Rare Rides: The 1982 Plymouth TC3, Sporty Liftback Time

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Jpurcha Jpurcha on Jan 27, 2023

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

  • Billccm Billccm on Sep 29, 2023

    I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.

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  • Michael Gallagher I agree to a certain extent but I go back to the car SUV transition. People began to buy SUVs because they were supposedly safer because of their larger size when pitted against a regular car. As more SUVs crowded the road that safety advantage began to dwindle as it became more likely to hit an equally sized SUV. Now there is no safety advantage at all.
  • Probert The new EV9 is even bigger - a true monument of a personal transportation device. Not my thing, but credit where credit is due - impressive. The interior is bigger than my house and much nicer with 2 rows of lounge seats and 3rd for the plebes. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, around 300miles of range, and an e-mpg of 80 (90 for the 2wd). What a world.
  • Ajla "Like showroom" is a lame description but he seems negotiable on the price and at least from what the two pictures show I've dealt with worse. But, I'm not interested in something with the Devil's configuration.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I really like the C-Class, it reminds me of some trips to Russia to visit Dear Friend VladdyPoo.