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 Chrysler Charger E55s

Welcome to the Australian Chrysler,
Valiant Charger E55 340 V8 Website.


So you don't have an E49 Charger,
this baby is the next best thing
a 340 V8 (Engine Option E55) six pack
- Some say even better!

Promotion for "Left Hook" by S.L. Hughes

I was at Chrysler on the Murray and met Steve, take a look at his book:)


Book by S.L. Hughes


My E55 and a possible decal combination.

INTRODUCTION BY GARY BRIDGER & GAVIN FARMER

The co authors of Hey Charger - the sensational Chrysler Valiant Chargers of Australia Gavin Farmer & Gary Bridger, Reed Publishing www.reed.co.nz

My congratulations to Greg who has put together this excellent website on the E55 340 V8 Chargers. As Charger websites go, this would have to be one of the best I have seen - well done Greg.

Viewing the website, I couldn't help compare the differences between creating a website such as this to writing a book on a similar subject. With a website, you can create whatever you want, put in what ever you want and it can be corrected or changed at anytime. A book is much more restrictive. It first has to meet with the approval of the publisher and the text and photo content have to be carefully budgeted. When Gavin Farmer and I initially submitted a proposal to Reed Publishing for Hey Charger, we reckoned on around 50,000 words and 100 colour and B&W photos. When we had finished, that had ballooned to around 70,000 words and 200 colour and B&W photos! We were certain the publisher would ask us to trim it back but to our surprise they didn't and accepted everything we submitted. Who knows how much more we could have added had we known that! For example, I would have liked a separate appendix covering all the V8 models but at the time, we really believed the budget had well and truly been blown and adding that would mean cutting something else out.

As it is, all the basic E55 and other V8 information are included in the general specifications appendix and there is a separate chapter dedicated to the E55. Unlike a website, a book cannot be changed once it goes to print so some very careful editing is needed. Because all Chrysler Australia's factory records were destroyed when Mitsubishi took over, the verification of detail information provided a major challenge to the authors. Fortunately we had the assistance of many former Chrysler employees and enthusiasts from around the globe and without them the book would not have been possible.

Since Hey Charger was published in 2004, we have been quite overwhelmed with the positive reaction from both the press and die hard enthusiasts. Some have described it as 'the definitive book on Chargers' but the authors didn't set out for it to be that. We knew that we had just one shot to do a decent, respected book on Chargers and we did our absolute best to achieve that. We also don't consider ourselves to be the great white gurus on the subject; there are plenty of others who know much more about Chargers than us. Rather we were in the fortunate position to be able to gather and compile the information made available to us and to convince a major publishing house to print it!

Of all the sections of the book, it was the E55s that generated by far the most discussion and debate between the authors. Of course this was with regard to the on going debate did they or did they not import those 340 V8s for racing? Interestingly at the outset, both Gavin and I were of the opinion that the 340s were not imported for racing but if you accept that argument then some serious questions need to be answered. For example, why import a batch of high performance 340 V8s for an upmarket special when the 318 and 360 would adequately do that job. Remember local content was to be kept as high as possible; would it not have been more prudent to import some decent brakes and a four speed for the E38? Think of the development costs and the extra inventory of spares for another V8. Was it just a coincidence that the 340s came with all the go faster internals and the numbers imported roughly matched the homologation requirements?

On that point Gavin managed to track down the guy who actually made the order for the first shipment of 340s who confirmed the numbers ordered were for homologation. There are however very senior members of the racing program that today are adamant that the planned 340 R/T was just a myth and the idea was dropped during the short wheelbase ute testing. They have a powerful argument; after all they were at the coalface at the time, we were not and we must respect that.

Gavin did some exhaustive research on this subject around his home town in Adelaide. What he concluded is covered in this website and in more detail in the Hey Charger chapter titled the one that got away. Briefly though, the evidence Gavin unearthed led to the conclusion that at the highest level, a 340 four speed R/T was planned to replace the Six Pack E49 for 1973. No 340 V8 Charger racing prototypes were ever built (as opposed to Phase Four GTHOs and Torana V8s) and no factory production 340 four speed Chargers were built apart from one built privately in the factory apparently by an employee.

It remains a mystery as to why there are such sharply divided recollections of the 340 program. I ran the arguments past Charger chief exterior stylist Bob Hubbach who confirmed a gut feeling I have by suggesting that in some way both sides could be right and perhaps the planning at board or senior management level never filtered to those on the coal face. Bob wrote 'The thing to remember about corporate decisions is that each group may only have a clear remembrance as to their realm of involvement and not necessarily recall other factors and decisions by other parties involved. So where did the 'buck stop' and for what reason? This would be a great one for conversation at the pub over a few beers eh?

