By on August 12, 2015

11 - 2004 Dodge Stratus RT Down On the Junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The Dodge Stratus Coupe was another one of those badge-engineering/branding oddities that will be driving parts-counter employees crazy for many years to come; it had very little in common with the Stratus sedan and in fact was a close relative of the Mitsubishi Eclipse. I see never-ending lines of Stratus sedans at wrecking yards these days (only the near-valueless Sebring outnumbers the Cloud Cars in the Chrysler sections of U-Wrench-It today), but R/T Coupes are fairly uncommon. Here’s a clean one I spotted in a Denver yard last week.
06 - 2004 Dodge Stratus RT Down On the Junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The versatile Mitsubishi 6G72 had a very long production run, starting in 1986, and its 6G75 cousins are still made today. The one in the Stratus R/T Coupe made a pretty decent 200 horsepower. Perhaps The Worst Car In History would stop killing 6G72s if it got one of the 21st-century examples.

03 - 2004 Dodge Stratus RT Down On the Junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

The R/T tachometer was mean-looking.

“You know you need a player in there to help with them 200 horses!” Chrysler did many very embarrassing ads during the 2000s.

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63 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2004 Dodge Stratus R/T Coupe...”

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    There were two styles of Stratus coupes, a pre and post refresh. I guess this is a post-refresh example which had a more angular front and rear bumper cover.

    This is one of my guilty pleasures. I think they are handsomely styled and well proportioned. I looked at one while shopping around 2003/2004. I really liked how it looked, the R/T had adequate performance for the time, and I prefer coupes. But my knowledge of Chrysler long-term reliability coming out of the ’90s ensured I stayed well away. Looking at them today they don’t seem to be the nightmares I projected them to be. I’d still drive one. I’d prefer it to the more awkwardly styled Sebring coupe.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Who’s gonna save it?

  • avatar

    Cheap decent coupe with a V6. These are great college kid cars and that’s frequently who I saw driving them. Too bad they didn’t put the 3.5L in these. This one would probably still be on the road.

  • avatar

    Always impressed with the solid sheet metal on these deceased Denver cars. If you can do your own wrenching (and increasingly these days troubleshoot electronics) you could run a low cost beater forever.

  • avatar

    They were fairly decent cars. I had a red 5 speed V6 for a demo and later drove it’s twin the Chrysler Sebring LXi. It took a 40 acre field to turn one around though. Horrible turning radius.

  • avatar

    I have a 1998 Sebring LXi coupe with the 2.5. I bought it from the original owner, where it had 89,000 garage-kept miles. I also have all receipts. I purchased this car as a second vehicle, for highway trips. It’s in amazing condition, and should live a long life with continued maintenance. Just watch those potholes, as they have notoriously soft rims.
    I loved my dad’s Talon, and this is a close sibling. Gear shifter and gauge cluster are a match.

    • 0 avatar

      And the climate control unit is straight from the Montero Sport and full-size.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I bought a 2000 LXi from a friend who was looking to unload it back in about 2007. I bought it to flip it and because I felt a little guilty since I talked him into buying it new. I loved the styling of that gen Sebring for whatever reason.

      I had it for about 4 months and I did a little maintenance and refreshing. I always had this nagging fear that something terrible was going to happen to it (other than the bent wheel causing random flats).
      With 87 octane it sounded like a beaten up taxi knocking down the road, 89 was only marginally better. It had been well kept but my friend was right to have gotten rid of it when he did. All sorts of little problems started popping up around 80k miles and I was glad to get rid of it when I sold it for only slightly more than I paid – I assume to its final owner.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re right about the soft rims Rave. I had forgot about that problem. The early LXi’s also had an issue where during the hot summer black goo would seep out of the exterior cladding on the lower doors. I can’t remember if they got that fixed by 1998 or not. I do remember that it took more than one try to fix it. After the first TSB they still had the issue.

  • avatar

    I had a 2002 Sebring LXi coupe in Indigo Blue that I got used for a sweet deal (was used as a corp car), had all the fixin’s. Same performance and interior as the Eclipse (all three models were built in BloNo, IL). Man was it a fun car to drive, and look sharp as hell. Wish I still had it. I don’t know about the one I had, but most that I’ve seen since have all lost their clearcoat, and the later model refresh was damn ugly..

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, I had the Sebring version with a 5-speed manual as well, put over 100K on it in four years with nary an issue. The most bulletproof car I’ve ever owned. It was a smooth, quiet cruiser with ample room and plenty of power when requested. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

  • avatar

    I can’t look at a Dodge Stratus and not think of Will Ferrell yelling at the dinner table.

  • avatar

    I always liked the pre-facelift version of this car – the rounder one – and still think it would make a cool project. I know it’s a Mitsubishi under the skin, but that just means that a lot of the parts for Eclipses and 3000GTs would fit it.

    In layout and shape, it’s a latter-day Daytona Turbo Z.

