CH Chrysler Hardtop - a short history.

Chrysler Australia released the VH range in 1971. It was a major change from the preceding VG range - larger cars, which were styled to look even larger than they were. The VG was a based the US "A" body platform, but the VH was wider and longer. This model range also saw the introduction of the new limousine class vehicles, the "CH" range. The V in VH is for Valiant, and the C in CH is for Chrysler.

The CH was a further 4 inches longer in the wheelbase than the VH Valiant (115 inches over 111 inches), with a total length of 197 inches. It received a different front and rear end treatment, and had higher equipment levels. The amusingly named "Chrysler by Chrysler" was the four-door version, and was intended to compete with the Holden Statesman and the Ford Fairlane for the luxury car market in Australia

CH Chrysler Hardtop - Click for a larger image

The 2 door version of the CH was called the Chrysler Hardtop. The Hardtop had the same wheelbase as the Chrysler by Chrysler, and shared the front and rear end treatment. There was also a VH Valiant Hardtop, which had the same basic body as the CH Hardtop, but with the VH Valiant front and rear end.


Here's a picture of my Chrysler Hardtop

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and here's a picture of a Valiant Hardtop:

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The most obvious difference between the VH and CH hardtops is probably the front end treatment. The wraparound front bumper and dual headlights of the CH are identical to those from the CH Chrysler by Chrysler. A common modification for VH/VJ hardtops is the additional of a Chrysler by Chrysler front end. (See link to Sheridan Butt's site at the bottom of this page to see how this is done).

The doors and door-glass are the same, except that the CH has factory tinted glass. The rear end of the CH Hardtop is the same as the CH Chrysler by Chrysler - you can tell even from the side by the tail light which wraps around onto the side of the car. The rear window is also smaller, giving more of a limousine flavour. The vinyl roof has a different line in in the CH - there is a strip of body left exposed between the side windows and the vinyl, which flares out at the rear.


CH Hardtop

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VH Hardtop (this one is minus vinyl roof)

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The VJ Hardtop at right shows the line of the vinyl roof clearly - compare to the CH above. The VJ received a revised tail light treatment along with the rest of the Valiant range.
VJ Hardtop

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Inside the CH had huge amounts of sound proofing, carpet, cloth trim and a "split bench" front seat , with fold-down armrests for driver and front passenger, which could flipped up into the seats to accommodate a sixth passenger front-centre. And of course these seats had to flip forward to allow rear passengers to enter. To my knowledge the "flip forward" split bench was only ever used in the CH Hardtop, which makes them pretty rare seats. The CH cars also had foot well lights and aircraft-style reading lights for the rear passengers.

There were 2 engines available in the CH Hardtop - the locally developed 265ci 6 cylinder or the new 360ci V8. The 360 had a small 2-barrel carburettor and a small cam, which provided great low-end torque for hauling the car off the line, but ran out of breath higher up the rev range. The price was $4895 for the 6 cylinder or $5095 for the V8.

The Hardtops were not a great success. Later that year Chrysler Australia released their Charger, which was a huge hit. Sales of the Hardtops went downhill fast. Only 500 Chrysler Hardtops were built, and to my knowledge they were all CH models. The Valiant Hardtop survived (briefly) into the next model range, the VJ, but still only achieved total sales of some 2000 units.

Today they are rarely seen, since they still hold less appeal for most people than the Charger, and many examples have ended up on the scrap heap. However their value as collector's items has risen slowly over the years, and the remaining examples are now more likely to find themselves in the hands of an enthusiast then at the wrecking yard.

Thanks to Sheridan Butt for letting me use the pictures of his VH and VJ hardtops.





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