By on January 14, 2012

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Look At What I Found! was inspired by Murilee Martin’s original Down On The Street series over at Jalopnik. For today’s installment I’ll be performing a trifecta of plagiarizing M&M’s work because we’ll be talking about not just a car I found when out and about, but about an exact model that Murilee covered in a Junkyard Find, with a side dish of Nice Price or Crack Pipe, another car blog staple that sprang, Athena-like, from the fertile mind of our own ‘Ms. Martin’. The main difference between Murilee’s find and mine is the car’s condition. Murilee’s was ready for the crusher,  but this one belongs in a museum, showing only 18,000 original miles on the odometer. With a little detailing it could win a prize at a car show, maybe even a concours. That’s not much of an exaggeration. Other than the barest hint of surface rust inside one of the rear wheel wells and the door hinges, the body is flawless. No dents or dings or any sign of damage. The interior looks just about brand new. The carpet by the driver’s seat shows minor wear but the pedals are not worn at all. The kick panels on the doors look like they’ve never been kicked. Other interior panels look similarly pristine. The back seat appears to never have been occupied, certainly not by any enfant terrible scribe pitching woo at an autojourno’s wife.

Now who would enter a Plymouth Sundance in a concours, I don’t know, but then it’s hard to imagine someone who would keep one in showroom condition either. This is a Sundance , not an anniversary or pace car Mustang, Corvette or Firebird. The Sundance was one of Chrysler’s seemingly unending iterations of the K-car, revised to create the P-car platform for the compact Sundance and it’s Dodge Shadow corporate sibling. They were attractive enough cars, but their weight and Chrysler’s reliance on their workhorse 2.2L engine meant that they didn’t get as good gas mileage as competing cars.

So the Sundance is a fairly mundane car to be getting the creampuff treatment in the first place. This is not just any Sundance, though, but rather it’s a a Sundance “America”, which was the moniker that Chrysler used in the late 1980s and early 1990s to designate an economy model. You couldn’t quite call them “stripper” models, since they came with enough standard equipment, like A/C, to be sold on value but as you can see from the photos, even the simplest radio was optional equipment. Nobody pampers a special value package thinking it will, someday, be worth more money.

From Allpar:

In 1991, following the success of the Omni/Horizon America models, Chrysler brought out the Sundance America and Shadow America. These were nicely featured versions of the vehicles with lower prices – they were the lowest priced cars on the market with driver’s-side airbags, and retailed for under $8,000 – for a full dollar under $8,000, unless you added in the destination charge, or $163 for the common rear-window defroster option. Still, at $8,627, it was hard to beat the Sundance/Shadow America, with their big 2.2 liter engine – providing much more torque than anything else in its class – along with a nice cloth interior with bucket seats, driver airbag, prop-rod-free hood, power brakes (discs up front, drums in back), fourteen-inch wheels, fold-down rear seatback, hidden-hatchback storage, and other niceties.

The niceties did not, apparently, include a radio as standard equipment

The niceties didn’t seem nice enough to most consumers. Chrysler never reached their goal of 200,000 units a year. That may actually have been fortunate since Chrysler is said to have lost money on each and every P-car it sold. Perhaps the most significant thing about the Sundance/Shadow is that it was replaced by the Neon, Chrysler first credible small car. Last March, Murilee was surprised to even see a Sundance America at a Rocky Mountain junkyard:

Apparently, no 1991 Plymouth Sundance Americas made it out of the showrooms. Well, none except for this example that managed to dodge The Crusher’s jaws for two full decades before its final tow into a Denver self-service wrecking yard…

The Sundance America was probably the most comfy of this group and it looked like a helluva deal, but buyers avoided it like chlamydia.

I’m not surprised that Murilee hasn’t seen more of those Sundances or Plymouth Shadows that Chrysler did manage to sell awaiting the crusher, or on the street for that matter. With the America model appealing to folks looking for cheap transportation, my guess is  that most Sundance Americas had every possible mile wrung out of them and have long since been recycled into various and sundry items labeled Made In China. That makes the condition of this particular Sundance America all the more remarkable. Who’s going to save an economy car?

