Vintage Ad: 1975 Chrysler Centura (Australia) – The Forgotten Australian?

We’ve had a lot of Australian car covered here over the years, but one has never made it here before, the Chrysler Centura. Like a fair number of other Australians, it was based on a European car, the Chrysler 180, but with a longer nose to make room for Chrysler Australia’s “hemi” inline six. The result wasn’t always perfect, but it did offer excellent performance thanks to the big six. Unfortunately, there were snags getting it into production and it never sold very well.

The Chrysler 180 (Roger Carr’s CC here) was a combined effort by Simca and Rootes to develop a new large car to replace their respective aging ones. It was a pretty pragmatic thing, without any exceptional features but did have a new SOHC four in 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0 L sizes.

The Centura was available with the largest of these fours, the 2.0, as well as 3.5 (215 CID) and 4.0 L (245 CID) versions of the Chrysler “hemi” inline six, and engine that was originally developed in the US but then sent off to Australia, where it enjoyed a successful life powering Valiants and Chargers and such.

The smaller six was rated at 142 hp, the larger at 167, which made the fairly compact and light Centura a lively sedan. But the added weight of the big six had a negative affect on handling, and a weight-sensing rear proportioning valve was necessary to eliminate rear brake lockup.

The French built body panels were held up at the docks in Australia for up to two years due to union protests over French nuclear tests in the South Pacific. Sales finally got under way in 1975, but by 1978, the Centura’s short life was over. It was replaced by the Chrysler Sigma, essentially a Mitsubishi Galant/Sigma.