Junkyard Find: 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1981 dodge aries station wagon

The Chrysler K platform spun off many K-based descendents, but genuine, pure Ks have been fairly rare in this series. We’ve seen this ’83 Dodge Aries sedan, this ’85 Dodge 600 Turbo, and this ’88 Dodge Aries wagon so far, though I’ve passed over many dozens more. Still, when I see a first-year Aries wagon in this weird chalky gray-green color and it has a “Hemi 2.6” engine, I break out the camera!

These cars depreciated just as fast as all the other Detroit front-drivers of the 1980s, which means that only relatively trouble-free ones managed to survive 33 years on the street. One expensive problem after about 1989, good-bye!

The Hemi 2.6 was really the good old Mitsubishi Astron 4G54 engine, which made 114 not-so-bad-for-1981 horses. Sadly, Chrysler never used any Simca-derived engines in the K family.

This wagon has plenty of options, including air conditioning and futuristic digital chronometer.

As the street price of a battered Aries-K approached scrap-value levels, the socioeconomic status of the average K-car owner also dropped.

Still, you can see hints of former luxury in the much-used faded-mint-green vinyl interior.

As you can see here, the ’81 K-cars were sold on price, period.

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  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Feb 14, 2014

    114 Hp would be a pipe dream for that dog POS of a motor. Chrysler rated it at 92 horses for 1981. It's fitting that a bottle of motor oil is sitting in the engine bay and three other bottles in the trunk or cargo bay would probably be the norm in a 2.6 equipped car. I always used to chuckle at the car auctions when a 2.6 "oil smoker" Caravan or Lebaron etc would pull up in line. The first thing any potential buyer would look for is the 2.6 engine and then run for there lives. The funny thing is that I don't remember these engine being all that bad in the Mitsubishi products. Perhaps they sold Chrylser all there rejects.

  • 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.

  • Redapple2 My dad s buddy got a tire thru the windshield. DRT -dead right there.
  • Redapple2 Hope they fix the:1 ride. worse than a corvette2 seating position. ankles at the height of my butt is UNCOMFORTABLE .As is. Horrible truck
  • Redapple2 One time; doing time; for a long time.
  • Robert Good! Those things are hideous.
  • ScarecrowRepair Road trips by myself -- cherry tomatoes or seedless grapes. Gotcher nutrition, gotcher water, bite-sized, no sticky fingers. Light lunch, maybe; normal dinner.