1965 Chrysler Valiant Wayfarer AP6 - Buyer's Guide

By: Guy Allen, Cliff Chambers, Photography by: Shaun Tanner, Guy Allen

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While Valiant had well established sedans in two and four doors here and in the USA, plus a series of wagons, it wasn’t until the launch of the AP6 series in March 1965 that we got to see a ute. And it was very much a local product.

 

Chrysler Wayfarer AP6

Australian designers claimed responsibility for the design and styling, which closely replicated the family-oriented cousins – a four-door sedan or wagon, in several levels of trim.

Its greatest claim to fame was its generous load space, claiming to be the biggest in its class at over 2.1m in length and 1.1m across. Naturally it had beefed-up shock absorbers all round, while the front rode on Chrysler’s favoured torsion bar front suspension and a more conventional leaf spring rear.

| Read next: Chrysler Valiant VC 1966-1967 buyer's guide

Here was the catch: there was no V8. A ute was a workhorse, so the glam factor was kept to a minimum and the single engine choice was the 225 Slant Six, an inline 3.7lt six tilted at 30 degrees – hence the colourful name. Though highly regarded as a tough engine, it wasn’t the most inspiring choice.

chrysler-wayfarer-ap6-ute-4.jpgFor a workhorse it's a smart looker and check out the huge load area

You could option either a manual or auto (TorqueFlite) transmission, both of which were three-speed units. That was actually a substantial financial decision, as the manual cost $2120 (actually 1060 pounds), compared to $2350 for the auto (1180 quid). It was a significant premium.

The frustrating thing for the power hound was there was a perfectly good (in fact, a very good) 273 cube (4.5lt) V8 available in the sedan and wagon range. So might think that putting one in a ute these days would be straight-forward. Not so.

| Read next: Chrysler VE Valiant wagon buyer's guide

Just ask Ron Anderson, who restored this example and gave it what might seem the obvious upgrade – the 273. Apparently the issue is the chassis rails are different on the VE that was the host car for this powerplant, and there was an issue finding room for the oil lines to clear the steering box. In the end, the drama was solved.

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Ron’s unofficial ‘factory prototype’ project began some 20 years ago when he did a deal to get the then very battered relic from someone he’d done a little work for. It was the quintessential paddock-basher out in the Mallee and, judging by the state it was in, he’s pretty sure it was used for a bit of spotlighting. There wasn’t a straight panel left.

That was a pretty typical fate. "Wayfarers sold quite well but they were a workhorse," he explains. "People abused them, they just wore them out. When they were worn out, they were just a Valiant and nobody wanted them, so they went to the tip."

This one may have been sad, but it was successfully resuscitated at a panel shop in Swan Hill. Once it was shipped back, Ron got to work on the mechanicals. As we mentioned, getting the 273 in was a bit of a fiddle, but the job looks factory. It’s matched to a TorqueFlite 904. What the engine is most famous for is its low-end urge. Max torque of 352Nm arrives at just 1600rpm, while max power of 180 horses (134kW) is reached at 4200rpm.

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He’s also gone for factory disc front brakes, albeit from the later VC. They were an optional fitting on the V8 cars of that generation.

For Ron and partner Megan, the Wayfarer rounds out a very nice Chrysler fleet that includes a V8 VC, a four-door Pacer and a Charger.

And what is the ute like from behind the wheel? "It’s great to drive. Just a cruiser, plenty of torque." Amen to that. If only the factory had got around to it…

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MARKET REVIEW - Chrysler Wayfarer AP6 ute

Wayfarer utilities weren’t sold new with a V8 engine option but popping the bonnet and finding a 273 staring back shouldn’t put potential buyers off. Nor is it cause for huge leaps in the asking price either.

Condition and plenty of it is what drives the values of 1960s Wayfarers. With so many heading off early to the rust farm they did become scarce but never terribly valuable. They still aren’t expensive so waiting around for the right car rather than trying to build one out of a wreck is a wise strategy.

chrysler-wayfarer-ap6-ute-2.jpgSlimline vertical tail lamps make it instantly recognisable as a Valiant

Just poking round the cars on display at a Chrysler Club show can reveal well-kept examples with no significant rust that might be on the market.

