1961-62 Chrysler Valiant R and S Series - www.mister-cars.com

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» Home » Articles » Classic Car Reviews » Add - Classic Car Reviews » 1961-62 Chrysler Valiant R and S Series Review

1961-62 Chrysler Valiant R and S Series Review

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08/10/2009   By MURRAY HUBBARD  

R Series Valiant 1961 rear view

If ever there was a cat set among the Australian motoring pigeons it came in the guise of the 1961 R Series Valiant (RV1). The pigeons were the XK Falcon and Holden's EK sedan. Both cars had problems. The Ford was starting to show signs it was not ideally suited to Australian conditions. Over at Holden the EK, a face-lift of the FB, was in a five year time warp and looked more like a compact 1956-57 Chevy than a car of the smooth new order like Falcon. Both were underpowered compared to the 225 cubic inch Valiant engine that produced 145 bhp (108 kW) of power compared to the Holden 138 cubic inch `grey' motor with 75 bhp (55 kW) and the Falcon's 144 cubic inch six at 90 bhp (67 kW).

R Series Valiant 1961 front

In reality the Valiant was also an anachronism. We thought it was futuristic. But it still had fins, both at the front and back, albeit horizontal not vertical. But it had twin headlights, a gutsy engine and easily the best automatic with the Chrysler TorqueFlite three speed. People were intrigued as the auto was operated by push buttons, situated on the right side of the steering wheel.

R Series Valiant dash board picture

It was the Valiant's style that people fell in love with. The cars were brought to Australia from the US in CKD form and assembled in Adelaide. The R Series sold out in a flash, a matter of days. By US standards it was an austere automobile. No power windows, bench seats, no power steering, the heater was optional and the colours offered were so exciting ... not ... white was the stand-out. The R came out with the push-button auto or a much talked-about three on the floor shifter. This gear shift came up out of the floor near the centre and curled up and over the seat like a cobra. Once again it was a talking point as we had seen nothing like it. Because the R Series was only ever designed as a left hook car, obviously the self shifter came as an after thought for RHD.

R Series Valiant front on picture

The R Series followed the American Q Series which was introduced as a 1960 car in late 1959. By US standards these were compact or small cars. In the US they were powered by a 170 cubic in slant six. In addition to the sedan body they also came as station wagons, convertibles and two-door hardtop variants. We have a Plymouth two door hardtop pictured here from a recent All Chrysler Day in Brisbane. Some years ago I can recall a Q Series station wagon coming on the market in New South Wales where it had been used as an ambulance. In the US Valiants were badged as Dodge Lancer and Plymouth Valiant. By late 1961 the 225 cubic inch slant six, which was used in Australian Valiants, were optional in the US.

1961 Plymouth Valiant two door hard top

Some 1006 R Series Valiants were sold in Australia after the car was launched by South Australia's then premier, Sir Thomas Playford in early 1962. These days the R Series is the more collectible of the R and S models. The reason for this is simple. Ten times as many S Series were sold, just a tad over 10,000. There is also the individuality of the R-Series with its egg shell grille and false spare wheel on the boot and the unique manual shifter, as the S Series reverted to a more traditional three-on-the-tree shifter for its manual version.

1962 S Series Valiant

The R Series received rave reviews from motoring writers despite the car's lack of creature comforts and tiny fuel tank of just 48 litres, and of course, the big slant six was a fairly thirsty engine. Not that this mattered. Petrol was cheap. What they liked was the styling and the powerful engine which with ample torque made up for not having synchromesh on first gear. Compared to the Holden in particular the Valiant was streets ahead on the inside. The dash was curved with a large speaker housing next to the instrument binnacle. The Valiant was also the first of what would become known In Australia as the big three – Holden, Ford and Chrysler – to use an alternator replacing the generator.

1962 S Series Valiant front image

In the blink of an eye the R Series was gone to be replaced by the S Series, a slick face-lift of the same quirky shape. With so few R Series imported Chrysler had already placed orders in the US for S Series. In reality the S Series was a better car than the R Series and we're not just talking about the cleaner lines. The false spare on the boot-lid was replaced with a cleaner, simpler appearance, the elongated taillights were taken out of the fins and replaced by round lights added to the body under the fins. At the front the grille was simplified, but the bonnet opening mechanism remained outside the cabin in the grille.

1962 S Series Valiant side rear image

On the sides the amount of chrome work was also reduced. It was a cleaner look overall, but there are many Valiant buffs should still prefer the bling on the R Series. Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. We like both variants, but given the choice would prefer the R Series simply on rarity, although a few years back we did own an S Series automatic. The S also received a larger fuel tank, now 53 litres. Ball joint ends and tie rod ends were also sealed, reducing the need for servicing. Like the R Series, there was a rush on the S Series and dealers had full order books.

Image of 225 ci Valiant slant six engine

The slanting of the engine by 30 degrees to the right facilitated a low bonnet angle. But, it did have its drawbacks with the spark plugs, fuel pump, distributor and a few other engine `add ons' in the hard-to-get space between the inside of the mudguard and the leaning over engine. Conversely, the left side of the engine was easy to work on including the exhaust system, carby and battery. Perhaps the real legacy of the R and S Series Valiants is that they started the idea of a BIG THREE car makers in Australia. Chrysler were already here selling Mopar brands including the predecessor to the Valiant, the Royal, designated AP 4 (Australian Production) , which it later took up again with the successor to the S Series Valiant, the AP5 Valiant.

Postage stamp 1962 R Series Valiant




R Series: $2478 manual $2638 auto

S Series $2510 manual $2670 automatic



Length: 4679 mm

Width 1788 mm

Height 1397 mm

Wheelbase: 2705 mm

Kerb Weight: 1227 kg (man) 1184 (auto)


225 cubic inches (3.7 litre) six cylinder slanted 30 degrees to right.

Single Carter carburettor

Bore/Stroke: 86.36 mm x 104.77 mm

Power: 108 kW at 4400 rpm

Torque: 291 Nm at 2400 rpm

Compression: 8.2:1

Firing Order: 1-5-3-6-2-4

Speed through gears: First: 68 km/h; Second: 113 km/h; Third: 158 km/h.

0-400m: 19.4 seconds


Front torsion bar, Rear leaf springs.

Turning Circle: 12.2 m

Brakes: front and rear drums

Wheels: 14 inch.

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