The Chrysler 180 was popular in Spain, and this is its story...

Words by Andy Thompson

At the beginning of 1975 the assembly lines of the Chrysler 160, 180 and 2 litre were transferred from Poissy in France to the Barreiros factory at Villaverde in Spain. The plant belonged to Chrysler and had hitherto specialized in making trucks. It also assembled Simca cars and built an American designed straight-six, the Dodge 3700GT, for the import-protected Spanish market.

No major modifications were made to the 160, 180 and 2-litre, which continued to be sold in France and Britain. However, the Spanish market gained a 2 litre Barreiros diesel version and the 160 model was dropped.

The Barreiros engine was a traditional diesel, 4 cylinders, 2007cc and indirect fuel injection. It developed 65 CV at 4000 rpm and torque of 13.2 m.Kg at 2100 rpm. The transmission was that of the 1610 2 litre - a four speed manual with a 215mm clutch. Tyres were 165 SR 14 and brakes followed the original 160 – discs up front, drums out back.

Both trim levels were equipped with the dashboard of the Chrysler 160, which didn’t have the tachometer of the 180. Its two front spot lamps could easily distinguish the luxury model. Fuel consumption varied from 6.5 litres/100 km on the open road at an average speed of 80Km/h to 9 litres/100km in urban motoring. Top speed was just 134 Km/h.

In the Seventies, Spanish taxation of new vehicles was based on the engine rating. The engine rating was related to the cubic capacity of the engine: the top band of 13 CV corresponded to a cubic capacity of 1920 cc. The Spanish rules were simple and designed to encourage smaller, more economical cars – which of course was where most Spanish car production was centred. Until 1976 the tax was 16% of the price for the vehicles of less than 8 CV. From 8 CV upwards the tax was 20%. From 1976, the taxes increased to 17.2% for 8 CV and 22% for those over 8 CV. In November 1977, a third category appeared: a tax rate of 35% for vehicles of 13 CV and more.

The Chrysler 2 Litre and its diesel sister were hit by the luxury tax of 35%. The Chrysler 2 Litre was removed from the catalogue and replaced by the Chrysler 180 automatic. The diesel Chrysler had its engine capacity reduced by 90cc, which in turn shaved 5CV from its taxation band. The Chrysler diesel for 1978 had an engine of 1917cc, which rated just 12.9 CV and saved the buyer a tax bill of 13% of the purchase price. Neither fuel consumption nor maximum speed was affected by this reduction in engine size.

In 1978 Chrysler España campaigned for sales on basis of the fiscal advantages of the revised 180 series. You could have your paella and eat it – economy and luxury in one happy package…

The Chrysler had a reasonable degree of success on the Spanish market, where it was marketed – especially in diesel form – successfully as a taxi. Local body builders carried out limousine and station wagon conversions although the company never listed these officially. Petrol engine production ended sometime in 1980 to make room in the range for the French built Tagora but production in Spain of the diesel lingered on until 1982.


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