Chrysler Valiant AP5-AP6 - Buyer's Guide

By: Cliff Chambers

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chrysler valiant ap5 ap6 chrysler valiant ap5 ap6

Having gained the market's attention with glamorous imports, Chrysler proceeded to produce a worthy family car locally

 

Chrysler Valiant AP5-AP6

For the better part of 15 years, Holden held the Australian ‘family car’ market in a grip that remained undiminished even after the arrival of challengers from Ford and Chrysler.

Both Ford’s Falcon and the Chrysler Valiant were initially adapted to Australian market needs rather than designed specifically to meet them.  That changed in May 1963 when the exotically shaped R and S Series Valiants were replaced by the more conservative AP5.

The letters stood for ‘Australian Production’ and, even though the cars resembled US versions, just six items of AP5 sheet-metal were US-sourced. Almost 50,000 AP5s were sold before being replaced in March 1965 by the AP6 range.  It remained available for only a year yet 43,434 of this popular local Chrysler were sold and they remain easy to find.

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These models were the first Australian Valiants to offer a station wagon which, like Ford’s Falcon, featured a wind-down tailgate window. Physically bigger than either the Falcon or Holden’s EH model, Valiant wagons would accommodate loads up to seven feet (2.15 metres) in length.

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Regal versions of the AP5 and AP6 were fitted with a ‘split bench’ front seat, standard heater/demister, a two-tone steering wheel, white-wall tyres and courtesy lights that operated when any of the doors were opened. There was a V8 version too, Australia’s first family car with an eight cylinder engine. The V8 model came with vinyl roof covering, floor-mounted gear-lever and genuine bucket seats, carpet extending to the boot and a top speed of 167km/h. Brakes were power-assisted drums and the tyres skimpy cross-plys.

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Away from a standstill, the torque of the 3.6-litre ‘Slant Six’ would leave rivals including the 179-engined Holden, well behind in a haze of rubber smoke. Tests at the time extracted a 0-96km/h time from an AP5 manual of 13.1 seconds – 0.8 seconds better than a manual EH.

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These Valiants are roomy cars with plenty of space for six. However it is unlikely there will be sufficient seat belts for that number, so care during family cruises is required.

Less than $10,000 will buy a base-model sedan or wagon in usable condition. Regals in fair condition begin at $15,000 and will run to double that amount if a car is a quality original or recent restoration.

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VALUE RANGE AP5/AP6:

FAIR: $8000
GOOD: $20,000
EXCELLENT: $30,000

(Note: exceptional cars will demand more)

BUYER'S CHECKLIST

BODY & CHASSIS

Rust attacks in a variety of difficult-to-see places but none is more critical than the front sub-frame mounting points. Get any car you are considering onto a hoist, looking for corrosion or recent welding. Inner and outer sills are equally critical but less complex to replace. Station wagon tailgates rust internally and can jam the window winder mechanism, so ensure it works properly. Also make sure the door-window winders operate without needing excessive force. Chromed and stainless steel parts are difficult to source but some reproduction items are available.

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ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

‘Slant Six’ engines and Torqueflite transmissions are reliable and can exceed 250,000 kilometres without major problems. Timing chain noise is common and not significant unless it persists once the engine is warm. The engine lies at an angle which is intentional but excessive movement when revved suggests weakened engine mountings. Replacing a cracked exhaust manifold with extractors is common, cost effective and will improve fuel economy. The Torqueflite transmission is very tough but make sure that reverse engages within two seconds, otherwise a rebuild or replacement unit will soon be needed.

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

Free play at the steering wheel is relatively common but needs investigation if it moves more than 50mm without moving the road wheels. Bouncing and ‘chattering’ from the front end points to worn shock absorbers and tired torsion bars. Original-spec bars are difficult to obtain locally but a North American supplier quotes US$390 per pair plus freight for reproduction units. Kits of front-end service components are available in Australia for around $500. The drum brakes even when in good condition lock easily and especially when cold. A soggy pedal is likely due to faulty wheel or master cylinders. Replacing front drum brakes with later-model discs is relatively simple.

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INTERIOR & ELECTRICAL

Seat coverings, replacement door trims and carpets are freely available and relatively inexpensive. Door mounted armrests collapse but a set of second-hand replacements was sighted at $80. Replacement material for the two-toned vinyl trim is available and second-hand dash hardware including gauges cost $120-180.  Reproduction front door handles cost around $100 per pair and while horn rings for steering wheels are available for $100 or so, a complete Regal wheel in good condition was offered at $450.

1963-1966 Chrysler Valiant AP5-AP6 specs

NUMBER BUILT: 49,440 (AP5) 43,344 (AP6)
BODY: all-steel, integrated body/chassis four-door sedan and station wagon, two-door utility
ENGINE: 3686cc in-line six-cylinder or 4474cc V8 (AP6) with overhead valves and single downdraft carburetor
POWER & TORQUE: 108kW @ 4200rpm, 292Nm @ 2400rpm (AP6 six-cylinder)
PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h 13.8 seconds (approx), 0-400 metres 20.2 seconds (AP6 six-cylinder)
TRANSMISSION: three-speed manual or three-speed automatic
SUSPENSION: Independent with torsion bars, wishbones and telescopic shock absorbers (f)  Live axle with semi-elliptic springs and telescopic shock absorbers (r)
BRAKES: drums front and rear with power assistance
TYRES: 14 inch steel with 6.45x14 or 6.95x14 crossply

 

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