Rare Rides: The 1982 Plymouth TC3, Sporty Liftback Time

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1982 plymouth tc3 sporty liftback time

Today’s Rare Ride is the much sportier (but mostly the same) liftback version of the Horizon that everyone forgot. It’s a Plymouth TC3, from 1982.

The L-platform was used by the ever-resourceful and cash-strapped Chrysler as the basis of at least 10 different cars sold around the globe. The platform was the first front-drive offering from Chrysler, and preceded the onslaught of K-cars by a couple of years. The four-door hatchback Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon hit the road in 1978, and Chrysler boss Lee Iacocca saw an opportunity to expand the range. He ordered up more sporty versions of the L. The new liftbacks wore additional names: the Dodge was an Omni 024, and Plymouth’s Horizon added a TC3 to its moniker. Underneath was the same chassis and engine as the Omni upon which it was based.

In the midst of a fuel crisis, Chrysler was keen to advertise the economical nature of the TC3 in addition to its sporty side. For the first couple model years, the TC3 was available with just one engine. Said engine was eventually consigned to the base model, called the Miser. The Miser used a 1.7-liter Volkswagen inline-four, which produced 70 horsepower. With the four-speed manual, the Miser received an EPA rating of 34 city, and 51 highway.

Sport appearance packages were offered starting in 1980, as Chrysler created the Horizon TC3 Turismo, and the Omni 024 DeTomaso. In 1981, the engine lineup expanded, and customers with money to burn could opt for Chrysler’s 2.2-liter (“Charger 2.2”) instead, with its heady 84 horsepower figure. A three-speed automatic was available for those who really weren’t concerned with fuel economy. Time for a quick MotorWeek break.

That same year, the prefixes were dropped from the Dodge and Plymouth; they became simply 024 and TC3. Both models were renamed again in 1983, when the Dodge became Charger, and the Plymouth adopted the Turismo name. A slight restyling accompanied the name change, with more engines and turbo power available later. Before their demise, the 024 and TC3 spawned two new vehicles over at the local Dodge/Plymouth/Colt/DeSoto/Imperial dealer: the pickup truck Dodge Rampage and Plymouth Scamp. The L-body just kept on going in its various forms, not calling it quits until 1990.

The red beauty before you is a final-year 1982 model, with 27,000 careful miles. With the 2.2 engine and an automatic transmission, its original buyer focused on power and comfort. It sold on eBay recently for $3,375.

[Images: seller]

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  • Cprescott Cprescott on Jul 09, 2019

    I vividly remember these - simple and fuel efficient - a simple and honest approach to an affordable car with some style and uniqueness. Alas, today's car are over-priced, thick bodied blobs with limited style and each now trying to add that hideous black accent to the c-pillar to out Nissan, Nissan. And to think that later versions of this car applied a cover over the third side window and came up with a different look much like Ford did with the fox-body Mustang adding a huge glass side window over the area in the c-pillar that had that fake side vent.

  • Jpurcha Jpurcha on Jan 27, 2023

    Nice. I had bought one from my dad's friend for my first car. University/model airplane hauler.

  • Cprescott Yawn.
  • 28-Cars-Later Wrangler people are crazy.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Transition" to layoffs, this guy is the Bob(s) from Office Space.
  • Vap65689119 As a release engineer I also worked in quality, if they are serious they should look at Toyotas business model which has their suppliers as genuine partners, thats how you get a quality product
  • Mike-NB2 I seem to have landed in an alternate universe. $12,000 for a Jeep that's going on a quarter-century old and with an automatic transmission? Wow.