Who? Maybe somebody exceptionally frugal, someone who used the car as frugally as they bought it. 18,000 miles in 20 year works is less than 20 miles a week, on average. Maybe this car really was only driven to church on Sundays.

Either way, this may be the lowest mileage Sundance America that exists. That’s why Danny, the nice Chaldean guy who owns the Sunoco station where I found it, is asking $3,800 for it. That’s a 25% premium over the Kelly Blue Book retail value for a Sundance America in “excellent” condition. KBB says that only 5% of cars are considered to be that clean. This one could be show quality with some touch ups and detailing. I say that based on having attended a lot of car events in the Detroit area. Car events in Michigan are different, in a good sense. In addition to the top shelf Concours of America and Eyes On Design events, car cruises across southeastern Michigan attract thousands of high quality cars and smaller local car shows attract hundreds. Regional GM, Mopar or Ford clubs meets more often than not feature rare and historically significant cars in survivor, pristine original and 100 point restored conditions.

As a matter of fact there was another, more collectible Sundance in very nice shape at the WPC [Walter P. Chrysler] Club’s Great Lakes Region’s all Mopar meet last fall. It was a rare Shelby CSX-T model, Chrysler/Thrifty’s answer to Ford/Hertz’s Shelby GT-H rent-a-racer. Again, you can imagine someone saving or restoring a CSX, it being a rare high performance car with Ol’ Shel’s provenance. It’s a bit harder imagining that happening with a plain vanilla Sundance, and the even plainer unflavored gelatin America version. Still, like I said, it belongs in a museum. If you parked it next to the CSX-T, or next to any of the other cars at that show, it still might have drawn a crowd.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options.

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54 Comments on “Look At What I Found!: 1991 Plymouth Sundance America, Driven Only On Sundays...”


  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Great condition of the car. I wonder why more manufacturers that insist on prop-rod to hold the hood up would not use same kind of hinges? I’ve only seen them on some modern pick-ups.

    • 0 avatar
      Ian Anderson

      Let me know how much you love hood struts in 100,000 miles when the struts blow and you have a stick or a 2X4 holding the hood up.

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        +1 Particularly in the harsher (well, not this year!) Canadian winters, those hydraulics don’t last because they’re never ‘exercised.’
        A prop rod ain’t glamorous, but they last.

      • 0 avatar
        Bimmer

        Ian and carbiz,

        I must be totally blind, but please show me where exactly did you both see any kind of hood struts in this picture: http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/mono-sundance-sundance-IMG_0024.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        Ian Anderson,

        Look more closely, This car has spring hinges to hold the hood up. I’ve seen variations of this style of hinge.

        Most cars DO use either a prop rod or hydraulics to hold the hood up.

        Fortunately, those who use struts, they are not difficult to change out but it’s an added expense since they cost at min, $20-30 EACH.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        While this car doesn’t have struts, there is something I learned about them due to having held onto a couple of German cars for almost twenty years. If you have an old car with dead struts, good luck replacing them when they wear out. Sometimes the ‘new’ ones you buy after tiring of using a Vice Grip to hold up your hood and an arm to keep the hatchback of your Porsche off your head while using the trunk have actually been in a warehouse or on a parts shelf for so many years that they’re as dead as the ones you’re replacing. I know of others that had the same problem with hood struts for their BMWs.

        We had an ’85 Lancer Turbo with the same sprung hinges as this car. I can’t comment on their durability, as the car never ran long enough to reach 35,000 miles.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Easy: weight, cost and the customer. It’s added weight to a vehicle (coil spring or hydraulics vs flimsy steel rod), it’s a complex part that will cost more and your average customer doesn’t open their hood but maybe once in the time the own the car.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        That wasn’t the case for owners of these Mopars based on my experience. We got to lord the superiority of our sprung hood hinges over import buyers every other fuel stop, when we checked the oil and added a quart.

