By on December 22, 2012

It takes something really special about a 21st-century junkyard car to make me willing to include it in this series. The ’04 Pontiac Sunfire we saw recently was the last of the GM J Bodies, which gave it historical significance. The Chrysler “cloud cars” mostly just serve as crusher fodder… but this one is so amazingly horrible that I had no choice but to photograph it.
The New Car Scent Little Tree air freshener is nearly always an indicator of a car that suffered worse-than-usual abuse during its final months on the street. Hey, look— you can see the ’87 Dodge Raider Junkyard Find through the windshield!
This car is a 2000, but that snout just isn’t right. Aftermarket body kit?
Hell no, the adobe-style Bondo and wonkily-applied grille inserts tell the story: it’s a later— I’m guessing 2004 or 2005— Stratus nose grafted onto a 2000 model.
But wait, it gets better! On the driver’s side, we see that this car is a very rare (in fact, so rare that none were made) 2000 Stratus R/T. Quite an investment.
On the passenger side, it turns out that we’re really looking at an equally rare Stratus Sport. You can buy many varieties of “Sport” emblems, so it was quite a dilemma finding the one that looked most like the badges used on the Plymouth Neon Sport.
With something like this, once the “tuner” who did all the modifications passes the car on to the next owner, the Junkyard Clock starts ticking.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

47 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2000 Dodge Stratus SE Manny, Moe, and Jack Edition...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    Whew , that’s nasty .

    I see so many similar rigs in any of the So. Cal. Self Service yards….

    Why put all that work into it when it should be obvious it’ll be junk when you’re done screwing it all up beyond repair .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    tced2

    I owned a corporate twin to this car – Chrysler Cirrus Lxi. It was a pretty nice car – the weak point was the Mitsubishi 2.5l V6.

  • avatar
    FuzzyPlushroom

    Meth is, undoubtedly, one Hell of a drug.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The nose looks like it’s off of a later model Stratus, twin to the Sebring. In my neighborhood I always see parked a early 00′s silver Stratus R/T. It has 2.7 High Output badging on the trunk and a rear spoiler. It might even have Auto stick.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    It looks like it may have been brought straight from the trailer park to the boneyard.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Looks more like the Larry, Moe & Curly edition….Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk

  • avatar
    Bob

    The Army sticker explains a lot, when I was in the Navy we would buy beaters and “tune” them with ridiculous racing stripes, chrome wheel covers, and huge wings. When it was time to ship out we would either pass them on to someone for a few hundred dollars or junk them. Someone should do an article about predatory car dealerships near military bases, so many people were getting ripped off by local dealers around Ventura CA that the commanding officer of my battalion offered to come along with anyone who was buying a car.

    • 0 avatar

      I grew up in a Navy town (Alameda, CA) and I had a couple friends who were salesmen at the local motorcycle dealership. They knew they could sell the hairiest, flashiest bikes to 19-year-old sailors when they came back to port with six months of pay in their pockets. These guys used to live and die by when the aircraft carriers would be in town.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ Bob, I remember a dealer in San Diego that used to run an ad saying: “Low credit? Bad credit? No Credit? Bankrupt? Divorced? or In the military?, we can finance you!!!”. @ Or, we finance E-1 and up! Murilee, it’s worse these days with military guys with 12-14 months of deployment cash squirreled away. Either examples it’s like sharks fighting over chum.

      • 0 avatar
        Bob

        I like how “in the military” is grouped with 5 other negative situations. I was briefly stationed on an Air Force base in Texas where a local used car lot advertised a free ride to the dealership, however they would not give you a ride back to base. Buy a car or call a cab. I agree with you that is worse these days but it is just as much the military members fault because they are warned by their leadership not to go to certain dealers. The service member only insurance company USAA has a car buying service now which is very helpful. I tried to buy a Pontiac Solstice when they first came out, but the dealers could see my haircut from a mile away and wanted between 5-10K over sticker! When I explained how I am definitely not even willing to pay sticker they told me someone els will.

    • 0 avatar
      doug-g

      We see that where I live with young oil field workers. Only in this case the wages are higher and the vehicles more expensive. I think per capita there are more lifted, tricked-out trucks here than anywhere in the country. BTW, since that viral video of the Dodge/Chevy tug-o-war the Dodges are out in force and the Chevy boys are laying low. An interesting sub-culture.

      • 0 avatar
        Bob

        I am a tradesmen in Chicago and I see a similar trend, these guys are convinced they need a truck even though they hardly cary more than a small bag of tools. Parking a lifted truck in the loop means an outdoor lot which is at least $30 a day. I’m not as manly since I ride the train when possible, and take my cavalier when i’m working too far from the station.

