Junkyard Find: 1990 Plymouth Horizon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

No, that’s not a typo— Chrysler made the Simca-derived Omnirizon all the way until the 1990 model year. I’ve been looking for a final-year example of an Omni or Horizon for quite a while now, and I finally found this one in a Denver self-serve yard over the weekend.

Would you believe an airbag in this cheap little car, as early as 1990? Standard equipment for the ’90 Omnirizons!

5-speed, factory tach, no rust, only 114,325 miles on the clock.

Very, very rare, and an interesting bit of history, but not really worth saving from The Crusher.

If you want to split hairs, the Omnirizon outlived the original Chrysler K platform by a year (though cars based on the K were built until 1995). By 1987, the Chrysler 2.2— originally developed for the K-cars— was the only engine available in these cars.

Even with the airbag, the last-year-of-production Omnirizon wasn’t much different from the original 1978 version. The new Dodge Omni does it all!

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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  • Blppt Blppt on Jan 23, 2014

    I had an '87 back in the day. Yeah, it was cheap, but man, it was the greatest bad weather car I've ever owned. For that reason alone, it was probably worth saving this car from the crusher---perfect winter beater, especially since the '88-'90 did away with the tempermental carb and got the solid (if inefficient) single throttle body fuel injector.

    • See 1 previous
    • Blppt Blppt on Jan 24, 2014

      @thunderjet So would I---never had a set of snow tires on mine (IIRC, they were 165/80R13 A/S tires), yet I didnt even know how hazardous snow driving was until I got my next car, an 88 Reliant, which was nowheres near as good in the snow as that Horizon. Of course, it was far more reliable cranking in the morning due to not having that quirky emissions-compliant carb on the 87 2.2. Contrast that Horizon to my current CC, despite being a far, far better car in just about every area, cant even get up my driveway in a couple of inches of snow with all season M+S tires.

  • Ggariepy Ggariepy on Feb 03, 2014

    I had one of these, my first car, bought new in 1990 for I think around $8K. Mine was Colorado Red on a red interior, equipped with the 2.2L/three speed automatic and air conditioning. I put 85,000 miles on it in three years, I was so in love with driving at the time. I can't say it was the most reliable car I have owned; the engine computer failed and left me stranded in rural southern Michigan one fine day, and it took nearly a week for the part to be sourced at the small town Chrysler dealership it was towed to. I had problems with an intermittent rough idle that I never managed to shake, a bog on acceleration when cold, and the rear hatch began to rust badly after three Michigan winters. The air conditioning died on the third summer. On the brighter side, I can testify it would go faster than the 100MPH speedometer could indicate, it got really good gas mileage, and it did not cost me a fortune to keep. I gave up on it early after the alternator died and I observed a leak from the transmission during the repair. It simply was not up to the abuse that a young male driver could give it, and so I traded it for a new '93 Plymouth Duster V6, a car that was much better made (except for the 4 speed automatic transmission) and still had quite a bit of life left when I sold it 5 years later with 145,000 miles. If I owned the Horizon today I never would have put up with the poor build quality and unreliability, but I do remember my first car fondly. It was worth $1500 when I was done with it. Incidentally the 1990 Omnirizons were built at Detroit's Jefferson Assembly plant--possibly only for one year, and when they discontinued it after the 1990 model year they tore that plant down and replaced it with the one today still making the Jeep Grand Cherokee. I have since owned two Grand Cherokees, so I have had three vehicles that were built at that site. The quality improved dramatically for each of the two subsequent vehicles!

  • Carson D I hadn't seen a second-generation Courier with a Mazda engine before. I've seen a few with Ford engines. There was one at the Cox Driving Range that they used to collect golf balls. Golf would definitely be more entertaining to watch if they used moving targets.
  • Tassos ooops, Tim, you missed this one. Would make a lovely "Tim's used car of the day". It satisfies all the prerequisites except the wildly overpriced bit.
  • Tassos ASTON AND BOND BY A MILE. While Aston Martin sells a TINY FRACTION of what even the rarified Ferrari and Lambo sell, it is unbelievably well known. Credit the idiotic, but hugely successful and sometimes entertaining James Bond Movies.
  • Tassos 1988? Too young for me. It's all yours, Tim... BAHAHAHAHA!
  • Gray Awesome. Love these. But, if I had the money for a Fox-body, there is a clean '84 GT 350 here for little more than half the price.