Junkyard Find: 1988 Dodge Aries LE Station Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

The interior of this car looks showroom-spotless, right down to the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Velour™ upholstery and You’d Have To Suspend The Crap Out Of Your Disbelief To Think This Is Real Wood™ interior trim.

The Chrysler 2.2 engine had an overhead cam and electronic fuel injection by 1988, which made it comparable to the powerplant of an intergalactic starship when placed side-by-side with the Stone Age GM Iron Duke engine.

You’d hope that this space-saver spare was just used to get the car onto the flatbed for its final ride to the junkyard, but I’m betting that the last owner of this car put 5,000 high-speed highway miles on it. It’s a K-Car tradition.

Chrysler figured that reminding customers about front-wheel-drive would somehow sell more cars, because… the Accord had front-wheel-drive?

We really can’t talk about the K-Cars without discussing the United States government’s bailout of Chrysler in 1979. Oh, sure, the Chrysler Jihad will tell you that it wasn’t a real bailout, because loan guarantees aren’t the same as cash handouts… but what would have happened to those loans if Chrysler had gone under? Pay up, Uncle Sam! Anyway, happy ending, because the K bought Chrysler another quarter-century of life.

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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  • Capev86 Capev86 on Mar 24, 2013

    forgot to mention that that the "FWD reminder" was used to fill the hole above the column when a floor shifter was used in leu of a column shift. the auto on the floor is kinda stupid, but it makes a 5spd swap much easier because the bracket for the shifter is already welded to the floor. not only did a lot of families roll in K cars in the 80's, but they were also popular with many police departments. even a 2.5 couldn't catch a 69 Roadrunner on the open road, but in cities idling economy is more important than top speed. and a smaller car can snake through traffic much easier than a big one. ever notice how motorcycle and bike cops are very prevalent during the summer months? oh...and the cop package "scout car" K's had a couple trick pieces that i managed to find for my project.....an oil pressure gauge (replaces the idiot light) and a 125mpgh gauge instead of the 85mph unit that was federally mandated on civilian cars in the early 80's.

  • 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.

  • Aja8888 As I type this, my 4 months old Equinox's Onstar module that controls the phone is broken. Yep, 4 months (never worked right from day one). Replacement will be a REFURBISHED unit since no new ones can be obtained (from China?). I really don't miss the phone via Bluetooth. And I have a great Garmin that I have used for years for trips which has free lifetime maps and traffic.
  • Bd2 There's a reason why talented American execs have been leaving Stellantis in droves.Tavares seems intent in following "Le Cost Cutter" Ghosn into driving his company into the dirt, whilst "justifying" his ever expanding compensation.
  • Bd2 Too bad gm didn't make the C8 better looking to begin with...
  • GregLocock Not interested at all. Apparently I've got Apple car play but I've never used it in 3 years. The built in nav is ok.
  • Corey Lewis Probably worth about what they're asking, given its condition. The color combo isn't a desirable one, they look sharper in non-beige shades. Like two-tone green, maroon, navy, or gray. The end of the time when MB built its cars properly. No shame in turning up in a clean W126, they'll always command respect.