As recently as five years ago, you could get a good sense of the width and height of the Chrysler K-Car family tree by just walking the rows of a big American self-service wrecking yard. You would see at least one early Aries or Reliant and probably a few late-K-family New Yorkers or Acclaim/Spirits. Not any more. The Crusher has eaten and digested most of the K Family, so I felt that this rare Plymouth Caravelle sighting in a San Francisco Bay Area yard was noteworthy. (Read More…)
For most of the 1980s and well into the 1990s, most cars made by Chrysler were members of the many-branched K-Car family tree. In the early years, the K was sold as an all-American economy car for the frugal, but Lee Iacocca had his eye on stealing some sales from European luxury marques. Perhaps a K made to look something like a Mercedes-Benz would do the job? (Read More…)
In last week’s Junkyard Find, I shared the first discarded BMW E30 I have photographed after nearly a decade of writing about junkyard vehicles. Yes, the E30 was a fine automobile (though right-thinking car experts recognize that its Alfa Romeo Milano competitor was faster, cheaper, and had a much better-sounding engine) and we should take a moment to appreciate this important piece of German automotive history.
Right, now that we’re done with that, let’s admire a piece of automotive history I find much more fascinating: an example of the final model year of Chrysler’s company-rescuing K-Car, photographed in a muggy, buggy, cocklebur-overgrown Minneapolis self-service yard. (Read More…)
Much as members of the Mopar Jihad don’t want to admit it, Chrysler took a bailout — in the form of government-backed loans — from Uncle Sam in 1979. This worked out pretty well for everyone involved, because the then-futuristic K-Cars that Chrysler developed out of desperation turned out to be both smash sales hits and the basis for most cars put out by Chrysler for the following decade.
The K Family Tree had many branches, but only the Dodge Aries, Plymouth Reliant, Chrysler LeBaron, and Dodge 400 were true K-Cars. You won’t see many of the original Ks these days, but the patient junkyard crawler will find a rare survivor now and then.
Here’s an early Aries wagon that I spotted in a Denver self-serve yard a couple of weeks ago. (Read More…)
Chrysler hadn’t been making the K Platform for long before they branched it out into the bewildering K Family Tree that confuses everybody to this day. Iacocca’s Chrysler-saving (or demise-postponing, depending on your point of view) platform gave us both the worst car in human history and a Dodged-down version of the swanky LeBaron GTS. Here’s an example of the latter that I saw in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard. (Read More…)
The alphabet soup of platforms that Chrysler based on the K-car during the 1980s and 1990s gets a little overwhelming to sort out. The “extended” K-car chassis was known as the E Platform and included the Dodge 600 (we’ve seen one in this series), the Chrysler E-Class (we’ve seen one of those as well) and the Plymouth Caravelle — essentially an E-class with a different grille — appearing for the 1985 model year. They didn’t sell particularly well, nor did they retain much value over the years, so spying one in a wrecking yard today is unusual. (Read More…)
The quantities of true Chrysler K-Cars in high-turnover self-service wrecking yards have been declining a bit in recent years, though I still see enough of them that I choose only the most interesting to photograph for this series. So far we’ve seen this “Hemi 2.6” ’81 Dodge Aries wagon, this ’83 Dodge Aries sedan, this ’85 Dodge 600 Turbo, and this ’88 Dodge Aries wagon, and today I’m adding a gold Aries sedan that has special significance for me. (Read More…)
The 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! (Read More…)
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. 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. (Read More…)
Members of the Plymouth Sundance/Dodge Shadow K-Platform-based compacts of the early 1990s remain easy to find in self-service junkyards these days, but the larger stretched-K-derivative Plymouth Acclaim/Dodge Spirit isn’t so common. This probably has more to do with quantity sold than reliability, as both types are pretty similar under the skin. Here’s a first-year-of-production Acclaim Turbo, spotted in a Denver self-service yard a couple months ago. (Read More…)
The most luxurious member of all the extended Chrysler K-Car family had to have been the K-based (actually Y-based, the Y being yet another variety of stretched K chassis) 1990-1993 Imperial. We’ve seen some serious Whorehouse Red interiors in this series— this ’80 Skylark, for example, or this ’83 Pulsar, or this 1993 Dynasty— but no vehicle interior this side of a Acapulco Gold-scented custom van ever came with as much screamin’ red velour as this Imperial. (Read More…)
We often forget about the P-body version of Chrysler’s mainstay-for-15-years K platform, though Shadows and Sundances once roamed North American highways in huge numbers. I still see plenty of completely trashed Ps in self-service wrecking yards— for example, this ’91 Shadow, this ’92 Sundance, and this super-rare Sundance America— but it takes something special to make me willing to do a Junkyard Find on a P. Early-90s factory tape graphics on a crypto-sporty Shadow sold just before the advent of the Neon? Yes, there’s some historical significance here. (Read More…)
My quest for junkyard Chrysler New Yorkers has become something of an obsession lately. We’ve seen this ’85, this ’89, this ’64, this ’92, and this ’82 in the series, and today I’ve bagged a K-platform (actually C-platform, but it’s a K at heart) ’90 New Yorker Landau in Colorado. (Read More…)
We might as well follow up last week’s Aries K wagon Junkyard Find with another member of the Chrysler-saving K family. I’ve been intermittently fascinated by the E-Class, so this Crusher-bound example in Denver caught my eye. (Read More…)
Given that just about everything Chrysler built for much of the 1980s and 1990s had some connection to the original K Platform, I don’t pay much attention to Ks when I see them in the junkyard. In fact, this ’83 Aries was the last “pure” K Car we’ve seen in this series. When I see an Aries K wagon with perfect Whorehouse Red interior, however, that’s when I reach for my
revolver camera. (Read More…)