Ford followed with a hardtop version of the Falcon and Chrysler with the Charger, which was a shortened version of the Valiant with styling changes to make it look more aggressive. Although cloned from the VH sedan which was released two months earlier, the rear-end treatment and roofline were unique. In fact, 60 per cent of the panels were exclusively Charger.
The car came in four basic models: Charger, Charger XL, Charger R/T and Charger 770. The base Charger was a rather spartan vehicle but had the same eye-catching styling as the dearer models for less than the price of the cheapest Valiant 4-door sedan. The new `Hemi’ engines were released with the VH series and these were also fitted to the Charger range. The 215 Hemi was standard in the base model but the Hemi 245 was available as an option. The manual transmission coupled to the 215 was operated by a steering-column lever but where the 245 was fitted the manual transmission had a floor change, while the automatic had a column-mounted selector.
The Charger XL offered a higher level of standard equipment and was the most popular seller in the range. It had front disc brakes as standard and in addition to the offerings of the base line car had floor carpeting, reclining bucket seats and pivoting rear quarter windows. There was also a remote controlled exterior rear-view mirror, prismatic interior mirror for night driving and a boot light. The base engine in the XL was the Hemi 245 with the Hemi 265 available as an option and manual transmission models had a sporty floor-mounted gearshift.
The R/T was pitched at the sporting buyer and was originally hailed as the perfect car for Touring Car racing. It was distinguished by its grille of red and black bars with quartz halogen driving lights mounted between the headlights and a wide black stripe running from the centre of the door to the rear deck. It came in a variety of colours designed to scare off the opposition with such catchy names as Vitamin C and Blonde Olive. Other striping was optional but the rear deck featured a black paint treatment beneath the spoiler. In the cabin a tachometer and oil pressure gauge were fitted as was a floor mounted gearshift although this was only the inadequate three-speed unit used in previous models. The R/T’s road wheels were made from pressed steel with 165 mm safety rims and radial-ply tyres. A front anti-roll bar was standard.
Chrysler’s advertising for the Charger was unusual in that it relied heavily on building a strong brand image for the car and wooing the youth market, the catch cry “Hey Charger” rapidly becoming part of the Australian vernacular.