There was a recent article in Australian Muscle Car magazine which debunked some of the arguments Gavin put forward in Hey Charger. Both Gavin and I have read and discussed the article and have concluded that there was nothing there that would require us to make any changes in the next reprint. We both agree however that if any contrary evidence did come to light, we would make the necessary corrections as required. The bottom line is the facts are much more important than our precious egos!

There is one more interesting twist in the racing 340 mystery that comes from New Zealand. After Hey Charger was published, I learnt that Todd Motors, the NZ Chrysler distributors, were absolutely certain a 340 R/T Charger would be available in 1973. If you had read the NZ sections in Hey Charger, you will recall that Todd Motors had a factory racing team since 1969 and production car racing formed an important part of their successful marketing strategy.

The Todd executives also had regular planning meetings with the top brass in Adelaide and even saw the Charger clay model when the bosses in Chrysler USA knew nothing about it. They therefore knew what was going on from the very top. Their number one driver, Leo Leonard, recently told me he can 'clearly remember' Todds coming to him with news that a 340 R/T would be the car he would be driving in 1973. To add to that, Todd Motors were even accepting orders for the car; a former Auckland dealer told me he had a 340 R/T on order and even sold his E49 when the order was made!

Ever since of course many tear in beers shed over the dropping of the 340 R/T. Ford's racing manager the late Howard Marsden said that the 340 Charger would have been their biggest threat at Bathurst and there are many others who share that opinion. There is no doubt that Chrysler would have needed the 340s grunt to be competitive against the proposed Phase Four GTHOs and Torana V8s at Bathurst. However, the man who has won more races in Aussie Chrysler's than anyone else by a country mile, Kiwi Jim Little, reckons the V8s extra weight in the nose of the short wheelbase Charger is just too much and attempts to build a competitive V8 Charger have been unsuccessful - apart from the highly modified mid engine versions.

To counter Jim's arguments fellow Kiwi Leo Leonard who thoroughly sorted the E38 and E49s for the NZ circuits, reckons the extra weight in the nose of a 340 R/T was 'not a problem'! I often think the Charger R/T Six Packs are a bit like the famous WW2 aircraft the Hawker Typhoon. The Typhoon was built as a high level interceptor but found its niche as a low level ground attack aircraft. The Six Pack Chargers were built with Bathurst in mind but they proved to be much more at home around short to medium circuits. This is one reason why the Chargers were so successful in New Zealand.

Today the magnificent E55 340 V8 Chargers are highly sought after and represent a fascinating chapter in Chrysler Australia's history. As an E49 owner, I would certainly love to have an E55 in my garage as well. In fact for cruising and club runs, there would be no contest as to which I would prefer and leave the E49 for as Wheels magazine wrote in 1972 for our favorite back road!

Gary Bridger & Gavin Farmer
7 December 2006

(2004 book review excerpts supplied by Gary Bridger about Hey Charger - in Word format.
If you have not yet bought and read a copy of this book do yourself a favour and get one, they are $AUD49.95.   It makes fascinating reading.)

My thanks to Gary Bridger for providing an introduction to this website.

This site has all the information I can find placed right here. When I say all the information, I refer to only correct information not things that are incorrect or hearsay any facts listed here will have supporting documentation. There is literally tons of stuff on the Internet about the E55 some right some wrong all hard to locate.


Australian MOPAR racing legend (1960's & 1970's), Leo Geoghegan at the wheel of my 340 at Wakefield Park! (Photo taken March 2005)


A picture of Leo Geoghegan with my Charger.

Charger Supercars

Charger "Supercars" started and ended in the VH range. The only exceptions were the VJ E48's, E49's and E55's. Why is this the case? The Supercar beat up in June 1972 effectively killed off Supercar production in Australia.

Australian, Chrysler Charger Supercars are

  • Charger R/T E37
  • Charger R/T E38
  • Charger R/T E48/ VJ E48
  • Charger R/T E49/ VJ E49
  • Charger S/E E55/ VJ E55

Australian Factory Performance (Muscle) Cars

Are these "Muscle Cars"? What do you compare a E55 to? As the E55 didn't get onto an Australian race track, have a 4 speed gear box except the single D20 optioned E55 or a twin exhaust system, some very vocal opponents write off the E55 as a "Muscle Car" which is a pity as the E55 Charger does indeed have a Factory fitted High Performance V8 and 4 barrel Carburettor. If they weren't meant for performance why bother with a 4 barrel carburettor when a 2 barrel carburettor would have done the job, as per the 360 V8s built at the time in the Chrysler By Chrysler's?

Of interest the term "Muscle Car" is an American one coined in the late 70's early 80's, and refers only to a 2 door V8 with a minimum 4 barrel Carburettor fitted with a 4 speed and developing over 300BHP. In the USA and in Australia these cars were referred to as Supercars. If we accept the American view then neither the E49 or the E55 would qualify as "Muscle Cars" or indeed any Australian car from the period!

Where does this leave us? For all intents and purpose the E55 was marketed as a luxury Charger, it was pitched against the Fairmont Hardtop and Holden Monaro LS.

