Rare Rides: A Beige Plymouth Champ - American Malaise From 1980

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a beige plymouth champ american malaise from 1980

Rare Rides has featured a couple of Plymouths before, both of which were sporty and boasted two doors. Today’s Plymouth also has two doors, but is perhaps not quite as performance oriented as its brethren on these pages.

Hailing from 1980, it’s a super Malaisey Champ hatchback.

As most of you were already thinking, the Champ wasn’t really a Plymouth at all — it was a Mitsubishi. For their first three generations, the Mitsubishi Galant and Lancer models were sold as Dodge Colts and occasionally as the Plymouth Cricket. It all started back in 1971, when Chrysler brought the Galant to North America as a captive import. Small, fuel efficient cars were all the rage at the time, and became even more important as the oil crisis of 1973 set in. If you were alive, perhaps you remember it?

Offerings were always in coupe, sedan, or station wagon formats throughout the Seventies, until the death of the second-generation model after 1978. That particular year, the Colt’s product offerings branched in two very different directions. A new wagon joined the lineup for ’78, and, though badged as a Colt, it was a Mitsubishi Galant Sigma underneath. Coupe and sedan versions for ’78 were Lancers. This arrangement lasted exactly one model year, as in 1979, the fourth-generation Dodge Colt greeted Americans. This time it was a rebadged Mirage rather than a Lancer, and was front-wheel drive. The rear-drive wagon sold alongside the front-drive Colt for 1980 and 1981, when it was replaced by the homegrown Dodge Aries K wagon.

For the first few years, the three-door hatchback was the only body style on offer, powered by a singular engine: a 1.4-liter inline-four producing 70 horsepower. Critically, manual transmission Colt models were awarded with the nation’s highest EPA ratings for their 1979 debut. Sales started strong — Dodge sold over 60,000 the first year, with sales increasing to over 80,000 for the next two years. The transmission lineup included two manuals and one automatic. Notable was the super-efficient Twin Stick manual. It had a two-speed transfer case, translating into a total of eight forward speeds, and two reverse ones. The automatic was a trusty three-speed TorqueFlite.

Revisions came in 1982, as a five-door version joined the lineup, power figures for the engines fell, and a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine was available only with the automatic transmission. The Champ name was a short-lived one, as the model was renamed Colt after the 1982 model year. Dodge would go on to have three more generations of Colts, running all the way through 1994. We featured the interesting five-door Colt Vista here previously.

Today’s Rare Ride was located in Oregon and was snapped up very quickly. Twin Stick Champs are thin on the ground, and this particular example had just over 50,000 miles.

[Images: seller]

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  • HotPotato HotPotato on Apr 09, 2019

    Very clean styling, great visibility. Nice looking car. The generation after looked even better. I love the idea of a twin-stick in something more the size of a Smart Car than an 18-wheeler. How are you supposed to use it? I assume "low ranges in the city, high ranges on the highway," not 1L - 1H - 2L - 2H - 3L - 3H - 4L - 4H like an 18-wheeler. Has anyone driven one that can say?

  • JimC2 JimC2 on Apr 16, 2019

    "The automatic was a trusty three-speed TorqueFlite." If wiki is to be believed, this was a slightly downsized 904... that's A LOT of transmission for these little cars! I can't imagine that helped their gas mileage. (The 904 was originally made to be the "small" torqueflite for the Slant Sixes and the 273/318 V8s.)

  • Analoggrotto By the time any of Hyundai's Japanese competitors were this size and age, they produced iconic vehicles which are now highly desirable and going for good money used. But Hyundai/Kia have nothing to this point that anyone will care about in the future. Those 20k over MSRP Tellurides? Worn out junk sitting at the used car lot, worn beyond their actual age. Hyundai/Kia has not had anything comparable to the significance of CVCC, 240Z, Supra, Celica, AE86, RX-(7), 2000GT, Skyline, GT-R, WRX, Evo, Preludio, CRX, Si, Land Cruiser, NSX etc. All of this in those years where Detroiters and Teutonic prejudiced elitists were openly bashing the Japanese with racist derogatory language. Tiger Woods running off the road in a Genesis didn't open up a moment, and the Genesis Sedan featuring in Inception didn't matter any more than the Lincoln MKS showing up for a moment in Dark Knight. Hyundai/Kia are too busy attempting to re-invent others' history for themselves. But hey, they have to start somewhere and the N74 is very cool looking. Hyundai/Kia's biggest fans are auto Journalists who for almost 2 decades have been hyping them up to deafening volumes contributing further distrust in any media.
  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)