    • 0 avatar
      SuperACG

      I worked at a dealer close to a couple of Marine Bases. While we sold new German makes, we always had at least one Pontiac Grand Am on the used lot. Never failed, a Marine returning from deployment wants a new German Hot Hatch, and with a paid-trade, plus deployment pay, he has a pretty good down payment (they all financed with Navy Fed, though). In my early career, I said to wholesale the beast, but within the 10 days after the deal, we got multiple calls about the Grand Am from other Marines, that we kept the damn things on the lot and continued the cycle!

      It always went: Marine returns from deployment, trades Grand Am for Hot Hatch. Newly transferred Marine buys traded Grand Am. It never happened differently. I did ask where the Grand Am buyers were from, and they were from the mid-west, so maybe that had something to do with it?

    • 0 avatar
      StaysCrunchy

      I spent a little over a year selling cars at this little used car lot next to an Air Force base. We were a “buy here pay here” lot and we used to loooooove seeing an Airman walk through that door. For one, they almost never missed their payments, which is awesome. But when they did? A quick phone call to their C.O. would usually get them down to the lot later that day.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Looks like those “cold air intakes” and high-flow air filters really help engine life huh?

  • avatar
    markholli

    I love the sheer laziness that went into every modification on this car. The phrase “good enough” must have been the owner’s mantra.

  • avatar

    Pardon me, but what is that part in picture no. 6 with all of those bristle-like things sticking out of it? Or is it a dead bird?

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    This looks like it might be a sort of high school special. Wanted a sporty car, but mom & dad would only OK a horrendous late Clinton era sedan, so he goes about tacking on “sporty” accessories in a self delusional fashion. Within the first few weeks, he manages to drive into the back of a pickup, and dad helps him rebuild the front, but they can only find a later model donor in the junkyard – oh, well, it works.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    The last time I was at the junkyard, I crapped in the back of one of these.

    The restroom was out of order in the worst way. I chose the Stratus because the MOPAR section is the most deserted at any yard, insuring my privacy. Also, nobody will ever pull anything off this car. It will likely be feed into the crusher as shown. If somebody needs something, there are over 10 examples at any time anyway.

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    This car screams “illegal mexican” to me!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Poor car, never had a chance.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    I commonly see 2004-2005 models in the yards all the time. Absolutely ridiculous to see any 7 year old car in the U-pull type salvage yards, but these things were so horrible it does not surprise me.

  • avatar
    mccall52

    Speaking of being a ‘Manny, Moe, and Jack’ edition, it doesn’t even have the “R” racing steering wheel cover, floor mats, seat covers, or any combination thereof.

    Kind of a shame really, I remember an early 1995 Car & Driver with a double page advertisement on these that highlighted a lot of innovations, such as the cab forward design and the uv properties of the windshield (the original, no doubt, long gone).

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      These were a high watermark for Chrysler midsize cars. Really.

      And the whole cab forward thing was stylish and innovative enough to make many forget about a decade of K-cars.

      • 0 avatar
        chicagoland

        Tey looked modern, but fell apart, and drove like an old ladies car. No feel in steering. Rented a few in the late 90′s, made me glad I didn’t buy one.

        These are disappearing faster from Chicago streets than old Deawoos.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Actually, they are some of the best handling sedans from the era. Road course sleepers. They never really made them with a hot engine in the US, but they can carve.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    When I had my Dakota R/T I was always on the lookout for that type of badge. Knowing how much they cost, the owner of that car could probably have gotten the next trim level up or even an actual ’01 R/T model instead of the badge.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Are those non-matching hood inlets made of wood?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Our 1999 Dodge Stratus was the last Chrysler product we owned. It was the ONLY car I actually drove off the showroom floor!

    Our car was quite nice; it was white with a rare interior color – a greenish-gray that was very attractive and not that awful dark charcoal material they used for every other model except ours. It had a sunroof – our first. 2.4L that felt like it was a V6 – nice.

    A curious feature – and one that would drive me crazy – was that year, half-way through, they droppped the manual seat raise/lower lever and the seat was permanently in the middle position. With the sunroof, you didn’t have much headroom at all, plus the fact that the passenger seat was a bit lower!

    We kept the car three years until wifey wanted a new ride and we bought her a 2002 CR-V. I sold the car to a buddy for his daughter and she drove it for many years thereafter. It served her well.

    One thing I will always remember about that car – it had what has to be the most ergonomically-pleasant-feeling shifter I have ever used! Nothing else came close!

