Diplomat: the Chrysler 180’s big-brother that wasn’t
We’ve long admired the ability of Australia’s engineers to take a European product and make it fit for purpose for their home market. Cars such as the Austin Lancer/Morris Major, Morris Nomad, Austin Apache, and Austin Kimberley showed that with a little development, our Antipodean counterparts were more than capable of building cars that were more than good enough to be exported back to the motherland.
Following Chrysler’s annexation of Simca and Rootes in Europe, the company set about using some of its European line-up for its Australian range. With a new nose, a six-cylinder engine option, and various other changes, the Chrysler 180 was sold (rather unsuccessfully) there as the Chrysler Centura – a victim of circumstance as much as poor product design.
Looking at these pictures, it would appear that rather a lot of that car’s DNA was to appear in the stillborn Chrysler Diplomat – replacement for the Valiant that was being worked-on during the mid-to-late 1970s. Although it isn’t clear whether the car is underpinned by US or Australian chassis engineering, but we like to think that there’s a bit of Chrysler 180 in its make-up.
There’s a further twist to the story. According to Nick Kounelis, the C9 project (Talbot Tagora) could have gone on to form the basis of the Australian Chrysler line-up, had events not got in the way. ‘They imported a talbot Talgora clay/fibreglass full sized replica to be contemporary with the first of the Holden Commodores, and the lighter and more roomier XD falcon range.’
He added: ‘With the local hemi-six fitted to the Centura replacement, I think the Talbot version would of sold well against these cars – especially if it was fitted with the Peugeot four-cylinder engine as well as the 4.0- and 4.3-litre hemi-six engines.’