As the cars of my teenage years age, some brands and series have vanished unnoticed, others achieve mythical status, and a few just roll along and become a blank canvas to their new owners’ creativity or practical needs. Every VH series Chrysler Valiant I have seen for some time now falls into the latter category.
I saw this Regal sedan as its owners were about to leave the beach, and went over for a closer look. This previously well used one owner car had now become a project to be enjoyed by its new family, and not taken too seriously… clearly, have you read the stickers?
The VH series Valiant, introduced in South Africa in the early 70’s, had big shoes to fill. Valiants had been sold in South Africa since 1960, and by 1966 it was the top selling car in the country, a position it held till 1969 when it was unseated by the Beetle. By 1974 it was selling in 7th place.
Until South Africa adopted the Australian developed VH model we had loosely followed the North American Valiant and Dart pattern. Cars were initially assembled in Cape Town, but from ’68 assembly was moved to the Silverton plant near Pretoria, which is today owned by Ford and is where Ranger bakkies are assembled.
Here is a Valiant VJ model, sold from ’73 to ’75 which I caught up with outside the Timour Hall Car Show. South Africa received no V8 Valiants, and no VH or J coupes. We did get the VH station wagon and bakkie though.
I like this aftermarket grille update. These Valiants were not as popular as the models before, as they were getting too big for South African tastes, and the 1974 oil crisis really turned people away from large cars in droves.
Here is the car again some time later, what a great company car this makes!
This is the top of the line model Dodge SE, taken from the Chrysler by Chrysler Australian model.
This car has unfortunately had some very wonky accident repair work done to it but it’s still someone’s trusty daily transport.
Despite Valiants being so popular once in South Africa one hardly sees them anymore. Along with all the Toyota Coronas and Colt Galants most just racked up enormous mileages and gave great service until they were no longer financially viable to fix. Most Valiants became inner city metered taxis at some point, and they were brilliant at that.
I’ll leave you with a piece of music I love, filmed in Johannesburg with a 70’s theme and best of all it features a VH Valiant.