In response to the rising popularity of the Volkswagen Beetle and AMC Rambler, Chrysler President Lester Lum Colbert took action by forming a committee to develop a compact car for the 1960 model year. Designed by Virgil Exner and initially planned as a separate brand, the car was eventually named the Valiant and was unveiled in London in late 1959. In 1961, it was integrated into the Plymouth lineup.
Compared to GM’s Corvair, the Valiant’s configuration was less radical, but it displayed more daring aesthetics than the newly introduced Ford Falcon. Virgil Exner’s styling showcased sleek and crisp lines that flowed in a dart or wedge shape, drawing inspiration from Chrysler’s Ghia D’Elegance and Adventurer concept cars.
As the years progressed, the Valiant underwent significant changes. By 1966, the Exner-designed bodywork had been completely reskinned, resulting in a shortened wheelbase. The car’s signature tailfins and cat-eye tail lamps were replaced with a split grille featuring a fine-patterned insert, a beveled-edge rear decklid, and a heavier bumper design. The forward fenders adopted a more rectilinear contour.
In its second generation, the Valiant was available as a 2-door coupe or hardtop, 4-door sedan, station wagon, and convertible, offering a range of options to suit different preferences and needs.