By on October 31, 2013

19 - 1985 Dodge 400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOnce Chrysler’s K platform proved successful, the E (for “extended”) version of the K soon followed. First was the 400, which was then upgraded to the 600 for the 1983 model year. You don’t see many 600s these days, though you might see the occasional Hongqi CA750F version on the streets of Beijing. Here’s a once-luxurious brown 600 I spotted in a Denver wrecking yard.
11 - 1985 Dodge 400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis thing is covered with crystal pentastars.
13 - 1985 Dodge 400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou like brown cordo-velour and pleather for your interior? Good!
03 - 1985 Dodge 400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA vinyl landau top was still a relevant feature on crypto-luxury coupes in the mid-1980s.
04 - 1985 Dodge 400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one hasn’t held up too well under the Colorado sun.
09 - 1985 Dodge 400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBecause 1985 was the future, you got the Chrysler “Message Center” in your 600.
17 - 1985 Dodge 400 Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAnd, of course, turbocharging.


Even by the standards of early Post-Malaise Era America, it’s hard to imagine that the Dodge 600 convertible was the object of many yearning dreams.


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84 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1985 Dodge 600 Turbo...”


  • avatar
    Spartan

    It looks like someone took a sh*t, everywhere.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    It’s easy to mock this car today, but this represented something new: a plush, FWD, lightweight cruiser with all the bells and whistles. People at the time were ready for this form of “luxury”. Who else had a car like this? An optioned-out GM A-body didn’t say “luxury” in the same way.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Except for that horrible instrument panel, the design of the interior isn’t too bad, even if it hasn’t aged well.

    And you have to give it credit for being so sturdy; that upholstery is in excellent shape.

  • avatar
    The Soul of Wit

    Iaccocca was a genius.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I really dig the exposed screw heads in the fake fender vents.
    You just don’t see details like that these days.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I remember when these were everywhere and it was difficult to determine whether that padded vinyl roofed EK car was a 400, 600, Lebaron, New Yorker, or Caravelle. I’m probably still missing a few.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      What about the Executive?! Wasn’t there a Fifth Avenue variant of this too?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Ah yes the K car limo. The 5th Ave name was eventually applied to an EEK Chrysler, as a variant of the 1991-1993 New Yorker/Dynasty/Imperial. I don’t really think of those as K cars in the real sense, but I guess technically they count.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Oh I don’t count those, they’re too far off. Though oddly both my parents and grandparents had experience with EEK’s. Parents had a Dynasty (from new!?)which was crap, engine on it’s way out before 80K miles. My grandpa had a New Yorker of similar vintage which leaked oil all over his driveway, so he dumped it.

          I remember liking the buttons in the New Yorker better. He replaced the 90s New Yorker with an 86 red/red velour Fifth Avenue (30K miles) – which I partially learned to drive in!

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I knew a lot of people with the final EEK cars and for the most part they were pretty reliable cars, the 3.3L/3.8l equipped ones anyway. The 3.0L mitsu was a oil burning turd. The ultradrive transmissions were a crap shoot, if the car made it to 5 or 6 years without a major failure, they’d usually make it the long haul.

            Fashionable, no. Good performing, no. Cheap transport, yes.

  • avatar
    Zippy The Chimp

    I once owned a 1983 Chrysler E-Class. Blue with crushed velour blue interior, it had been a one owner car, that had, as most E-Class’ were, been owned by an old lady. When I got it, it wallowed like a jellyfish. However, with the addition of some aftermarket suspension upgrades intended for the Daytona, the E-Class made for a fairly good handling car that rode nicely. Other than the nightmarish carb on the 2.2 and the annoying information center constantly announcing “a door is ajar”, it was an enjoyable car. I actually regretted having sold it.

    • 0 avatar
      anti121hero

      I have many fond memories of that message center and the carburetted 2.2 in my 84 k. IIRC there was a wire under the dash u could disconnect to stop the message center from prompting you the same three things over and over again.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      I have a fond memory of the “the door is ajar, the door is ajar” talking dashboard from the scene about Kung Fu Joe’s demise in the movie, “I’m Gonna Git You, Sucka.”

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    I’m impressed many of your Junkyard finds still have wheels, the cars at the the Self Service places in Atlanta tend to lose their wheels with in hours of being placed on the lot.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Easy on the K-Car, MM.

    It’s easy to look at these now and wonder: “You’ve got to be kidding me!”.

