Today’s Feature: What if the Plymouth Valiant line wasn’t reduced for 1967? Specifically, what if they continued to offer station wagons, convertibles, and hardtop coupes and added a four door hardtop?
What If? – Third Generation Valiant
– Posted on January 1, 2012
This one is a bit rough, but hopefully I got the point across.
You need to look at later Valiants like these.Aussie VH 2door hardtop
Nice. I’m still trying to figure out why they dropped the wagon, but then I guess it just wasn’t selling well in the previous generation. It would really have become the Volvo 145/245 of its time.
Wow, I really like those, especially that black convertible. Plymouth really could have made some money with a wagon in 1967-75. The only real competition would have been the Falcon wagon until 1970, and the Hornet Sportabout from 1970-75. Chrysler did correct this in 1976 with the Aspen/Volare wagons.
Edit: I forgot that Rambler offered an American wagon from 1967-69 as well.
Presumably if Plymouth is still around today they’ll get a version of the new Dart, and it would be all too logical to call it the Valiant.
I can understand dropping the convertible but dropping the wagon in the middle of the station wagon heyday did not make sense to me. As noted when they draped new sheet metal on it and changed the name to Aspen/Volare they corrected that mistake and the wagon version of those seemed to sell well. So yeah I think they lost out on a couple hundred thousand sales in those years they didn’t have a compact wagon.
The Aussies continued to make Valiant wagons throughout the 60’s and 70’s.
Not only they contunued to make Valiants wagons down under in Australia. The Mexican Valiants still got an 2-door hardtop coupe during the 1967-69 model years. I saw some photos at http://www.forabodiesonly.com/mopar/showthread.php?t=120829
However, the Valiant got its hardtop back for 1971 with the Scamp
Aussie continued the hardtop coupe right thru the 60s more rear window slope than the mexican version tho
I think they were made in South Africa, too.
I see someone else was finding a photo of an Aussie version the same time I was. The photo below is an example that made its way to Georgia where I encountered it last summer, southwest of Atlanta.
I think the reason all of the Big Three dropped compact wagons in the late 1960’s was that their midsize and full size wagons were selling very well, and a slightly smaller wagon would have been a less profitable vehicle that might have cannibalized sales from the bigger cars. The Falcon wagon wasn’t really a compact after 1965; from 1966 on it was built on the Fairlane platform. Chevy dropped the Nova wagon after 1967.
Thats a VE Val cool the next model VF was the last model powered by the old slant 6 as in 71 the HEMI6 landed then the body was restyled into its last iteration. A 74 VJ pictured with 265 cube HEMI 6 also available in wagon 2 door short w/b Charger Lwb hardtop coupe pillarless Zackman would have loved it and of course ute all available with E49 performance package which made these the fastest 6 cylinder car on the planet
That US Valiant wagon is very attractive, like the Volvo wagon. MadH I think you’re right about why they dropped the compact wagons. Rather than offer what people wanted, they tried to force people to buy what would make them the most money. Thus leaving markets like the compact wagon market open for “foreign” makes. Thus sowing the seeds for their own irrelevance in the Eighties.
Exactly, because right about then the imports moved in on the compact wagon market, with the VW Squareback and the various Toyota and Datsun wagons. Detroit countered with the Pinto and Vega wagons, ugh.
IINM, AMC even dropped its Rambler American wagon in the late ’60s. Rightly or wrongly, once intermediate sized wagons came on the scene, American manufacturers saw no need to build wagons in both compact and intermediate sizes. The intermediates won out and the compacts went away. Chevrolet introduced the stripped-down Chevelle Nomad to serve customers who may have previously bought a compact wagon. I think Plymouth had a similar intermediate offering as well for a few years after the Valiant wagon was dropped.
While the imports did move in to fill the vacuum, their wagons were considerably smaller than American compacts, as were the Pinto and Vega. These “subcompact” wagons sold well, however, as they offered optimal use of space on such a small platform. The charge back into compact wagons in the ’70s would be led by the two American manufacturers that didn’t have a subcompact wagon — AMC (which introduced a Hornet wagon in the early ’70s) and Chrysler (with the Volare/Aspen). Ford would also go the compact route with the Fairmont, while GM stuck to the intermediate class with its downsized ’78 A-body wagons. By the end of the ’70s, Chrysler was essentially building nothing but compact wagons, and would stay that way until it stopped building wagons entirely in the late ’80s.
This Brown one looks like a 68 Satelite Wagon to me. Did They even make Belvederes then?
The Australian wagon looks pretty cool. The taillights look a lot like the ones on the ’67-’69 Barracudas.
Or with a kick-up in the centre could be the new Charger
I cannot think of any vehicle more useful than a station wagon with a trailer hitch.
I guess the real puzzle is why Chrysler let Dodge have a 2 Dr Hardtop and convertible Dart during this time—-was the Valiant considered to be that much of a bargain basement nameplate? The mid sizer had the Sport Satellite and the full sizer had the VIP–go figure.