Write ups at the time from Wheels magazine does refer to the E55 as a Supercar and compares it with the E49, this document is linked down the page. So is it or isn't it a Factory Muscle Car?

In my opinion any large factory built high performance 6 cylinder or V8 engine would generally fall into the "Muscle Car" category. The hard part comes with XU1s (GMH built factory cars) As another criteria is also the size of the car for example is a Morris Mini Coopers "S" which is a factory built racing car a Muscle Car? Well I'd have to say no it isn't.

If we except the view only a factory racing car is able to qualify, and in particular a Bathurst Special, then NO Vehicle built after 1972 will ever be able to claim the status of "Factory Muscle Car".

The models listed above are in my view the 1970's Charger Supercars and indeed Australian Muscle Cars of the era, a Factory Muscle Car? well I'll let you make up you own mind!

Chrysler also produced 4 door variant these Supercars where known as "Pacers". The "Pacer" model was also dropped at the end of the VH range. If you are looking for "Pacer" information you will find plenty listed at this link.

Sleeping Giants

The E55 is the sleeping giant of the Charger family, why is this so? If you were to pull up at the traffic lights next to one the only thing you would know assuming you were not a "Mopar nut" would be that the Charger next to you is a V8 the twin exhaust system now running on virtually every E55 these days would give it away. You would probably wrongly assume it's a 318 V8 nice but not the quickest kid on the block, perhaps grandpa had a 318 V8 in his Valiant!

As you quietly slip your rice burner into gear (little Japanese anything) for a fast take off you will notice the Charger occupant sitting quietly even sedately waiting for the lights to change.

As the lights go green you might hear a change in engine revs then your rice burner pulls out to the front as you are quietly thinking there goes another gas guzzler and how good am I!

But wait what's that sound? Jesus Chrysler just who was piloting that missile that blew my doors off and left me with wet pants!(Well at least sometimes!:))

No they don't have R/T stripes and they look pretty much like any other run of the mill Charger BUT to beat one you had better be piloting an E38 or an E49, standard Ford or Holden's from the same era are no match to an E55 Charger! In 2005 only a $70,000+ sports car will beat one.

Welcome to Chrysler Australia's only performance V8 Charger, the E55 340 V8. The E55 will pull a 15 second quarter mile in standard form and will rev out to 200Km's per hour and this is fitted with a 3 speed 727 automatic transmission!

Build numbers total only 336

This number is made up from 124 VH E55s and 212 VJ E55s built, the total number of high performance engines imported from the USA was approximately 340 units. At the time 200 units were required to be built to qualify for Bathurst. The numbers seem to fit this quite nicely!

Performance figures Wheels Magazine - November 1972

  • 0-50 mph (0-80 kph) - 5.7 seconds
  • 0-60 mph (0-100 kph) - 7.2 seconds
  • 0-80 mph (0-128 kph) - 12.6 seconds
  • 0-90 mph (0-144 kph) - 16.1 seconds
  • 0-100 mph (0-160 kph)- 21.2 seconds

  • Standing 1/4 mile (400m) - 15.5 seconds
  • Top Speed at 4800rpm - 122 mph (196 kph)
    (note: the car was only taken to 4800rpm for the test NOT 5000rpm which is max power actual red line is 5500rpm another source quoted a top speed of 127 mph - so yes it goes faster!)

Performance figures Modern Motor Magazine- December 1972

  • 0-30 mph - 2.6 seconds
  • 0-40 mph - 3.8 seconds
  • 0-50 mph - 5.5 seconds
  • 0-60 mph - 7.6 seconds
  • 0-70 mph - 10.3 seconds

  • Standing 1/4 mile (400m) - 15.2 seconds
  • Top Speed at 5400rpm
    1st 46mph
    2nd 78 mph
    3rd 120mph? (it's unclear if 5400rpm was used it 3rd gear.)

Full Article Modern Motor Magazine

Modern Motor page 1
Modern Motor page 2
Modern Motor page 3

VH/VJ 340 V8 Engine Specifications

  • Bore x stroke 102.6 x 84.1 mm
  • Capacity 5573 cc (340 cubic inches)
  • 2.02-inch intake and exhaust valves
  • Power 206 Kw (275 bhp) at 5000 rpm*
  • Torque 459 Nm (340 ib/ft) at 3200 rpm
  • Compression ration 10.5:1
  • Carburettor: either a single Carter AVS four barrel in VH model or Thermoquad four barrel in the VJ Model


  • Note: Later VJs may have been detuned with a cast iron crankshaft, and fitted smaller valves and lowered compression from 10.05:1 to 8.5:1. I have not had confirmation and given all the 340s were brought into Australia at the same time, it might simply be an urban legend. This does however make the VH SE E55 the pick of the two models.

