Junkyard Find: 1980 Plymouth Horizon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

After the Oil Crisis of 1973, Chrysler didn’t have the resources needed to design and build a subcompact economy car from scratch. Fortunately, Chrysler’s Japanese ally, Mitsubishi, was willing to ship over plenty of cars to be sold as Dodge and Plymouth Colts (we will not discuss the wretched Plymouth Cricket aka Hillman Avenger at this time). The Colt didn’t get front-wheel-drive until 1979, though, so Chrysler USA turned to Chrysler Europe for the Simca-designed Horizon platform and began selling Dodge Omnis and Plymouth Horizons in 1978.

Here’s an early Horizon in a Denver self-service yard.

The generic term for these cars is Omnirizon, since the versions were nearly identical, and this car lives up to that name by sporting badging from both types. The hatch and hood came from an Omni, while the rest is Horizon.

This car shows all the signs of having been owned by a serious single-interest Omnirizon collector. In addition to the mix-and-match body parts, it has a cargo area packed with spare parts. They were still there when I saw the car two months later, so it appears there’s little demand for Omnirizon parts in Denver these days.

The Omnirizon stayed in production in more or less the same form for an eternity in car terms: the 1978 through 1990 model years. Three completely unrelated straight-four engine families were used over that time: the Simca 1.6-liter, the Volkswagen 1.7-liter, and the Chrysler 2.2-liter. This car has the Volkswagen 1.7, which was rated at 68 horsepower in 1980 (of course, given that this car shows signs of extensive parts swapping, we might be looking at a slightly more powerful version of the 1.7 here).

Plymouth called this the “Sport Stripe” option package.

“Relax, Horizon can handle it.”

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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.

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  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on May 20, 2019

    I had the GLH Turbo version of this, bought new. 2.2 Turbo (150 hp) no intercooler. The difference between this and the same drive train in the Laser/Daytona was that the Daytona was marginally more comfortable, but the Omni had a way stiffer chassis. The intercooler made all the difference for these engines, without it would sprint then get hot and pull the ignition advance....if it had the intercooler it would grow long legs and run. Mine died the death of all good muscle cars.....wrecked by a stupid kid. (me) I'm surprised the prior owner had so many parts...normally if you are going to the trouble, it's built the GLH-S version...or why bother. Last bit, the GLH versions had two fuel pumps, one of which would crap out at any given time.

  • Mickmc Mickmc on May 22, 2019

    These were the cars of my youth- they, along with the K cars were everywhere in rural PA, where there was still a strong reluctance among many rural people of the time to buy foreign cars, but they wanted good mpgs. My parents never owned one, can't remember riding in one, but it seemed like every 3rd car in the area was an Omni or Horizon. Funny that they just aren't on the roads at all anymore. Here in NC, I sometimes see random 'time warp' cars that are pristine and probably belonged to an old person for many years. Most notably, a mid 80s 4 door Escort that looked almost perfect, a Ford Futura from the early 80s, and someone on my street has an early 80s Sentra Wagon they use as a daily driver but it looks like it was garaged and only driven to church for the past few decades.

  • Redapple2 Another bad idea from the EVIL gm Vampire.
  • Daniel J Alabama is a right to work state so I'd be interested in how this plays out. If a plant in Alabama unionized, there are many workers who's still oppose joining and can work.
  • ToolGuy This guest was pretty interesting.
  • NJRide So this is an average age of car to be junked now and of course this is a lower end (and now semi-orphaned) product. But street examples seem to still be worth 2500? So are cars getting junked only coming in because of a traumatic repair? If not it seems a lot of cars being junked that would still possibly worth more than scrap.Also Murilee I remember your Taurus article way back what is the king of the junkyard in 2024?
  • AMcA I applaud Toyota for getting away from the TRD performance name. TuRD. This is another great example of "if they'd just thought to preview the name with a 13 year old boy."