We know just from watching Mad Max that Australia is capable of making cool cars. Its Ford and GM plants have molded some of the most impressive vehicles, including the Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe and the Holden Monaro (Pontiac GTO). There was another factory down under, this time in the form of Chrysler, and although the cars had a hard time competing against Ford and Holden, they are still worth noting. Chrysler recently pulled its brand from Australia, so we couldn’t help but get a little nostalgic. Here are some of the coolest cars to come from Chrysler, Australian edition.
1971 Valiant Charger: Australian muscle
North American Valiants sold under Plymouth, and while that version only lasted until 1976, Australia kept making them for the next four years. Chrysler Australia did a lot with it between 1962 and 1980, most notably the Valiant Charger from 1971. It was a compact muscle car with a swept fastback body and had several trims customers could choose from. The most powerful was the R/T, with a 300-hp 4.3-liter inline-six.
Valiant Chargers shared multiple wheelbases, as well as coupe and sedan body styles. With a 3.6-liter V8 making 275 horsepower, the Valiant Charger was faster than the Falcon. It could hit 60 mph in about 7 seconds. Chrysler Australia was great at squeezing horsepower from small engines and didn’t conform to U.S. emissions laws, so the Valiant Charger kept its speedy stride well throughout the 1970s.
1967 Dodge Phoenix: Australian luxury
The Dodge Phoenix was a full-size luxury car based on the Dodge Dart and the Plymouth Fury, built in Australia from 1960-1972. It had a 5.2-liter V8 pushing the rear wheels with 230 horsepower. Later it would get a 6.3-liter with its new four-door hardtop in 1967 with 270 horsepower. Though it was relatively light for the time (3300 pounds), the Phoenix (1962) was anything but a performer.
With its 5.2 V8, The Phoenix eventually reached 60 mph in 11 seconds, topping out at 108 mph, but that wasn’t the point. Chrysler Australia intended the Phoenix as an “Action-Economy” car, and that’s what it was. The 1967 Phoenix got self-adjusting hydraulic drum brakes, power steering, and heavy-duty suspension. All Dodge Phoenix model years paired with a 3-speed automatic transmission.
1977 Chrysler Sigma: Australian compact
You may recall Mitsubishi’s partnership with Chrysler in the 1990s. It churned out such gems as the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4, the Dodge Stealth, the Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX, and the Eagle Talon. This partnership dates back much further than the 1990s, to 1977 with the Chrysler Sigma. Chrysler Australia built the Sigma as a close relative of the Mitsubishi Galant from 1977-1980. It was a four-door mid-size sedan with a sporty body style that used several engines throughout its tenure. It was never a mighty car under Australia’s regime, but when Mitsubishi bought Chrysler Australia in 1980, it gave the Sigma a turbocharged 2-liter engine that produced 156 horsepower.
American cars could explore new avenues of performance in Australia without being shackled to strict emissions laws. Although Chrysler Australia cars weren’t quite up to the performance of their North American counterparts, it still provided a platform on which the cars could expand well after their U.S.-based tenure had run out.