Junkyard Find: 1988 Dodge Colt DL 4WD Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
Chrysler sold various Mitsubishis badged as Dodge or Plymouth Colts from the 1971 model year all the way through 1994.Here’s a Mirage-based fifth-generation Colt in California, the final model year for the Colt station wagon, and it sports both a five-speed manual transmission and the very rare all-wheel-drive powertrain.
American car buyers could get a Mitsubishi Chariot MPV with Colt Vista badging for the 1983-1991 model years, but the true Colt wagons never sold very well over here. 1988 was the last year for the North American Colt wagon.
The four-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive distinction hadn’t been established by automotive-industry marketing wizards by 1988, but this Colt has a genuine center-diff-equipped AWD system that — unlike the earlier generation of Japanese 4WD cars — didn’t require the driver to switch to front-wheel-drive for dry pavement.
By the early 1990s, North Americans could buy cars made by Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Subaru with power going to all four wheels all the time, no driver decisions needed. Subaru was a little late to that party, while Audi/Volkswagen and American Motors got into the all-wheel-drive game much earlier.
A car like this would have made a lot of sense in the icy Sierras, and I found this car in a yard just about exactly halfway between Carson City and San Francisco. Michael Hohl Automotive is still around, all these years later.
Not quite 200,000 miles, but close enough.
The Colt was very affordable, and few Colt purchasers felt willing to squander extra money on an automatic transmission. This attitude changed around the time the Neon replaced the Colt, especially when the price of slushboxes plummeted.
Of course, the original buyer of this Colt did prove willing to pay for air conditioning, so maybe the five-speed was selected due to personal preference, not Thin Wallet Syndrome.
Perhaps this car was a runner at the end, but the intense stale-Marlboro stench would have put off most members of the very small pool of used-car shoppers willing to drive a cramped three-pedal vehicle with 31 years under its belt.
Disappointingly, Chrysler didn’t push the “Cyclone” branding for Mitsubishi engines over here.For links to 2,000+ additional Junkyard Finds, visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.
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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  • UnoGeeks Thanks for the informative article. Unogeeks is the top Oracle Integration Cloud Training Institute, which provides the best Oracle Integration Cloud (OIC) Training
  • Varezhka And why exactly was it that Tesla decided not to coat their stainless steel bodies, again? My old steel capped Volant skis still looks clean without a rust in sight thanks to that metal vapor coating. It's not exactly a new technology.
  • GIJOOOE “Sounds” about as exciting as driving a golf cart, fake gear shifts or not. I truly hope that Dodge and the other big American car makers pull their heads out of the electric clouds and continue to offer performance cars with big horsepower internal combustion engines that require some form of multi gear transmissions and high octane fuel, even if they have to make them in relatively small quantities and market them specifically to gearheads like me. I will resist the ev future for as long as I have breath in my lungs and an excellent credit score/big bank account. People like me, who have loved fast cars for as long as I can remember, need a car that has an engine that sounds properly pissed off when I hit the gas pedal and accelerate through the gears.
  • Kcflyer libs have been subsidizing college for decades. The predictable result is soaring cost of college and dramatic increases in useless degrees. Their solution? More subsidies of course. EV policy will follow the same failed logic. Because it's not like it's their money. Not saying the republicans are any better, they talk a good game but spend like drunken sailors to buy votes just like the libs. The sole function of the U.S. government is to take money from people who earn it and give it away to people who didn't.
  • CecilSaxon Sounds about as smart as VW's "SoundAktor"