The Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon (collectively known as the Omnirizon) was based on a Simca design originally intended for European use and was Chrysler’s first American built, front-wheel drive, economy car. The Omnirizon was cheap, got the job done, and sold very well, staying in the American marketplace from 1978 through to 1990 with few major changes.
We’ve seen an early Horizon and now I’ve spotted this late one in a California self-service yard.
By 1989, the standard 1.7-liter VW engine had been replaced by the Detroit-designed 2.2-liter engine originally intended for use in the many-branched K-Car family tree. With turbocharging and Carroll Shelby badging, the Dodge Omni GLH Horizon sibling was very quick for its time (and probably would lose a drag race to a 2016 four-cylinder Camry, but let’s not dwell on such comparisons).
The America version of the Horizon was a fixed-price version that attempted to steal sales from the likes of the Toyota Tercel and Subaru Justy. In 1989, the Horizon America listed at $6,595, versus $6,640 for the Misery Plus Edition™ Tercel EZ (which, admittedly, was impossible to kill), $5,866 for the breathtakingly underpowered Subaru Justy DL, $5,499 for the Hyundai Excel (which would have been used up by about 1994), or (pause for pained laughter here) $4,349 for the Yugo GV. The Omnirizon certainly was more fun to drive than most of its competition. With a new zero-option ’89 Civic going for $6,348 (if you could find one selling at list price, or even find one at all, what with the limited supply at Honda dealers back then), however, the Omnirizon comes in as the second-best econobox deal of 1989.
The pride’s inside!
Wisely, the marketers didn’t mention the Omnirizon’s red-white-and-blue French origins in these flag-waving ads.
So successful that America buys almost one a minute (it’s not clear whether that’s just business hours or 24/7).