1975-1976 Chrysler Valiant VK - Buyer's Guide

By: Cliff Chambers, Unique Cars magazine, Photography by: Nathan Jacobs

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Chrysler's timing with the VK was a little off which means good ones are now surprisingly scarce

 

Chrysler Valiant VK

If Chrysler Australia had owned a crystal ball it wouldn’t have gone with quite so much metal when designing the longer, wider VH model. And had there been some funding for development they might have done a bit more with the VK to insulate it from the rising tide of buyer hostility towards big cars and soaring fuel prices.

The VK arrived in October 1975 and less than a year later was gone. During its tenure in a depressed vehicle market, just over 20,000 were made and survivors are accordingly scarce.

With no money – or so it claimed – Chrysler spent hardly anything to differentiate this version of the ‘whale’ Valiant from earlier ones.

chrysler-valiant-3b.jpgThe base Ranger model offered a lot of real estate for the money

Externally the VK’s changes were confined to a new grille and some additional body embellishment. Inside was only marginally altered with the most important addition the first multi-function column stalk (indicators, headlamp flash and dip) to appear in a Valiant. The VK also brought inertia reel seat belts that overcame a major impediment to belt use.

| Read next: 1971-76 Valiant VH-VK Charger 265 Buyer's Guide

Also blinking from atop the mudguard (later moved to the dash) from early 1976 was a flashing ‘fuel pacer’ light that told drivers when their heavy right hoof was draining the tank faster than the wallet might like.

A test of a Regal with the 4.3-litre engine and automatic transmission portrayed a powerful (153kW) but lazy car that was slow to get itself moving but once underway would reach 174km/h and cruise happily at a (now-illegal) 130-140km/h.

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Fuel consumption under varying conditions and including performance testing averaged 14.7L/100km. However on the highway a sensibly-driven six-cylinder VK could slip easily into the 10-11L-bracket. Mid-range acceleration was better than the from-rest figures would suggest too; 80 -110km/h taking only a second longer than the same task in an automatic Monaro GTS350.

| Read next: Valiant VH Charger E55 Charger review

Pick of the VKs from the viewpoint of an indulgent buyer might be a lavishly-furnished Regal 770. These came with cloth-trimmed seats and better-quality carpets, alloy wheels and extra embellishments.

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Engines were 5.2 or 5.9-litre V8s with automatic transmission and front disc brakes mandatory. The vast majority of 770s sold were four-door sedans but the range also included the last-ever version of the Regal Hardtop.

The car you see here has been given an exterior make-over by owner Andrew Liapis and you have to admit it’s hard to miss in that bright yellow. He has the car advertised at tradeuniquecars.com.au at the moment, but admits he’s ambivalent about selling it.

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MARKET REVIEW

Digging deeply into the classic market in search of a specific model is occasionally fun and frequently frustrating.

That’s the dilemma that’s going to face Valiant enthusiasts who want a ‘finale’ example from the VH-VK succession. The VK isn’t exceptional but as the last Valiant to avoid response to ADR27A emission requirements it is worth owning for that reason alone.

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Where to find good VKs is of course the big question. At Unique Cars we regularly see VH-VK Valiants and even a few Regals coming through, but hitting on a specific car from a particular series at the precise time the buying bug bites is difficult.

Best strategy and the one most likely to bring results is a day out at your nearest Chrysler Club car show – or any general display that attracts Aussie cars. Talk to a few Valiant owners, ask about the model and variation you want just in case someone might have one at home and is keen to sell.

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VALUE RANGE: VK VALIANT (VK Regal 770)

FAIR: $4500
GOOD: $14,000
EXCELLENT: $22,000
(Note: concours cars will demand more)

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BODY & CHASSIS

Rust and a lot of it has spelled the end for most of Australia’s Valiants. Most serious from a safety standpoint is rot around the sub-frame and steering box mounting points. With the car on a hoist look closely at the chassis rails and suspension mounts. Also check the rear spring attachment points, floors and inner sills. No matter how good a car looks from the outside, terminal rust can exist behind the shiny panels.

Regals were often supplied with vinyl roof covering and any bubbling or staining around the seams means the turret is almost certainly corroded and dangerous. Some rust repair panels are available but good chrome seems difficult to find and even second-hand parts are getting expensive.

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ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

Oil leaks are common and usually not a major issue. Rebuilt engines cost $2500-4500 depending on how far you want to go. Six and eight cylinder motors in decent condition are available for a lot less than the cost of a rebuild but do compromise the car’s authenticity.

New radiators aren’t dear but unless there is a leak or visible damage, try to combat overheating with a flush and new radiator cap. Check the car has a thermostat too. Switching from conventional to electronic ignition isn’t difficult and including a new coil and labour the cost is likely to be less than $200. A transmission that’s slow to select gears and thumps on down-shifts is due for replacement.

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Virtually everything needed to return a Valiant’s suspension to new condition is available from after-market suppliers. However, reconditioning and replacing parts that might have been untouched in 20 years isn’t a low-cost exercise. Kits of new bushes, ball joints and
idler arms cost over $400 and a pair of rear springs $500. Brake rotors that are heavily scored or make the brake pedal pulse need replacement. Reconditioned brake boosters are available from $350. Wider rims such as the optional Chrysler sports wheels with lower profile tyres will help with the handling.

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INTERIOR & ELECTRICS

The trim fitted to 1970s Valiants and Regals in particular will likely have exceeded its effective life-span. Retrimming is the solution but matching the original material could be difficult. Second-hand seats and sometimes entire interiors in decent condition are occasionally available. The dash plastics are pretty tough and resistant to cracking but a trashed dash is best replaced with a complete unit in better condition. Make sure the seats move easily and lock in place. Air-conditioned vehicles should by now have CFC-free refrigerant but may be suffering age-related problems. Listen for noises from the compressor when the a/c is activated and make sure the air being delivered to the cabin is truly cold.

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1975-1976 Chrysler Valiant VK specs

NUMBER BUILT: 20,555
BODY: steel, integrated body/chassis, four-door sedan or wagon, utility
ENGINE: 4015cc or 4342cc in-line six-cylinder , 5205cc or 5900cc V8
POWER & TORQUE: 153kW @ 4800rpm, 355Nm @ 2000rpm (4.3)
PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h 11.8 seconds, 0-400 metres 18.2 seconds (4.3 auto)
TRANSMISSION: three or four-speed manual, three-speed automatic
SUSPENSION: independent with torsion bars and anti-roll bar (f) live axle with semi-elliptic springs and telescopic shock absorbers(r)
BRAKES: drum or disc (f) drum (r) power assisted
TYRES: FR78S14 radial

 

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