It was because Plymouth had a pony car and Dodge didn’t. The Valiant hardtop and convertible were dropped when the newly restyled Barracuda got a notchback and convertible for ’67. (This hadn’t been an issue in 1964-66, when the Barracuda came only as a fastback.) Dodge didn’t have a version of the Barracuda, so it got to keep those two body styles.
Don’t forget that the Dart and Valiant were on two different wheelbases back then. The Dart was on a 111 inch wb, while the Valiant was a 108 inch wb car. When Plymouth got the Scamp, it was the 111 inch body. Ditto, when Dodge got the Duster variant, it was on the 108 inch body. The 108 inch sedans were killed after 1972, and all 73-76 Valints were now badge-engineered Darts.
The wagons didn’t sell all that well for 1966 (under 12,000 production run) but it is surprising that they were dropped for 1967. After all, the Valiant was clearly designed for them, e.g., the thin vertical taillights would have translated nicely into a wagon body style and the trunk already had a level cargo area.
For 1967 Dodge Dart got a two-door hardtop and convertible because, unlike Plymouth, it was not given a pony car. Chrysler presumably assumed that a Valiant hardtop would compete with the Barracuda. The Barracuda notchback was so ugly that a Valiant hardtop might have given it a run for its money in sales.
“The Barracuda notchback was so ugly that a Valiant hardtop might have given it a run for its money in sales.”
I respectfully disagree. The Barracuda Coupe looked like a 3/4 scale ’68-’70 Charger. I thought they looked good.
It wasn’t just Plymouth; it seemed like there was a sense across the industry that you didn’t need hardtops and convertibles in your compact line if you had them in your ponycar and intermediate lines (just as there was apparently a sense that you didn’t need a wagon in your compact line if you had an intermediate wagon). Ford dropped the Falcon hardtop and convertible after 1965. Chevy would drop the Nova hardtop after 1967, and hadn’t built Nova convertibles since the Chevelle was introduced in 1964 (with the Corvair also offering a convertible all along).
The Dart convertible was ultimately dropped when Dodge finally got a version of the Barracuda convertible (1970 Challenger). By that time the Dart hardtop had carved out a niche, however (Swinger) and was allowed to continue, eventually crossing back over to Plymouth.
This series did have a 2-door hardtop, in Mexico.
As for the Valiant convert, it wasn’t really dropped so much as it was
transferred to the Barracuda line. An A-body is an A-body, what’s in a name?
A 4 door hardtop wouldn’t work on such a small unibody car, there would be zero structural integrity. The only such body style and size ever built was the ’65-’67 Corvair. I have no experience with them but I doubt they were very solid.
Well, the four door Corvair is in my top five dream cars, specifically because it was the only compact four door hardtop (at least in the US market). Just like other hardtops and convertibles, the sleek design makes up for any structural rigidity problems. But since these are dream cars, I’ll just pretend that the hardtop is as sturdy as the Sedan.
Always loved Valiants. This is my favorite Australian production Valiant Wagon, the 1981 model in Regal trim.
I had a 73 ranger wagon tired beat up but reliable as the sun, 215 hemi motor it was good on gas I drove up and down the east coast in it Melborne to Cairns and back never missed a beat The chassis was cracked ahead of the steering box and it eventually got so bad I had to replace it. Got a 245 Centura sedan and the wagon went to the wreckers in Sheparton.
Unsturdy or not, Sign me up for a Signet 4 door hardtop (although I doubt it would have been all that worse than a 1962-63 plucked chicken in structural rigidity) with a 318 and Torqueflite. Best Sensible style of 1967.
The problem with a Valiant wagon is the same problem Chrysler had with any model line that got too close to another within the Chrysler family. Instead of conquest sales from Ford or GM, they ended up cannibalizing sales from within the company.
IOW, a Valiant wagon would not take sales from GM or Ford but, rather, would take sales from the more profitable intermediate Belvedere line. Chrysler could ill-afford a customer looking to trade in their Valiant sedan for a thin profit margin Valiant wagon when they could move them into a more lucrative Belvedere.
This scenario played out all too well a few years later with the Duster 340 stealing ‘Cuda and Roadrunner sales. Even though the Duster 340 was a certifiable hit and sold like ice on a hot day, Chrysler executives were not happy since it cost sales from the more profitable E and B body cars.
I think that another factor in the demise of the Valiant wagon was that Chrysler played a game of “me too” back then. Whatever GM and Ford were doing, Chrysler was right behind them. It was surely well known in the industry that GM was getting out of the compact wagon business with its next generation Nova, so I suspect that Lynn Townsend would have been reluctant to commit resources to a segment that GM did not see as worth contesting.
I love these proposals, though. A convertible, 2 door hardtop and a wagon would have made Valiant the king of the world by 1973-74.