* Of interest in the USA the quoted 275BHP for the 340 V8 was a conservative estimate provided by Chrysler in order to assisted power factoring formulae that the NRHA applied to their engines in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Actual power output was really around 320BHP! this is better than the E49s 302BHP. Yes, this is the same engine shipped to Australia so go figure!

A DYNO test on 6 January 2006 of my 340 showed 230hp at the rear wheels! There appears 2 possible explanations;

  • It's been modified with a performance cam (Which is new to me!), or
  • 320BHP is correct!

IDing a genuine E55

This link will take you will show you how to identify the E55, photos courtesy Peter Morthen, thanks Peter.

The next link will assist you in identifying your Mopar it's from the WA Charger Club which by the way is a very good site.

Why a 340 not a 318 or 360 V8?

When Chrysler was looking for a grunty V8 to supplement their 6 cylinder engines they looked no further than the 340 V8, basically these engines were designed for racing from the ground up. They were already being used in the All American Racers and were destroked to 305 CID developing over 400BHP, so it made sense to import them.

These small block V8s actually put many larger block V8s to shame! We are talking a very nicely made V8.

Were they specifically imported to race at Bathurst? I have researched this question and the simple truth is YES they were. An order for 338 engines was placed in 1969. The configuration was going to be in a 2 door Charger, as good as the E49 Charger is it really didn't have the horsepower required. The 340 V8 would have been Chrysler's entrant car for 1973 so it would have been a R/T VJ, however VH 340s would still have been built and fielded prior to Bathurst for testing. That said the brakes issues that caused concerns still needed to be addressed. This is discussed further down the page.

4 Door Supercars!

Initial development of the 340 V8 was actually in the 4 door sedan! Then it was tested in the Chrysler test mules (Utes) at the time, it is from this development, that spawns all the arguments about were they weren't they going to run a 340 in a Bathurst Charger come from. It is very true that the V8 was shown to be too heavy in the nose of the test utes ie same wheel base as the Charger which added to the stress on the car in braking and handling. It is also very true that the 340 was just as quick in a straight line as the 265s. However they didn't handle as well and had the added problem of greater fuel consumption and going through brakes and tyre's.

That said it should also be noted all the development documentation that I have read ends in 1970, it would be a very brave person to assume and state as fact that had the super car scare not occurred a racing 340 could never have occurred.

John McCormacks V8 racing Charger

My research shows all the race material Chrysler had about the 340s was based on running a 2 or 4 door VF/VG Pacer body type. It would appear that this information was then handed over to John McCormack, whom Chrysler wanted to run a 340 in his mid engined Charger, however due to Chrysler not proceeding with development ie not "Race Ready" a Repco (GMH) 5 litre V8 race prepared engine was used instead. Although Chrysler sponsored the Repco Charger they were not very keen to been seen doing so.

Also we need to remember that said a heck of a lot of money had been poured into the Londsale engine plant located south of Tonsley to develop the Hemi sixes and Chrysler had a policy of saying their sixes where every bit as good as the oppositions V8s. In many ways this is correct, BUT Chrysler really needed more horsepower ie a V8 or perhaps a Hemi 300ci six to have a chance at Bathurst.

Response to Australian Muscle Car Magazine E55 Article March 2006 edition

Australian Muscle Car Magazine ran an article on the E55s the author to his credit read the documentation but in my opinion totally misunderstood the information being provided. For example the data stops in 1970 well before the Charger was around. The article suggests (wrongly in my view) that;

  • the phantom R/T 340 Charger was to be run in 1972, wrong it would have been fielded in 1973 if at all, and
  • the 340s were simply Chrysler dumping the engines here cheaply due to emissions laws in the USA.

To simply say the engines were dumped here in 1969 due to US emission laws is silly in the extreme, this is due to the fact that the US emission laws didn't kick in until 1973! A point the author seemed to have over looked!

My response - The author should have looked a little harder at the build numbers in the USA. For example only approx 1000, 340 V8 cudas were built in 1972. My point being Chrysler didn't built that many 340 V8s to begin with so why the heck would they send off a batch of high performance V8s to Australia when they could have used them up themselves? Now days the 340s are highly sought after cars in the USA. Confirm this for yourself a quick internet search will show this statement to be true.

Wouldn't you think Chrysler USA could have used up a piddly 350 V8 engines in a single production day?

Lies Lies Lies - The Final Word - 16 March 2013

A 340 V8 race program has been continuously denied by the Chrysler Racing Manager. Why? Simply because Mr John Ellis was unaware of what David Brown and Walt Macpherson were up to. Walt Macpherson ordered 200 engines with all the race goodies and 138 spares/lower horsepower production V8s. Evan Green's newspaper article killed the program at the senior management level. Prior to this a 340 V8 was fitted and tested on the track it was going 3 seconds slower than a works 265, this is not comparing apples with apples. As good as the works 265 engine is it was never going to reach 155mph down conrod straight.

