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…)
The plenitude of vehicles based on the Chrysler K Platform helped the company bounce back from its humiliating 1979 near-bankruptcy and government bailout, and the modern overhead-cam four-cylinder engine Chrysler developed for the K was a big part of that success. We think of that 2.2/2.5 as a transverse-front-wheel-drive-only engine, but Chrysler made a longitudinal version for the rear-wheel-drive Dakota pickup.
Here’s a very rare 2.5/5-speed example I saw in a Denver-area yard recently. (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…)
The K-platform-based Dodge Daytona was built for the 1984 through 1993 model years and sold pretty well; we’ve seen a few of them in this series. The Daytona’s Chrysler-badged sibling, the Laser (not to be confused — though many do — with the Mitsubishi Eclipse-based Plymouth Laser), was sold only for the 1984-1986 model years and is a bit harder to find. (Read More…)
Hump Day can be a drag, but nothing puts a smile on the faces of hard-working Americans like value-laden Chrysler Corporation compacts and telling OPEC to go screw themselves.
While diving deep into the YouTube wormhole the other day, a promotional music video for the 1981 Plymouth Reliant and Dodge Aries twins reared its patriotic head.
It needs to be shared. (Read More…)
This week on the TTAC forum, we’ve had a few interesting rides on the Classic and Collector subsection. Not just the stuff I’ve posted, either, as our own Ronnie Schreiber posted a very cool vintage truck he had photographed.
This weekly feature isn’t just for TTAC writers, either. I’d love nothing more than to wake up on Friday and not write about a single car that I’d posted. Please, post links to cars you’ve found as you search the web, and I’ll give a shoutout to the best.
This week, we have Ronnie’s Corvair, a Jeep, a K-Car, an Eighties-vintage Alfa, a cheap Ferrari, and a Lotus.
Chrysler has built a lot of cars atop the K platform. BangShift has put together a handy guide to figure them all out.
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 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…)
So, after Chrysler got those government-backed loans that saved the company in 1979— take note, members of the Iacocca Jihad, that I am not calling those loans a bailout (even though Uncle Sam would have been forced to cover them if Chrysler had failed), and thus you may rest easy that this writer is not lumping your favorite Italian-owned corporation in with the People’s Democratic Cadres’ Bailed-Out Motors Corporation— everything hinged on the K-platform cars being a success. And they were! (Read More…)
The TV show Dynasty was long gone by 1993, but Chrysler kept the glamorous Dynasty name on their C-Body cars (the 114th variation of the K platform) until 1993. The Dynasty is one of those cars Chrysler wishes we’d all forget (right down there with the Diplomat-based LeBaron), and thus it seems historically significant when I find an example in the junkyard. (Read More…)