Junkyard Find: 1987 Plymouth Caravelle Turbo SE Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1987 plymouth caravelle turbo se sedan

As recently as five years ago, you could get a good sense of the width and height of the Chrysler K-Car family tree by just walking the rows of a big American self-service wrecking yard. You would see at least one early Aries or Reliant and probably a few late-K-family New Yorkers or Acclaim/Spirits. Not any more. The Crusher has eaten and digested most of the K Family, so I felt that this rare Plymouth Caravelle sighting in a San Francisco Bay Area yard was noteworthy.

The 2.2 Turbo engine in this car was rated at 146 horsepower, which was quite a bit for a 2,596-pound car in 1987. That’s more than a thousand pounds lighter than the 2017 Chrysler 200, which was axed in part due to its unacceptable-to-American-car-shoppers small size. In fact, the Fiat 500 is just a bit lighter than this Caravelle.

Sometimes you can learn a bit about a junkyard car from the detritus found inside. For example, I know this Plymouth’s final owner lived about two miles from the car’s final parking space.

I was able to find the car on Google Earth.

The parking ticket under the Caravelle’s wiper indicates that the most likely cause for the car’s demise was an accumulation of unpaid fines and an involuntary tow-truck ride. These clues mean the car probably ran fine prior to its series of unfortunate events.

Chrysler was King of the Whorehouse Red Car Interiors during this period, though Nissan was at least the Duke of Bordello Red Car Interiors.

You’ll find one in every car. You’ll see.

One of the best-built, best-backed American cars!

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5 of 49 comments
  • Hifi Hifi on Mar 27, 2017

    I supposed this platform was successful because it saved Chrysler. But man, all these K-car variants weren't even trying. Except for the plastic grille and the tail lamps, and maybe a vinyl roof, there was no difference between the Caravelle, the K-car, the New Yorker, the Aries K, the Reliant, the LeBaron, the E type and I'm sure I'm missing some. I remember being about eleven years old and my parents were looking at one of them. It had a digital dashboard and electronic stereo. It had a scratchy voice that indicated that the lights were on or the keys were in the ignition. It seemed like the future at the time. But man, did these things turn out to be garbage.

    • See 2 previous
    • @Drzhivago138 I think his comment highlights that, although there was a lot of differentiation throughout the first generation of K-Cars, those changes didn't necessarily result in many perceived differences. Even with a longer wheelbase, tufted leather, landau top, and a turbo engine, a 1984 New Yorker still looked and felt an awful lot like a 1984 Reliant. They did far better in this regard with the G-bodies, EEKs and, of course, the minivans.

  • Copcarguy Copcarguy on Mar 28, 2017

    And here she is when she arrived at the junkyard, complete with the ticket under the wiper and skewed headlights: https://row52.com/Vehicle/Index/1P3BJ46E6HC192356

  • SCE to AUX Love it, and the price is a bargain, actually. The clean exterior is nice.Also, this caught my attention: "105mm throttle body"... that's a lot of air flow.
  • Tassos I predict this will be a big hit and conquer new markets. Housewives will be lining up to grab them, and the dealers will charge $200k a unit. Why? Because they already buy SUVs and crossovers they never needed, which have much less interior space than their minivans. So they will sacrifice a bit more of that space, but at least they will not drive identical looking crossovers with their accursed neighbor's wife.I also predict the Tesla Plaid and even lesses Teslas will beat the living daylights of this idiotic vehicle, and without even breaking a sweat.
  • Bobbysirhan I fully expect to be reading about the last-of-the-line Challenger Demon 170 Redeye Widebody three years from now.
  • Dougjp Finally, luxury/strong performance in a compact size car. Unlike the Civic R, the market for this segment has predominantly automatics buyers. Yet year after year, it appears Acura can't make such a car. They did have a 10 speed with torque (Accord), which counters the thought that they can't make a torque capable automatic.Oh well, look elsewhere I guess.
  • Analoggrotto The real question, how many years or months after the end of production will this vehicle be completely eliminated from the street? Neon lights, yellow spoiler covers, idiotic stripes, brazzers license plate frames, obnoxious exhausts and all.