Junkyard Find: 1982 Dodge Aries Station Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Much as members of the Mopar Jihad don’t want to admit it, Chrysler took a bailout — in the form of government-backed loans — from Uncle Sam in 1979. This worked out pretty well for everyone involved, because the then-futuristic K-Cars that Chrysler developed out of desperation turned out to be both smash sales hits and the basis for most cars put out by Chrysler for the following decade.

The K Family Tree had many branches, but only the Dodge Aries, Plymouth Reliant, Chrysler LeBaron, and Dodge 400 were true K-Cars. You won’t see many of the original Ks these days, but the patient junkyard crawler will find a rare survivor now and then.

Here’s an early Aries wagon that I spotted in a Denver self-serve yard a couple of weeks ago.

Now, I have a lot of unpleasant personal history with a certain Plymouth Reliant wagon, and so my opinion of the K is that it’s the worst car ever made. Objectively speaking, though, these cars were no worse than, say, some of the abominations that The General ralphed out around this time.

Right! So, you had a space-efficient, front-wheel drive, fuel-conserving platform with a modern overhead-cam engine, built a lot better than the miserable stuff that followed the sturdy Darts and Valiants. This one even has a floor-shift four-speed manual transmission.

If we are to judge by the wasp nests and general dustiness of this Aries, it sat for quite a few years before finally getting discarded.

Bordello Red interiors were all the rage during the 1980s and early 1990s, and this car does not disappoint in that department.

The final owner appears to have been a speaker of Arabic.

The K-Cars we have seen in this series include this ’83 Aries sedan, this ’86 Aries sedan, and this Dodge 600 Turbo. We have seen many, many K-descendants over the years, of course.

Considering the Fairmont? Ha! Aries is cheaper!

America’s not going to be pushed around any more.

The driving security your family needs in a six-passenger car. Now with 10.9% financing!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

More by Murilee Martin

Join the conversation
4 of 71 comments
  • JimC2 JimC2 on May 30, 2016

    K Car trivia: 82 was the first year these had self-adjusting rear brakes. Yes, the '81s had manual adjusters. Now, how many people under 40 know how to adjust drum brakes?

    • See 1 previous
    • JimC2 JimC2 on May 30, 2016

      @Corey Lewis Ah, nope. But there are good DIY videos on youtube. Back in my day we didn't have youtube, we had to walk (in the snow) to the public library and sign out the Haynes manual... and the library was uphill, both ways...

  • Mp775 Mp775 on Jun 02, 2016

    Fun detail - this car has one taillight off a Reliant.

  • Urlik GDI engines emit 5 to 10 times the particulate matter that PFI engines emit. The particles are not just carbon either.
  • Pgb65773699 I enjoyed it, it is what you expect , funny
  • Redapple2 Brandee. Another Stanford grad. Bankman Fried. The blood test girl. Mary Barra.
  • Redapple2 CruiseSTUPID, battery problems, software, killing carplay and AM. Why is this so hard.
  • Alan Like all testing and analysis work you need a good set of requirements. If you don't you'll find or end up with gaps.