    • 0 avatar
      ckgs

      My 67 Mustang had spring loaded hinges. Only reason that makes sense is cost cutting.

      • 0 avatar
        PJ McCombs

        IIRC, many cars of the ’60s and ’70s had spring-hinged hoods. Makes one wonder why so many models went to gas struts, then reverted all the way back to prop rods.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    Another of the K-car variants from Chrysler and I think one of the better models. I especially liked the hidden hatchback feature which made the Sundance/Shadow twins much more versatile than some of the competition. The 2.2 engine was nothing fancy but was pretty rugged, even in turbocharged form. I see that even though it has no radio, it does have A/C. If I bought this one, I would install a model correct radio and enter in the local shows.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      I did not like finding out that the 2.2 used the a/c compressor to limit engine run on. That was, I found out this several years ~after~ I junked my ’85 Omni 4dr 2.2 w/ broken a/c. It always used to run on after ignition off and I saw others do the same. Nice system there…

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I love seeing stuff like this. And that underhood shot brings back memories of wrenching on my old K car. I wish I had known that this car was available with a true six digit odometer. My Reliant’s speedo looked exactly like this one here, minus the extra digit. Being that I was over 200K on mine, I had bought an extra speedo and modified mine to add the extra digit. I used a dremel tool to make the opening for the digit in the speedo face. I did this mod for all my friends who said no American car could last that long. Now it was plain to see. Was nice to have spare time back in the day…

    Too bad this car is such a plain model. It is really awesome to find cars in this condition. It almost seems like a shame to drive it at this point. If he can get 3K for this, maybe I will get more for my Probe GT when I sell it this spring than I thought…

    Bimmer, you are correct with the hinge spring thing. I hate the move back to prop rods, gooseneck trunk hinges and fixed mirrors…

  • avatar
    carbiz

    Design-wise, these vehicles had a lot going for them, which is why I was suckered into buying an ’87 Shadow ES. Yep, I paid extra for the 50 series, low profile tires that amplified every crack in the pavement and the turbo. (Whilst driving on the kidney splitting roadways of Montreal at the time, a friend in the back seat wryly remarked that I should have the shocks ‘looked at’ “Shut the F up,” I snarled: “I paid EXTRA to have the car ride this badly.”
    I have never before or since owned such a POS. It ended my love affair with Mopar (it was my 3rd Dodge – I just did not learn!) The car looked great. It had power, I’ll give it that. The turbo was flawless over the 4 years and 100,000 miles I put on her, but that is as far as that goes.
    Two head gaskets, ignition linkage inside the steering column, a mysterious PCM fault that would cause the engine to suddenly ‘quit’ (lights, radio, wipers still working fine) on it’s own, but often as I signaled to get to the shoulder of the highway, the engine would start on its own. Two water pumps, an entire rack and pinion steering system. The clutch on the compressor.Oh, my favorite quirk: the driver’s side (naturally) wiper would NEVER EVER clear the windshield above 50 mph. How’s that for convenient in the winter on the freeway? I tried different brands of wipers. I tried putting 2 or 3 of those fin things on the same blade arm – nothing worked. It must have been the turbo bump causing turbulence that would often lift the arm right off the windshield.
    I returned her to the dealer with the original clutch, though. I’ll give her that, too.
    That was the last Chrysler I owned. Even though common sense tells me they’ve changed, they don’t build the same vehicles today, I am reluctant to give anything they have a fair shot. They can build some great cars; in fact, arguably some of the designs they’ve come out with in the past 20 or so years are amongst the best the industry has ever produced, but they seem to have a penchant for fixing an engineering flaw with all new bugs. (How many years did it take them to get their 4 spd electronic transmission fixed? Their torqueflite was the best in the business. They just couldn’t get that 4th gear to fit right, I guess.)

