By on January 22, 2014

11 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinNo, that’s not a typo— Chrysler made the Simca-derived Omnirizon all the way until the 1990 model year. I’ve been looking for a final-year example of an Omni or Horizon for quite a while now, and I finally found this one in a Denver self-serve yard over the weekend.
06 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWould you believe an airbag in this cheap little car, as early as 1990? Standard equipment for the ’90 Omnirizons!
05 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin5-speed, factory tach, no rust, only 114,325 miles on the clock.
12 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinVery, very rare, and an interesting bit of history, but not really worth saving from The Crusher.
17 - 1990 Plymouth Horizoni Down On The Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you want to split hairs, the Omnirizon outlived the original Chrysler K platform by a year (though cars based on the K were built until 1995). By 1987, the Chrysler 2.2— originally developed for the K-cars— was the only engine available in these cars.

Even with the airbag, the last-year-of-production Omnirizon wasn’t much different from the original 1978 version. The new Dodge Omni does it all!

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

73 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1990 Plymouth Horizon...”


  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Hmmm, shiny low-rent shift knob, energy drink sticker, aftermarket radio.
    Sometimes I scan Youtube vids in an attempt to totally immerse myself in the subject car so I can craft a story. Rarely do I find exactly what I imagine this car’s final days to be like.

    Enjoy.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_IWiLJUyH8
    (Caution: explicit lyrics)

    • 0 avatar
      Shamwow

      Have you been to St. Joe? To me the video is not solely a representation of a car and its owner, but rather a representation of a culture, a community, and a sensibility that can only be found in good ole St. Joe.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    There was a set of twins a grade lower than me in high school who had a green one. This was in about 1995 and they told me what year theirs was (’89 I think) and I remember being astounded that they still made the car only 6 years earlier.
    I don’t ever remember a time seeing these and not thinking they were horrifically outdated – apparently even when they were still being made.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    My first new car was an ’89. It was outdated, yes, but that also meant all of the bugs had been worked out. I paid $6k out the door, and for that dough, it was a LOT more car than a Geo Metro or Ford Festiva.

    The 2.2 was lots more engine than anything else in its class, and it was geared right to make the most of that power. 45mpg on the highway wasn’t unheard of.

    They depreciated like all get-out, and were a pretty much disposable car. I put 60k on mine in 3 years, and was lucky to sell it to a pal for a grand.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Six grand, that’s hard to argue with. My sister bought her new Sunbird for just under $10k in 1990. It was bigger, but I doubt it had much more in the way of creature comforts. Smaller engine and much much worse MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      I paid $7,700 for a 1981 Aries K wagon with the 2.2L and $10,000 for a 1987 Dodge Lancer with the 2.5L upgrade of the 2.2L. Loved both cars, but never realized that the Omni was that cheap.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I always lusted after these cars some. If I was broke, and needed cheap transportation, even in this era I would be all over one of these. Just such a simple, practical, efficient little car.

  • avatar
    Battles

    This thing, with a 2.2 and a manual ‘box, must’ve been a pretty decent car.
    I gather it would have had an image problem, is that right?
    Too much of an image problem that it would never have been considered an enthusiast’s choice?

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Only if it was a Omni GLH.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark_Miata

        Based on my limited experience, the image problem, at least for the earlier years, is richly deserved. My first wife had one when we got married in the early 80s, and it was just one pain-in-the-rear problem after another. We tried to trade it in on a 1985 Honda Civic, but could not swing the note – didn’t help that they offered us virtually nothing for the Omni.

        Her parents bought her a new Omni after we divorced – why I will never know. Maybe they shared my opinion of her…

        • 0 avatar

          Early ones came std w the vw 1.7 that had issues. Even the early 2.2s could be fun w the feedback carbs. I have an 82 Rampage that is also on the Omni’s L platform and am lucky its a truck as it has the 2.2 with truck carb.

