By on February 7, 2014

22 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Chrysler K platform spun off many K-based descendents, but genuine, pure Ks have been fairly rare in this series. We’ve seen this ’83 Dodge Aries sedan, this ’85 Dodge 600 Turbo, and this ’88 Dodge Aries wagon so far, though I’ve passed over many dozens more. Still, when I see a first-year Aries wagon in this weird chalky gray-green color and it has a “Hemi 2.6″ engine, I break out the camera!
13 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars depreciated just as fast as all the other Detroit front-drivers of the 1980s, which means that only relatively trouble-free ones managed to survive 33 years on the street. One expensive problem after about 1989, good-bye!
12 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Hemi 2.6 was really the good old Mitsubishi Astron 4G54 engine, which made 114 not-so-bad-for-1981 horses. Sadly, Chrysler never used any Simca-derived engines in the K family.
07 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis wagon has plenty of options, including air conditioning and futuristic digital chronometer.
05 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAs the street price of a battered Aries-K approached scrap-value levels, the socioeconomic status of the average K-car owner also dropped.
03 - 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill, you can see hints of former luxury in the much-used faded-mint-green vinyl interior.


As you can see here, the ’81 K-cars were sold on price, period.

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137 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon...”


  • avatar
    cartunez

    41 miles on HWY?

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    Were rear windows not made of tempered glass in 1981?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Good thought there.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Looks like a user repair involving plastic.

        • 0 avatar
          rpol35

          Exactly, look at the stainless trim around the rear window, it has been attached with screws, a little d-i-y repair.

          But yes, tempered glass was used then. I had an ’80 Chevette and some thug back in about 1982 knocked out my rear window and raided the car looking for God knows what. I had all of this dry cleaning in the car (we still wore suits back then) and a cop came along and took my suits to the lock-up (gladly I wasn’t in one of them) and left me a note telling me where I could pick them up. I was appreciative of his action.

          I had the window replaced but it took forever to clean up all of those itty-bitty pieces of tempered glass that were absolutely everywhere.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            I don’t think it’s possible to clean up every last one of those itty-bitty pieces of glass. Once they fall into the nooks and crannies, they become an unlimited supply from which the odd one or two periodically reappear for years to come. :(

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            ^Yes. Especially with door glass where a lot of pieces all into the door. You think you got them all out, then you drive the car for a bit and notice all the annoying rattling in the door over bumps….off comes the panel again…

          • 0 avatar
            April

            I’m still finding granules of tempered glass four years after the right side door glass on my 97′ Honda Accord was broken out.

            o_O

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Tempered glass was used well before this. Certainly a DIY repair. Interesting to note that on the really early build K’s there was a red, white, and blue K on the fixed right rear window.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Headliners weren’t made of interior sheet paneling either. I could put up with that color exterior and vinyl, but that carpet is some kind of ugly.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    And now we know the worst thing to ever say HEMI on it.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      BTS will tell you that anything becomes good, even a 1988 Suzuki Swift, with a HEMI badge on it.

      Without the badge, that 2.6L engine would have made just 101 HP and would have got 21 MPG highway EPA.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Hemi makes everything better! Wait…

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        With the badge, the Mitsubishi engine made 92 horsepower. I have no idea where Murilee found 114 hp. Had 114 hp been available in a 1981 Dodge Aries, it would have made all the expensive imported compacts look like slugs. A Mustang GT V8 had 117 hp that year, and Ford needed turbocharging to hit 132 hp with a 2.3 liter engine at the cost of even token levels of reliability and durability.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          No, no, no, it made 114 HP because it’s a HEMI. HEMI…HEMI!!!

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          He posted a link to Wikipedia, which lists that engine at 114hp.

          I suspect from context that it’s 114BHP vs. 90HP (per AllPar) *net*.

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            And Chrysler said let’s get some other endorsement name on this door stop called the Omni and call it a Shelby!

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Wikipedia is fallible. Horsepower ratings were net in 1981, so this car wasn’t advertised or claimed to have 114 hp of any kind. There were other applications for this engine, some in other markets, where it eventually did produce 114 hp, but that would have been an amazing figure for a carbureted 4-cylinder in the US in 1981.