  • avatar
    dutch45810

    I don’t know that this is a unique thing with economy cars, but this reminds me of a 1970 AMC Hornet that I looked at back in the late 90′s. It had around 20k miles, and the only option was an automatic transmission…rubber flooring (no carpet), no radio, manual steering and brakes, and completely spotless. The guy was asking $2400, which was about $400 more than the car cost new. Must be something about cheap, basic transportation that keeps the miles down and the maintenance up with these rare gems.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      “Must be something about cheap, basic transportation that keeps the miles down and the maintenance up with these rare gems.”

      It is called the grandmother car effect ie:

      “Grandmother needs a new car. Nothing special. Nothing fancy. Just to get to the store and church. And economical on gas as her current car is a gas hog.”

      Car salesman sells grandmother a stripper model base brand car for the same amount that a luxury car could have been priced. Salesman takes trade in of a semi-pristine vintage V-8 Mustang, Olds Cutlass, Plymouth Barracuda, etc that was either grandmother’s old car or grandfather’s car before he passed away several years back and credits grandmother for $500.

      Fast forward about 20 years and you get the above condition car hitting the streets if a grandchild doesn’t inherit it and beat it to death…

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Got a 1990 Sundance in garage stall #3. Wife bought it new. Two years ago listed it on Craig’s List for $2500 and got quite a few calls. Decided not to sell.

    2.5L engine we’re told goes through the original head gasket quickly but at 117K miles it’s till going strong. Air converted to green freon.

    Wouldn’t be afraid to start it up and drive it cross country. (I didn’t say “…put in the key and start it” because you can drive it without a key if you want.)

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    when i see cars like this it makes me long for the days of low beltlines and big greenhouses that were so easy to see out of

  • avatar
    wmba

    Funny how memories are shaped. I had forgotten this model for years, thank goodness, but its chirpy looks reminded me of the time I attended a conference in Toronto in 1990, and was forced to occupy the back seat of one of these buckets for almost 3 hours.

    Yes, being junior man on the totem pole meant I had the back seat all to myself along with camera gear and briefcases as we visited various sites around T.O. No amount of complaining on my part would get either of the other two to relent and let me occupy the front seat for a while, even after a stop, where I would walk around trying to get my circulation back. And I’m only 5’8″.

    There was no room at all in the back seat. None. A torture chamber. Knees in my chest, no place to put my toes. I hated that car for its obvious poor design, and the ride quality only made things worse. Grrr. A K-car was a limousine by comparison.

    I feel better now, having got that off my chest several decades later. Normal programming will now be resumed.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Thats odd, my L-Car Horizon actually had reasonable room in the back (Even a 6’1 like me) and the engine bay had a bit of room to work with.

      Seems like with these Sundances they did away with the main selling points of 80′s Chryslers, roomy interiors and semi-comfortable driving.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Looks great but if it’s just been in cold storage since Clinton’s first term, it may need a whole lot of work to get it roadworthy, possibly even an engine overhaul not to mention DMV back fees. If it was a 5-speed turbo or CSX it’d be one thing.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    We may all get teary-eyed today over this K car, when Honda will have lost the plot with the Civic for almost a decade, but in 1991 Sundance was a time lapse oddity next to sharp modern Civics and Sentras. I would probably asking the rental agent to give me another car if I was given a Sundance. Nice time lapse though.

    • 0 avatar
      BoredOOMM

      When Chrysler introduced the 1995 Model Year Neon in 1993 (oddest branding I ever saw), they ran a Neon Hiline against a Saturn SL-1 base Civic and base Sentra. You came in for the $9300 price and they instead sold you a Hiline for a bit over $12400. The dealerships then were able to return the test cars back to Chrysler, who dumped them in the rental fleets/auctions.

      The spring hinges would be replaced by the prop rod since it was cheaper to make a rod than stamp two springs. The early 90′s Mopar also had a nasty habit of early deployment of airbags.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    That’s a $2500 car in my neck of the woods. $2800 if you’re lucky.