  • avatar
    Slocum

    My family had one of those also — but much earlier in the car’s life cycle. It was an ’83 I think. A piece of junk by modern standards, of course, but it was the first small, light, 5-speed car I ever drove and, in comparison to 1970s Detroit land-yachts, it was fun. Also in its defense, I have to say good luck finding a modern compact with comparable visibility or a hatch as usable as that one was.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Oh, I remember these, I think I had one

    It, was the ’80s, I had a lot of crappy cars

  • avatar
    old5.0

    Through a series of unfortunate events in the early 2000′s, I ended up with a late-80′s Aries-K. My initial reaction was to take the hateful little thing straight over to the metal recyclers, but it ran and I thought it might make a decent car for running to town for lunch and other such errands.

    I put more than a hundred thousand trouble-free miles on that car over the next two years on top of the 140,000 it already had and these were hard miles. Pounding down minimum access roads, low water bridges, rutted fields and even abandoned gravel pits, I went place in that car I would have hesitated to bring a truck and it took it all like a champ. It was like a Reagan-era Model T.

    My only explanation for this is that by the late-80′s, Chrysler had started to address some of the horrendous quality problems that plagued these cars. And, by the time 20 years+/- had passed, most of the bad ones had been scrapped and the few that were left were actually pretty good cars.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Purchased an earlier model forgot the year but had a 1.6 VW engine. Paid $100.00 and invested about $50.00 and it was a good DD. After 3 years i sold it for $200.00 and the next owner got about 3 more years out of it.
    I think in went to the scrap yard with about 150,000 miles. To be honest it was not a bad car. Cheap but never left me stranded. Only thing was that you had to carry extra door handles in the glove box. Every time i came across a junked one i would grab the door handles. Could never figure out why they were so cheaply made.

  • avatar
    Shamwow

    Can anyone provide any insight or history on the “number 2″ stamps underneath the VIN plate? I have never seen that on a car before.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Looks like an end-of-line quality control checklist.

      Left-to-right: frame, solder, fits, codes, final, paint, vinyl, ??? I would guess that the inspector would have a number-die hole punch to call out aspects that fell short enough to kick the car out to the repair lot.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    In 1999, a co-worker of mine had a 1985 Plymouth Horizon that he kept in absolutely immaculate condition. He drove it to work every day, and it was always clean no matter the weather. You could eat off the engine if you wanted. At the time I thought that it was too bad that he didn’t direct his efforts toward a more worthy automobile, but then again, some people collect Yugo’s, so there’s no accounting for taste.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Another good little econobox that was the right car for it’s time .

    I guess no one else remembers the oscillating steering problems they were designed with ? . that’s what killed them off , they sold O.K. until that hit the national news .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      It really didn’t kill them off. That hit the national news right when the car came out in the late ’70s, when Consumer Reports made it a cause celebre by stamping “Car of the Year? NOT ACCEPTABLE” over a picture of it right on the cover. Their argument was the car was unsafe because the steering didn’t self-center after being cranked to full lock while underway. It hurt the car’s reputation and sales, but as shown by this article, it didn’t kill it.

      I owned a ’79, bought dead stripped for $5100 new. I can attest that the steering was accurate and light, but did lack self-centering action. I traded it in on a Rabbit when the engine fell out at 30,000 miles due to a defective motor mount weld — Chrysler washed its hands of any responsibility because the car was out of its 12 month/12,000 mile warranty (this was before the 5/50 days). The Rabbit’s steering did self-center, by the way.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Didn’t Consumers’ Reports get a lot of flack for that test? Yanking the steering wheel while the car was moving and letting go of the wheel to see if the car straightened itself out didn’t seem like a good idea to a lot of people.

  • avatar
    Wscott97

    People wonder why the new generation doesn’t drive and arn’t buying new cars. It’s not because of cell phones or gadgets, they just can’t afford it. Back in the 80′s and 90′s you were still able to buy a new car for really cheap. This car was probably $6000 out the door and within 2 years, it was prob worth $3000. For some reason, if this car was still in good running order today, it will prob be up for sale for $1500.

    Cars are just too expensive now. The cheapest new car about $13,000 and if you try to buy it used in 2 years with 50,000 miles, it will still be asking $12,000.

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      According to the CPI inflation calculator, $5100 in 1979 dollars is $16,364.75 in 2014. For that money, there are a number of small new cars that you can buy that are a lot better equipped than the 1979 Dodge Omni (which was decently equipped for its day).