I’ve owned a long string of A-body cars over the years, some of which were definitely oddballs, but can’t really add anything – the commentary above has thoroughly covered the subject.
I agree that the manufacturers probably did away with the compact wagons hoping that people would buy the intermediate instead, but I don’t really understand why they stopped there. After all, look at a 1967 Valiant 4-door sedan. Now look at the corresponding Belvedere. Not really much different, and each car could be had with the same powertrain and the great majority of appearance options etc. Maybe the surprising thing is that they didn’t make only a coupe in the compact line and upsell to the intermediate for all the other body styles.
The answer may lie in the market demographic of the entry-level aspect of the sixties’ compact car. Someone buying their first car probably isn’t going to have a lot to spend and will go for the cheapest car they can get, i.e., a stripped sedan rather than a pricier wagon.
Then, as their financial situation improves (and, presumably, family size increases), when they need to trade-in their basic compact sedan, the vehicle they move up to won’t be a compact wagon, but what Chrysler (or any manufacturer) would prefer, that being the more profitable intermediate size sedan (or wagon).
FWIW, this is exactly how it went in my family. My dad started out with a brand-new 1964 Valiant 2-door sedan, slant-six and three-on-the-tree, the only option being an AM radio.
Then, in 1970, he bought a used 1968 Plymouth Fury I 4-door. It was pretty basic, too, but at least it was a lot bigger than the Valiant and had an automatic and A/C.
Maybe he’d have bought a new 1970 Valiant wagon, instead, if one had been available for the same price as the Fury, but I’m sure the Fury sale was more lucrative for the dealer.
Yes the 67-69 Valiant was available as a 2 door hardtop in Mexico, but not in the US or Canada. Otherwise it looked the same as the US 67-69 Valiants.
You’ll see a 69 2 door hardtop about halfway down the page at this link.
And while the A-body late 60’s Valiant in Australia got a wagon version, it had 67-69 Dart front sheet metal at first, and then later, had its own unique Australian front sheet metal. But in South Africa, the late 60’s Australian Valiant wagon body was mated to the American late 60’s Valiant front sheet metal making what could easily have been the late 60’s American Valiant wagon.
You can see a 68 South African Valiant wagon on this page and notice it has the correct for 68 round side marker lights.
Very interesting to see the Aussie wagon body with the two different fronts on them. Some interesting mix-&-match combinations must be possible.
It’s not as surprising that the Valiant wagon was discontinued after ’67 as that it wasn’t reintroduced around 1972 – by that time Vega Kammbacks and Hornet Sportabouts were selling like hotcakes, Ford was scrambling to ready the Pinto wagon for a spring ’72 launch, the intermediates were growing to almost-full-size, and the Aussies had moved on to the all-new VH meaning that the VE-VG body dies should’ve been available. Meanwhile the Aspen/Volare were four long years off…
Awesome looking Valiant. What I’ve never understood was why the 1967-1976 Plymouth Valiant were never offered as a station wagon or convertible.
According to Brian Bouwkamp over at Allpar, the Aspen/Volare was originally developed to replace both the A- and B-Bodies in Chrysler’s lineup – apparently research showed that the (private) buyers of each series were very similar – and with the rollout of the R-Bodies, that’s essentially what happened. So, from that perspective, bringing the wagpon back made sense. Now, if only they’d made an R-Body wagon and 2-door, and brought them out in ’77 or ’78…
It’s a shame that the third gen Valiant/Dart was never offered in station wagon form, that people had to wait until the Aspen/Volare to get a station wagon.
And to run with your ball further; all 1972 up Aussie/South Africa market A body were RHD only. From that same era, all of the 3rd gen A’s were LHD only.
Supposedly, Chrysler was going to offer that bloated VH based A body here in the USA as well, I suspect that with the fuselage 1971+ B bodies already a thing, that cancelled said 1972+ 4th gen Valiant and friends.
Nice photoshop of that Valiant 4 door hardtop. If it were produced, it would be the only compact 4 door hardtop in America-other than the Corvair. An interesting “what if”.Could picture one in Brougham trim.
This wagon actually existed as a regular-production model in South Africa. American Valiant or Dart front end (depending on build year), Australian Valiant wagon body:
For some reason, the Plymouth Valiant was never available in the USA as a station wagon after 1967.
1966 was the last year for the Dart and Valiant wagons in North America.
Why they were discontinued after that is beyond me. Who needs a full-sized wagon, like a Suburban, or a Town and Country?
The 4-door hardtop here raises my perennial question of why Chrysler didn’t include one when they launched the ‘intermediate’ B-bodies in 1965 – they already had one tooled, and tooling one up for the ’66 redesign certainly was possible. Would have stolen the march on both GM and Ford.
While they were at it, they could have made a Chrysler Coronado version, too. Yes, would have sold in the same showrooms as the Belvedere, but if equipped well and with a distinctive front clip and rear quarters it would have sold well enough.