The Chrysler Galant was one of the most popular sedans of the 1970s. Its boxy yet sporty styling ensured it was suitably sought after by owners in search of an eye-catching car that would perform as well around town as it would flat out on the freeway.
The Galant is officially recognised as a historic car and is a popular choice amongst classic enthusiasts looking for a motor that fits the criteria for rallies without hitting the purse strings too heavily.
While the Galant is best known for its standard sedan format, it was also available as a four-door station wagon from 1973 onwards and as a coupe following the 1974 redesign.
The first Galants arrived to market with a 1300cc Saturn engine, superseded by 1400, 1500 and 1600 versions as the decade progressed. It is widely acknowledged to have been one of the fastest cars of the 1970s thanks to the comprehensive abilities of the Saturn engine ranges, which ensured plenty of power at high revs and plenty of poke at lower speeds. Engine noise is something of a problem, especially at high revs, but once at speed this is less of an issue and cruising is surprisingly pleasant. In its 1600cc guise the Galant is capable of reaching a top speed of 100 mph in a respectably short period of time.
Initial models from 1971 and 1972 include the GA Galant Deluxe with four-speed manual gearbox and a choice of four-cylinder 1.3-litre engine giving 65kW and 108Nm of torque or a 1.5-litre giving 71kW and 130Nm of torque. The GB range arrived in 1972, followed by the GC in 1974 and the GL with a 1.6-litre engine giving 75kW and 136Nm of torque. With the Galant’s popularity rising, 1974 saw some remodelling, creating a weightier look and feel. Models from this era include the XL sedan and station wagon, the GL sedan and station wagon and a hard-top coupe. Although there were some revisions to the engine, little changed in terms of its make up and power, the four-cylinder 1.6-litre continuing to deliver 75kW, coupled with 137Nm of torque. 1976 saw a further gentle restyle and the introduction of the GD models, which became the precursor to the Galant Sigma and the rest of the Sigma range that superseded the Chrysler Galant.
Handling is pretty solid on the Galant. Though it is prone to a bit of over-steer on the corners and a touch of travel on the straight, the Galant is mostly light to handle and pretty responsive to whatever is happening on the road. The suspension handles lumps and bumps in the road admirably for what is essentially a conventional mid-sized sedan, free of the bumps and shakes that you would experience when riding in most of the Galant’s peers.
The Galant’s transmission is responsive with well-chosen ratios and was felt by many at the time to be more robust than the alternatives on offer from the competition.
When looking for a supremely comfortable driving position, the Galant may not be the right car – but then if one is looking for a supremely comfortable driving position something from the 21st century rather than a classic that dates back four decades would be a better choice. The downsides to driving the Galant are the small steering wheel that came with the standard model, though higher specs came with the option of a much meatier leather version, and the pedal positioning which is unnecessarily cramped. Although the steering wheel is adjustable, it is largely offset by the lack of adjustments in the very upright driver and passenger seats. That said, the Galant is perfectly suited to a little home adaptation and many owners have taken it upon themselves to change the wheel, adjust the pedals and fit more comfortable seats so check out what has been done in after-market modifications before purchasing.
Many Galants came with a built-in radio as standard and although they weren’t packed with instruments – most featured little more than a strip speedometer, temperature gauge and fuel gauge – the instrument panel was easy on the eye and thoughtfully laid out.
The early Galant stole a good chunk of market share away from the Hillman Hunter models that formed the backbone of Chrysler’s offering in this market during the preceding decade. From elsewhere competition came from the Datsun 120Y, the Datsun 180B, which went on to be hugely successful, as well as from Holden’s TX Gemini, the Ford Escort Mk2 and the Toyota Corolla.