    1991 pretty much represents the low point for Chrysler. Other than the Jeeps and the minivans, nothing the company offered to the public was even remotely competitive.

    That salient fact still didn’t stop me from investing in the company ;)

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Great story. I love it when I’m driving around and I see road roaches like this. There is an old guy in my neighborhood who owns an ’83 Chevrolet Celebrity, garage kept ultra low miles an it shows. It is in near museum grade condition.

    Would love more TTAC stories like this, but sadly I know it is hard as a writer in one geography to make these kinds of finds.

  • avatar
    Neb

    I’m torn. On the one hand, the condition this thing is in truly is amazing. On the other, it reminds me that my family actually owned one of these, and it was a total POS.

    The use of space in it, for starters was…extremely odd. Headroom was gigantic, like it was designed for people who wear hats all the time. Meanwhile, the space in the back was tiny; only small children could ride without their knees jammed into the backseat. My family’s Ford Tempo was much better in this regard. It had at least 2 problems with the engine when we owned it, and little things would always fail; mostly water leaks in the trunk and the cabin.

    Then there’s how it drove: my grandmother described it as gutless. Really! That’s an actual quote. I had come from a std Civic to this sad slushbox, so I thought it was just me, but no, it was very slow, even by the modest standards of the day. It didn’t get very good mileage. The floppy suspension managed to be nether comfortable nor responsive. One time on a divided highway, I went past 110 km/h to pass someone, and the entire front dash started to vibrate like it had a secret ‘massage’ mode. And in Canadian winters, the height of the car’s roof and its sloppy suspension made it terrifying in slippery conditions.

    Compared to its contemporaries, or even its Japanese predecessors, it felt cut rate and at best was never more than mediocre.

    It *is* a cool find, though.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Chyrsler never sized their cars like the competition. They tried to “half” size them to to have a marketing advantage. Still any look at their line up and it’s obvious the Sundance was to go against the Ford Escort, not the Tempo, and that’s what it should be compared too. The Plymouth Acclaim/Dodge Spirit is the Tempo/Topaz competitor. The New Yorker/Dynasty against the Taurus/Sable and the Diplomat/Fury/Fifth Avenue against the Crown Vic/Marquis/Town Car. Only with the rwd vehicles was Chrysler decidedly smaller than the competition because of the demise of their larger rwd platform.

      Now with the new Dart they are ‘half’ sizing the competition again.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Those 2.2 and 2.5s can soldier on for a good while, just make sure that this has a tranny that’ll last as long as the engine.

    I had a ’90 Horizon with an identical, drab grey interior. At 89k the engine was tip-top but the torqueflight was going thanks to Chrysler using cheaper parts on the L-cars.

    Truthfully, I’d rather get a Sundance with more miles in the $800 range, sometimes cars have good reasons why they’re not driven very often.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Those three speed automatics were bulletproof. Failures were pretty uncommon. I junked mine with over 253K and the automatic still worked fine. Ultradrive was not ever available on these, IIRC.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Bulletproof?, 89k and mine wasn’t downshifting or going into gear when I needed it to, it was due for a re-build ($1100).

        Though I blame some of this on one of the previous owners, my car was in somewhat sad shape when I got it (bad alignment, mis matched tires, skull-head screws for the plates, bad motor mounts). It soldiered on from its home in Terra Houte Indiana to St Louis Missouri.

        Many repairs and a few trips later I sold the car for $700, less than what I paid but still more than what it was really worth.

        Otherwise I maintained the car well, the timing belt snapped on us but that was the only time the car had to be towed. Luckily 2.2s and 5s are non interference designs.

        Once I sold the Horizon I grabbed a smaller, and better built ’89 Toyota Tercel.

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      Indeed. A good friend of mine has both a ’91 Dodge Spirit and an ’89 Dodge Dynasty. The Spirit has about 300k on it, only second head and second transmission. The Dy-nasty has only about 130k, original motor and trans (although she had the foresight to change timing belt).

