By on April 29, 2016

1980 Plymouth Arrow in California Junkyard, RH rear view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Chrysler imported and rebadged quite an assortment of Mitsubishis during the gloomy years of the Malaise Era, and we have seen a good sampling of those cars in this series so far. There was the Mitsubishi Colt Galant aka Dodge Colt, the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda aka Plymouth Sapporo/Dodge Challenger, and the Mitsubishi Mirage aka Plymouth Champ, among others.

The Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste aka Plymouth Arrow was never a big seller, but this one managed to outlive nearly all of its brethren, only washing up at this Northern California self-service yard after 36 years.

1980 Plymouth Arrow in California Junkyard, build tag - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Japanese imports had acquired a reputation for reliability by this time, so Chrysler didn’t try to hide the Arrow’s Japanese birthplace.

1980 Plymouth Arrow in California Junkyard, engine - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The 1,597cc G32B Saturn engine came with the “MCA-Jet” three-valves-per-cylinder system. 77 horsepower made this 2,100-pound car something of a poky little puppy.

1980 Plymouth Arrow in California Junkyard, rear seat - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

However, this car does have a vivid Whorehouse Red interior. 1980 was the last year for the Arrow, which was probably just as well.

1980 Plymouth Arrow in California Junkyard, Auto Burglar Alarm - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

And one of those early car alarms that could be set off by excess neutrinos, harsh language, and powdered sugar.


There was much optimism among Plymouth dealers when the Arrow first hit these shores.


The Arrow’s slick body shape made it successful in drag racing. The Snake endorsed it!

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43 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1980 Plymouth Arrow...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    Yes!!! Finally, a Plymouth Arrow! My first car was a 1978 Arrow GT. Burnt orange, hounds tooth interior and all. My best friend owned a 1979 Fire Arrow with the “hot” 2.6 liter. We both loved our Arrows, so much so that I bought another Arrow years later (was a base automatic 78). Life circumstances wouldn’t allow me to keep it when the transmission went south, and I had to sell it. Now, I still find myself looking over ads and listing for an Arrow, but they are disappearing fast. Me and my Arrow!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Straighter than narrow! Though that phrase sure as hell doesn’t apply to this mess anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        The first time I ever heard “Me and My Arrow” was from that Plymouth commercial when I was a little kid. It would another 20 years before I learned it was a real song.

        My first car was a ’82 Pontiac J2000, which wasn’t at all “Me and My Arrow”, more like “You’re Breakin’ My Heart”….

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      The 2.6 liter Fire Arrow was one of the fastest cars the magazines tested in 1979, able to see off Fox Mustangs, 280ZXs, Alfas, BMWs, and most other cars that didn’t have Corvette, XJS or 911 written on them. This isn’t to say that they’d be a match for a new four cylinder automatic Camry though.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Doesn’t matter…I’d still love to have a 2.6 Fire Arrow to putz around in. My “poor” 2.0 GT couldn’t keep up with my buddy’s FA. But it is neigh on impossible to find even a decent running Arrow of any year/configuration, much less a FA.

    • 0 avatar
      AJ Sloan

      Are you still looking…? If interested send me an email at [email protected] I have a 1980 Plymouth fire arrow you might or might not be interested in.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Definitely one of the better looking coupes of the day. And 36 years service, that’s the kind of corporate longevity us baby boomers were advised to crave for our careers.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    You know, I don’t remember having ever seen one of these. Granted, my memory isn’t great, but I remember most car stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I think they sold about as well as Mini Coopers do today, but they weren’t as distinctive looking in a sea of Datsun 200SXs, Accord hatchbacks, Toyota Celicas, Corolla fastbacks, and B210s.

    • 0 avatar
      Coopdeville

      Agreed. Been waiting a while, but this is finally a modern era car that I can honestly say I’ve never seen in person, and didn’t even know existed until now. Learning is fun!

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    Watching the ad with Prudhomme I noticed he gets into the Arrow head first. I had a friend who did that – always struck me as backwards. I always go feet first – maybe I’ve been doing it wrong for all these years? Maybe its a racer thing – though my friend wasn’t a race car driver. Thoughts?

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      I get into my Jeep ass first. Grab the oh-sh!t handle, pull myself in.

      Most other cars though, it’s right foot first. I feel that’s more natural than head first… I can’t even imagine that.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Was this the Cricket replacement? Similar sized engine. Cricket was only available as a sedan and wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I don’t know if it was meant to be the replacement but they’re very different cars. The Cricket was a rebadged Hillman manufactured in England I believe. This is a rebadged Mitsubishi Lancer, just like the Dodge Colt that came a few years before it.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        The original Cricket was exactly that – a Hillman Avenger with Plymouth badging, imported from the UK. Not a success, IIRC.

        In the mid-70’s, it was replaced by the Mitsubishi Galant that was being sold in North America as the Dodge Colt, so from that point the Colt and Cricket were the same car.

        My first new car was a 1976 Colt, Freeway Cruise edition. At the time I got it, a neighbour in the apartment building I was living in had a ’75 (which I believe was a Cricket, rather than a Colt, but I could be wrong). He was a process server, put 130,000 miles on the car in about 2 years, with only regular maintenance.

  • avatar

    Those interior pics had me humming No Doubt. “I’m walking into spiderwebs…”

    The Mercedes license plate frame on the front is an interesting touch.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Somebody could spend considerable time trying to figure out all the origins/names/changes to names of these Chrysler imports.

    If I remember correctly they were even different between Canada and the USA. The Cricket for example was at one point an import from the UK, then became a Mitsu. Dodge and Plymouth having to market similar cars with different names made it even more confusing.