        • 0 avatar
          luvmyv8

          Yup, that’d be the miserable 4.2 liter V8 in the Mustang. The very definition of a maliase era engine.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          The 2.6 was an engine that at gas like a V8, had the reliability of a HT 4100 and the power of a smaller 4 banger. The 2.8 in my parents Celebrity was light years better in every way the folowing year.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          The 2.6 was an engine that at gas like a V8, had the reliability of a HT 4100 and the power of a smaller 4 banger. The 2.8 in my parents Celebrity was light years better in every way the following year.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The 2.6 was an engine that at [sic] gas like a V8, had the reliability of a HT 4100 and the power of a smaller 4 banger”

            That takes skill.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    My uncle had this exact model, same color and all when I was a kid. He continued to drive it daily well into the mid 90s when then transmission started slipping with who knows how many miles on the clock. Everyone made fun of the mint green mule, but I liked its character.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Agreed ~

      When new they were sold as cheap transportation but I remember K Cars saving Chrysler Corporation making them the right cars at the right time and they were fairly reliable if dull to most people .

      Never anything wrong with basic transportation .

      I liked the looks of K Car convertibles .

      This one’s mis matched front carpet , wood panel headliner and plexiglass rear window reeks of third world worker bee’s car gleaned from some Old Man’s carport or garage .

      -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      My sister also had a Reliant wagon of this year in the exact same shade of green. Dad was so impressed he bought two ’84 lease return wagons, one for me and one for my sister; mine was the gold color, while hers was chocolate brown; same gold and brown interiors.

      It got good mileage, and it felt like a sports car coming from a 1974 Plymouth Fury II with the 360. I had a favorite back road to take it out on as fast as I could; at least until it was sugar cane cutting season, and all the cane tractors were out and about.

      I kept that car in tip top shape; even Armour-Alling the rubber and plastic bits in the engine compartment. (Everything was each to reach with the 2.2L. It got hit from the side, which pushed me into another parked car on the other side; totalling it; though my cousin remarked it was still the nicest looking car in the yard.

      Only negative thing that really stuck out in my mind was going around several times and tightening up the exposed screws until I got the interior trim to stop squeaking. Otherwise; it was roomy; and not a bad car at all.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      If I was to guess, I would say that this is an Army car used for supply runs and picking up and dropping off Company and Field Grade brass to the airport et al. The color is what we call Gummint Green and has that paint patina of no shininess to it. Since it has the A/C option, most likely came up from Fort Irwin, CA, Fort Bliss, TX, Ft. Huachuca, Ft. Stewart or somewhere else ungodly hot in the summer like Pinon Canyon training area.

      • 0 avatar
        big_gms

        I doubt that this was an Army car. This shade of green is a factory color. It’s simply lost it’s shine with age. Back in 1989-91, my grandparents had a 1981 Aries SE sedan in this very same color (but shinier). Also notice that this car has vinyl bodyside moldings (what few are left anyway), pinstriping and that digital clock among other things. Government cars are usually very basic and would probably not be equipped that way.

        • 0 avatar
          dolorean

          @big_gms, agreed about the color. The Army gummint green color was surprisingly popular in the late ’70s- early ’80s especially on ‘Murican cars. To be honest, I wasnt in the Army at the time of these cars and the ones that survived to the early ’90s when I got in were very beaten indeed. However, these driving dead cars were prized by those whom had them on their property books, especially if you were fortunate enough to have one with an A/C (actually surprisingly easy to put one in from a salvage lot). They were so much better for riding for Official Business over a Hummer for lots of reasons; primarily because you didn’t have to dispatch or have a special license for them, or worse, ordered to wear your Kevlar helmet and reflective belt for ‘safety’ in all military vehicles. Maintenance Cheifs were notorious for keeping these in their motor pools, kept going by quarterly runs to the junkyard to find parts.

  • avatar
    Curt in WPG

    I learned to drive on an 81 Reliant wagon. My Dad splurged on options, fancy red velour interior, wire wheel covers and the 2.6 litre Mitsubishi. No matter how cold is was that Mits would fire up and run on what felt like 1 cylinder shaking the whole car as it warmed up. Also good for blasting ‘Theatre of Pain’ by Motley Crue in the summer of 85 when I had automotive freedom for the first time. Good memories of this car, maybe because we didn’t keep it forever. Still, you always remember your first.