    Put yourself in early 1980′s shoes and recall that these were considered remarkable when they came out in fall, 1980. Compared to the X-car disaster, these looked like Cadillacs!

    We owned a base version of the 1981 Plymouth Reliant coupe, tan, tan and more tan! and at the time, compared to 90% of the cars on the road back then, driving ours vs. other cars? It was like driving a sports car with the 4-on-the-floor. Of course, when we bought ours, it was a stripper – no radio, A/C, PS, PB – no nothing except an inside-controlled driver’s mirror! However, they were trimmed in such a way that they looked more expensive than they were.

    We kept ours for 7 years and as soon as I put the “for sale” sign in the window, it was sold immediately.

    We also owned a 1984 E-Class, which was one classy ride. Bought used in 1986, drove it for 8 years. A wonderful and very comfortable car!

    Lee Iacocca really was a genius, and if not, a super salesman!

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      +!

      My ’82 Reliant wagon was my first FWD car and a revelation for winter driving. Except for trucks, I haven’t strayed from FWD since.

      Cheap, tough and except for a shift linkage that snapped in -20 F weather utterly reliable.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        I forgot to mention that these drove rings around everything else in the snow, and were a blast to drive! The only cars that came close were VW’s, as I recall!

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Funny, but whether it was the skinny tires, ride height or weight distribution, I have never been as impressed with the directional stability on snowy roads of any subsequent FWDs I’ve owned.

          Or maybe it was just the novelty at the time since I went from a ’77 Malibu wagon to the Reliant. Whatever, that thing felt sure-footed as a mountain goat.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Back when “Front Wheel Drive” was a huge marketing platform.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          My 1983 and 1989 A-body Olds Ciera’s with plain old 195/75 R14 all season tires were unstoppable in the worst Winters we ever had in Upstate, NY. I wish I had those two cars back for this upcoming Winter.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            I’ll see your snow adventures with 195/75R14 tires (what my ’75 Valiant rode on, btw, although the originals were E78/14, IIRC) and raise you 175/80R13 tires, standard on the base model K-cars.

      • 0 avatar
        anti121hero

        These cars were incredible in the snow, I remember driving it through snow over my hood on my way to work, I live in he boonies, and even though it was one of the worst winters in recent time up here it never came close to getting stuck or losing control. As long as you would wait for that little engine to warm up and knew how to operate the brakes like a normal person you were fine. I’d choose it over some awd vehicles I’ve had to use.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Interestingly, I learned to drive in large part in my parents’ Reliant K Wagon.

        And it was a “revelation” for winter driving in that it was *beyond useless* the moment there was snow on the ground.

        My Metro handled snow about a thousand times better than that barge did.

        (That said, the car was basically reliable, was in fine running condition when it was sold off, and adequately – if not inspiringly – fast.)

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I could talk about how vastly superior my Chevette was for winter driving compared to my grandfather’s FWD New Yorker. But it probably wouldn’t be fair unless I mentioned that the Chevette was on studded winters while the New Yorker was on worn out all-seasons!

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I passed my driving test in an 85 Aries. great visibility, easy to drive around town.

    • 0 avatar
      mr.cranky

      My dad’s burgundy ’88 Reliant K wagon was the car that I learned to drive in. It was very reliable all the time that he had it and when he sold it, it was only because rust was starting to eat the wheelwells.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      My EEK was a Lancer ES Turbo; it came stock with the original Eagle GT’s. The real revelation about FWD for me was how well that car drove in deep snow, I drove over FWD and AWD cars with the Eagle GT’s in snow and little could go as well as my Lancer.

      If I could, I’d go back and get mine, but I could rock one of these 600′s, too…

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    You can’t beat ‘em…

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    “Once Chrysler’s K platform proved successful, the E (for “extended”) version of the K soon followed. First was the 400, which was then upgraded to the 600 for the 1983 model year.”

    Not quite. The 400 was just a tarted-up Aries, while the 600 sedan was a stretched version of the K, introduced a year later. The 400 sedan was killed off, and the coupe & convertible models took on the 600 name.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    By the way, I actually like that shade of brown the interior’s wearing.

  • avatar
    ronhawk62

    I bought an 85 600ES convertible in 1990 for $1200. It was a trade in where I worked. The power windows didn’t work, the tires were cupped and it had a small tear in the top. I bought four used tires, replaced the plastic tracks on the power windows for twenty five bucks and repaired the top with a vinyl repair kit that cost a coupe of bucks.