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Agreed. Part of the problem you stipulate is financing. I’m not sure what the rules of engagement were back in the day, but I doubt very much any reputable bank would finance a used American car much beyond a certain/age mileage in the 80s/90s. Now there are finance companies willing to lend you a good deal at money at high interest on most anything automotive, which artificially inflates the resale price. The evidence is in what Steve has posted, completely destroyed 200K+ 10+ yo old base Camcords were doing 4-5K as recently as last year. Its a $22,000 car new, why does it bid so high and a comparable Chevy/Pontiac/Buick bid half that for a similar condition vehicle. Part of it might be demand, but I think the greater share is financing and how much banks are willing to loan.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I had the coupe version of the L body, an ’84 Charger as a beater for a time. It had the 2.2L with a Holley 2bbl carb. Never had any issues with it in spite of much indifference, and it always averaged more than 30mpg. It served it’s purpose admirably.

  • avatar
    bigdaddyp

    I had three of these. My first was an 89 bought new. The second was an 87 bought used and third was an older one with the vw engine. The last succumbed to rust, the first was stolen and trashed. The 87 was driven until nothing was left and traded in on a new car.

    They were cheap, but comfortable. With 2.2 and a 5spd they were actually pretty fast for their time. They got great mileage and had the ability to go way, way off road. Absolutely loved that car. It was also pretty much disposable, once you hit about 120k miles they were usually spent.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Did not know these were built up to 1990. This is why I love TTAC

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    So Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth vehicles all had a Chrysler symbol in 1990 (at least for certain models)?

    I can’t recall any Plymouth emblem before the sailboat that came a couple years later.

    Also, I saw like a ~91 New Yorker Salon yesterday, all beat to hell. I suspect it was still around because it didn’t have that unobtanium suspension like the Imperial had.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Godspeed, faithful L-body.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Dodge/Chrysler/MOPAR/Plymouth/whatever missed the call on this car. If you look at photos of the European Simca model, you’ll see its actually a very nice looking and sporty car. Plymouth underestimated the Euro-look tastes we have. All that silly chrome and huge bumpers make it look like an old persons car. Let’s don’t even go into that stodgy interior. If Plymouth would have played its cards right, it could have been a Rabbit/Golf killer.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      The difference in bumpers was due to the US requirement for 5-mph bumpers; it was not a styling choice. Here’s a photo of a Mk1 Golf/Rabbit in US trim: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Golf_Mk1#North_America

      I’d also add that 5-mph bumpers and functional rub strips served their purpose. It was nice to be able to park on the street and know that it would take a massively incompetent person to damage your car rather than the typical moderately incompetent person. And toward the end of the 5-mph era, designers were figuring out how to incorporate the bumpers nicely into the overall design. I think the US-spec E28, for example, looks better than its European sibling.

      Now we have useless painted bumper covers and four-figure repair bills because of the idiots who don’t know how to park – not progress, IMO . . . .

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The industry chooses to use bumper covers and to paint them as opposed to metal bumpers/rubber strips.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          The 5-mph bumper regs were relaxed in the ’80s, about the same time that car designers started taking bumpers into account during the design stage, rather than tacking them on at the end.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            Yes, though I suspect that was not purely a case of cause and effect. Given the lead time required in designs–which I think would’ve been even longer in the ’70s and ’80s than now–my understanding is that there were cars produced in the ’80s that had nicely incorporated 5-mph bumpers that at that point were no longer required.

            Interestingly, the IIHS used the Omnirizon, with its tacked on bumpers, to demonstrate the effect of weakened standards: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumper_%28automobile%29#Weakening_standards

          • 0 avatar
            BlizzardWizard

            Wow. Featherston’s comment about the IIHS using three different model year Horizons to show the effect of different bumper standards really piqued my interest. People keep talking about how out-dated this car’s style looked, even by the middle of it’s run — never mind in 1990! But one reason for this is that the bumpers on a 1990 Omnizon look identical to the bumpers on a 1978 Omnizon. For instance, I’ve pulled bumper trim off of a 1980 model and stuck it on a 1990 bumper with no problem whatsoever.

            So what accounts for dramatic difference in strength between the three different model years tested? The aluminum of the bumper face? The supports that bolt the bumper face to the car’s frame? What changed?