    • 0 avatar
      mr.cranky

      I learned to drive in an 88 Reliant K wagon. It was burgundy with faux woodgrain on the dashboard around the gauges. When my parents bought it, my mother only seemed to notice the fact that it was burgundy and didn’t really care about the brand, etc. She’s like that with cars.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    My first car was an 85 Reliant with the mitsubishi 2.6 =) Considering it was 15 years old when I got it and had been sitting outside in MA for 8 years untouched when I got it, it was pretty reliable. That motor guzzled gas though. In bad weather it would get in the teens and I’d only crack 20 mpg in dry, warm weather. It would shake like crazy in winter startups till it warmed up but it always would start. The best part was it’s handling in the snow. These cars drove in the snow like it wasn’t there. What finally did it in? The timing chain guides on the mitsubishi motor are made out of nylon and wear down over time. When they go the timing chain assembly eats itself. Mine never did go but they were about to, you could tell from the loud CLANKITY CLANKITY CLANK the motor made at idle speeds.

    Good memories…of that time of my life though more than the reliant itself. I wouldn’t want it back if you gave it to me.

    Oh btw you shoulda swiped the carb. Those mikuni carbs are worth big bucks cuz they’re rare.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    My parents had the same engine in their ’86 Caravan. Coupled to the 3 speed, one could say that it was overtaxed hauling 6 people and a 2,000 lb trailer.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Funny how so much used to be done with so little. When I was growing up, my dad towed our 18′ bowrider boat with a brown ’86 Escort wagon (5 speed stick shift of course). Nowadays, you need at least a 1/2 ton pickup to achieve the same feat.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        My parents used to tow a 16″ Hobie Cat with a fully loaded Renault Alliance. I remember trying to sit on the red cloth instead of the red vinyl in the summer, as there was no AC.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        _And_ a V-ate =8-) .

        Never mind how many millions of cross country trips were made just fine with flat head I6 engines in the olden days .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Considering that most of those flathead straight sixes did those trips on pre-interstate two lane winding roads of varying quality is a testament to how spoiled we are as well.

        • 0 avatar
          wstarvingteacher

          +1 First car was a 46 Studebaker. Concur that style engine went forever.

          This wagon would have been perfect for service jobs I did when I retired from the Navy. Then the recession subsided and you had to have a truck to be cool.

          I think wagons are the most useful part of our automotive past that are almost extinct today. Owned a 77 Impala wagon and still have a 57 that sits. Both were workhorses. Sedan deliveries even more so thanks to the rear hatch. Well, can’t live in the past. Have an SUV today. Same basic concept just more gas.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            SWMBO told me I had to buy her a wagon so I found a near cherry Mercedes 300TD European Spec. in Sta. Barbara (rich folks don’t like old Luxury cars) for a $ong and re painted it , now it’s way too nice to haul groceries & Forster boys ’round in so she keep it in the garage mostly .

            Wagons and Sedan Delivery’s are terrific , sadly almost extinct to – day .

            -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          Are you talking pre-interstate where a crosscountey trip was atleast a 2 to 3 week journey or the post-interstate where cars did seriously overheat? I just took my 2008 Scion xB from Pittsburgh to Flagstaff loaded down with belongings. It was a leisurely drive seeing the country but doing that in a 1958 Mercury Trooper wagon? I would rather shoot myself.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Well ;

            I guess you don’t actually enjoy driving much then .

            that’s O.K., but yes , going across America in an ‘A’ Model Ford , the Metropolitan Nash FHC in my avatar , a Honda 90 or a Mercedes with the windows up and AC dialed to ‘ refrigerate ‘ , all are great as long as I’m on the move .

            Not everyone likes to drive a lot .

            -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        mankyman

        Well, need is a funny way to put it. I think automakers just wanted to move SUVs off lots so they pushed people away from towing with cars. I used to see a lot more people towing boats, trailer, etc with cars.
        Shoot, my Daddy’s outback is supposedly onyl capable of towing 1500#. That’s ridiculous.

