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.
Abandoned History: Chrysler's Liberty Project, to Saturn or Not to Saturn
In Part V of the Rare Rides series on the Eagle Premier, I mentioned an abandoned project at Chrysler called Liberty. Announced in 1985, Liberty was supposed to be a direct challenge to GM’s recently announced Saturn brand. Or it wasn’t, depending on what day of the week Liberty was addressed.
Chrysler’s PR department and CEO Lee Iacocca seemed at odds on what the Liberty project was, but they were both sure it was very important and it would build something, probably.
Rare Rides: The Superbly Luxurious and Gingerbready 1990 Chrysler Imperial
I’ve been meaning to cover the final Chrysler Imperial for some time now. The only Imperial featured in this series so far is a collection of the early Eighties version, which was a very expensive and complicated pet project failure of Lee Iacocca.
Today’s Imperial is the follow-up model to that boxy rear-drive PLC. Let’s check out the longest and most luxurious K-car variant ever made.
Junkyard Find: 1983 Chrysler New Yorker
When Lee Iacocca’s K-cars finally hit American showrooms for the 1981 model year, the ax that had seemed poised over Chrysler’s neck for much of the late 1970s seemed to pull back. For model year 1983, a stretched version of the K chassis became the basis of such luxurious machines as the Dodge 600, Plymouth Caravelle, and Chrysler E-Class. Just to confuse everybody, the New Yorker line bifurcated that year, with the New Yorker Fifth Avenue remaining on the same platform as the rear-wheel-drive Dodge Diplomat and the regular New Yorker becoming an E-platform sibling to the 600/E-Class/Caravelle. Here’s one of those first-year New Yorkers, found in very clean condition in a Denver-area self-service yard last week.
Rare Rides: The Intensely Sporty 1992 Dodge Daytona IROC R/T
Rare Rides has featured a few sports coupes of the Dodge variety previously, but those Eighties cars were not as modern, refined, and sophisticated as today’s seldom seen two-door.
Presenting the Dodge Daytona IROC R/T, from 1992.
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.
Rare Rides: A Totally Rad Consulier GTP From 1992
Do you ever feel there just aren’t enough purpose-built racing cars that can also be driven on the road? Well, Consulier yourself with today’s Rare Ride.
Concentrated Rides: An Imperial Collection
Certain extraordinary circumstances can move a vehicle from the standard Rare Rides classification and into Concentrated Rides. Take today, for instance, where a concerned collector has gathered together 24 Chrysler Imperials in a California desert.
The why here is unclear.
QOTD: What Was Peak K-car for You?
It was one of those make or break moments. A company teetering on the financial verge which threw a Hail Mary at the right time — and at the right target. The company in question was Chrysler, and the Hail Mary was the K-car platform.
Today we ask you: What was peak K?
QOTD: Thirty Years On, How Do Your K-car Memories Hold Up?
It was a little sad, really. Far removed from the rest of the rides at this small-town vintage car meet, a plucky, sensible sedan sat all alone, earnestly hoping some sharp-eyed soul would wander by and pay a visit, presumably while on the way to or from the washroom facilities. Families sat munching hot dogs and hamburgers nearby, ravenous from a morning spent perusing aspirational iron from the 1930s onward. The 1989 Dodge Aries in their peripheral vision went unnoticed.
“I’m over here!” the little sedan seemed to shout. “Still happy to serve. Ask me about my heritage!”
Junkyard Find: 1987 Plymouth Caravelle Turbo SE Sedan
As recently as five years ago, you could get a good sense of the width and height of the Chrysler K-Car family tree by just walking the rows of a big American self-service wrecking yard. You would see at least one early Aries or Reliant and probably a few late-K-family New Yorkers or Acclaim/Spirits. Not any more. The Crusher has eaten and digested most of the K Family, so I felt that this rare Plymouth Caravelle sighting in a San Francisco Bay Area yard was noteworthy.
Junkyard Find: 1987 Dodge 600 SE
For most of the 1980s and well into the 1990s, most cars made by Chrysler were members of the many-branched K-Car family tree. In the early years, the K was sold as an all-American economy car for the frugal, but Lee Iacocca had his eye on stealing some sales from European luxury marques. Perhaps a K made to look something like a Mercedes-Benz would do the job?
Junkyard Find: 1995 Dodge Dakota, With K-Car Engine
The plenitude of vehicles based on the Chrysler K Platform helped the company bounce back from its humiliating 1979 near-bankruptcy and government bailout, and the modern overhead-cam four-cylinder engine Chrysler developed for the K was a big part of that success. We think of that 2.2/2.5 as a transverse-front-wheel-drive-only engine, but Chrysler made a longitudinal version for the rear-wheel-drive Dakota pickup.
Here’s a very rare 2.5/5-speed example I saw in a Denver-area yard recently.
Junkyard Find: 1989 Plymouth Reliant America
In last week’s Junkyard Find, I shared the first discarded BMW E30 I have photographed after nearly a decade of writing about junkyard vehicles. Yes, the E30 was a fine automobile (though right-thinking car experts recognize that its Alfa Romeo Milano competitor was faster, cheaper, and had a much better-sounding engine) and we should take a moment to appreciate this important piece of German automotive history.
Right, now that we’re done with that, let’s admire a piece of automotive history I find much more fascinating: an example of the final model year of Chrysler’s company-rescuing K-Car, photographed in a muggy, buggy, cocklebur-overgrown Minneapolis self-service yard.
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.