By on May 6, 2013

Picture Courtesy of Adesa.com

Sometimes the cheapest vehicle you can buy is one that strongly discourages you from ever becoming a life-long auto enthusiast.

Few cars do a better job with this than the Dodge Dynasty.

 

The one you see above managed to go 328,946 miles before it got finally traded in to a dealership in Louisville. At that time the odometer appeared to be devoid of defect.

Picture Courtesy of Adesa.com

Then something strange happened. It got labeled ‘true miles unknown’ somewhere between trade-in time and finally being sold on the front line. True miles unknown is abbreviated as TMU in the East coast and ‘not actual miles’ or NAM in the West Coast, and it means that at least three things could have happened to this vehicle.

1) The odometer did indeed break before the vehicle was traded-in.

2) The odometer ceased to function while in the dealer fleet due to ‘natural causes’.

3) Someone replaced or damaged the odometer cluster and decided to sell it as TMU instead of telling the buyer about the actual mileage.

I see an awful lot of #3 at the auctions and, in my experiences, new car dealers who are wholesaling the same brand of vehicle that they retail to the public are by far the worst offenders of the brood.

Ford F150’s will have the dimming switches for their instrument clusters broke off so that no matter how you turn them, the odometer reading will never light up. At dealer auctions, a professional familiar with this trick will always price these trucks accordingly.

But I fondly recall a public auction where the dealer in question would send a fleet of F150’s every month that were all true miles unknown along with a few choice low mileage trade-ins with working odometers. The public who attended this auction was clueless, predominantly Latino, and either illegal and/or unable to easily follow the auctioneer’s chant.

The ring personnel, all of whom spoke Spanish, would smile earnestly and help these struggling newcomers buy vehicles that were often times as wore out as an old mop. Everyone knew what was going on. But could you prove actual wrongdoing?

The buyers would end up paying about an $800 to $1500 premium over the wholesale price. Multiply that by about ten sales a month, and the dealership was netting right around a $10,000 monthly premium by doing this. The auction got to sell more of their inventory and with the public sales, fees were more than double than what was typically charged at the wholesale dealer auctions.

I always noted to myself that the ‘soul’ exceptions who took part in this douchebaggery were counterbalanced by the ‘sole’ exceptions who didn’t realize that auctions are not level playing fields. The guy who is afraid of signing sixteen pages of legalese at a dealership because he can’t read English, is often no better off attending a public auction in the hope of finding a better deal.

Picture Courtesy of Adesa.com

Wanna beat the system? Don’t play it in the first place. In the meantime, I’m willing to bet that the last buyer of this 18 year old, 328k miled Dynasty sold as true miles unknown back in 2010 will not become an auto enthusiast anytime soon.

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45 Comments on “Monday Mileage Champion: Discovering A Lost Dynasty...”


  • avatar
    CJinSD

    They would have fooled me by running this TMU. I’d have assumed that it had about half the miles that it actually has, but I’d still have thought that was plenty for any of the available engines and more than enough for one with Ultradrive. Which engine does it have? The 2.5 would be working hard in a 192 inch long C-body, even if it’s a taffy-pulled K-car. The Mitsubishi V6 had its limitations. The 3.3 may be a good engine for all I know, because they outlasted the disastrous 4-speed automatics they were attached to.

    Ignorance is our greatest economic and political resource. Ambitious people are going to tap it. Is there any difference between offering someone a used up vehicle for more than its worth by labeling it as an unknown quantity and selling someone a new car with an unproven drivetrain from a company whose quality indexes are in free-fall?

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin

      My guess on drivetrain would be the Mitsu 3.0L 6G72 tied to the 3 speed auto, and I bet the Mitsu burns more oil than the Iraqi army retreating from Kuwait.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        Nice

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        Oddly, that was exactly how I described the dramatic turbocharger failure in my old Volvo 740, right along with “more shaft play than John Holmes”.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          I witnessed the second engine failure of a friend’s 760 GLE Turbo many, many years ago. We pulled out to pass on a two lane road and the turbo went bang right about the time we were anticipating the lag to end. Had the engine lasted about five seconds longer, we’d have showered the car we’d been stuck behind for miles with shrapnel.