        My 2007 CVPI is only “rated” to tow 1500#, but it’s BOF construction with 4-wheel disk brakes, transmission and oil coolers, beefed up shocks, live rear axle, etc. The guy at the tow hitch place shop- a guy with decades of experience- said it could easily handle 5000# of towing. It has no problem whatsoever towing my 1500# boat, whereas my bro’s Tacoma can barely drag his 1000# sailboat.
        I’m not saying I would tow over 1500#, just that I think carmakers are extremely conservative with tow ratings.

    • 0 avatar
      thunderjet

      My parent’s had an 87 Plymouth Voyager SE with the Mitsu 2.6/3 speed. It was slow and felt underpowered. I learned how to drive on that thing. I remember it wouldn’t do much more than 80mph on the highway and it made a whole lot of noise getting there and maintaining that speed. I wouldn’t say the 2.6 was the most dependable engine either. It was rough and in the 78K my parents had the van (over 17 years of ownership they only drove it 78K) it needed a timing chain and guides, head gasket, oil seals on the valve guides, and a new carb. All of these on different occasions. I have no idea why as they changed the oil every 3K and never overheated the thing.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        I think Chrysler’s own 2.2L, later bored out to 2.5L; was a much better engine than the Mitsu 2.6. I seem to recall it was considered almost as bulletproof as the slant six; Chrysler even twin turboed one and got something like 1,000 HP out of it.

        • 0 avatar
          eManual

          You got that right. Took the 81 Aries Wagon 2.2L manual to 140K miles, then gave it away. My 87 Dodge Lancer with 2.5L manual got to 155K miles before it blew a head gasket. (Should have fixed that car!)

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Head gasket was a weak point on the first few years, as was the piston slap on high mileage examples. My 87 sounded like a diesel at warm idle, but at over 250K of highly reliable service, it earned the right to make a little noise.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            ” My 87 sounded like a diesel at warm idle, but at over 250K of highly reliable service, it earned the right to make a little noise.”

            I’ll never forget that sound, the characteristic K-car diesely sounding idle. Turns out it’s commonly caused by play in the piston to rod wrist pins. They ran like that forever, never seemed to cause an issue beyond the noise.

  • avatar
    DDayJ

    What is going on with the headliner? Is that wood paneling?!

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      1980′s era Chrysler headliners only lasted a few years before the adhesive turned loose and the fabric began to sag. It was not unusual to see K-Cars, Fifth Avenues, Minivans, etc. with sagging, torn or missing headliners. It appears a past owner of this Aries replaced the cloth headliner with wood paneling.

      • 0 avatar
        denvertsxer

        That plus the plexiglass rear window means somebody put some effort into keeping this beauty in the road! Wonder how many miles it had on it.

        We had a first-year plain-jane wagon that my mom put a lot of very brutal miles on. She was a rural mail carrier. Car was pretty tough.

      • 0 avatar
        CobraJet

        I don’t know. Maybe this one came with that rare option: The DeeLux paneled ceiling.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I know what you mean. My sister’s ’92 Acclaim (which is totally a second-gen Reliant in every way) has complete headliner sag in the back, where the thin fabric layer unglued itself and just sorta hangs loosely.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      This and the back hatch window are the best part of Murilee’s Junkyard Finds™. I really love to see the improvisations that keep these cars on the road long after pure economics would send them to the crusher.

    • 0 avatar
      cargogh

      I guess Chrysler was trying with better headliners. My brother told me a whole slew of either New Yorkers or Dynastys were essentially totaled when they tried some new super adhesive. As it dried and contracted, it actually wrinkled the roof metal.

      Chrysler beat Volvo’s 740 in terms of styling a boxy wagon first. I still think it is a good looking car.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        I thought, and still think so. The Mercedes 190 was being sold at the same time; and I thought the Reliant looked just as nice; especially the wagon.

        It was when I saw an Audi 5000s for the first time that it suddenly looked outdated. Still, it was a good, clean design.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    That thing got a Hemi?

    Oh wait, it does…

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    I put some good miles on one of these back in my internship in the late 80′s. Our department had two cars and this one was much preferred over the Chev Citation. Plus it had A/C.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Ours was tan, and didn’t have the Hemi or the roof rails, but we managed to get 7 years out of it (which was pretty good for domestic cars in those days).

