Junkyard Find: 1988 Dodge Omni
Members of the Chrysler L-body family, based on the Chrysler Europe/Rootes Group/Simca-derived “Omnirizon,” are not uncommon in American wrecking yards these days; why, we just saw this ’87 Dodge Shelby Charger a few weeks ago. However, the true Omnirizon— the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon— those are getting more and more rare as the 21st century grinds on. We’ve seen this first-year-of-production ’78 Horizon, this last-year-of-production ’90 Horizon, and a few in between, and now I’ve found this grimy-looking ’88 Omni in a frozen Denver yard.
Not at all related to the Mitsubishi-based Dodge/Plymouth Colt of the same decade, the Omnirizon was a simple, cheap, front-wheel-drive appliance that sold pretty well for years past its seeming obsolescence.
In 1988, a new Omni four-door hatchback (the only model available) listed for $5,995. The wretched Subaru Justy DL two-door hatch was just $5,695 that year, while the barely-qualifies-as-a-car ’88 Yugo was only $4,199. It was worth paying the extra for an Omni.
This one looks to have spent a decade or so sitting outdoors with the windows down, so there won’t be much worth buying out of its interior.
The Simca and Volkswagen engines that went into the early Omnirizons were gone by 1988, replaced by the Chrysler 2.2. In 1988, this engine made a pretty-decent-for-the-time 93 horsepower.
Will any parts get pulled off this car before it goes to The Crusher? Probably not many.
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The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan now has a 1978 Dodge Omni (apparently to talk about the 1973 gas crisis, by comparison, it is parked alongside a 1973 Chrysler Newport). I remember reading an article about the revamped exhibit, and the automotive curator stated that the Omni was one of the most difficult cars to find (which is why the museum example has a huge dent in the hatch). These cars were treated like beer cans: grab one, suck everything you can out of it, then grab the next.
We sold many of these cars. The earlier carbureted 2.2's were miserable and tough to get running right. The later FI models were better but always seemed to have trouble with sensors failing and check engine lights illuminating. The 3 speed transaxle was decent but many were neglected and didn't like shifting out of first gear requiring the good old trans X treatment and service. Many needed new axle shafts and motor mounts and the 2.2's were sure leakers with many needing new head gaskets. When you got a good low mileage example the customer was usually pretty happy with there purchase. The higher mileage more used up models- not so much.