1962 Valiant Production

In 1962 Valiant production rose somewhat to 157,294 assemblies. Moreover, during 1962, the Valiant was the leading compact car exported from the United States and Canada, with nearly 9,000 shipped to Australia, 1,700 to Switzerland, and 1,500 to Sweden.

The 1962 Plymouth Valiant set a styling ­standard for the small-car market.
The 1962 Plymouth Valiant set a styling ­standard
for the small-car market.

Popular Mech­anics again queried Valiant owners, who continued to cite quick, precise handling; a smooth, sway-free ride; and good performance as the most-liked features. Mean­while, complaints about workmanship were halved from 1960. An astonishing 80.2 percent of owners indicated they would buy another Valiant.

Despite its improved appearance, the Valiant lost more of its styling distinction in 1962. Not only were Dodge dealers selling a Valiant clone, but Valiant did indeed become "somebody's kid brother." That was because the styling of the downsized 1962 Plymouth and Dodge mimicked the look of the compacts to the disadvantage of all four automobiles.

The Plymouth and Dodge were dismissed by the buying public as "overgrown Val­iants," while Valiant's unique appearance was further diluted. Consequently, Chrysler's overall market share fell to less than 10 percent in 1962.

One of the unhappy consequences of this debacle was the forced departure of Virgil Exner, ironically because of his fascination with his own creation. So enamored was Exner with the Valiant's appear­ance and proportions that he initially planned the corporation's entire line of 1962 full-size cars on themes springing from the 1960 Valiant.

But the DeSoto, Chrysler, and Imperial proposals were scuttled while the Plymouth and Dodge were hastily downsized in the disastrously mistaken conviction that Chevy was going to shrink its Impala in tune with the trend to smaller, more-sensible automobiles.

Despite all that, the Valiant went on to enjoy a 17-year model run and the satisfaction of outlasting rivals Corvair and Falcon by many years. Indeed, during much of the 1960s and 1970s, the Valiant, its spinoffs like the Duster, and its Dodge companions commanded more than 30 percent of the compact-car segment at a time when Chrysler Corporation's overall market share hovered around 16 percent. The Slant Six engine enjoyed an ever more-productive life. Offered in U.S.-built Chryslers cars through 1983 and domestic trucks until 1987, it continued as a marine engine until 1991.

Brought to market at great effort and expense, the Detroit compacts -- Valiant among them -- successfully (if only temporarily) stemmed the tide of imported vehicles, which receded to 375,000 vehicles in 1962. Imports took just 4.9 per­-cent of the market while the Big Three commanded an 87.8 percent share.

It was a great time for American car buyers who suddenly could choose from myriad alternatives: a conventional Falcon, a rear-engine Corvair, a "rope-drive" Tem­pest, an F-85 Jetfire with a turbocharged V-8, a V-6 Special, or an exotically styled Valiant with an inclined engine. "One-size-fits-all" cars were passé and the American car market was fundamentally changed.

To see the specifications for the Plymouth Valiant from 1960-1962, continue on to the next page.

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