October 26, 1959
The Valiant, an automobile manufactured by the Plymouth division of the Chrysler Corporation, made its public debut at the 44th International Motor Show in London, England. The new vehicle – measuring 15 feet and four inches (4.7 meters) in length, four-and-a-half feet (1.4 meters) in height, and nearly six feet (1.8 meters) in width – heralded Chrysler’s formal entry into the domestic compact car market that was steadily taking shape during the 1950s. Chrysler’s “Big Three” competitors General Motors and the Ford Motor Company had already introduced their own initial compact cars by that point in the decade.
“Chrysler’s Valiant bowed into the new car field today, completing the lineup of 1960 models,” reported an Associated Press news story on October 26, 1959. “The Valiant is longer, heavier and more powerful than its new rivals – Ford’s Falcon and Chevrolet’s Corvair.” The article further noted, however, “It still is considerably smaller than standard-sized American cars.”
The origins of the Valiant can be traced to the spring of 1957, when Chrysler president Lester Lum “Tex” Colbert set up a committee to develop an automobile able to compete with the increasingly popular small-sized foreign cars that were being imported to the United States. The rollout of the Valiant was the result of the Chrysler committee’s efforts, and it also signified the full-fledged participation of the top three U.S. car manufacturers in that niche of the automotive industry.
The Valiant became one of Chrysler’s best-selling automobiles and was manufactured in the United States through 1976. (The original version was built until 1962.) This automobile was also assembled and sold in such other countries as Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Photo Credit: Emdx (licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)
For more information on the Plymouth Valiant, please check out https://www.valiant.org/chron.html