Junkyard Find: 1983 Dodge Aries

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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!

The really impressive thing about the Aries (and its Plymouth Reliant sibling) was that Chrysler managed to make a reasonably modern, fuel-efficient front-wheel-drive sedan that still felt like a real American car inside. Bench seats! Lots of room! Comfy ride! Look at this interior— except for the flat floor, you could be looking at the inside of a ’73 Satellite.

It even has hood springs instead of the usual small-car prop rod.

The Chrysler 2.2 engine was still carbureted in 1983, but it had an “Electronic Control System” (which I’m assuming was a primitive mixture-adjusting feedback carburetor setup).

These weren’t great cars by modern standards, but keep in mind that you could still buy the staggeringly obsolete and fuel-swilling Cordoba in 1983. The Aries got the job done, it was cheap, and it felt like a proper Detroit car. GM fell flat on its face trying to accomplish the same feat with the Citation and related X-bodies, and the company never really recovered from that debacle.

Many of us don’t take the early Ks very seriously these days, since Chrysler stuck with the platform and its seemingly hundreds of derivatives about five years too long, plus we’ve spent the last 20 years looking at completely hooptied-out beater Ks limping along on space-saver spares in a trail of oil smoke. However, this was a very important car, and it’s sad that the last survivors are straggling into the jaws of the Crusher.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Alwayssmilin Alwayssmilin on Nov 24, 2013

    jhefner I understand your point and its well taken!! In a post above WAGEN stated why not bring the same quality back with upgrades. I can only go on what I understand living in t5he northeast. I personally know many people who say if the Kcars came back upgraded for safety and a few tweaks but staying away from the fancy computer upgrades they would jump on it. Making this short I asked many questions and they want sheetmetal because they are aware it can be painted and undercoated better. They also know a four banger is way better today!! Also many of these people have fond memories and it tugs at their formative years!! But we can debate back and forth!! I'm just going on a feeling more or less also on talking to people in a certain age group 37-55 I maybe wrong!! Would'nt be the first time!! I just have a gut that if these vehicles were brought back it would have a strong cult following!! I would if I could personally build a 100,000 of them and see how it goes!!

  • Armadamaster Armadamaster on Mar 05, 2014

    My used car dealer friend used to rent these off his lot well into the 1990's, loved them for rental beaters, & the later model Acclaims, Sundances, Dynastys too.

  • W Conrad Sedans have been fine for me, but I were getting a new car, it would be an SUV. Not only because less sedans available, but I can't see around them in my sedan!
  • Slavuta More hatchbacks
  • ED I don't know what GM is thinking.I have a 2020 one nice vehicle.Got rid of Camaro and was going to buy one.Probably won't buy another GM product.Get rid of all the head honchos at GM.This company is a bunch of cheapskates building junk that no one wants.
  • Lostjr Sedans have been made less practical, with low rooflines and steeply raked A pillars. It makes them harder to get in and out of. Probably harder to put a kid in a child seat. Sedans used to be more family oriented.
  • Bob Funny how Oldsmobile was offering a GPS system to help if you were lost, yet GM as a company was very lost. Not really sure that they are not still lost. They make hideous looking trucks, Cadillac is a crappy Chevy pretending to be fancy. To be honest, I would never step in a GM show room now or ever. Boring, cheap ugly and bad resale why bother. I get enough of GM when i rent on trips from airports. I have to say, does anybody at GM ever drive what everyone else drives? Do they ever then look at what crap they put out in style fit and finish? Come on, for real, do they? Cadillac updated slogan should be " sub standard of the 3rd world", or " almost as good as Tata motors". Enough said.