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    $5880 in 1981 = $15069 today. Think of what that gets you now. We’ve come a long way.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      A car with a few extra features and similar fuel economy?

      • 0 avatar
        Boxer2500

        If by “a few extra features” you mean more power and improved driveability/emissions, OBDII EFI instead of Malaise era carburetion, better tires and suspension, more sound deadening, better quality upholstery and interior materials, infinitely better occupant protection, vastly improved reliability, and infotainment technology which didn’t exist in the wildest dreams of technology fetishists in 1981, then yes.

        Actually, the fuel economy on new cars in this class is better too. New cars in this segment get about the same numbers on the 2008 EPA revision as the K Car did on the unadjusted EPA test.

        You get more for your inflation adjusted automotive dollar in 2014 than at any other point in the history of the industry.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      You can’t get a Hemi or a chronometer for that price these days.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Obviously it’s worn out (and mechanically was never that great), but I don’t think that car would have looked too bad for it’s time.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    114hp! This thing would have been a rocket ship compared to the 1982 Celebrity with Iron Duke (92 mighty hp) that was the family sled that became my first car. Way to go Dad, I could have won a few more drag races against the 80s crap my friends drove in 1994-1995 when I was finishing high school.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      In actuality the Aries 2.6 had 92 hp too. 114 hp would have been amazing from a single carburetor 4 cylinder in the US at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Don’t be so hard on dad. These engines were usually mated to the Torqueflite derived 3 speed auto. That combo probably didn’t produce very impressive 0-60 times.

      • 0 avatar
        CompWizrd

        Bullet proof transmission though.. I was testing top speed in my mothers, and got it up to 85mph. took several miles to get there. My brother reached over and put the automatic into First.

        No tach on those things, but I know it downshifted at least once. My reaction was to smack it into neutral, let off the gas, and coast while calling my brother an idiot. Ran the same after, I guess even an Italian tuneup wouldn’t fix that thing. :)

  • avatar
    Garak

    I appreciate the lack of a center console. Where did flat floors go?

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      One of the original selling points of fwd was the nearly flat floors. With front bench seats and a column shifter the K-Car would seat 6 in reasonable comfort. I say reasonable comfort because, in my experience, it was never really possible for an adult to feel comfortable in the center of a bench seat. Kids didn’t seem to mind.

      • 0 avatar
        Garak

        Yeah. I hate that some modern FWD cars have larger “driveshaft tunnels” than old RWD vehicles, even in the rear seat. People blabber about the need to route cables and so forth, which forces manufacturers to compromise interior space, but i call bovine excrement on that.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          The fake driveshaft tunnel also helps make the car physically stronger and stiffer- not that it is the only choice designers have to accomplish that.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            All valid points. Also, a fake (or at least empty) driveshaft tunnel dovetails with
            - the market’s love of consoles.
            - the option of adding drivetrain components for an AWD system, which the market also loves.

            There are some subcompacts out there with flat floors. It’s a great feature. The Belta/Yaris sedan, e.g., has this. You can’t tell in the front seat, because there’s a console, but the rear floor is totally flat. It’s too narrow to sit three adults in comfort, but for three tykes or two adults it’s surprisingly spacious.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        These cars were something like 68 inches wide. The older full size cars were close to 80 inches wide. Even my 1980 Buck Regal was something like 73 inches. OTOH, bun-space requirements have changed in the last 1/3 of a century.

  • avatar
    patman

    My grandparents bought one of these first year Aries wagons – blue with a blue velour (I think) interior. This one is remarkably well preserved because that state of dulled paint and peeling, faded hood and roof is exactly what their’s looked like after about a year.

    They took us on a cross country sight seeing trip in it – my grandfather may have even bought it for that trip to save on gas versus the big Mercurys they usually drove. It was an amazing trip but that was a miserable car for 3 adults and two kids to spend two weeks in. It was pitifully slow (although faster than my parents diesel VW Dasher wagon), the A/C was undetectable to us in the back seat and barely detectable in the front, and the cloth/velour seats were hot and itchy.

    She later traded it in towards a ’89 Mercury Sable. The difference in quality between those two cars was startling, and even more dramatic as the Sable aged and you compared it to the state of the Aries at the same age and mileage. What a difference another half a decade of sorting out domestic FWD platforms made.