            I’m very curious, because I have a strange obsession with these cars. My wife and I have a pair of roadworthy 1990s, and I also have another ’90 and an ’87 as parts vehicles. I’ve also personally stripped parts off of two 1979 models and one 1980 model.

            Maybe I should have grabbed the bumpers! And maybe next time I will. But does anyone know more about this?

  • avatar
    Yoss

    My best friend in high school had one of these. It was the 1990 model year too. His father handed it down to him with close to 200,000 miles on it. We lived way out in the country so that poor little car saw no end of abuse on back roads, jumping railroad tracks, basically any stupid thing teenagers with little supervision are likely to do. It broke down from time to time, but nothing catastrophic. I think he ended up driving it for most of college as well.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    My aunt had one exactly like this when she lived with us for a short time. There was also an Aries in our driveway either before or after. It was the quintessential form of motoring during my youth. One of these or a K car on every block. I don’t recall it as a bad car other than the interior being cheaper than it needed to be.

    Now I look on the K’s and Omnirizons as some sort of minimalist automotive art, and I want one bad.

    • 0 avatar
      AllThumbs

      Well, I’ve got the perfect piece of art for you sitting in my driveway right now if you’re serious. It’s an 84 LeBaron Mark Cross convertible, in pretty damned good shape after the year I’ve spent fixing it up. Only 45k on it when I bought it, but they were hard miles or hard parking or something.

      Of course, it’s sitting in my driveway because I’m waiting for the weather to warm up enough to finish swapping the head gasket. That was the most recent in a long line of things to go.

      True, but not for sale. I actually love the little beast and am enjoying learning everything about it through…fixing everything. I bought it for the same reasons you state– something wistfully artistic about the boxy Ks. I only ever had one in the 80s, but woke up a bit over a year ago with a hankering for one. I love the lines and the implied (only implied, let me assure you) simplicity.

  • avatar

    I had an ’83 Horizon with a 2.2 and a stick. Only manual car I ever owned, and I loved it. This was around 1999-2000, and someone at work had heard that my ugly rattly 4-door ’72 Cutlass had hemorrhaged its transmission all over my driveway, and they offered me the Horizon for free. (Everyone at work knew about that Cutlass… it had caught fire one morning as I pulled in to work, but that’s a story for another day.) The Horizon had well over 100K on it, and it was a dull light silver-blue with a mismatched front fender, but it was a fun little car and I actually got a few hundred bucks selling it after driving it for a year or so.

  • avatar
    JMII

    This is the car I learned to drive a manual transmission with… back in ’85! My mother had a silver one, the Dodge version. It replaced, yes, a VW Rabbit. I can still remember watching that RPM gauge like a hawk while driving around the block getting a feel for the clutch. I also remember the smell of said clutch after my lessons. When my parents moved they were able to fit this car INTO the trailer that carried our furniture. The mere idea that everything my parents owned in the world, including their car could fit inside another vehicle was a bit humbling. Decent little car, couldn’t kill the thing, trust me we tired. Too bad Mom didn’t have the go-fast turbo Shelby version.

  • avatar
    hawox

    in europe the production of the horizon ended much sooner, so it’s strange to see one with airbag!
    i think this was one of those cars that are worth more than theyr original price. in my family we had the horizon and also the fiat strada, and the volvo 360. volvo was the best in the group but it cost more than the horizon, the fiat was bad looking and poorly built but was the fastest and more economical of the trio.
    the horizon was the best compromise, practical, reliable and with decent bult quality for the days. i still remember the valve noise of the engine, and the brown dash!
    the big problem here in europe was the below-average performance of the basic engine… other chep family cars of the days were allready slow enough (55-60 bhp on 900kgs, 150 kp/h top speed…..) so when i tell the horizon was slow, i mean it was VERY slow