          • 0 avatar
            Steven Lang

            Everyone is wrong today!

            This Chrysler has the 3.3 Liter.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Is wikipedia correct that all 3.3s had Ultradrive? Is this car the record holder for transmission replacements, or did one actually work?

          • 0 avatar
            TJB

            The 3.3L debuted in ’90. Same year that the Ultradrive debuted I believe (may have been ’89?). So yes, all 3.3L cars had Ultradrive. And all of the 3.0 cars also, once the Ultradrive came out in ’89 or ’90. My parents had an ’89 2.5L Dynasty with the 3-speed. it was not fast! Duh! They also had a ’92 3.0 which had better low-end torque than the 3.3 (whiplash anyone!), but the 3.0 started wheezing above 70 mph or so. The 3.3 stayed strong well into triple-digits, which my ’90 LE saw on more than one occasion. So I was 22 years old, and we had 3 Dynastys parked in the garage/driveway!

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Darn, came in too late to say 3.3L. With that kind of mileage, I would say it HAD to be the 3.3L. Most Dynastys had them and they were robust engines.

      My father the Chrysler minivan addict had a ’91 model 2 vans in the past that had the same powertrain as this ‘Nasty that went to similar mileage without ever removing a valve cover. I put a timing chain in it when I replaced a noisy water pump just because I was there, but other than maintanance, that was it.

      The original transmission even lasted to over 200k miles which was a feat for some of these.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    “At dealer auctions, a professional familiar will be all too familiar with this trick and always price the vehicle accordingly.”

    How much is a typical price adjustment for TMU/NAM? (seems like I’m talking about Friday Night Lights…)

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I usually take the worst case scenario and try and hit that target. For example if a 2003 F-150 retails for 8k with under 150k miles and the same truck with 300k miles struggles to bring in 4k, I’ll try and hit at least a 30% price cut assuming the vehicle falls somewhere in between.

      There will almost always be someone willing to take more risk on a vehicle that LOOKS alright, so I don’t often buy these.

  • avatar

    I met an old guy at the gas station with a Lincoln MK 8 with a STROKER inside – and we spent the next few minutes checking out each other’s engines.

    My uncle recently traded his 09′ Ecoboost MKS AWD (fully loaded) for the 13′ Ecoboost MKS AWD (fully loaded).

    I really miss the purity of these ancient cars. His MKS PALES in comparison to that MK8.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “with a STROKER inside – and we spent the next few minutes checking out each other’s engines”

      Careful, that might lead to anal sex, which makes many commenters here surprisingly uncomfortable.

      It’s funny that you even brag about your uncle’s car! Those Mark VIII’s are pretty cool cars though, as Sa(n)jeev can attest. They had a surprising amount of options that are more commonplace these days, but pretty technologically advanced then.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I don’t understand it. Why would anyone bother to fudge the odometer, on a car that has 320k on the clock? Seriously, does it really matter to the buyer whether it has 320k, or 340k, or 360k? When’s it’s into the 300’s what difference does it make any more?

    Also- you could easily find K car sedans with <100k on the clock, driven by little old ladies. This is one of those little old ladies car.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Well, if they replace the instrument cluster, they could make it say 120 instead of 320, right? Considering the shape of the car, which is quite good for 320K, that would greatly raise the value.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr Imperial

      Speaking from personal experience with my 1992 Imperial, this Dynasty has the mechanical gauge cluster-which has a tiny gear that turns the odometer, that the teeth shear off of after age.

      This gear is made of a plastic that becomes very brittle with age. I had the same issue with my car, so I went to the local u-pick-a-part and stashed several good gears.

      I highly doubt odometer fraud occured.

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    Well I am going to be the oddball here…I am a life-long auto enthusiast and I rather liked these old Dynastys (and the New Yorker versions).

    When I was a teen my parents bought a slightly used 1988 Dynasty LE in this same color. It was loaded and was a really classy car. People actually thought we were well-off when they saw us in it!

    They were so baroque and different at the time that I for some reason loved them. I still do.