      Just like anything else, with maintenance, these could last a LONG time. :)

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    man, that is a value proposition at it’s best. So long as it has seen regular use, i wouldn’t be afraid to drive that until the wheels fell off.

    It reminds me of my 1991 cavalier. Good ol high school days and putting a wet 75hp shot of nitrous on it. We were dumb enough to not loctite the nut that kept the fogger nozzle secured in the throttle body / filter manifold. The valves and pistons didn’t even mar when it that bolt got blown to 4 different pieces (that my GM Goodwrench friends/coworkers fished out for free).

    I guess I never had any negative ‘quality’ perceptions of domestic cars because I can sometimes turn a wrench or rewire a harness if it’s shot.

  • avatar
    geo

    I always thought these were pretty solid, competent cars for the time. I remember driving them, and enjoying the power and simplicity of them. I also found them to be easy to look at, with a nice ride.

    I remember a particularly awful commercial that depicted a boardroom full of Japanese executives, speaking in Japanese (with subtitles) who were frightened of the threat that the Sundance posed to their cars. They were pointing to charts depicting the Sundance, with all of its great features as compared to their meager offerings.

    I also remember Chrysler boasting in another commercial that the Sundance bested the Civic in test drive comparisons.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I had a Plymouth Sundance rental car for a month in high school. It replaced a Chevrolet Spectrum that had cried uncle after two months of abuse. I may be the reason people under 25 can’t rent cars. We were discussing vehicle dynamics in physics class at the time, and the poor Sundance became our test vehicle. Our teacher, a young guy that was coveting a Mazda RX-7 Turbo II at the time, suggested we fit our cars with rear view mirror mounted pendulum accelerometers. Amazingly, that isn’t what hurt the Sundance. It was his assertion that locked brakes would stop a car as quickly as a perfectly modulated brake. I’m not sure we disproved his theory to his satisfaction, but neither I nor my my partner in crime were convinced. While my achieved stopping distances were identical, I was convinced it was only because of the difficulty I had modulating the brakes with tires so flat spotted as to no longer be particularly round. I’ve since learned this was because the locked tires eventually got so hot during our highspeed stops that the rubber was molten, making the efficiency of locked brakes rather theoretical. From then on the car would respond to braking by merely locking one rear wheel, and the car thumped violently everywhere I went.

    The P-cars biggest problem was that it was really a midsized car that just happened to be smallish inside. While the body was shrunken like an ornamental skull, everything under the skin was the same as pretty much every other Chrysler on the market and that made the Shadow hundreds of pounds heavier than other cars in the same market segment.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I recall these when they were new and at the time not being able to understand why someone would ever buy one after test-driving any competitive product. Slow, sluggish handling, boring, etc.

    One thing this post does bring to mind, though, is how nice (to my eyes) a set of basic painted steel wheels can look on a normal car. Honda, VW, Alfa Romeo, Toyota, etc. usually had painted steel wheels with trim rings on their base-model vehicles and I always liked the look better than crappy hubcaps that always fell off before OEMs decided to start holding them on with lug nuts. Why don’t any manufacturers offer steel wheels like this anymore? Is it simply cheaper to keep them black and stick on full plastic covers?

    I like alloys, of course, but steelies like this tended to hold up better to pothole-infested roads in Detroit and I recall bending a number of alloys once low-profile tires started becoming more standard. I think I went through two wheels on a VW Corrado alone one winter.

  • avatar
    pixarwolf

    oh sweet simplicity – this is a perfect car for me -

  • avatar
    friedclams

    I once looked at a stick shift (!) one as a used buy. On paper it’s appealing but a more crude, clunky slug of a car cold scarce be imagined. The 1990 Cavalier I had was a Mercedes by comparison. It may be bulletproof but who cares?