  • avatar
    Delta9A1

    The K-car lasted a lot longer than the Sebring convertible next to it. You would think that a gold convertible would survive a bit longer as a cool high school car. That V6 engine must really suck.

    • 0 avatar
      patman

      I was shocked by the number of Sebring convertibles last time I was at the Pull-a-Part. A coworker asked me to look for a random trim piece for his and I told him I’d take a look next time I went but wasn’t really expecting there to be much selection – turned out it was one of the more numerous single models in the Mopar section of the yard. Their value must’ve dropped like a stone when they hit that 2nd or 3rd owner.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Sebring convertibles are the poseur car of choice for the local high school kids. They dropped to that status faster than the LeBarron convertibles that proceeded them.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          How is it a poseur car? What are they posing as? Vacationing retirees? When I was in high school, the cheap convertibles were things like ’70 Cutlasses and 1st generation Mustangs. I don’t think there was anything false about them. A cheap convertible’s redeeming quality is that it is a cheap convertible.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            There were other engines you could claim if you added the popular hood locks available at the time. The biggest engine was a 2.5 V6 good for about 160 HP, but there was a turbo version (not available as stock on the Sebring) that put out 222 HP. Just keep that hood locked down.

            In the mid-1960s it was simpler: just remove the nameplate from a Tempest convertible and replace with the letters G-T-O.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            What I meant was guys who think they’re cool but not cool. Guido wanna be types which is sad when you’re 3000 miles from NJ and NY.

  • avatar

    I met my wife during our freshman year of college in 1987. After I helped her practice and pass her road test, I helped her buy her first car, an ’83 Reliant. Black 4-door sedan with red velour interior and 2.2/automatic and A/C. This brings back all kinds of memories…

  • avatar
    Curt in WPG

    I always wanted to get a 2 door stripper Reliant and put a 2.2 litre turbo 2 in it. That plus a beep-beep horn and a couple Road Runner decals.

    We had lower ambitions car wise back then so perhaps it’s best I never acted in this urge…

  • avatar
    fallous

    Whenever I see a K-car I immediately think of this late 90s spoof commercial.

  • avatar
    countymountie

    As much as I love my GM X cars, the Chrysler K cars really grew on me as the years went on. It’s too bad the junkyard is the only place any of them are seen anymore.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    (Must play in the background.)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fatyDaViLfol

    Luke was a guy who knew how to have fun.

    “Oh my god.” David laughed. The K’s speed was more than he thought sensible as it approached. He stood next to the row of shrubs in the dark Target parking lot. TSOL blared out of the wagon as it quickly neared. Luke’s long blonde hair blew in the airstream of the open window, and his face wore a smile of thrilled delight. The Aries mowed through the line of shrubbery, and flew into the air. Sparks flew from the undercarriage upon landing. David collapsed into hysteria. “I…I got that on film!”

    “Upload that sh*t!” Luke told his passenger. David worked his Iphone saying, “I don’t know. It’s dark and it sucks.” The wagon sailed down the 210 through Rancho Cucamonga, wearing the shopping cart-shaped scars of it’s last antics on it’s fender. The Bad Boy Bail Bonds tassel fluttered in the night air, a well-earned souvenir from when Luke had rolled the six month-old Wrangler his parents had given him for Christmas. They “punished” him by giving him the green wagon. To Luke, the K was a great source of entertainment, a lot more fun than the Wrangler. The Aries pulled into the brick driveway and Luke parked it next to his dad’s 8-series beemer. The two buddies entered the upscale home. “Where have you been?”, “Is your homework done?”, and other questions, such as “Where are you going?” were never spoken in this household. “Hey Mrs. Peters.”, said David. The young trophy wive waved with her fingers at her step-son’s best friend. Her workout attire could barely contain her bosom and derriere. The boys went upstairs.

    “Dude, your mom is so hot.”
    “Shut up. She’s not my mom.”
    “Dude.”
    Luke became angry. He put down the Playstation controller, allowing his in-game character to be captured by the law of San Andreas. The underwear drawer of his dresser was pulled out, and he retrieved his stash.
    “Let’s go.”