    I drove the crap out of it for several years and the only part that broke was a power steering hose that I replaced in my drive way. It was fun and fairly fast for the times. I sold it for several hundred more than I paid. Good memories.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      In 85 my wife wanted a convertible. We looked at one of these on the showroom floor at the Dodge dealer with this same brown interior. We also shopped the Mustang GT. Bought a Firebird with T-Tops instead. Probably should have bought the Dodge but they looked odd to me. Proportions were wrong.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Ah the good old 137 km/h speedometers. I wonder if there is a special marking at 88.5 km/h?

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    “This one hasn’t held up too well under the Colorado sun.” Hmm…the car is one year shy of being three decades old.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I wonder if Sergio tried to do a K car today, how much crap he would have to take?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      What would the K-car of today took like? The Dart? CUSW could end up being the K platform of tomorrow. By next year, 3 major Chrysler vehicles will be built on it.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        The Dart is definitely a new Neon, and I say that in a good way. But is anything else based on it?

        We need a platform that basically fills up an entire brand, from compact to (claimed) luxury. Multiple brands in the case of the K-car.

        VW comes close, everything it sells here except for the Toureg is based on the Golf (A5, soon to be MQB) platform, and so are the A3 and TT.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “But is anything else based on it?”

          The Cherokee body is based on the same CUSW platform as the Dart and the new 200 will be a modified version as well.

          I don’t really think it’s the new K car as they’re doing a much better job of hiding the roots and altering a lot more than the EEK cars did.

          • 0 avatar
            Volt 230

            Iacocca never tried to hide this, the fact that they used the same platform for just about every thing coming out of Chrysler./Dodge/Plymouth incl an “executive” sedan, convertible and even a limo, 2 and 4 doors, wagon, minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Does anyone know what is happening with the supposed Dart R/T?? with the 2.4 NA engine?

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          It’s now available as the Dart GT. The 2.4L Tigershark MultiAir2 can also be ordered in most other Dart models aside from the GT as well.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            There are no 2.4L equipped models, nor a Dart GT under build your own at dodge.ca. Am I missing something?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I looked at one on a dealer lot this past weekend, they’re out there. Not sure why they’re not in the build and price. The website shows the GT on the main Dart page.

          • 0 avatar
            bill h.

            My son is a newly hired engineer at Chrysler, and he has ordered a GT with the 2.4L Multiair2 through the employee leasing program. Should be getting it around mid-month.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I went down to my Local Chrysler Dealer after work today. The guy said no Cherokees for at least two weeks (I wanted to see if they are as hideous in person), and that he doesnt know of any dealers in Calgary having the Dart GT. So, no luck for me.

  • avatar
    CowDriver

    My wife had a Dodge 600 (non-turbo) when we got married. It was the worst gutless wonder that I have ever driven. We drove it cross-country to our new home in California, but were only able to do 30 mph going over the Rockies west of Denver. Even on the flat it accelerated like an arthritic snail. Now she has a Volvo S70 turbo and finds joy in driving.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    A girl I dated in high school had one of these after she killed her ’89 Lebaron 2.2 turbo. Red with red velour. Trouble was, the bench seat wasn’t split– she’s 5’3″ and I’m 6’3″. I literally could not ride in the front when she drove.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Now that’s an interesting problem to have, which would never happen in today’s cars.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      That was another k-car issue. If you ordered the base bench front seat you were treated to a non reclining bench that was angled so far back that most of the little legroom was gone and the front passenger was at he mercy of the driver. The more l luxurious 400/Lebaron/600 etc came with a bench also but with recliners and nicer seat material. Reclining buckets were a must in the K’s.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    My homage to the excellent work of Crabspirits:

    Barb was tired.

    She kept pumping the gas and turning key in the ignition but it wouldn’t start back up. Barb cursed under her breath at mom’s old Dodge and then sank back in the bench seat. She looked up in the rear-view mirror and saw a steady stream of cars going around her. Hanging from the mirror was a Catholic scapular, she focused on it and said a silent prayer for the car to start. Earl’s dialysis appointment was in an hour and she still had to stop and fill up his prescriptions. Barb with renewed enthusiasm pumped the gas even harder and turned the key, it started to turn over but wouldn’t start. She was startled by tapping on the driver’s window and turned her head.

