Just a few days ago, J.P. Cavanagh shared with us an immaculate 1961 Ford Falcon. The Falcon was a tremendous success for Ford and, while it wasn’t the first domestic compact, it helped popularize the segment. It faced competition from the Chrysler Corporation’s compact, the Plymouth Valiant. The Falcon and Valiant may have been “compacts” in North America, but imagine for a moment a market where a Falcon or a Valiant was a standard-sized car, even a full-sizer, and where anything larger was a much lower volume product perhaps bought only by your wealthy uncle or a livery company. Welcome to Australia.
For those in European or Asian markets, even considering a Valiant as a standard-sized vehicle would be quite a surprising concept. For someone in 1960s Europe, a Valiant might seem extravagantly large. For an Aussie in the 1960s, a Valiant probably seemed just right. For an American, it was small. Flash forward to today and, while subcompacts and compacts remain vastly more popular in Europe and moderately more popular in Australia than in the US, something like a Toyota Corolla or RAV-4 is considered respectably sized no matter which continent you live on. That classic American excess is now reserved more for pickups.
To stay in shape, I’ve taken to going for long, meandering walks after work. It’s good exercise and it has allowed me to see parts of my city I’ve never seen before, from the gorgeous old homes of West End and Highgate Hill to the quiet streets of apartment complexes in St. Lucia. The featured Valiants were photographed in the latter two suburbs, respectively. This verdant Valiant was a curious sighting on a street dominated by student accommodation and much newer cars. It would appear to be an AP5-series Chrysler Valiant, produced from 1963 to 1965. The white Valiant, meanwhile, is a VC-series from 1966-67. While the Australian Valiant received crisp new sheetmetal around the same time as the North American Dart and Valiant, the two markets’ Valiants then diverged.
If you haven’t already read it, John’s two-part series on Valiants in Australia is definitely worth your time. The dissimilar perception of size and the different positioning made for two very different Valiant lines. You say to-mate-o, I say to-maht-o. You say compact, I say standard-size.