    • 0 avatar
      BlizzardWizard

      I can attest that, in the U.S. at least, these cars are definitely NOT worth more money than they originally sold for. I bought a 1990 model in 2010 for $1,900. Oops. My wife bought hers shortly thereafter for $850. More recently, I have seen them sell in decent running condition (but fairly high mileage) for as low as $500 or $600. We recently moved from one state to another and had to pay a registration fee based on the state’s valuation of the car… which was $400 — the car’s value, that is. Not the fee. Still (and maybe largely for this reason) I’m a fan of these cars.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    I heard lots of anecdotal stories about the Omni twims-mostly about how terrible the build quality was. Back about 1983 or 1984 I test drove a Dodge Omni GLH which had a high performance engine. What I remember was a bad rattle that seemed to eminate from the dash board as if a UAW worker had left one of this tools inside…I didn’t buy it.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    My father had a 1985 Olds Firenza that was J-U-N-K!!!!!!!!! He had bought that to replace a Buick Regal that was also junk. He finaly asked me if there was an American car that would hold up and do what he wanted AND was cheap. I said go new, buy a Horizon or Omni. And he did, a 1989. He mandated cruise control and the dealership adapted the unit with the turn signal stalk from a 5th Avenue found in the junk yard.

    He drove that car to 196K miles and outside of normal maintenance only had ONE issue, a sensor go out at 80K. That’s it.

    The most ironic thing about the 1990 is that for a last year car, they put a lot of effort into new mirrors and dashboard, even going so far as to move the climate control from the far driver’s side to the middle of the dashboard.

    Say what you will about these cars, but the 2.2/2.5 throttle body EFI chrysler and the 3 speed auto based on the 727 TF 3 speed auto is about as bulletproof of a drivetrain as one can have. I had it in my 1993 Spirit and while it wasn’t winning any refinement competitions, the car was indeed bulletproof.

    • 0 avatar
      BlizzardWizard

      Along with that driver’s side airbag (which I’ve heard was the only of any car in its class to come standard that year), significantly re-designed dash and larger square mirrors, the 1990s were also the only models to include 3 point rear seat belts. Granted, it would have been smarter if head rests for the rear passengers had accompanied those upgraded belts… But as strange as it is that Chrysler was still making a disco era econo-box in 1990, even stranger is all of the final year changes. It’s as though at least some folks at Chrysler were determined to see this car last even longer than its 13-year production run.

  • avatar
    anti121hero

    That 2.2 was a good little motor if you took care of it, I had a carburated version in a 84 reliant and for a thirty year old car it ran great, apart from electrical problems.

  • avatar
    mr.cranky

    I’m either crazy, clouded by nostalgia or both. I would love to own a Horizon before they’re too hard to find.

    • 0 avatar
      BlizzardWizard

      Now is your chance. They’re all over Craigslist — and cheap. Even though most of these cars were carelessly used up or rusted away, so many were produced that there are still a lot out there. But if you don’t know how to work a wrench, just be prepared to pay several times the initial purchase price in the first two years of maintenance!

  • avatar
    Garak

    Wow, a Horizon with an airbag – now I’ve seen everything. I guess the bag’s sensor was in the wheel itself, making the installation easy.

    The Horizon was built in Finland until 1985, making it one of the few regular ever cars built here, so this model has some interest for me also. It’s hard to imagine anyone buying one in 1990 (even with an airbag), the cars were completely obsolete by the mid-1980s.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    It’d be a miracle if that ones grille was still attached right, I’ve seen several of these and the plastic tabs that hold the grille love to snap over time.

    I owned a ’90 Horizon, automatic, and while the quality of it was your average Chrysler of the time it was largely easy to work on and it had a spacious interior, though I hated the leg rubbing dash piece on the passenger side (unique to ’90s as a safety feature), they also had a roll bar up front that I doubt made much a difference.

    It was a bit of a “chump” car, but if it were 1990 again and I could get any compact for free I’d shop between Saabs and OmniIzons, either one will hold up better and swallow more cargo than any Japanese import of the time.

    I did hate the torqueflite though, smooth shifter but it was going out on me at 90k so I sold the car at a loss. Plus it had far more rust than I was expecting.

    Then I got an ’89 Tercel, and regretted it.

  • avatar
    Power6

    That whole dash was a one year only, redone for the airbag for ’90 and moved the climate controls to the center. Then it was a killed.

