Buy/Drive/Burn: Economical American Compacts From 1982
Our recent Rare Rides coverage of the Chevrolet Citation made one thing very clear: We need more Citation content. Today’s 1982 Buy/Drive/Burn lineup was suggested by commenter eng_alvarado90, who would like to see all of you struggle. Citation, Aries, Escort, all in their most utilitarian formats. Let’s go.
QOTD: Send In the Emergency Backup?
On Saturday night, the Carolina Hurricanes stared down the barrel of a rare occurrence in the NHL — both their goalies were on the sidelines. This necessitated bringing in the emergency backup goalie, a bloke named Dave who is quite literally a Zamboni driver. Their hapless opponents still couldn’t score enough goals and Dave notched a win for the team.
There have been more than a few Hail Marys in the automotive world as well, with manufacturers who are on the brink of bringing in a new model or gambling on a unique body style in order to stave off elimination. Sometimes it works and, well, sometimes it doesn’t.
Junkyard Find: 1982 Dodge Aries Station Wagon
Much as members of the Mopar Jihad don’t want to admit it, Chrysler took a bailout — in the form of government-backed loans — from Uncle Sam in 1979. This worked out pretty well for everyone involved, because the then-futuristic K-Cars that Chrysler developed out of desperation turned out to be both smash sales hits and the basis for most cars put out by Chrysler for the following decade.
The K Family Tree had many branches, but only the Dodge Aries, Plymouth Reliant, Chrysler LeBaron, and Dodge 400 were true K-Cars. You won’t see many of the original Ks these days, but the patient junkyard crawler will find a rare survivor now and then.
Here’s an early Aries wagon that I spotted in a Denver self-serve yard a couple of weeks ago.
While You Were Sleeping: The K-Car Alphabet, Oil Prices Falling and Belarus Has a New Parade Car
Chrysler has built a lot of cars atop the K platform. BangShift has put together a handy guide to figure them all out.
Junkyard Find: 1986 Dodge Aries K
The quantities of true Chrysler K-Cars in high-turnover self-service wrecking yards have been declining a bit in recent years, though I still see enough of them that I choose only the most interesting to photograph for this series. So far we’ve seen this “Hemi 2.6” ’81 Dodge Aries wagon, this ’83 Dodge Aries sedan, this ’85 Dodge 600 Turbo, and this ’88 Dodge Aries wagon, and today I’m adding a gold Aries sedan that has special significance for me.
Junkyard Find: 1981 Dodge Aries Station Wagon
The Chrysler K platform spun off many K-based descendents, but genuine, pure Ks have been fairly rare in this series. We’ve seen this ’83 Dodge Aries sedan, this ’85 Dodge 600 Turbo, and this ’88 Dodge Aries wagon so far, though I’ve passed over many dozens more. Still, when I see a first-year Aries wagon in this weird chalky gray-green color and it has a “Hemi 2.6” engine, I break out the camera!
Junkyard Find: 1983 Dodge Aries
So, after Chrysler got those government-backed loans that saved the company in 1979— take note, members of the Iacocca Jihad, that I am not calling those loans a bailout (even though Uncle Sam would have been forced to cover them if Chrysler had failed), and thus you may rest easy that this writer is not lumping your favorite Italian-owned corporation in with the People’s Democratic Cadres’ Bailed-Out Motors Corporation— everything hinged on the K-platform cars being a success. And they were!