    The Sapporo/Arrow were at one time something of an ‘aspirational’ car in that they were considered an upgrade from the standard Japanese hatchback and much better than a comparably priced/niche offering from the D3.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      In the US, the Cricket was always a Hillman Avenger. The Mitsubishi Lancer sedans were called Colts whether they were Dodges or Plymouths here. I always thought it was funny that a sedan that was marketed as the Avenger in the UK became the Cricket in the US, where it’s primary marketable feature was thought be its cuteness. There was actually a performance package for the Cricket, which had a 1.5 liter engine with dual carburetors and up to 85 hp. There used to be a road test video of one online, but some rights-holder was able to get it taken down.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Here in Canada Crickets were 2 distinctly different vehicles. From Wikipedia:
        “The Plymouth Cricket nameplate was used (in addition to Dodge Colt) on Galants sold in Canada between mid-1973 and 1975, after Chrysler stopped using the Plymouth Cricket name for a rebadged Hillman Avenger-based model sourced from the United Kingdom (and sold across North America between 1971 and 1973).”

        Had a friend who bought a Mitsu version new in late ’74 or early ’75 and it was not a bad vehicle at all for the time and price. Drove the crap out of it, quite often fully loaded.

        Also had 2 friends who owned Sapporo/Arrows. Purchased from their employer who had used them as company cars for 2 senior managers. As per my previous they were generally well regarded as vehicles at the time.

        • 0 avatar
          thattruthguy

          Are you sure that the Canadian Arrow was equal to a Sapporo? AFAIK, the Sapporo was a Galant coupe, not a Lancer.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            This is where it all starts to get confusing and the lifestyle of the mid to late 70’s weren’t conducive to long term memories.

            From an ‘Arrow specific’ website, but again names were not the same in Canada and the USA and it seems that there may even have different cars sold in either countries but under the same name? http://www.allpar.com/model/arrow.html

            Ironically, two cars were introduced in the late 1970s to compete with the Arrow within Plymouth dealerships: a version of the front wheel drive Dodge Colt known as the Champ, and the Sapporo, a cousin to the rear-drive Colt/Arrow. Champ had the desirable front-wheel drive and higher fuel economy at a similar price, while the Sapporo catered to a more luxury-conscious buyer. The Champ and Sapporo did not last long either, as North American sales of both cars ceased after 1983.

          • 0 avatar
            ect

            I seem to recall that the Sapporo was a 2-door coupe, quite upscale of the Arrow.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I have never seen a Sapporo either, but I like that a considerable amount more than the Arrow. In the right trim the Sapporo looked pretty sharp.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        It gets confusing. The original Colt was a Galant, not a Lancer.

        In 1978 or 79, the Galant Colt (4-door sedan) was replaced by the Lancer (3-door hatchback), a smaller vehicle. My (not then) wife bought a ’79, with the “twin-stick” transmission.

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    “Dat ass doe.”

    In a pinch, thought I was looking at one of those J-Body hatchbacks upon looking at that car’s backside.

    Just had to incorporate the term “backside”. Had. To.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    One of my father’s friends had one of these. All four of the guys would pile in and drive around the countryside to all the dance halls until the wee hours of the morning (but not too wee; they had cows to milk later). One prank to pull on the driver was to reach forward from the backseat and pull the parking brake up one tick while going down the road–not enough to engage it, but enough to get the light to come on and make the driver all frantic. Another that relied on the local topography was while they were descending a hill, one guy would distract the driver with conversation or whatever while one in the backseat would casually reach forward and pull the shift lever out of gear; the driver wouldn’t notice until he started going up the next hill, pressed down on the gas pedal, and the car went nowhere. “Augh, you guys!”

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I have never seen one in real life. If I had, not sure I’d notice it, given it has almost zero styling characteristics. Seriously – that front end is nearly the same as any gen 1 Excel-type vehicle.

  • avatar
    geo

    Not every red furniture or interior item is necessarily a “whorehouse” color. Just like not every mustache is a “porn stache”.

  • avatar

    I actually saw one in the flesh earlier this month: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevej260z/25614233273/in/album-72157666588314782/

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    My brother Guy worked as a mechanic at a Porsche repair shop for twelve years, from 1980 to 1992. He actually welded together one Plymouth Arrow from two, both cut perfectly in half widthwise. The job was well done and the DMV never complained about it when the vehicle was re-registered.
    Yellow in color. Hard to miss in traffic!

  • avatar
    davew833

    There’s more than a few of these that have been turned into dragsters. Just Google “Plymouth Arrow drag car.”

  • avatar
    OzCop

    One of my favorite cars I ever owned. Divorced in 1975, I bought a base Chevy PU truck to haul a couple of kids dirt bikes…Yamaha Y50s. That was one thing that kept me and my 3 sons occupied during visitation. But alas, in 78 injury caused me to sell the pickup and dirt bikes, much to the chagrin of my sons.

    My replacement was a new 78 Plymouth Arrow GT, silver with light interior, 2.0 with 4, or was it 5 speeds…can’t remember. Loved that car, drove it all over the country, even in the huge snow storms that blanketed the midwest/northeast that winter. I drove the car two years and sold it to my sister with only 45K on the odo. She drove it another 4 years and finally, the rust got to it and she sold it for near nothing with 98K miles on odo. During that period of time, the only major cost was tires and battery replacement. It had never had an engine or drive line failure during that time, but rust reared it’s ugly head when it was about 4 years old. Great car, and always wanted a Fire Arrow. Tried to find one in 85 when I began autocrossing, to no avail. I’d still buy one if the right deal came along…

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