  • avatar
    ClayT

    Girlfriend of mine back in ’88-’89 had an Omni. It had some electrical problem, I don’t even remember what it was. I do remember tracing it to the big ol’ 3″x3″ connector that connected the engine compartment to the passenger compartment through the firewall. When it was plugged in at the factory a couple spades pushed back in the plug instead of sliding into their slots.
    I don’t remember a lot of the details but I do remember how the heck did I ever figure that one out? She was a pretty sharp gal so I scored much bonus points for having solved it though.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      Back when i worked in rental cars we had a 2008 buick lucerne cxl with the 3.8 v6 that had a similar problem. Kept going into the reduced power limp home mode and triggering 3/4 of the dash warning lights, and in that mode the 3.8 seemed to make about 80 hp. 4 visits to the buick dealer, still wasnt fixed. In fact, after replacing at least 2 ecu’s and 1 tcu, they gave up, claimed it had evidence of major body damage/rebuild(it had 4,000 miles and was less than a month old, with no evidence whatsoever of damage) and sent us a bill for $7k. A call to the gm fleet dept cleared the bill up and 5 minutes of looking at the main wiring harness connector by another hertz employee found 2 connectors that got pinned back and didnt insert into their slots. Those were fixed with some pliers and the car ran perfectly from then on. I believe the lucerne was built at gm’s wonderful automated hamtramck factory that now builds, of all things, the volt!

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    In 1990 this was the least expensive car you could buy with a drivers side airbag. Most cars in this class had mouse belts aka passive restraints.

    The bodies on these as well as the coupe/hatch seemed quite durable. It’s rare you see a rotted one.

  • avatar

    My first new car was a GLH Turbo. The 2.2 Turbo had good power, and the car was very tight. Torque steer was the only issue. The GLH treatment meant the big brakes and Shelby did well with the suspension. 16 or 17 inch low profile Eagle GT tires were the front of the pack at the time, by a large margin. Good tires, brakes, solid chassis, good suspension tune.

    To give a comparison, the car did a 1/4 in 16.1, and 0-60 in 7.5. It was fast for Malaise era, even though today minivan moms will motor it.

    The difference between the Shelby and regular GLH was an intercooler and bigger wheels. The intercooler got the Shelby another 25 hp or so, and fixed the problem of overheating when boost was in for a while. The car would go decently, but without an intercooler after some running, the boost would drop quite a bit. Sprinter, not a runner.

    Still, I could beat up on 944′s, and even held a 911 at bay a few times. When the road finally got open and he ran, the point had already been proven.

    Why they paid Shelby to walk down a parts bin and select big brakes, the biggest engine that would fit, and tune the suspension, is beyond me….but I enjoyed his work.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      Shelby did develop the intercooled version on his own before there was a “Turbo II” factory intercooled version, so there is that. A GLHS has the Shelby modified motor, it is a Turbo I modified with intercooler not a Turbo II Chrysler motor. That concludes my GLHS knowledge.

      I had a freaking Plymouth Horizon, wished it was the GLH turbo!!

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      The creation of the turbocharged L-bodies is no mystery in hindsight. The Shelby/Lido team enjoyed upsetting the status quo, and were not afraid of any mythical sales lost to someone who might have purchased a vehicle with a higher profit margin. The artificial stratification of performance as a function of the customer’s wallet thickness was anathema to them, and the lack of any specific halo cars ensured there was a niche for the GLH Turbo and later GLHS vehicles. My own experience in ’86 ensured my family would be back for 2 more Chryco products including that great late 80s sleeper, the 2.5 turbo Caravan.

      My best time at Puunene was 15.66 at 90 mph in the summer of ’86 for the regular GLH Turbo, but I never did go for a time slip after I installed the high boost logic module in early ’87. My times weren’t especially consistent due to not practicing the standing start launch, although I did find holding the engine at 3krpm, then sidestepping the cable operated clutch pedal seemed to be the easiest way to get moving rapidly without boiling the front tires.

      The turbocharged Omnis were equipped with standard 15″ wheels shod with 195/50-15 tires. It would be several years before any of its also-ran competitors made the move to 15″ wheels and 50 series rubber, although the blower-fed MR2 did make the switch in 1988, I believe. The GLHS series maintained the same 15×6″ wheel size, but put slightly larger 205/50-15 meats in the wheel wells.

      This relates to the most common faux pas you’ll encounter among old Chrysler Turbo cars; the owners tend to go cheap on new tires and put 195/60-15 casings on the wheels, which screws up their performance and the spedometer/odometer readings.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    My parents bought one if these new in ’88. It was powder blue with a matching velour interior. And I hated it.