The answer came in with the 340, why there is such volatile debate about the subject is quite simply lunacy, the R/T E49 Charger is the ultimate factory racing car from Chrysler, the SE and VJ E55s are the remnants of the defunct R/T 340 race program which didn't get into production.

I thank Mr Gavin Farmer for his candour and time in providing me with the above information.


Gavin Farmer with my E55 (March 2013)
Gavin Farmer with me!

You don't believe me? Well that's up to you, do your research and speak to the people that know, or buy the book Car book "Great Ideas In Motion" by Gavin Farmer (2010)

Great Ideas In Motion

Other problems encountered could have been that Borg Warner only had a 3 speed gearbox, the Chrysler 833 4 speed gearbox's where massive in comparison to the smaller borg warners and this would have required modification to the floors of the cars to fit the larger box, even in the VH/VJ range.

History of the 340 & U.S.A. Production Numbers

Here is history of the 340 plus a list of the total Chrysler U.S.A. production build numbers - in PDF format. Click Here

USA Mopar site with 340 information

Over all full credit for the remainder of the article.

Trivia question - Why was the 360 V8 dropped after the VK series? (Answer at bottom of page)

The Available Documentation

Read for yourself, below is all the documentation that is available on the 340s for development in Australia. Some of it will blow your mind, this information was kindly supplied by the Hemi 6 pack website. I have listed it in date order to make it easier to read, all the documents are in PDF format. As the source docs are over 35 years old some are hard to read and before you ask I don't have any clearer images.

9 May 1969 13 May 1969
9 June 1969 17 June 1969
17 June 1969 16 October 1969
26 October 1969 6 November 1969
7 November 1969 10 November 1969 (No 1)
10 November 1969 (No 2) 20 November 1969
28 November 1969 9 December 1969
12 December 1969 15 December 1969
4 February 1970 25 March 1970
26 May 1970 October 1973

Special Edition Chargers

The VH model is the only SE model Charger built and was marketed as a luxury tourer. Special Edition features included the 340 V8, coloured coded black and white seats, W35 mag wheels, padded front dash, vanity mirror in glove box, sound deadening, white vinyl side trim and SE side badges. The SE badges were lifted from the parent US Charger.  I have included a picture of these badges so you can see them close up. Every other site I've seen shows these badges in a away view or not at all. So now you can actually see them for yourself.

By comparison R/Ts came with the in your face stripes where as the E55 is somewhat a wolf in sheep's clothing, there really is nothing of note to give away what's under the hood. The only tell tale markings are the SE badges, the white vinyl trim and the 340 badges on the guards. There is also red racing paint inside the grill the same colour as the R/T grills. The VJ version only came with a front guard badge proclaiming to all what was under the hood.  All E55's came out with a single exhaust, which restricted the cars performance.

The VJ's as briefly discussed were bland by comparison to the VH model, which was bland itself.

Colours

VH E55's came standard in 3 colours only - (Except for the Chrysler's oddballs)

  • Lime Light x 44
  • Sunfire Metallic x 35
  • Vintage Red x 44
  • Deep Maroon x 1 and
  • Black x 1

Other Colour Codes

The rear of the VH model Charger (between the tail lights) is painted out Metallic Gray colour code: Dulux 13379.


My Vintage Red E55 this is either the 2nd or 3rd VH E55 SE ever built! It lives mostly in the garage. This car was driven by Leo Geoghegan at Wakefield Park Raceway (NSW) in March 2005. I have posted some of these pictures on the E55 Pics page.


A Sunfire Metallic E55, (Looks yellow to me) anyway you can find out more about this car from Unique Cars. This car belongs to Chris Zerafa.


A Limelight E55 Charger - Photo courtesy of Kyren Welsh

VJ Colour range

In the VJ range they came in all colours across the Charger range.


Outside view of a VJ E55 note only the guard has anything on it to say it's a E55 the badge says 340 4 barrel.


Note: The inside view depicts standard 770 trim the metal dash remains but is across the entire 770 line up. This car belongs to Pete Armstrong.

Factory 4 Speeds

There appears to have been only 1 factory production 4 speed model produced, Bill Shaw from Hemi Performance seems to have owned the only factory odd ball VH 340 4 speed. Gary Bridger has confirmed this car in the introduction as being built by a Chrysler employee. It's a pity no more were built by Chrysler. Feedback from the Slick Six pack forums indicate this car was stamped "Special Order Accepted" (SOA) and the tag looked like it had NEVER been tampered with options were E55-D20-G60?-W35 (Thanks Phil:)


The alleged factory 4 speed! Note the colour this is not a VH E55 colour.

Oddball Chrysler's

Given the number of odd ball Chrysler's I thought I'd list them here.

