Junkyard Find: 1981 Dodge Colt

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1981 dodge colt

By the final years of the Malaise Era, Chrysler had their econobox needs covered on the one hand by much-modified rebadged Simcas, and on the other by not-at-all-modified rebadged Mitsubishis. These cars were no worse than their Ford and GM competitors (which isn’t saying much), but the inherent cheapness of the 4th-gen Mitsubishi-built Colt meant that most of them weren’t worth fixing after about 1992, and these cars are rare indeed nowadays. In this series, we’d seen just one example of this generation of Colt/Mirage/Champ prior to today’s find.

This one was parked illegally in Hayward, California, and the owner couldn’t or wouldn’t rescue it before the tow-truck man came to take it on its last ride.

By any sort of 21st-century standards, these cars sucked. They were noisy, rattly, slow, and broke down a lot. However, we are now living in the Golden Age of Miserable Little Econoboxes, where even the diminished-expectations Versa and Spark are perfectly pleasant transportation applicances, and so it just isn’t fair to apply 21st-century standards to the ’81 Colt.

Just imagine you’re listening to Debbie Harry “rap” about Fab Five Freddy on the AM radio and getting 40 mpg in the grim years after the Ayatollah jacked up gas prices and this car makes more sense.

Not much attempt was made to obscure the Japanese origins of this car, though the same could not be said of the French origins of the Omni/Horizon.

Perhaps Chrysler should have gone with the Japan-market ads for this car.

Imported for Dodge!

Join the conversation
2 of 44 comments
  • Xtngarcia1 Xtngarcia1 on Jul 02, 2014

    I currently own a 1982 dodge colt. Everything is intact. no rust. i use it for work still.

  • Chicagoland Chicagoland on Jul 02, 2014

    "By any sort of 21st-century standards, these cars sucked. They were noisy, rattly, slow, and broke down a lot." Even by 1988 standards these were dying painful deaths. That's when I got rid of my '81 after 3 years of constant repairs. Cost more since it was 'Asian'. I bought it in 1985 based on rave reviews in Car and Driver, when brand new. Would have been better off buying a new '85 Escort, Omni, or even Chevette! JK

  • Sooper Toyota already has no new vehicles on their lots; they are just another used car dealership now. So why introduce another model when Toyota appears to be going out of the new vehicle business?
  • Tassos There is nothing 'weird' about Finland's fine system. A few other nations have it too. Switzerland maybe, I am not sure.But you do not specify WHAT was that clown's income that required him to pay $120k for a speeding ticket?I am sure that for somebody like ELon Musk, $100k will barely operate his megayacht ONE LOUSY Day.
  • Bkojote On paper, GMC is supposed to be the understated, more sophisticated member of the GM truck family.In actuality, GMC is total garbage in the truck world - by the time they're on their second owner they're decked out with amazon wheel spacers, pizza dish wheels, punisher stickers, and really angry opinions about any president who's won the popular vote in the past two decades. And man, these things are ugly as sin too.That's because GM trucks as a whole are kinda the also-rans in the truck category. Yeah, they do sales, but they aren't anyone's first choice. Not as extreme as the Ram, not as category defining as the Raptor, not as well engineered as a Toyota, so you end up with owners who compensate big time to distract others from the endless repair bills. The only owners I know who are worse are the rollin' coal lifted Super Duty drivers. Like you bought a GMC because the guy who sold you your wife's acadia is less scary than having to grovel for a Raptor and you take the Ford guys making fun of you personally.
  • Tassos The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I have mentioned this before, and it applies here again.Go to the U of Michigan College of Engineering parking lot. How can you say what car the $300,000 a year (ACADEMIC year of 9 months, mind you, summer pay is extra, and consulting a whole lot on top of that) and what does the $50,000 a year secretary drive?Hint: Teresa was out chair's secretary, started a year ago. She had to resign in just a few months because her 75 mile EACH WAY from her home in Lapeer MI to ANn Arbor MI just KILLED HER when gas prices rose.What car did Teresa drive? Take a wild guess. An F150? A Ram pickup? A Silverado? One of these. In a fee months she had to resign and find a lesser job in the whole lot lesser U of M Flint (but why would she care? she's just a secretary), which halved her commuting distance to a still significant 75 mile round trip every damned day.So the poor keep buying pickups and get poorer, and the rich keep NOT buying them and get richer.
  • Cprescott It is ugly enough. But why? You refuse to build enough of your products for your consumers.