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‘Hey Charger’ – How Chrysler’s hero model became part of Australian vernacular

A famous advertisement from early-1970s Australiana, ‘Hey Charger’ proved a successful tag line and one, which became part of the local vernacular for years to come.

The combination of pretty women, Chrysler’s Valiant Charger sports coupe and the ‘V for victory’ hand signal proved a strong selling point.

Actors such as Graeme Blundell (who played the naïve and mischievous Alvin Purple) and Geoffrey Rush (a future Oscar winner) played the part of normal blokes being swamped by attractive women because they drove a Charger.

‘The unbelievable can happen to you’ was Chryslers tagline and gee did it sell.

Advertising rep Fred Schepisi can lay claim to this successful campaign as he later went on to direct The Devil’s Playground, The Chant of Jimmi Blacksmith, Roxanne and most recently Words and Pictures.

The catchcry and hand signal from the ad continue to be used today when a Charger is spotted out in the street, it has passed onto generations such was its pull.

Not only did the popularity from the ad make Charger a hit, but its pricing at just $2795 brand new (try buying one for that now!), while its two rivals in Ford and Holden had gone sedate with its two performance models made Chrysler’s coupe the perfect hero model.

The Charger won the prestigious ‘Wheels Car of the Year’ award, a fair achievement considering not many locally designed models had taken victory up to this point.

Of course, racing used the Hemi six-cylinder motor instead of the V8 after considerable testing was completed by Chrysler’s factory team at Mallala.

An underdog compared to Ford and Holden, the Charger enjoyed decent success highlighted by a third place finish at the drenched 1972 Bathurst 500.

However, all things come to an end and the Charger’s fate came in 1978 as sales decreased year-on-year leaving Australians with lasting memories of ‘Hey Charger’.