  • 1 X VH Pacer E37
  • 1 x VH Pacer E38, with options A65, A95, B51 & D20
  • 1 x VH Charger 770 E38
  • 1 X VH Pacer E48
  • 1 x VH Pacer E49
  • 1 x VH Valiant Ranger XL E49
  • 1 x VH Charger 770 E49
  • 4 x VJ Charger E49
  • 2 x VJ Valiant sedans E55 - Note: both these cars have ceased to exist.

Racing Chargers

Ever wondered why the heck the 340 wasn't raced? well I'd like to know the answer to that once as well, if you have any facts and pictures let me know so I can include it here.

Why didn't Chargers win at Bathurst?

I have the answer - you won't like it - neither do I.

This was confirmed to me in March 2005 by Leo Geoghegan himself.

Some quick background, the brakes on the Chargers were simply not good enough to do the job required and here is the reason.

A Chrysler Bean Counter wanted to keep brake development in house to cut costs

this meant on the track was the cars had to be babied to conserve the brakes and by doing so were losing 5 seconds per lap!

(Is your blood racing yet!)

Had Chrysler simply bought brakes off the shelf from a local brake specialist it would have added $200 to the cost of the car. The outcome would have been a Charger would have won Bathurst!

The bean counter went one step further - are you ready to explode!! The bean counter stated and I quote "We don't want to spend the money because when we lose (are you reading this!!!) we don't want to lose to much money!

I cannot comment any further here without throwing my keyboard through the window!

Chargers don't handle right!

Wrong, when properly set up for the track a Charger will out handle a GTHO Phase 3, Race Chargers will also out handle a VN Group A Commodore. Australian Racing Legend Peter Brock will confirm this.

The E55 has exactly the same setup as the E49 at the front. Where it's different is that it doesn't have finned rear brake drums or a racing diff (E49 has a 3.5:1 diff) and is running a softer spring setup. The E55 came out with the 2.92:1 diff. There are also differences in the steering box ratios the E55 comes with a 20:1 ratio, where a E49 has a 16:1 ratio. Had development of a track version been completed the E55 would have come out with a Borg Warner close ratio 4 speed gearbox, more than likely the same as the E49's and the Borg Warner 3.27:1 LSD diff. These diff's were subsequently fitted to the VJ E48's and E49's instead.

It should be noted the V8's are some 100kgs heavier than their 6 cylinder cousins.

There are other limited edition Chargers these are;

  • the VJ Sportsman 400 built
  • the VK White Knight 200 built and
  • the CL Drifter 74 Built

The Supercars that got away!

A comparison of a E49 Charger and a E55 Charger was undertaken, by Wheels Magazine November 1972.

It should be noted that the E49 is a factory production racing car, if it had one fault (apart from not winning at Bathurst Bugga it) I believe the diff ratio was too high denying the car the longer legs it needed for conrod straight. Which would have given it a better chance against the Ford V8's.


The Doug Chivas/Damon Beck E49 Charger that came outright third at Bathurst in 1972.

Of interest it came outright 3rd with a 50 year old Doug Chivas at the wheel in 1972. Both the Charger and the Phase 3 Falcon of Alan Moffat were beat on by an XU1 Torana driven by Peter Brock!

The race in 1972 was rainy and overcast with a slippery track, it dried out during the day. This was the first time the race was run with open headers and the sound of these cars was by all accounts awesome. A bad pit stop may have stopped Doug Chivas winning the race. The issue was cold wheel nuts not fitting onto hot studs! This cost precious time during the race.

In New Zealand where they have tight tracks but no conrod straight the Chargers from Todd Motors beat ALL comers including Alan Moffat in his Phase 3, and all the XU1's you can count.   That should make you Charger owners feel pretty good!

Chargers dominated the New Zealand racing circuit for 7 years straight in various configurations including a 265, 770 auto!  Bottom line, you didn't need a E49 to win at the track although it helped!

That said the E49 is the balliest 6 cylinder "horncar" Charger Chrysler ever produced with total production numbers sitting at 149. Only a $70,000 car can beat it today although the Ford XR 6 Typhoon has nearly caught it 32 years later on modern rubber.

The following article comes from Wheels magazine dated November 1972 and addresses the differences between the E49 and E55. It's a large file even zipped and may take a while to download "Click here".

Build information on the E55's

I have included both the VH and VJ model.

Specifications between the E49 and the E55

Fuel Economy

A small comment on fuel economy on the E55, yes is uses fuel! Lots of it - it really really really loves a drink, if you are looking at fuel economy an "E" car is really not for you. These cars were not made with fuel ecomony in mind!

Which Car Is The Fastest?

Chrysler - E55 Charger, Ford Fairmont 351 2V XA Coupe or Holden HQ 350 2 Door Monaro?

If you really want to know go check out the link, from the WA Charger Club Click here.

Supercar Scare 1972

This articule was written by journalist and car boffin "Mr Evan Green" who interviewed "Milton Morris" the then NSW Transport Minister (May, 1965-January, 1975) on 25 June 1972.