Finding that ‘your’ Valiant comes with a sheaf of service receipts and other history is a bonus that will prove valuable should you resell. There seems to be no preference for manual versions over automatics or vice versa.

Cars that as part of a restoration process have undergone a colour change can be less expensive that those that have been kept original. Unless the chosen colour is garish and conflicts wildly with the concept of a conservative 1960s load-carrier, the influence on price will be minimal.

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VALUE RANGE: Chrysler Wayfarer (AP6) ute

Fair: $5500
Good: $14,500
Excellent: $22,500+

(Note: concours cars will demand more)

BUYER'S CHECKLIST

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Body & chassis

Most 1960s Valiants in the market are structurally and cosmetically in decent nick. Those in sheds with serious rust aren’t worth repairing unless values soar.Even if a vehicle looks good superficially check the front chassis rails and firewall, torsion bar attachment points, floors and inner sills. So far so good? Check door and tailgate skins, the spare-wheel compartment and tray floor. Used panels often appear on-line but can include minor dents and rust that are costly to fix. Commercially-available rust repair sections, including tail-gate skins generally fit OK but ask the local Chrysler club for suppliers. Ensure bumpers and stainless parts are in good condition as they are hard to find.

chrysler-wayfarer-ap6-ute-engine-bay.jpgThe 273ci V8 nestles neatly in the engine bay

Engine & transmission

Slant-six Valiant motors are reliable and if running properly should stay that way with maintenance. Oil leaks from the sump, timing cover, cylinder head/block join and timing cover gasket, cracked exhaust manifolds and clogged radiators are pretty much the only problems you may encounter when buying a six. V8s suffer more seriously from overheating so budget for a radiator recore and perhaps a thermo-fan. The three-speed manual transmission in AP6s lacked synchromesh on first gear but might have been replaced with a later one that has it. The Torqueflite auto rarely gave problems but they can be a bit reluctant to select reverse.

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Suspension & brakes

The AP6 is unusual in that it used Chrysler’s traditional torsion-bar front end, not coil springs. These worked well until the mountings rusted or seized or the bars cracked. New torsion bars are available but parts alone will cost between $650 and $1100 per pair (with boots and clips) depending on the quality you specify. Adding an anti-roll bar while changing bars will improve handling and add $500. New brake drums cost $250-350 per pair with sets of shoes $50-80 per wheel. In a car that’s going to need a full brake replacement, checking the cost of a front disc conversion is worthwhile.

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Interior & electrics

Everything inside a 1960s Valiant is basic and pretty durable. The seats in some cars may still have their original pleated vinyl and worn sections present no challenge for a trimmer to match. Collapsed seats needing new springs and foam rubber are a bigger challenge so get a quote before bidding on a car with interior problems. If the seats are trashed then the hood lining is likely to be dirty and perhaps torn as well. Replacement material is available and engaging a professional to do the fitting will save frustration. Virtually everything electrical can be replaced with new components including the starter, alternator and wiper motor.

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1965-1966 Chrysler Valiant Wayfarer AP6 specs

NUMBER BUILT: 43,344 (all AP6)
BODY: integrated body/chassis two-door utility
ENGINE: 3686cc inline six-cylinder with overhead valves and single downdraft carburettor
POWER & TORQUE: 108kW @ 4000rpm, 292Nm @ 2400rpm
PERFORMANCE: 0-96km/h: 13.1 seconds, 0-400 metres 20.0 seconds (3 speed manual)
TRANSMISSION: 3-speed manual, 3-speed automatic
SUSPENSION: Independent with torsion bars, control arms and telescopic shock absorbers (f) live axle with semi-elliptic springs and telescopic shock absorbers (r)
BRAKES: drum (f) drum (r) some with power assistance
TYRES: 6.95 x 14 cross-ply

 

 

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