  • avatar

    My parents have a 2004 Stratus Sedan. They’ve had about 105000 essentially troublefree driving. Granted, they’re 76-77 years old so they drive it conservatively so it will probably last them a while longer.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Once again, junkyard morons prying open a trunk with a lift truck. What is it, with these idiots? I worked at a salvage yard while going to college, and we were never this lazy and destructive. Aren’t lock pullers sold anymore?

  • avatar

    Wasn’t the coupe DSM fodder?

  • avatar

    Jeff had his head in the clouds.

    The red Stratus left the Lockheed grounds, and signaled for a left at the light. He looked at the passenger seat to make sure his papers were secure in their manilla folder. In doing so, he noticed “it” again. The defect in the seat’s cushion took on an appearance almost like a cheap burlap sack, almost like a nipple of pleather. He slanted his mouth in slight disgust. It was a hot one today, and Jeff could almost observe his dashboard cover curling ever further. He wiped the sweat from his brow with the sleeve of his white shirt. The air con was engaged, and he twisted the fan knob all the way to 4 to make the system actually work. He glared at the jammed vent that should have been providing comfort to his face. His attention was stolen by the deep, low rumble that could only mean one thing. A hemi. A TorRed Challenger passed right to left. Jeff grit his teeth, and said aloud “Oh GOD, I need it.”

    As the Stratus accelerated north towards Denver, and the familiar engine moan increased in pitch. Jeff loosened his tie. “Is it getting worse?”, he wondered. The engineer thought about the consequences of what would happen if the whatever it was failed. The technical aspects of missles were far removed from automobiles, however. “What was it he said again?”, he pondered, “The timing, and the fan belt tension?” Jeff found an empty parking space outside of the Dillard’s next to a black Charger R/T. His gaze was stolen while shifting a palm-full of plastic into park. He wondered if the Charger’s dash vents shattered at 30,000 miles as well. “It’s so worth it though.”, he told himself, trying to walk into the department store.

    Jeff picked up more fresh, cheap suits, and opened the trunk of the Stratus. Not wanting to wrinkle them, he shifted the spare tire cover back into place, and then laid them flat in the trunk. He slammed the lid, noticing with sadness that the Charger had left. When he opened the driver’s door, the alarm sounded. “God dammit!” Jeff fumbled to silence it with the fob. Then he popped the trunk again, and furiously worked the key back and forth in the open driver door.

    Jeff awoke the next morning to the sound of rain hammering the windows of his two bedroom house. He sipped his coffee, and wondered if his Stratus would start. He darted out to the Dodge, shielding his head with the folder. Upon opening the door, the alarm sounded. “What the fuck!” Jeff was thoroughly soaked after following the reset procedure. “That’s the last time I use the trunk I guess.” The Stratus started without fuss, and he triggered the wipers. That’s when he noticed a fair amount of moisture on the inside of the windshield. “Oh, come on.” He scavenged a napkin from a crumpled Burger King sack, and sopped up the condensation. “I’m so sick of this bullshit.”

    As he made his commute, Jeff’s engineering mind pondered why the squeaking from the 3rd time failed balljoint had suddenly disappeared. Had the rainwater lubricated it? Perhaps it was just drowned out by the increase in ambient noise? One thing was not drowned out, however. That was the clunking of the rear strut mount hammering itself into aluminum dust. He noted the white Charger kicking up spray in front of him. It was an older model, and he wondered if the windshields leaked on those too. Jeff pulled his moaning Dodge into Lockheed, and began another day of crafting America’s next killing machine.

    At the light, the same TorRed Challenger rumbled past. Jeff only saw it long enough to confirm what it was, as he was too busy wiping the windshield. During his arc through the intersection, he noted a very slight discrepancy in the command of the gas pedal in relation to the power output of the engine. He glanced at the manilla folder again. There was no longer any time left to waffle on his decision. He had to unload this piece of shit today.

    The red Stratus moaned in protest into the dealer lot. Jeff gave his car the fainted last passing glance, and grabbed the manilla folder containing the title and a sizable stack of 80,000 miles worth of repair records. He thought they might improve the value of his trade, but relented “Probably not.”

    A few hours later, Jeff was smelling the sweet scent of off-gassing newness. It was a frustrating deal. He didn’t get that V8 he wanted, but the V6 wasn’t a bad consolation. Jeff ran his thumb over the horn button, and took in the expanse of retro-styling before him. He was pleased with his purchase. The brushed aluminum prancing horse imparted a cool sensation to his thumb, unlike any plastic he had felt before. Likewise for the shifter in his right hand. It clunked softly into drive, and he pulled out of Phil Long Ford, invigorated.

    “Why did I wait so long?”

  • avatar

    “Y – yes, just give me a few minutes. I’ll, will be there soon yes thank you, okay.”

    “Our appointment was for 10:15.” The male voice on the other end of the line said flatly. “You know, there ARE other options here.”