    • 0 avatar
      Petra

      I’ve always liked them, too. Their boxy, function-over-form styling was already becoming a thing of the past by the early to mid 1990s. Curvy lines were replacing straight ones on cars like the Taurus, the Camry, and the “Cloud Cars” that replaced the Dynasty. Nowadays, things have gone a little too far in the opposite direction: Cars are full of complex angles (flame surfacing), “me too” gimmicks (LED headlights/taillights), and extraneous add-ons that will be laughed at in 20 years (fake portholes/vents being the most blatant offender). Today’s designers could learn a couple lessons from the minimalistic styling of these overgrown K-cars, IMO.

      Also, my Grandfather had a Plymouth Acclaim, so I like them for that reason, too.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Other than the Disasterdrive automatics (admittedly a big faux pas) these cars were capable of a long life. The Mitsubishi six tended to burn oil as the valve guides were crap but that was fixable as well. I’m not surprised to see this mileage, but I am glad I was not the one racking it up.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I don’t see that much difference between the boxy styling fad and various other styling fads. The boxy fad has its roots at least back in 1971, when the Pininfarina-designed FIAT 130 Coupe showed up with the box look fully realized. From there it spread through Frua designs to the 1975 Cadillac Seville. It wasn’t form following function, as an important part of a car’s function involves moving. Moving is done more efficiently by cars designed with this in mind. The drag coefficients of boxy cars were pretty bad. I had two Audis with the same engine. One was a boxy little 4000 and the other a large, aerodynamic 5000. The 5000 used much less fuel on the highway and went 12 mph faster.

        People can like any cars that they want, but I’d say the real form-following function cars were the ones that replaced these. They took efficiency into consideration without sacrificing packaging people and their stuff. I’m sure the worst of today’s stuff is also about function. Unfortunately, that function is saving inattentive European pedestrians and being dropped on their roofs.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      It’s called “the full Iacocca”. Iacocca demanded Chrysler emulate the origami/frigidaire look of the product he had shepherded before he was shown the door at Ford.

      The top of the lines got the full rococo/bordello interiors he loved.

      What a decline from the great 1965 New Yorker:
      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/curbside-classic-ca-vacation-edition-1965-chrysler-new-yorker/

    • 0 avatar
      froomg

      You ain’t the onliest oddball here. I’m a fan of these C-body (really an extended K-body) Mopars. In fact, I’ve got an all-original ’88 New Yorker Landau in the garage now. Only 51K documented miles (thanks to Pa. inspections)and garage kept. It’s got the ’88-only 3-speed automatic, which was much more reliable than the Ultradrive, and the Mitsu 3.0 — no valve guide leaks yet, but I’ve had other 3.0s that smoked like a city bus when taking off from an idle.

      I appreciate the baroque styling, particularly the padded vinyl top and the button-tufted bordello red leather seats. Also … the ride. Chrysler did a great job of making a FWD economy car ride like a 1970s land yacht. Power from the 3.0 ain’t bad either. Plus, all of the electronic geegaws still work, including the silly little motor that closes the trunk lid for the last 1 1/2 inch and the headlight doors.

      I’m “only” 38, but this car makes me feel like I’m a much more mature gentleman.

      Full disclosure: My granddaddy was a Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge dealer in the Iacocca era, when I was an impressionable youth.

      • 0 avatar
        supremebrougham

        Ah, someone after my own heart! Seeing how we are roughly the same age, it makes me feel good to know that I’m not the only one from my generation that “got” these cars.

        FWIW, I’d LOVE to see it!

        Have you visited Curbside Classic? It would fit in just fine there, as well as at The Brougham Society on Facebook.

        • 0 avatar
          froomg

          Yeah, there are a few of us Gen Xers who “get” American luxury cars of a certain era. I’ve also got a 1981 Chrysler Cordoba at the present, so I guess I’ve “gotten” more than one of these!

          Yep, love Curbside Classic, but I hadn’t heard of the Brougham Society on FB. Just now joined. Thanks.

          I can send you some pics of my New Yorker. Email?

