LET’S talk about Chrysler for a moment. There are a couple of stunners on show at Maffra’s Gippsland Vehicle Collection (GVC) as part of the First and Last exhibition, which celebrates the first and last vehicles of particular makes that were assembled or manufactured in Australia.
Chrysler Australia sold Chrysler Valiants between 1962 and 1981. Initially a rebadged locally assembled Plymouth Valiant from the United States, the second generation launched in 1963 was fully manufactured in Australia. It was sold locally as well as in New Zealand, South Africa and with smaller numbers also exported to Southeast Asia and the United Kingdom.
Glenn and Lynette Burrage of Bairnsdale have a lovely 1962 ‘S’ Series Chrysler Valiant on display at the GVC. They purchased it in 1993 from its original owners, the Pallot family, who bought it in 1962 from Bairnsdale dealer Brodribb Bros Motors.
The vehicle has a ‘slant’ six-cylinder engine, is a three-speed manual and has torsion bar suspension in the front and leaf spring suspension in the rear. Somewhat importantly, it looks fantastic! You can just imagine yourself cruising on the open road, windows down and some great ‘60s tunes sounding from the stereo.
Chrysler made significant investment in its Australian manufacturing facilities, and by the late ‘60s the Valiant was well-established as the third of the Big 3 Australian made vehicles, behind only Kingswood and Falcon.
The Valiants were built on the North American A-body platform but with many parts and components from Australian suppliers. The Charger was released in 1971. From that year on, the VH series saw Chrysler Australia develop the entire lineup locally until the CM series of 1979, which marked the end of local production in 1981, after the takeover of operations by Mitsubishi Motors Australia.
As part of the GVC’s First and Last exhibition, you can also see a hot 1976 Chrysler Charger CL-770. The CL series was the last Charger model made in Australia and features a new front bodywork. This particular vehicle was purchased by its current owner, Greg Ikin, in 1986 and its body is still in original condition.
It is powered by a 4.3-litre, six-cylinder Hemi engine, which was completely rebuilt in 2001, and a four-speed manual transmission.
Chrysler Australia’s manufacturing production of the Charger ended on August 16, 1978.
The First and Last exhibition will remain on show until the end of June, when vehicles will be changed over to make way for the Hot Rod exhibition coming in July. So, make sure you come along soon to see these fantastic Chryslers and the other fascinating duos on show before they head back to their home garages!
The Gippsland Vehicle Collection and Model World Maffra are open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10am to 4pm and every day in school holidays.
Admission is $15 per adult, $10 concession and free for children 15 and under.
For more information, visit gippslandvehiclecollection.org.au or facebook.com/gippslandvehiclecollection. The Gippsland Vehicle Collection is at 1A Sale-Maffra Rd, Maffra.