  • avatar
    BusRider

    Technically, a year 2000 car is a 20th Century car. The 21st Century started Jan 1, 2001. The first century was year 1 through year 1000, inclusive, which is 1000 years–there was no year zero. So you’re not really making an exception, although I agree that one would have been justified here. Thanks for showing us this.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    Being something of a stickler for years and things like that. 2000 is still the 20th Century. 2001 was the start of the 21st century. So no foul here at all, you’re still not doing anything in the 21st Century.

    Popular belief is 2000 was the start of the new millennium but it isn’t actually true.

    AS for cars of this vintage, I’ve always had an interest in the high powered version. Never did get a chance to drive one though.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    These seem to be universally panned by every TTAC commentator. I’ve never owned or driven one. What made them so bad?

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Nothing. These cars are not bad. They simply do not offer bragging rights, masturbatory power numbers or anything fancy. The commentariat have a way of failing to put things into perspective, is all. They come at these type of cars with a two-pronged-wrong approach.

      “But the Audi was so much better-trimmed!” It cost two of these. “But the Camry was more reliable!” It looked like a cereal box. “But the Accord drove so much better!” It never really did.

      When this car was new, Chevy was selling jellybean new Malibus– Ford would admit this car’s and the Malibu’s win, and was exiting the mid-size market.

      I’ve known a lot of people that have had fantastic service out of these things. A friend drove a Breeze up to 200k, another BOUGHT a nice stratus 2.4 at 180k, my Mother drives a 2006 with 125k that still has its original battery and has never needed a non-maintenance repair. Its even an ex-rental. ZOMG

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        I had a rental 2003 Stratus for a business trip.

        Nothing at all wrong with it, it just melted in the lower-middle of the pack. I WAS considering one for my next car at the time, but I had had enough of Chryslers by then, and a year later went to Chevy. Been happy ever since…

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      Darkhorse, it’s the internet, you have to take alot of what you read with a grain of salt.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      They weren’t terrible cars. IMO, their replacements were worse. They had pretty decent suspensions, were reasonably reliable, spacious. They were competitive in their day.

  • avatar
    Scout_Number_4

    I drove a 1999 Cirrus for about 18 months as a company car and was not impressed. Brakes disintegrated without warning at about 40K requiring ~$500 rebuild, IIRC. Transmission failed soon after, but was repaired under warranty–this took about three weeks. Can’t recall which engine it had (small 6cyl?) but this too became a problem around 55-60K, which luckily was near time for me to turn it in for a 2002 Impala. In fairness, another driver had it from new to about 30K miles and I have no idea how he treated it. It did have nice leather seats (unusual for a fleet rig), but at 6’3″ I didn’t fit in it very well. Made my Impala feel like a Cadillac.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Head gaskets, oil leaks and transmission failure were common on the earlier versions but by 2000 they seemed to have sorted much of that out. The 2.0 liter Neon engine was offered on many of the Plymouth Breeze versions and I remember my neighbors 1996 needing a head gasket, transmission, the brakes were always warping and the A/C compressor crapped out. All of this happened only a few years into ownership of which they bought the car slightly used in 1997. I do remember these having decent interior room for legs and the seats were fairly comfortable. The 2.4 provided reasonable pickup.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    The early engines had head gasket failures, but in late 99 a revised gasket was brought out, otherwise the engine was fine. The 2.4 was also neon derived, with a taller deck block and longer stroke being the only differences. 4cyl fwd cars are not my cup of tea, but I see cloud cars at mopar meets hopped up with neon speed parts. Absolutely nothing wrong with the transmissions, neither automatics or manuals.
    Any time a GM car is featured here you either owned it for years and 200 plus k miles, or you had a friend or relative that owned it for many years and 200k plus miles. You also had a friend, neighbor or relative that owned virtually every non-GM car featured on the site. If you had owned half the cars for half the amount of time that you claim, and had a friend or relative that owned half the other cars you claim, you would have to be at least 150 years old.

  • avatar
    chevysrock39

    My roommate has an 05 Stratus 2.4 – I’ts not a terrible car, but its certainly not like my Volvo 940. It’s always going back to the dealer for some minor fault. It feels super cheap inside, and the engine has a toyota-esque touchy throttle. It’s almost as though 1/8 the pedal applies 1/2 the throttle, but then there’s nothing else when you really want it. I found it deceptively dangerous the first time I went to overtake! The tranny always shifts around 3.5-4K if you are pulling away normally, and sounds like it is working up a storm.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      I havn’t paid any attention to the later model stratuses, but I would imagine that they would have a cheaper interior, since that was the Diamler era ay Chrysler. When these cars came out in the 90′s the interior was pretty much on par with everything else in that class. If your tranny is shifting at 3-4k during normal takeoffs then it needs reflashed. Driving it that way will burn up the clutches in short order.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States