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by Javier Denardo
Before the 1940s, Argentina imported all of its vehicles. Any model or make could be purchased, and many Dodge, Plymouth, Desoto. Fargo and Chrysler products were imported directly from the U.S. (many still survive today over there).
(Fernando de Arostequi wrote in the Plymouth Bulletin:) Argentina was (and is) a rich country, so there were buyers for every product American makers sold — Cadillacs, Duesenbergs, LaSalles, and others, including 16-cylinder models, were imported. 1935 Dodges were used as taxis for many years, all black, with jump seats and an Imperial division between passenger and driver; they were all right-hand drive (Argentina switched to left hand drive in 1945, but taxis were allowed to run with right hand drive for many years afterwards).
Chrysler brands had a major foothold due to the huge autodrome built by the Resta Brothers, which included not only showrooms but a major rooftop test track, on which customers could drive the cars they intended to buy; and an integrated production facility to make Chrysler, Plymouth, DeSoto, Dodge, and Imperial cars from American-made kits.
After World War II, because car building stopped in the U.S. from 1942 to 1946, Argentina shifted towards European cars (e.g. Fiat, Renault) and then stopped importing altogether (except for diplomats and special situations). Car building was stressed after 1955 and by 1962 it is said that 22 automakers set up shop there through local investors or through direct involvement (Ford and Kaiser). Chrysler was associated with Fevre & Basset, and by 1962 was building the Valiant I (the 1960 version of the U.S. Plymouth Valiant.) Only the 4 door version was produced.
Later, the Valiant II came out, followed by the Valiant III in 1965; it resembled the 1963 Dodge Dart. In 1967 the Valiant IV came out and looked very much like the U.S. 1966 Plymouth Valiant.
Dave Desmond commented: "The wheelbase was 111 inches (2820mm). Amazing that Chrysler tooled up unique sheet metal for the circa-1975 Argentinean GTX /Coronado/Polara and the Spanish 3700 models: such a tiny market in both countries! Does anyone know Chrysler's rationale?"
Production ceased for the Valiants in 1968 or 1969, when they were replaced by the Coronado and Polaras, also known as the 3700 GT in Europe. (One of these cars is seen in the first Batman movie directed by Tim Burton, as it was filmed in the UK but they obtained American cars for this film. The 3700 GT was never sold in the U.S. so it's a pseudo-American car). The Polara R/T was a coupe with a slant 6 (not sure if the 170 or 225 cu. in) but the GTX was available with a 273 or 318 cubic inch V8 engine — a rarity in Argentina, as most cars were four or six cylinders. There were some limited edition GTXs with 6 cylinders as well.
The general impression of these cars are that they look like the 1968 Plymouth Belvedere for the 4dr and the Dodge Charger/Plymouth Roadrunner for the coupe, but they are smaller (although larger than the Dodge Dart). However, the interior (especially the dashboard) remind you of the early 70s Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant. These coupes are not available in large numbers, but are collected by some purists and are hard to sell, since gas consumption is high, compared to the 4 cylinder cars the Argentine consumer is used to.
Dodge also imported the 1500 range, localized Hillmans.
During this period, Dodge pickups and large trucks were built and sold. The styles were the 1962 to 1970 American version. The trucks were produced till 1979, when Chrysler went through its crisis and sold the company to Volkswagen. The only car to be produced later by Volkswagen was the 1500 (Hillman as shown accurately elsewhere on this site) produced till 1990.
Chrysler did not reappear on the market until 1992 when a local dealer, Sidway S.a, set up shop and began importing nearly the full line, from Shadow to Neon, all branded as Chrysler or Jeep except the Dodge Viper and Dakota. Instead of bringing in the Chrysler Cirrus, they rebranded the Stratus to Chrysler Stratus.
Chrysler Argentina S.A has since then been formed and now builds Cherokees and Grand Cherokees in the City of Cordoba, Argentina for local sale as well as for the Brazilian market. It continues to import the current line of Chrysler (actually rebadged Dodge) vehicles.
A form of stock car racing still exists (as of the late 1990s) where these three cars compete: the 1970s GTX coupe, the 1972 Chevy Nova, and the 1962 version of the Ford Falcon. Despite the fact these cars have not been produced for years, they are still raced and thus have survived. So there was a following of Chrysler/Dodge fans for many years. Also, there is a building in Buenos Aires which is called the Chrysler Building! The building appears to be abandoned, but it was used in the 1920s and 1930s by the importer of Chrysler products back then. It is said to contain an oval race track on the roof (!) used to test cars that were assembled locally back then.
Click here for information on the Hillman Avenger in Argentina - known as the Dodge 1500 and (in Brazil) as the Dodge 1800
by Francisco J. Bóscolo
From the Valiant II, Chrysler made a GT version with two carburetors and (logically) a different intake. Today this intake are very rare and those with a Chrysler inline six want to have 2 carburetors.
After that came the Dodge Coronado and Polara. They were almost the same car inside but totally different from the outside. They were all with 225 slant six engines. The Coronado was the luxury car. It had a black vinyl roof. The second was the Polara that was basic. Both had the same engine, but slightly different carburetors. The coupe (GTX) appeared in 1969 with a 318 cubic inch V8 (212 hp) and a 225 cubic inch (3.7 liter) six, with a bigger carburetor for more power. There was also a four-speed manual transmission Polara, with the GTX carburetor on the 3.7 liter slant six.
In 1972 or 1973 came a restyling of the whole line with a new front and rear (see the GTX photos on this page); the gauges had more modern numbers and the interior could be black or beige, with gauges in black-on-white or white-on-black. The GTX now had a standard V8 and the Polara Coupe arrived with basic equipment, all-drum brakes and 3 gears on the steering column. The Dodge 1500, based on the Hillman, also arrived, with a 1.5 liter 1500 and a 1.8 liter with more options. Some years later Chrysler sold a similar GT100 (1.8 100HP) and a GT90 (90 hp SAE, dual carb). They were the compact sport cars. After 1980/81, this car was manufactured by Volkswagen with a little restyling, and a station wagon with the 1.8 engine until 1984/85, the year of the last restyling. All were four door, even the GT.
In 1976 the Polara RT arrived with the most powerful inline 6 from Chrysler Argentina. It had black stripes on the side and over the hood. By 1979 all the Polara, Coronado and GTX ended production. (See the photo below.)
Also see valiant.org's Argentine Valiant Varieties section and http://www.argentochrysler.com.ar/!
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