Plymouth Valiant

In the mid 1950s American car market was overflowed with popular small import vehicles. Domestic car manufacturers needed to rise up to the new challenge and each had their own methods.

In 1957, Chrysler appointed Virgil Exner, their chief stylist, to design a smaller car model without the loss of standard passenger comfort. It took an entire team of 100 people to produce results, which were presented two years later at the 44th International Motor Show in London.

The prototype had originally been named Falcon concept car, but Henry Ford II arranged to keep the name for his model Ford Falcon.

According to Exner's son, the name came from Hal Foster's comic strip Prince Valiant, his father's favorite comic. In any case, Valiant entered the market on its own in 1960.

Compact car market foreign car registrations skyrocketed to more than 668,000 in 1959. Plymouth Valiant had his advantages - it seated six people, had huge luggage compartment, offered fuel efficient consumption along with great performance. Best aspect was the price that targeted the majority of Americans struck by strong recession.

The Valiant station wagons were actually among the lowest priced vehicles in category in United States, with a base price of $2,110. The car was offered only as a four-door sedan and a six- or nine-passenger wagon, on same 106.5 inch wheelbase.

Valiant had sleek lines flowing forward in a dart or wedge shape, making it recognizable among the competition. Many automotive critics considered it to be inspired by European trends, with tailfins tipped with eye shaped tail lamps and simulated spare tire pressing on the deck lid. A lower hoodline allowed a shorter engine, which was real innovation at the time. Power performance was kept through dependable 225 cu in Slant Six engine.

V-200 sedans were the most popular and sold 106,515 units in 1960. Interesting fact about the production process was the use of aluminum. Profiting from Chrysler's leadership in die casting techniques Plymouth Valiant had a number of chassis elements made from aluminum, making the same parts 60% lighter in comparison to their cast iron counterparts.

In example, Valiant grille and surrounding molding weighed 3 lb, where as the usual zinc grilles of the era weighed 13 lb. Plymouth Valiant entire unibody construction wasn't unique, however it was rather uncommon at the time. Engineers used early computers to optimize structural loads and eliminate potential sources of noise, an important problem of early models. The development of compact cars helped greatly to make it a standard for years to come.

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