    The helm of the K-wagon was cranked “hard over” as they pulled off of Foothill onto Azusa Avenue. The sidewall of the tire screamed against the pavement. David held onto the roof, very amused. The full power of the Astron was brought to bear when it began the steep serpentine climb up the mountain. Luke brought the shifter into low range to stop the transmission’s incessant hunting. They were now on the GMR. Conversation fell silent. Just driving this road, let alone in a car as out of it’s depth as the K, was treacherous. Luke looked over his shoulder out of the missing glass that a fellow student had removed for him when the first stereo was stolen. A large section of stone guardrail was absent. “That’s where that Civic went off.”
    Luke had the sense to not screw around on this road. Many of his peers had done so at their peril. Still, he relished getting a rise from his passenger. He abruptly hit the gas at a point where there was no danger, squealing some rubber. “Come on man.”

    After what seemed like an hour of driving, they had reached the peak. The teens looked down at the shimmering lights of the San Gabriel Valley below, perched atop the roof of the wagon. Luke passed the J, and asked “What are we gonna do dude?” The question was ambiguous, idiotic, and profound at the same time. David inhaled, and replied, “I don’t know.” Marijuana expended, they climbed back into the car to resume their pointless journey. As the wagon began to idle back down the road, a squad car spawned from nowhere. A beam of hot light was directed from it’s A-pillar upon the Dodge’s narcotic-infused operator. “You guys picked the wrong place to get high.”

    Another visit to Bad Boy, and another stern slap on the hand from pops. Luke’s stepmother’s heels clopped rhythmically while the family made the, now familiar, stroll away from the courthouse.
    “Now you’re riding the bus.”

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’m pretty sure the same digital clock is being used in the 2014 Corolla.

    (this post was just for PCH101)

  • avatar
    CompWizrd

    Learned to drive on an ’87 Aries 4-door, with the 2.5. non-turbo.

    0-60mph was 29+ seconds. Wide open the whole way. Many times I got beat by semi trucks if they didn’t have a trailer on the back.
    If you didn’t warm it up for at least 10 minutes, it’d stall on the first left turn… Even in the summer.
    Had about 210,000 miles on it(340k km or so), before my mother finally let it go.

    Figured out about 10 years after that the cat converter had to have been plugged. Averaged under 20 mpg in that thing.

    My mother insisted there was nothing wrong with the acceleration(or the car).
    My dad told me to stop beating on it, roughly paraphrasing, “it’s survived your mother driving it, you don’t need to find the last bit that will break it.” I think he knew it was dangerously broken, but since my mother said it was fine.. IT WAS FINE.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    Just yesterday I was walking through San Francisco and saw an absolutely mint K-car Chrysler coupe in K-car silver! Automatic of course. How awesome.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Murilee, everytime I see that full engine shot, the following rolls through my mind from Tommy Boy:

    Richard: Hey… I was just thinking… when we stopped for gas this morning I think it was you who put the oil in.

    Tommy: Hey if you’re going to say I didn’t put the right kind in, you’re wrong. I used 10-W-30. And besides, motor oil would have nothing to do with this accident.

    Richard: True. But you can’t latch the hood too well, IF YOU DON’T TAKE THE CAN OUT, YOU NO-SELLING WASTE OF SPACE.

    [Tommy winces at his mistake]

    Richard: I swear to God, you’re worthless!

  • avatar
    mankyman

    Man oh man, does this car bring back 80′s memories. Doing burnouts and destroying the front set of tires. Ruining the alignment by driving like an ass. Going on the expressway trying to hit “bounce status” – the needle bouncing off the 85 mph mark. Getting naked with my GF in the back seat.
    Good times!
    The engine really wasn’t that bad by 80′s standards. Compared to the Aspen before and the celebrity 2.5 afterwards, this was a relative barnburner of an engine. Cheapest interior possible, but when you’re 16 and it’s your first car, who cares?

  • avatar
    robc123

    Had an 82′ in high school. bench seats, manual door locks.

    Remember when the girl always leaned over and unlocked your door if she liked you?

    Gives me a smile and a half on, just thinking about it.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    The best thing about the last dealership I worked at was when the owner closed the doors, he gave me the title to my ‘super K-car’ demo – a 1987 Dodge 600 turbo.