    “Do you need help ma’am” the officer asked.
    “Yes, yes officer, the car stalled and I can’t get it to start”
    “May I see your license ma’am?” he asked.
    Barb pulled back the power window switch and the window creaked down a few inches, she reached into the visor and gave her registration to the officer.
    “License ma’am” he quietly asked again.
    “Yes, its in my purse” with one hand she shuffled through her purse and produced a fold over wallet containing her license, two dozen credit cards, and a few crinkled singles.
    “I’ll be right back ma’am” he says and walks back to his Ford police cruiser.

    Barb was very anxious, she reaches over to the cassette deck and turns the radio back on to the oldies station for white noise. She and Earl were newly married in 1985 when mom bought this car, and she remembers accompanying mom to the dealership with Earl to make the purchase. Widows shouldn’t make purchases by themselves she said, they need a man to ensure they don’t get taken for a ride. Dad died in 1979 and it was tough for mom to finally trade his big ’78 Newport on this Dodge 600. Mom told her as a widow she had no need for a big fancy car or four doors, just something to get her to church in the snow with a little bit of style. She was again startled by window tapping.

    “Ma’am your registration is lapsed and I see your emissions is also two months out of date” he said as he handed her the license.
    “Oh but officer I took the car in for inspection and it passed but the shop didn’t have the equipment to smog test a model this old!” she exclaimed.
    “Ma’am I sympathize…” he looked down at her worn face.
    “I do have registration, here” she produced a folded paper in her purse.
    “My son did something with a comput-” she handed him the paper and he unfolded it.
    “Mrs. Lafferty I’ll tell you what, if you can get this started I’ll overlook the stickers but you’re blocking-”.
    “But but I can’t!” she responded flustered to the officer.
    “Start turning the car over” he said as I bent down over the car.

    Barb kept pumping the gas and turning the key and it would almost start. The officer unhooked his night stick and began banging against side of the undercarriage next to the corroded fuel tank.

    “Keep turning it” he commanded, suddenly the car came to life. The officer stood back up.

    “Ma’am if I had to guess I’d say your fuel pump is getting tired”
    “Oh?” she said and looked pale.
    “Get this out of here, and have a nice day” he said walking away.

    “Thank you so much officer, I knew it needed a man’s touch!” Barb happily exclaimed as she shifted in gear and puttered away.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    I see some 600′s now and then, but I live outside Denver where where rust isn’t as vicious as elsewhere. I kinda appreciated those cars, I think they had a great cylinder-to-seatbelt ratio; 4:6!

  • avatar
    vwgolf420

    I’ve been noticing a lot of K Cars and related models around B’ham, Alabama lately. Honestly, seeing them now (including a pristine white Plymouth Reliant that I see almost daily), I think these cars were attractive in their basic appliance like design. I suppose we are a paradise of ancient run of the mill cars since rusting doesn’t occur as frequently and the state has no auto inspection laws whatsoever.

    As for the Dodge 600 specifically, my middle school principal had one. I was on the school’s academic bowl team and she drove us to a couple of tournaments. I remember how cushy those velour seats were.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I found a ’85 New Yorker for sale a while ago…but I’ve never seen a 600. Or a first generation Reliant/Aries, only the later ones with the big trapezoidal grille and equally big pentastar.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I routinely see a black convertible Dodge 600 at the shop, I always tell the owner I’ve got $350 dollars waiting for him if he sells it still running.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Most K derivatives ’round here are the Shadow/Sundance twins, the Acclaim/Spirit/LeBaron triplets, the Dynasty/New Yorker/Fifth Avenue “Super K”s, and whatever platform the LeBaron coupe and convertible rode on. Though the occasional Reliant and Aries do pop up from time to time.

        K derivatives do seem to be made of indestructium.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who likes K Cars here .

    Weird and strange but m cheap , reliable and the right car for it’s time .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    AllThumbs

    I own two K cars right now, one of them a close cousin to the featured car. It’s an ’84 LeBaron convertible, and I spent a long while staring at the photos of the engine bay above to see what’s missing/changed on mine in its long years of existence. I bought it for $750 because I wanted a car to work on that I didn’t need and wouldn’t be afraid of messing up, and — remembering a very solid ’82 Reliant station wagon I drove for three years in Morocco– got a wild hair and decided to look for a K. How my LeBaron made it 250 miles from where I bought it to where I live is a testament to the existence of guardian angels, but it did. It’s not bad, now, after eight months of weekends learning to be a beginner mechanic (although it’s mainly one damn electrical thing after another). Great advantage is that parts are practically free and readily available. It’s my only convertible, and the top was already newish and works perfectly, so it was a fun runabout in the summer and surprisingly peppy. With a cheap paint job, cheap alloys, and grille off eBay, it even looks nice (leather interior was in great shape to begin with).