Bullets on Wheels 25 June 1972

You can read a reproduction of the 25 June 1972 Herald Sun (Victoria) article here.

Milton Morris, effectively and singlehandedly destroyed supercars in Australia. While some what he had to say may have been partially correct sensationalist writing and grossly over stating the situation effectively killed off the Phase 4 Falcon, the XU2 Torana and Chrysler's R/T E55 V8 Charger.


"MILTON MORRIS"
NSW Transport Minister
(May, 1965-January, 1975).

Here are the facts, Bathurst at that time required 200 examples of a single model car built before it could be entered into the race this rule was referred to as homologation. What Milton Morris suggested was that young people would buy these cars in the second hand market, possibly with mechanical faults in them and kill themselves on the roads.  The papers at the time referred to these Supercars as bullets on wheels.

A very noble position, but lets look at this for a second using today as an example.  Can you imagine an 18 year old buying a Holden Club Sport (Car made by GM-H Special Vehicles Division with a high performance 350 V8) that is only 2 or 3 years old?    Really?   I don't think so.

In fairness to a balanced argument there were also 2 notable cases of people speeding around the streets at 150 mph! This did not help the homologation cause either. The truth to the matter bore little relation to the actual facts.

By todays standards nothing has really changed except young people are now buying Skylines GTRs or WRX's and are killing themselves. This is NOT the cars fault it is caused by inexperienced young drivers with a lack of advanced driver training.

Perhaps legislation to prohibit under 25 year old drivers from buying performance vehicles might be the answer?

At any rate the government stepped in by saying to the manufacturers if you build these cars we won't be doing any fleet deals.  So where were the government going to buy their cars from?

The final nail in the coffin for the Bathurst Specials was by the car makers themselves who in my opinion over reacted and that's history.

What went wrong at Chrysler?

Firstly the racing Dept was scrapped thanks to a newly appointed "US Chrysler" executive William Ballthrope who appeared to grossly over react to the supercar scare, buy the book "Hey Charger" for all the facts.

Scrapping the racing dept was a needless exercise, as sales of cars were very much based on how they performed on the race track especially at Bathurst.  As the saying goes win on Sunday and sell on Monday!

(it should be noted however that both Ford and Holden also caved into Government pressure.)

Could this happen again? I doubt it, due to the fact the rules for Bathurst have changed and they no longer requiring 200 cars to be built.

Win on Sunday Sell on Monday?

Can this statement be proven though?   Yes it can Chargers raced on New Zealand circuits and won every event for 7 years straight.  Dealerships with unsold stock found their stock sold out on the Monday after Charger wins.

Seems simple to me win Sunday sell Monday make some money? Heck why not that's what they are in business to do!

There were also problems on the home front in the US with Chrysler, basically they were going out the back door in a big way and undertook a massive restructure of the company.  It's easy to point the blame at the US for Chrysler Australia's failure.  The real truth of the matter is had they kept the racing program perhaps they may have been able to fund their own new car development and retooling.  We will never know.

People with no vision always play it safe, and they always lose in the end.  Why?  Because innovation needs a fertile ground to breed in. The Chrysler racing program was that breeding ground.  Did the Chrysler exec who cut the racing program also condemned Chrysler to oblivion in Australia?  In my opinion I believe he did.  Well done!  Seems harsh?  Not really going from car of the year in 1971 to extinction in 1981 sums it right up.

Shortly after the Supercar fuss had died down, Chrysler did the only thing it could do to make use of the stocks of 340 V8 engines it had on hand very quietly Chrysler slipped the E55 into show rooms, they didn't even release a press statement!  The VH 770 SE E55 340 V8 was marketed as a grand tourer, yes a GT Charger, badged as an "SE".

How many are left?

According to the Valiant info base there are 43 still around this includes VJs.

If everyone updates Bill Papanicolaou from the Valiant Info base then we will have better records on numbers.


Bill's, "White Knight" Charger - in Armante Red! Of note are the side decals saying Charger, the White Knights also had a special side logo on the side vinyl.

What are they worth?

This is the million dollar question, it depends very much on condition, suffice to say a MINT VH SE E55 with all matching numbers could well sell for well over $80,000 (Confirmed May 2007). A real fixer upper ie complete rebuild including engine but with matching numbers could go for less than $15,000.00.

Having said that, this is just a rule of thumb guide. Supply and demand will always dictate the price, a specific car may well get beyond $80,000 or below $5000. Best bet is to do your homework first and always consult your local car club.

If you have to have the VH SE E55 don't muck around over a decision! If you blink you will lose it make no mistake these are very rare cars and command a premium price.

Below is my opinion of what to pay for E55 Chargers.

  • VH SE E55 - Whatever you think is a fair price - an informed friend told me one had just sold in May 2007 for over $90K.*
  • VJ E55 - Whatever you think is a fair price - I saw one on 14 April 2007 passed in at $60,100.*

  • *These prices would no doubt reflect excellent examples of the E55.

