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2001 Chryslers on the Murray, Australia

by Thom McIntyre

Chryslers on the Murray is a major Australian Chrysler/Valiant show.

I was able to get down to the border in the Charger to catch up with Gary and Dom from Vic on Sunday afternoon. The show was up to the usual great standard with hundreds of shining Mopars on display.

australian valiant hardtop 440
1971 Chrysler Valiant VG Hardtop 440 - [email protected] 103 mph

After the show we headed back to the park for a yak - the decision was made to cruise into town for some of Albury's finest pizza and beer in the VG 440 - Gary nearly gave me a heart attack when he threw me the keys! Started up nice and easy (Dom was handling the shifter) with a massive rumble that would not be out of place around a WW2 fighter aircraft.

First thing was my left leg mistaking the brake for the absent clutch after starting to roll. Thankfully I got the hang of it pretty quickly after going from about 10 km/h to 0 in the merest fraction of a second! Oof! Those monkey grip seatbelts work well.

chryslers on the murray, australiaFirst surprise was how streetable this car is! A Holley giving good progressive throttle response was not something I've really encountered before. Also the stall point on the 727 was spot on, and in fact the way the trans works is quite amazing. I found the effect was almost as if the torque converter was functioning as a continuously variable transmission - push the pedal to get the revs you want, then a super-smooth wave of torque flows out back, and the effect is of total effortlessness as the car gathers speed at the exact pace I dialed up...

Next surprise was how well it went thru the corners for what it is. The rack and pinion conversion was light, precise and the turn in was a lot better than I expected. Although I had been warned about the rear end of the car having a lot to do with steering it as well!

Later in a suitable environment I was able to get a taste of the car's real capabilities, all in 2nd gear. The feeling as the beast gathers speed is so phenomenal, smooth and addictive - I had a bit of difficulty at first sussing out where to back off; being a manual driver I'm used to gauging speed/rpms by ear so the slightly rising engine note meant that the car was gaining pace deceptively quick - that said, the anchors are bloody good too. Although at one stage I did find being a few degrees off heading was starting to look like a bit of a drama - this being due to the diff and wide rubber. Although I had been advised to look out for this, experiencing it was another matter! I was a bit relieved when the front end started talking to the chassis again ;)

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