The R Series Valiant was a sensation – a family sedan which could almost touch 100 mph (161 km/h) and run the standing quarter mile in well under 19 seconds.
Despite its foreign antecedents (the R Series was assembled from US parts), the Valiant incorporated modifications for Australia. And within ten years the marque would be wholly made in Australia and bear no resemblance to US models.
Local planning on the Valiant started in early 1961. To gain a marketing edge over Holden and Falcon, Chrysler Australia opted for the bigger of two engines offered with the car in the US. This was a 3.69-litre overhead-valve, six-cylinder unit inclined at 30 degrees to the right.
Called the ‘225’ or ‘Slant Six’ the engine produced 109 kW – almost twice that of the ‘Grey’ motor of the 1962 Holden EK.
The newcomer set the stage for a heated three-way sales battle that would last throughout the 1960s and well into the 1970s. It also started a power ‘war.
The R-Series Valiant came in just one body style – a four-door sedan. It had a three-speed gearbox with a floor-mounted gearlever; a push-button three-speed automatic transmission was optional. Seats were of the bench type and instrumentation was pretty basic. A fake spare tyre mount graced the boot lid.
The most pleasing things about the Valiant were its looks, size and power. The press described its low-slung body styling as ‘space age’ and its power as ‘exceptional’. Buyers were so keen that the first batch of 1008 R- Series Valiants sold out in days. By that time, Chrysler Australia had imported sufficient parts to start assembling the later model S-Series Valiant.