          • 0 avatar
            supremebrougham

            Absolutely! Message me on FB (I’m the admin/creator of The Brougham Society and I’ll give you my email.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “… the last buyer of this 18 year old”

    Just to be a pedantic TTAC commenter, any Dynasty (final year ’93) would be older than 18.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Interesting to know. Amazing that just trying to fairly get the best price is just not enough. I guess it further reinforces my mind that a rather large percentage of the human race are opportunistic scum. People cry out against regulation, yet behavior like this firmly reinforces the absolute need for it. Too bad karma doesn’t really pay back as it should. If it did, a person who consistently ripped off those who where least able to defend themselves would find their sorry a$$ at the doctor’s office at 47 years of age, where the physician would sadly tell them about their stage 3 inoperable cancer. If only…

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    Back in the 90’s you used to see so many of these around the, umm, retiree parts of Florida that I nicknamed them the Dodge St. Petersburg. This one has probably outlived an owner or two.

  • avatar
    jhurle9403

    Theres a kid in my dorm who drives one of these. Light blue. Hes a hipster. Suits him, I suppose.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    “The ring personnel, all of whom spoke Spanish, would smile earnestly and help these struggling newcomers buy vehicles that were often times as wore out as an old mop.”

    Sad as it sounds, I am not surprised by reading this.

    In Venezuela, speedometer “correction” was a service openly advertised on the local version of ebay (which is ebay owned BTW).

  • avatar
    TJB

    Let me start by saying I am NOT “normal”. I was 21, recently graduated from college as an electrical engineer with a good paying job. Ready to buy my first new car. Ever since I had first seen the Dynasty 3 years earlier, I had to have one! I special ordered it. ’90 Midnight Blue LE, 3.3L, ABS, sunroof, memory seats, Infinity stereo, aluminum wheels. Every option except leather seats and self-leveling rear springs. @@K MSRP, paid 17K for it. 3.3L V6 is bulletproof. I sold it at 94K miles, 5 years old. It was on its 3rd Ultradrive, but fortunately I didn’t pay for either repair. I did have to pay for a steering rack, alternator, starter, and probably a few other things. Just couldn’t deal with all the repairs, and was worried about the Ultradrive failing again! I loved the car itself, just not reliable. On long trips it would get 35mpg! Very tall overdrive (1850 revs/mile). In ’91 they lowered the axle from 2.36 to 2.52.
    The cloud cars didn’t replace the Dynasty. The LH cars (Intrepid/Vision/LHS) replaced the Dynasty/New Yorker/5th Ave.

  • avatar
    Commando

    All I have to say is I had this identical one and it was only a week before the tranny got snuffed.
    That is all.

  • avatar

    I doubt this Dynasty lasted anywhere near as long, but it’s lived a hard life as a scrap hauler.
    St. Louisans scraping by on scrap metal.

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/st-louisans-scraping-by-on-scrap-metal/article_870d9ea9-4b00-55f0-ab67-52714da6eef2.html

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    As I mentioned in a reply above, odometer fraud is very unlikely. The internals to the odometer probably broke due to age.

    Several posts mention the Ultradrive transmission-which did sour many an owner to these cars. My 1992 Imperial had its original unit fail at 110,000 miles. The rebuilt unit from Quality Transmission of Kalamazoo (highly recommend them to anyone local) lasted until an accident retired the car at 267,000 miles. I’d be driving it today if I could.

    The 3.3/3.8 V6’s were nearly bulletproof. Common to these engines were cylinder head covers that needed to be retightened or new gaskets (an easy fix), and fuel rails that leaked at the hinge points. Other than those issues, the engine is reliable.

    If equipped with the air suspension, many an owner decided to rid themselves of the car instead of pay for costly replacement parts. The Bendix ABS assembly was also very failure prone and costly.

    I miss these cars and their gaudy backwards-looking luxury!

  • avatar
    modelt1918

    Growing up, the talk about any Chrysler product was that the driveline was bullet proof but, the body and interior was junk. Because of that, I would never have bought a Dodge or Chrysler of any kind much less a Dy Nasty in this time period.


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