    This was in 2011.

  • avatar
    mic

    I owned what I affectionately referred to as The Hodge Podge Dodge! 84 Dodge Aries two door, Root Beer Brown with 86 engine and an 87 5 speed stick! The whole she-bang put together by the local high school auto shop class and I bought it from them for $800. I owned this while stationed in Germany from 94-97. Reliable? sure started everyday but I looked enviously at the Beemer wagons flying by on the Autobahn. Kind of a scary car to drive too. The junkyard on the airbase had plenty of these so parts were readily available. I think it was a 2.2 liter.

  • avatar
    CowDriver

    I like the Bad Boys Bail Bonds card hanging in the car. My wife works at Los Angeles City Hall (across from Parker Center — the police building). The folks from Bad Boys are often out on the sidewalk as employees come to work, handing out badge lanyards with their advertising. She scored a couple of them and gave me one, which I wear at every trade show and convention I go to, just to shock people.

  • avatar
    Cadillacpimpin

    Someone get the Hemi emblem. That is too awesome.

  • avatar
    roger628

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMjyaR3EPUM

    It’s funny seeing Paul Newman have to drive one.

  • avatar
    skloon

    Ive been fooled by these things cruising the picknpull for the Volvo 740

  • avatar
    Jubjub

    Wow, my dad picked one of these up as a company car. Chicken skin yellow 2.6 wagon with a 14″ wheel upgrade and funky sunburst wheel covers. For the day, it had really wide, meaty, low profile rubber. “Pee Wee” lasted decently, with the exception of a carb replacement, until my sister traded him on a new ’93 Tracer wagon, she’s still driving.

    The Reliant was the first car I drove when I was like ten.

    Too bad this had a column replacement, probably a theft survival scar. The original column, at least on my dad’s, had an ignition courtesy light with a great, green illumination.

  • avatar
    ppxhbqt

    Light Seaspray Green Metallic is the color’s name.

  • avatar
    AllThumbs

    It was a good car.

    I had an 83 Reliant wagon of the same colors (paint and interior) and drove the hell out of it all over Morocco in 87-89. Other than a few flats, it was fantastic, with the FWD pulling the loaded car around tight mountain corners, and decent speed on the flats.

    I was quite young then, and it was among my group’s favorite road trip cars because of its reliability, power (yes, compared to most cars on the local market), and space.

    I’d love to have that car now, especially since I know how to fix everything on it due to my year-long struggle with the 84 LeBaron convertible I acquired based on nostalgia for the Reliant…

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    My Dodge Aires wagon made it to 100,000 miles before I junked it, due to a cracked head- worst part: factory radiator was plastic! replaced it with a metal one. Chrysler was cheap!

  • avatar
    guy922

    Love it! My little brother’s very first car. a 1983 Aries K Wagon in flat tan color with tan vinyl interior. Paid $500 for it, maybe lasted a month (in 2007). I was luckier. my first was a 1992 Taurus GL Sedan 3.8 Essex (in 2002). Seeing this post brought back some hilarious memories. The Aries hood latch broke. My dad and brother secured the hood with rope and bungee cords…Great post!

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I don’t know which engine is worse the Essex 3.8 or the Mitsubishi 2.6. Both caused our dealership many lost sales and numerous headaches and much money down the drain trying to make right with the buyers. After a year or so dealing with vehicles equipped with either of these two motors we wisely avoided them at all costs from that point to this day.

      • 0 avatar
        guy922

        Well I guess I got lucky then. Mine had 188k before I got rear ended. If it was going to blow, it didnt get the chance, but I know others who had bad experiences with Essex engines.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    114 Hp would be a pipe dream for that dog POS of a motor. Chrysler rated it at 92 horses for 1981. It’s fitting that a bottle of motor oil is sitting in the engine bay and three other bottles in the trunk or cargo bay would probably be the norm in a 2.6 equipped car. I always used to chuckle at the car auctions when a 2.6 “oil smoker” Caravan or Lebaron etc would pull up in line. The first thing any potential buyer would look for is the 2.6 engine and then run for there lives. The funny thing is that I don’t remember these engine being all that bad in the Mitsubishi products. Perhaps they sold Chrylser all there rejects.

  • 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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