  • avatar
    Power6

    The Sundance was a big ‘ol POS, but then again who really cares? Once a used car the market values even out a bit more and the value comes through. I bet a Civic in this condition and year, owner would be asking $5k. The simple, basic, reliable box with the 2.5L and automatic is endearing.

    I had the 1990 Sunbird POS myself, a bad car by most accounts. It was cheap, trusty and nice looking, all the way over 200k miles.

    I find myself wanting a simple car with no radio and no right side mirror…wonder if I would take to it or it would drive me nuts to go without the modern conveniences.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    I would SO drive this. Growing up, I learned, the simpler, the better.

    Not to mention you could throw an iPod compatible HD Bluetooth DIN deck in this with some good speakers for a couple hundred bucks :)

    The only way this example would be better is if it were a stick.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    Here’s what is really disturbing: This rolling penalty box, the most built-to-a-price car in America at the time, has a driver’s airbag. Whereas Cadillac couldn’t be bothered to engineer an airbag for the RWD Brougham platform until ’93. So for 1990-92, the car that should have been the flagship of the whole doggone GM product line made do with those horrible door-mounted “passive belts.”

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      The case study for Chrysler and federally mandated air bags is definitely one for the business text books. After being the most vociferous opponent of mandated passive restraint systems, once the laws were in place the Chrysler corporation moved more quickly than any other automaker to become the first to offer air bags as standard equipment across its entire line. The marketing and PR departments made a lot of noise regarding Chrysler’s new safety conscious attitude, and when the first collision between 2 airbag-equipped automobiles turned out to be an all-Chrysler event, the marketing department was clearly overjoyed.

  • avatar
    windswords

    “The niceties did not, apparently, include a radio as standard equipment…”

    That is a selling point to me! I get to pick what kind of radio and what level of technology I want to pay for. I wish all cars had this option.

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    I’d love to see more posts like this. That Sundance is truly in timewarp condition. Greatly enjoying the nostalgia–reminds me of being an adolescent and thinking a V6/5MT Shadow might be worth saving up for once I got my license.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    What I didn’t like about the Shadow and the Sundance was that they replaced the K-car that I really liked, the LeBaron GTS. The LeBaron GTS had more room inside, weighed the same, had better aerodynamics, so it returned better mileage. It also had a useful hatchback. I don’t know anything about relative reliability because I never owned one.

  • avatar
    shaker

    The spring-assisted hood hinges added expense due to the cantilevered weight of the hood requiring much sturdier mounting points for the hinges, and making room in the design to “stow” the folded hinges.
    I always thought that these cars were somewhat attractive, but as can be seen, they shrunk the bottom of the car while keeping the “K-Car” greenhouse – awkward, yet cute (like a baby, I guess).

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Gime a Plymouth “Duster” version. Coupe V6 in dark green. Why? For the giggles…

  • avatar
    toomanycrayons

    Who knew that for $3800 you could feel just like Jay Leno but not have to stay up so late?

  • avatar
    John

    Read the article yesterday. Today on my craiglist – a ’91 Sundance, V6 auto, looks as well kept for as that one in the pictures, for $6,800. 56,000 miles. What IS it with the people who bought those?

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I had an ’87 Dodge Shadow ES Turbo 5MT. I absolutely loved that car. It ran 7.5 lbs boost stock, but Mopar Performance sold a plug & play computer that I bought and installed (behind the front passenger kick panel, natch). It was good for 10 lbs peak and 7.5 lbs sustained boost. That, combined with a drop in K&N filter and a modified exhaust, meant I could run honest 15-second flat ETs at the drag strip, and when I did it was fun to surprise the occasional stock Mustang 5.0 that got a bad launch or was a slushbox. I never had a single problem with that car, despite running it very hard. The 2.2 was rock solid – no blown head gaskets here! Sadly, I sold the car to my sister and she promptly wrecked it. All that we salvaged was the ridiculously loud sound system I had built in it (worth more than the car’s KBB at the time)!


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