Junkyard Find: Loss-Leader Sundance America Lasts 20 Years, Has Last Laugh

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find loss leader sundance america lasts 20 years has last laugh

Really cheap, low-optioned Detroit cars haven’t done well for decades, but that didn’t stop Chrysler from following up the super-downscale Omni America with the car advertised as “the lowest priced car on the market available with a standard driver’s-side airbag.” Apparently, no 1991 Plymouth Sundance Americas made it out of the showrooms. Well, none except for this example that managed to dodge The Crusher’s jaws for two full decades before its final tow into a Denver self-service wrecking yard.

Yes, it’s a K-car— technically a P-car— and 1991 car shoppers could get themselves a new four-door Sundance America for just $7,799. Compare that to the ’91 Ford Escort Pony’s $7,976 price tag, or the base ’91 Hyundai Excel’s $6,275; the Sundance was bigger and (arguably) more luxurious.

Of course, those same car shoppers might happen to wander into a Honda showroom and take note of the base ’91 Civic’s $7,095 sticker, and then there was that damn $6,488 Toyota Tercel, the $6,295 Subaru Justy, and the $6,795 Geo Metro XFi (fortunately for Chrysler, and the car-buying public in general, the last year of the $4,435 Yugo GV was 1990). The Sundance America was probably the most comfy of this group and it looked like a helluva deal, but buyers avoided it like chlamydia. Brand image problems, or just a general air of cheapness hovering about the Sundance America?

One nice thing about the standard driver’s-side airbag: no horrible self-deploying seat belts.

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2 of 39 comments
  • Neb Neb on Mar 16, 2011

    Our family had one of these exactly like the feature car, except it was an odd sort of reddish-mauve color. It managed to be bad at basically everything. Uncomfortable seats, no room in the back, a leaky trunk, got pretty poor milage for such a small car. Past 120 km/h the whole dashboard vibrated alarmingly. It sounds like hyperbole, but it is the God's own truth: my grandmother described it as underpowered. When it died, it was not missed.

  • And003 And003 on May 14, 2012

    If the rear end of this Sundance could be repaired, I could see some Shelby CSX-style ground effects, Pentastar V6, and an AWD system being installed.

  • StormEagle 400 miles range
  • Inside Looking Out Enforcing laws? It is so yesterday! Welcome to California!
  • Lou_BC You'd think cops would have an understanding of the laws they are supposed to enforce.
  • Merlyn I’m on my second Spark and love it! I can pass any car I’ve never had a problem going up a hill it does just fine. As for cargo I can fit three suitcases, two book bags and still have the front seat for a passenger. Not sure what point this guy is trying to make. I have hand free phone service and Sirius radio plug in my phone and have navigation. I would buy another spark in a heartbeat.
  • Buickman I won't own one and I'll be happy!