Cohort Classic: 1971 Australian Valiant Charger RT Hemi Six Pack – That Thing Got A Hemi? Um; Not Quite.

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(first posted 6/25/2012)    Bryce posted these shots of a 1971 Valiant Charger Hemi Six-Pack, and I don’t really have the time to do an in-depth write-up on these fascinating machines. But I just can’t resist either; so it’s going to be quick, like the Charger. This Charger, the third different global Chrysler product to wear the name (US original; Brazilian Dart-based, and this Australian version) has a cast-iron pushrod ohv 265 inch six cylinder engine, but could rip the run from zero to sixty in 6.1 seconds, and to 100 in 14.1 seconds. Fastest six on the planet at the time? The secret? Well, it wasn’t the hemi head, because there really wasn’t one. Chrysler fibbing with its “hemi” name on its current V8 has a long history, all the way back to this one.

At first glance, it’s all too obvious this is no genuine hemi. It’s not even a cross-flow head, with intakes and exhausts lined up on one side, and the plugs on the other. Originally designed in Highland Park to replace the slant six, especially in trucks, genuine (read: expensive to build) hemi heads had long been banished to the limited-production 426 V8.

Here’s a look at its combustion chamber. Well, there was some basis to the claim: the chamber does somewhat resemble the top portion of a hemisphere, but the valves are only slightly inclined. But no matter: the Aussies took it over, and breathed some serious life into it. It is an excellent head, for what it is.

There were 215, 245, and 265 inch versions, and output ranged from 140 (gross) for a one-barrel 215, to 302 (gross) horsepower for the legendary E49 six-pack 265, which had a trio of side-draft Webers as in the photo above. It is by far the most powerful of the classic ohv inline sixes, and think how much fun this would have been to have in a (US) Valiant or such.

The new VH Series Valiant arrived in 1971, and was mostly an Australian-developed car, although benefiting from the mothership’s  technology, as well as V8 engines, including the 318 and 340.  But even the 340 Charger couldn’t top the 265 E49 in acceleration. Take that!

A formidable car, and a real charger, even if it didn’t have a real hemi. No wonder Ford scrambled to develop their FEMI.