The Turbo Dodge Shadow that I purchased in February of 1988 lived hard and fast but, thanks in part to my strict adherence to a maintenance schedule and my belief in the power of synthetic motor oil, it didn’t die young. By 1996 the little red car had more than 135K miles on the clock and a whole lot of hard fought-street racing victories – and maybe just a few losses – under its belt. After I changed the head gasket somewhere around the 80K mile mark, the car suffered a couple of broken timing belts, caused mostly by my inability to correctly adjust the belt’s tension, but otherwise had few problems. Still, as the miles added up, I became concerned about the car’s condition and eventually purchased a Geo Metro to take over daily driving duties. Later, after sliding the Metro off an icy highway, I traded up to a K5 Jimmy, but kept the Shadow as a my own special toy. The Jimmy came with a big loan payment, however, and all it took to totally derail my carefully balanced finances was a lay-off. Before I knew it, I was in over my head and flat broke. Stuff had to go. (Read More…)
When I go to my local wrecking yards to photograph cars for this series, I’m looking for historical significance. Some might say that the Chrysler P-body (based on the ancient and venerable K platform, like so many Chrysler products of the 1980s and 1990s) lacks such significance, and that I should instead shoot the 60s Chevy pickups and VW Beetles I mostly ignore, but I disagree. Someday, wise old men will discuss the importance of the fourth Plymouth to bear the Duster name, but it’s the “America” series of stripper P-bodies that really get my attention. Jack Baruth explains why the Omni America and the cut-price P-bodies that followed it sold so poorly, and it’s the rarity of these things that gets my attention. So far in this series we’ve seen just two: this 1991 Sundance America and today’s ’92 Shadow America. (Read More…)
The Seattle area traffic was light. A few hours earlier, at the peak of the Friday night rush hour, Interstate 405 had been bumper to bumper. Now, just after 7 PM, the road was crowded but moving freely. I had a killer commute, 40 miles each way, and I was thankful I had missed the worst of it. I spent a lot of time on the road and I understood how traffic ebbed and flowed in that same intuitive way that way someone who works on a river understands how a ripple on the otherwise smooth surface betrays the roiling currents in the depths below. On a Friday night like this, for example, I knew I was behind the great outward rush from the urban centers and into suburbs and just ahead of the second, smaller rush of people from the suburbs heading back into the city for an evening of food, fun and friends. To the west, the sun was sinking slowly into the Pacific while on the Earth, in the growing drakness, the hunt was on… (Read More…)
I was young, stupid and hopelessly in love. The girl, as has so often been the case in my life, hardly knew I existed but, regardless, I was determined to win her. The problem was in those pre-internet days, real advice for young men was in short supply, especially if you were too embarrassed to ask about such things, so when someone told me women were attracted to power, I listened. If power is what women wanted, power I could get. Fortunately, it happened to be on sale at my local Dodge dealership.
The Chrysler K platform was getting pretty dated by the early 1990s, though the 2.2/2.5 engine family was still technologically relevant (when compared to such Industrial Revolution-era machinery as GM’s Iron Duke). Chrysler put together yet another version of the K platform to create the P-body, which it then used as the basis for a family of compact cars intended to replace the even-more-dated Omnirizon cars. Thus was the Dodge Shadow born. Chrysler sold quite a few Shadows, which means you still see them on the road every now and then. I’ve been seeing Shadows and Sundances in large quantities in junkyards for the last 15 or so years, and only recently has the flow of P-bodies to The Crusher slowed down. Before they’re all gone, here’s a bronze Shadow I spotted at a Denver self-serve yard. (Read More…)