    My other EEK is a ’91 Dynasty I bought a couple of weeks ago for $500. I’m about to replace the radiator (I think it cost me $75 on RockAuto), but other than that there is nothing wrong with it and it drives beautifully (one elderly owner for about the last fifteen years). I don’t need it, of course, but someone I know will likely need a car soon and I’ll be in a position to help out.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Did it happened to be John Voight’s Lebaron by chance?

      • 0 avatar
        AllThumbs

        I had forgot about that whole Seinfeld story until someone reminded me of it recently. And then I started thinking, hmmm…this could, in fact, be the car. I bought it in PA, but according to carfax or whatever I checked it out with, it spent the first eight or ten years of its life in NY (although I don’t know where). And I found an old NYC bridge token in the ashtray when I cleaned it out. And considering how banged up it was for its low mileage, I can imagine it having been parked on city streets a lot. Too bad the concept was fictional to begin with.

  • avatar
    pb35

    My dad sold Chryslers for the better part of the 80s. We had the same exact 600 as this one as a demo for a few weeks, a turbo but in that silver-blue color in 1988. I was driving it the night I met my wife to be. We were all hanging out together at the bar, underage friends of friends, and she asked if anyone had any weed. This being the 80s, you know I had a stash in the ashtray of the 600. I knew she liked me because she agreed to see me again even though I was driving a K-car.

    A couple of nights later I picked her up in my 8-month old ’87 Mustang GT. That 600 is long gone but we’re still together. A real TTAC love story.

    Thanks for bringing those memories back for a day.

  • avatar
    Sob93

    Never liked the Landau top but not bad for the day. Glass headlamps still clear gotta love that on a 28 year old car left out to rot. Quite handsome interior even by todays standards Chrysler had some class back then and still does in some respects.

  • avatar
    Scribe39

    I recall these very well, and they were great value for the dollar. It is fashionable now to sneer at them, but they were adequately powered (some more than others), comfortable and well-appointed. I have a friend who has an Executive sedan — one of very, very few — that he has at car shows here. It’s silver (bleah) but still has nice lines.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    It’s commercials like these that make people think they should drive around with their highbeams on all the time.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    I would never purchase a vehicle with a turbo. Clearly, a turbo engine will statistically not be as durable and reliable as a non-turbo engine. I think Detroit will suffer from their turbo on everything craze. If Toyota and Honda start following this stupid trend, I will switch brands again. I think people that purchase are just plain dumb. They are looking at repair bills with no resale. Turbo = resale value killer. Which brings the question … How many miles did this vehicle reach on the odo before the junkyard?

  • avatar
    Nichodemus

    How does one beat up a car radio like that?

    • 0 avatar
      AlternateReality

      I had the same radio in my first car, a 1984 Plymouth Turismo, and it looked a lot like that although the car itself was pretty cherry. By the time I got it in late 1991 the radio had long-since given up, with just 68,000 miles on the odometer.

      These Audiovox-sourced decks were utter junk – and only Chrysler’s second stab at a cassette deck, if memory serves.

  • avatar
    ppxhbqt

    The coupe was never part of the E series. All coupes (400 or 600), as well as the original 400 sedan (with the landau roof) were, like the original FWD LeBaron, part of the C/V series, though they were often referred to by their internal nickname of Super K.

  • avatar
    ApK253wa

    That 600 actually looks in pretty decent shape, and well-equipped for what it is. I was never a K-car fan but wouldn’t mind having one of those Lebaron Mark Cross convertibles (Like the one John Candy torched in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles). As a novelty more than anything else.

  • avatar
    Mieden

    I had a good friend who was an EMT in the early 90s. When I asked why he quite, his exact words were “I couldnt stomach vacuuming what was left of people out of their K-cars anymore”. Words to live by.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    My used car dealer friend used to rent these off his lot well into the 1990′s, loved them for rental beaters, & the later model Acclaims, Sundances, Dynastys too.


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