Other Performance Model Chargers

  • No 1 is the E49, - Rough guide expect to part with between $95,000 to $115,000. (VJ E49s might be one or two thousand cheaper than the R/T models.)
  • No 2 is the E38 and, - Rough guide expect to part with between $65,000 to $95,000.
  • No 3 is the R/T E37s, E48s $45,000 to $65,000.
  • No 4 is the base R/T two barrels $40,000 to $55,000.
  • No 5 is the VJ E48s $35,000 to $45,000.
  • No 6 is the CL Drifter V8 $15,000 to $25,000.
  • No 7 is the VK White Knight up to $25,000.
  • No 9 is the VJ Sportsman up to $25,000.

I have revised this guide in part due to the recent price drops in these cars. A basic running Charger will still set you back over $5000.00.

If you email or call me asking what a certain car is worth I will only refer you to your local Chrysler club for assistance.

A car is only worth what your willing to pay for it!

Lastly if you MUST have a genuine Charger E55 or E49 etc or High Performance Pacer be aware they will cost significantly more than a standard production car.

Please note I'm NOT and expert on Charger prices just a person who happens to hear a lot.

If you buy a car DON'T base your upper or lower limit on what you read here call your local car club as car prices can vary dramatically from model to model.

There are links to most of the Chrysler sites from the links page.

Hint!

More Chrysler's are sold through word of mouth or via Car Clubs before they ever hit the open market! (so if you are looking for a car consult your local car club)

If you are considering buying a Charger or any older car for that matter you really need to consider the full costs involved. Parts are not available off the shelf at the local auto store. They can be purchased however the costs are high.

NEVER buy a genuine "E" car without a car club member inspection first!

Mechanical knowledge is not generally available remember these cars are now over 30 years old, most mechanics that worked on them are nearing retirement or have retired.

These are NOT Skyline GTRs or WRXs these are chrome and steel they need careful treatment.

So, you don't have the money?

Trax model cars have now released a VH SE E55 in 1:43 scale


Order yours today at only $39.95 plus shipping. Click on the picture for details.

Thanks for taking the time to view the page

What you have read here is the result of over 2 years research I have included everything I could locate from the Internet plus source material that I have listed. I hope to have more Chrysler facts shortly so stay tuned. I hope you have enjoyed the read if you would like to add your E55 here please use the email links on this page and send me a photo and any run down you would like to include.

FAQ - The Answers

  • Why did you build this site? - The simple answer is when I went looking for information on the E55s I couldn't find a great deal, so I started the long process of building this website, being a Chrysler enthusiast this site is a labour of love, I generally work on it late at night or weekends
  • How much do you make out of the site? - I make nothing from the site, in fact I pay for this site out of my own pocket. I have never received any sponsorship, hence the paypal sponsor requests at the bottom of the site.
  • Would you allow advertising on the site? - I don't know I will cross that bridge when it comes, I would like however to break even on the cost of running and maintaining the site.
  • The information on this site could plug right into "Hey Charger" why is that so? - I went to great lengths to try to keep this site as close to "Hey Charger" format as I could. Consider this site an addendum to "Hey Charger".    I think the guys did a wonderful job in "Hey Charger" and I fully recommend the book to you. I'm not trying to out do the guys this site is simply a supplement to the book.
  • Are you an expert on E55 Chargers? - No, I never started out to be an expert on anything.
  • Do you answer questions on the E55? - Yes I field questions from all over the world.
  • You have got a lot of grief over the website why is that so? - That's a good question to answer it fully one would have to be a mind reader. I simply think that some people have been so indoctrinated into one train of thought they exclude everything else that is contrary to their beliefs.
  • Yes, my phone number has been removed, I have re added the email link generally however anything I have to say will be on this website. If you leave a guest book comment you may get a reply.

Hey Charger

Additional information on the E55 can be viewed in the "Hey Charger" book if you haven't already got a copy go get one. There is a single chapter on the E55s.

Any information on racing the 340 and pictures would be appreciated.  Any information to fill in the blanks would also be appreciated.
Cheers Greg

Reference material includes;

  • Farmer, Gavin; Bridger, Gary (2003). Hey Charger: the sensational Chrysler Valiant Chargers of Australia. Auckland, New Zealand: Reed Publishing. ISBN 0-7900-0938-2.
  • Farmer, Gavin (2010), Great ideas in motion : Chrysler's Australian history 1946-1981, Ilinga Books, ISBN 978-0-9805229-1-4
  • "Spotlight on Valiant Chargers" by Tony Davis
  • slick6packs Magazine
  • Unique Cars Website article
  • Wheels Magazine data figures November 1972
  • Modern Motor Magazine data figures December 1972
  • Various Internet references sources unknown

Answer to trivia question - Because it was deemed to expensive to upgrade the engine with the new ADR being put in place.

Latest update 17 March 2013

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