Chrysler by Chrysler review

By: Cliff Chambers/Peter Robinson, Photography by: Unique Cars/Wheels archives/Marque Publishing

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Chrysler by Chrysler Chrysler by Chrysler Chrysler by Chrysler
Chrysler by Chrysler Chrysler by Chrysler Chrysler by Chrysler
Chrysler by Chrysler Chrysler by Chrysler Chrysler by Chrysler
Chrysler by Chrysler Chrysler by Chrysler Chrysler by Chrysler

The Chrysler by Chrysler was a long-wheelbase version of the regular Valiant sedan

Chrysler by Chrysler review
Chrysler by Chrysler

Bargains for the brave

CHRYSLER BY CHRYSLER

Had you, back in the 1970s, been in the market for an Australian-made long-wheelbase sedan, it is quite possible that this confusingly branded Chrysler would have been sitting at the bottom of a fairly brief list.

When Chrysler Australia stopped importing Canadian Plymouths, it chose an elongated Valiant Regal to take over brand flagship duties. Unfortunately, Ford’s Fairlane and Holden’s recently launched Statesman were better suited to the task and it seems that fewer than 2500 Chrysler by Chryslers were sold from 1971-’76.

The version most commonly seen was the sedan, but you could get a Hardtop that sat on the same 2900mm wheelbase and had a boot that was bigger than a billiard table.

The broad, comfortable seats were finished in vinyl, but with the ‘brocade’ effect that was popular at the time. You could also get a Paisley-pattern vinyl roof. Both exterior and interior fabric will be tricky to match today.

A tiny rear window and low-set seat made reverse parking a challenge, but at least most owners ticked the box that delivered optional air-conditioning.

Mechanically, the behemoth Chryslers are not difficult cars to manage or maintain. However, using one for anything more than occasional outings will drain a couple of oil wells and your wallet. Tests when new showed the 1635kg sedan with its optional 5.9-litre engine averaged 13.9mpg, which translates today into a savage 20.3L/100km.

If you happen to have a crash, there is little chance of sourcing any of the panels; that distinctive, all-enveloping front bumper will certainly not be hanging randomly on the wall of your local Mopar wrecking yard.


FROM THE WHEELS ARCHIVES...
Words: Peter Robinson - March 1972

It was better than its rivals, wrote Peter Robinson...

The name makes sense – Chrysler by Chrysler. The Chrysler is the company’s first all-out attempt at gate-crashing the Fairlane and Statesman market.

Styling is all-important in this class, just ask any Fairlane owner. They want a car which looks bigger and more prestigious than the cheaper medium-sized cars on which they are based, although the buyers like to think the big cars are unique in design and appearance.

At the moment the Chrysler is king of the Big Three prestige models. Chrysler has gone to a great deal of trouble to reduce the noise level in the car. The result is an extremely quiet car. The engine still intrudes under hard acceleration and it is not so quiet you imagine the engine is not running when sitting at the lights.

Power steering and power-assisted disc brakes are obvious fittings, but a pushbutton radio with electrical aerial are not so common in our home ground luxury cars.

The base engine is the 265 Hemi six developing 203bhp at 4800rpm, but the most popular engine is certain to be the new 360ci V8 which takes the V8 to $5095.

The engine uses a two-barrel carburettor. This helps keep fuel consumption to reasonable level – if you think an overall average of 13.8mpg is reasonable. There is sufficient torque to give very strong acceleration from low speeds.

The big car is surprisingly controllable and has a comfortable ride, although it doesn’t reach the same high level of the Statesman (but then the handling is much better). On wet roads it is very easy to spin the wheels when accelerating quickly in traffic. Surprisingly, under brakes on a wet road the car is outstanding.

There were a number of minor points on our Chrysler which escaped pre-delivery tests. The imitation wood trim on the door-pulls lifted off, the handle for the driver’s reclining seat mechanism ceased to function on the first day, and the intertia-reel seat belts became tangled at the top mounting point.

TRAPS AND TIPS

The best advice for anyone heading in search of a CH-CJ Chrysler is: ‘Beware the rust bug.’ New replacement panels are virtually impossible to find and second-hand sheetmetal could be almost as bad as the panels you need to replace.

Complete but dismantled cars offered for sale recently may have become spares ‘donors’, further reducing the numbers of surviving ‘big’ Chryslers.

Interior restoration will be difficult. ‘Brocade’ cloth is still available through specialist automotive trim suppliers and companies in the USA have extensive stocks at $79-$99 per metre. Switchgear and the ornate steering wheel may be hard to replace, as will the unique front bumper.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Chrysler by Chrysler

Number built: n/a
Body: All-steel, unitary construction 4-door sedan and 2-door hardtop
Engine: 4343cc inline 6-cylinder, OHV, 12v; 5212cc or 5900cc V8, OHV, 16v, single carburettor
Power/Torque: 190kW @ 4400rpm; 486Nm @ 2400rpm (5.9-litre)
Performance: 0-97km/h 8.8sec, 0-400m 17.2sec
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Suspension: Independent with torsion bars, telescopic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar (f); Live axle with semi-elliptic springs and telescopic shock absorbers (r)
Brakes: Disc (f); Drum (r), power-assisted
Tyres: 735L14 crossply
Price range: $4000-$32,000
Contact: Chrysler clubs in all states,
www.chryslerclub.org.au



*****

More reviews:

> Chrysler Valiant Charger

>Buyer's guide: CM Valiants

>Buyer's guide: Valiant Pacer

>VF Valiant 770


  

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