    It wasn’t cool.

    Fast forward to 1993, I just graduated college, and they were giving me this car, now with 80k, for free. I seriously LOVED that car. It was reliable and had ice cold A/C. It didn’t look like it, but it was a tank.

    I believe those were my salad days.

    If I could have that car back today, I’d take it in a heartbeat. If I could buy one new, for nostalgia alone, I would. Same color.

  • avatar

    Interesting. Remembering what was posted on the recent Junkyard Ford Fiesta, a general theme is emerging. Those who actually had these small cars actually liked them and were able to find some redeeming quality or another in them. Those who sisn’t actually own one, laugh and comment on the size and disparage on the cars based on what they heard from their friend’s mom’s sister who had one and thought it was junk. Interesting.

    FWIW, in spite of the bumpers and the excess chrome, this car looks pretty good. Were I to go back in time, with the mind I have today, it’d certainly would1′ve been on my shopping list.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I would totally save this car, if for no other reason than to build the ultimate VW fanboy trolling machine. Stance it, stretch some tires on some period correct but oversize wheels that have no place on a car this cheap, add a roof rack and some Euro market Talbot parts to give it the Eurotrash look.

    The car and the parts are so cheap and so unwanted that you could afford to do it as a goof.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes. Even more so if you put the turbo in it so it has pounce too. If you win a race it’s embarrassing to the other guy, if you lose the race, it’s still embarrassing because “I beat a horizon” doesn’t give much street cred.

  • avatar
    blppt

    I had an ’87 back in the day. Yeah, it was cheap, but man, it was the greatest bad weather car I’ve ever owned. For that reason alone, it was probably worth saving this car from the crusher—perfect winter beater, especially since the ’88-’90 did away with the tempermental carb and got the solid (if inefficient) single throttle body fuel injector.

    • 0 avatar
      thunderjet

      I would rock one of these as a winter beater in a heart beat.

      • 0 avatar
        blppt

        So would I—never had a set of snow tires on mine (IIRC, they were 165/80R13 A/S tires), yet I didnt even know how hazardous snow driving was until I got my next car, an 88 Reliant, which was nowheres near as good in the snow as that Horizon. Of course, it was far more reliable cranking in the morning due to not having that quirky emissions-compliant carb on the 87 2.2.

        Contrast that Horizon to my current CC, despite being a far, far better car in just about every area, cant even get up my driveway in a couple of inches of snow with all season M+S tires.

  • avatar
    ggariepy

    I had one of these, my first car, bought new in 1990 for I think around $8K. Mine was Colorado Red on a red interior, equipped with the 2.2L/three speed automatic and air conditioning. I put 85,000 miles on it in three years, I was so in love with driving at the time. I can’t say it was the most reliable car I have owned; the engine computer failed and left me stranded in rural southern Michigan one fine day, and it took nearly a week for the part to be sourced at the small town Chrysler dealership it was towed to. I had problems with an intermittent rough idle that I never managed to shake, a bog on acceleration when cold, and the rear hatch began to rust badly after three Michigan winters. The air conditioning died on the third summer.

    On the brighter side, I can testify it would go faster than the 100MPH speedometer could indicate, it got really good gas mileage, and it did not cost me a fortune to keep. I gave up on it early after the alternator died and I observed a leak from the transmission during the repair. It simply was not up to the abuse that a young male driver could give it, and so I traded it for a new ’93 Plymouth Duster V6, a car that was much better made (except for the 4 speed automatic transmission) and still had quite a bit of life left when I sold it 5 years later with 145,000 miles. If I owned the Horizon today I never would have put up with the poor build quality and unreliability, but I do remember my first car fondly. It was worth $1500 when I was done with it.

    Incidentally the 1990 Omnirizons were built at Detroit’s Jefferson Assembly plant–possibly only for one year, and when they discontinued it after the 1990 model year they tore that plant down and replaced it with the one today still making the Jeep Grand Cherokee. I have since owned two Grand Cherokees, so I have had three vehicles that were built at that site. The quality improved dramatically for each of the two subsequent vehicles!


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

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India