Junkyard Find: 1989 Plymouth Horizon America

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1989 plymouth horizon america

The Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon (collectively known as the Omnirizon) was based on a Simca design originally intended for European use and was Chrysler’s first American built, front-wheel drive, economy car. The Omnirizon was cheap, got the job done, and sold very well, staying in the American marketplace from 1978 through to 1990 with few major changes.

We’ve seen an early Horizon and now I’ve spotted this late one in a California self-service yard.

By 1989, the standard 1.7-liter VW engine had been replaced by the Detroit-designed 2.2-liter engine originally intended for use in the many-branched K-Car family tree. With turbocharging and Carroll Shelby badging, the Dodge Omni GLH Horizon sibling was very quick for its time (and probably would lose a drag race to a 2016 four-cylinder Camry, but let’s not dwell on such comparisons).

The America version of the Horizon was a fixed-price version that attempted to steal sales from the likes of the Toyota Tercel and Subaru Justy. In 1989, the Horizon America listed at $6,595, versus $6,640 for the Misery Plus Edition™ Tercel EZ (which, admittedly, was impossible to kill), $5,866 for the breathtakingly underpowered Subaru Justy DL, $5,499 for the Hyundai Excel (which would have been used up by about 1994), or (pause for pained laughter here) $4,349 for the Yugo GV. The Omnirizon certainly was more fun to drive than most of its competition. With a new zero-option ’89 Civic going for $6,348 (if you could find one selling at list price, or even find one at all, what with the limited supply at Honda dealers back then), however, the Omnirizon comes in as the second-best econobox deal of 1989.

The pride’s inside!

Wisely, the marketers didn’t mention the Omnirizon’s red-white-and-blue French origins in these flag-waving ads.

So successful that America buys almost one a minute (it’s not clear whether that’s just business hours or 24/7).

[Images: Murilee Martin/ The Truth About Cars]

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  • Chi-One Chi-One on Feb 18, 2016

    Had an '86 GLH Turbo. Bought with 10K on the clock. Had the presence of mine to buy the service contract as it was my DD. Most fun you can have with your clothes on! Dusted just about everything. It ate the fuel pump as was noted, struts and mounts, A/C components, lots of tires(!) They lost money on that service contract :) Great highway car, rolling in 5th at 70, goose the throttle to pass and quickly you were in triple digits. Even drove well in Chicago winters.

  • 89HORIZON 89HORIZON on Jan 08, 2022

    I am the current owner of a 1989 Horizon, bought in October '88, yes I've had this car straight for nearly 34 years now. I won't be surprised if I'm the longest continuous Horizon owner remaining. Though I doubt anyone is keeping that statistic. Have seen 1 other on the road in the past 10 years or so, and it was even the same Metallic Powder Blue as mine. Yes it still runs. In fact, as my other car, a nearly brand new '96 Explorer is currently in need of an engine, the '89 Horizon is currently my primary vehicle! Nearly everything on the Horizon is original still, and everything mostly works except the A/C, so I suppose I'm going to have to get that engine in the '96 replaced before summer comes, as repairing the A/C on the Horizon would cost about 50x the cash value of the entire vehicle.

  • Jdt65724922 How can a Chrysler E-Class ride better than a Chrysler Fifth Avenue?
  • Lorenzo This series is epic, but I now fear you'll never get to the gigantic Falcon/Dart/Nova comparison.
  • Chris P Bacon Ford and GM have decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Odds are Chrysler/Cerberus/FCA/Stellantis is next to join in. If any of the companies like Electrify America had been even close to Tesla in reliability, we wouldn't be here.
  • Inside Looking Out China will decide which EV charging protocol will become world wide standard.
  • Chris P Bacon I see no reference to Sweden or South Carolina. I hate to assume, but is this thing built in China? I can't help but wonder if EVs would be more affordable to the masses if they weren't all stuffed full of horsepower most drivers will never use. How much could the price be reduced if it had, say, 200hp. Combined with the instant torque of an EV, that really is plenty of power for the daily commuter, which is what this vehicle really is.