    “No you’ll love it!” She exclaimed, putting on her happy customer tone.
    There was a sigh and then a click on the line. Misty was running late. This was her second appointment of the morning, and she was running late on both. But she had excuses; she had to run to Wyndgate to pick up some keys, and then to The Lodges at Pinebrook to meet another client. Those 40 minutes between appointments she had afterward weren’t quite enough time to make her stop at the post office box, and get a venti Teavana Oprah Cinnamon Chai Tea Latte. She had been thinking about it for three days already, since she saw it advertised in her latest Us Weekly. And plus it helped kids too, or something!

    Feeling good about her socially-conscious beverage, she pulled the handle on her R/T, swinging the heavy, creaking door open a little too wide in her haste. Clonk. An aged red edge came to a rest against a bright white 435i GranCoupe. Her shoulders lifted quickly at the sound, and her early thirties, Target-made-up face twisted into a scowl “Oh sh-t. Shitshittttt.” She snapped her head left. The sharp plastic door trim had put a nick right near the door seam on the 435i. The smooth sheet metal canvas of the door didn’t handle it well.

    “DON’T PARK so close to me.” She muttered while glaring at the door and the mark she’d made. A liquid movement sound was at her right. The extra-full Starbucks cup had been tilted once she had focused on the door, and there was latte dripping from the center hole in the lid where her green straw stood tall, her daily dose of sugar spilling on the tight and cheap black leather. And Jeff had just cleaned in there for her the other day! Ugh, what else. Correcting the tilt of her cup quickly, she glanced around to ensure there were no onlookers to the BMW owner’s parking error, and ducked behind the wheel. Pulling the hefty door closed quickly behind her, she started her Mitsubishi in drag and shifted the lever into reverse. The whole assembly of plastic and bargain quality lock springs creaked and shuddered.

    Misty pulled in at Veranda Place, parking a bit crookedly in one of the three visitor spaces by the front office. It was 10:39, and her potential client was gone. “He’ll call back.” She thought. “Too hard to find a 2 bed with a patio for under $1195 around here anyway. Assh-le.” Taking a big gulp of sugar and cinnamon, her attention went to the pile of mail on the seat next to her. Almost without thinking her fingers slid another rubber band around the gear shift, and the loose mail was a pile in her lap, paper lint here and there on her pinstripe Mossimo pants. As she sorted through the ads addressed to Centaur Management LLC, she was texting Jeff.

    “Dre$$ed up 4 work today for appt. Want to get some lunch somewher nice?”

    “You kno it – OlifGrnd.”

    Visions of a steaming hot pile of breadsticks and a Tour of Italy filled her mind. Misty fired up the tired 3.0 and squeezed the trigger, selecting reverse once more. A different clonk happened, accompanied by a whirring noise. The check engine light was flashing, and Misty met the amber alert with a sigh.

    “Come get me pls, Veranda.”

  • avatar

    I thought the first generation Avenger coupes were actually really sharp looking, not sure if it’s the same as the Stratus coupe? I remember really wanting one but had I been in a position to buy one new, I can’t imagine going with it over a Mustang GT or Camaro Z28 that had so much better performance for close to the same price.

    This generation wasn’t bad looking at all though, I wonder what the real price out the door was with these models vs something like an Accord coupe.

  • avatar

    “Jeff pulled his moaning Dodge into Lockheed, and began another day of crafting America’s next killing machine.”

    I thought Lockheed just did commercial and non-military rockets in Denver.

    (Nice story, tho – and if Jeff works at the facility I’m thinking of, that LOOOONNNNNGGG road back to civilization is a s**t place for a breakdown)

  • avatar

    I’m guessing the tranny died and that was the end.

  • avatar

    I leased a red 2001 version of one of these. Nice car with some caveats. In fact, it’s the only car I ever bought at the end of the lease so I guess I liked it! Mine was a 5-Speed,consequently the dealer couldn’t unload it and I got a good price.

    Strong points were decent acceleration from the 3 liter Mitsu V6 and great handling, especially after I put 17’s on it with wider rubber. Nice creature comforts and I couldn’t make that car get under 22 mpg. It would top out on the highway at about 29. I got lots of compliments on its looks.

    Weak spots (like with the Eclipse) were the clutch and the transmission synchronizers. Fortunately, I got both replaced before the warranty was up. Another was the front brake rotors. One spirited drive down a mountain and you needed a set of rotors. After replacing several, I installed the drilled/slotted variety and the problem was gone.

    I traded it in on a new ’09 Challenger R/T at about 110,000 miles. I really didn’t want to replace the timing belt so it seemed like a good time to trade. Plus, I REALLY wanted a Challenger, which I still own.

    Incidentally, this car has nothing in common with its 4-door relative. I found out the hard way that not even the lug nuts interchange (after buying a set of locking ones to find they didn’t fit). This car is a re-bodied Eclipse.

  • avatar

    In December of 2016, i bougth a 2003 coupe 2.4l, 4 cilynders, 16 valves, and im impressed knowing that has a mitsubihi engine, after 2 years of driving it, i found a very reliable car, comfortable,

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