Walter P. Chrysler Museum to Reopen to Public
Just two days after Cadillac announced opening up what they hope will be an au courant coffee shop on the ground floor of its trendy lower Manhattan digs, Fiat Chrysler announced it will reopen the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, on the grounds of Chrysler’s campus in slightly less trendy Auburn Hills, on June 4th.
The museum, which first opened in 1999 when Daimler owned Chrysler, has displays that cover the history of the current Chrysler brands along with the company’s former nameplates, starting with a 1902 Rambler from the Jeffrey company (the progenitor to Nash) and American Motors.
Junkyard Find: 1980 Plymouth Arrow
Chrysler imported and rebadged quite an assortment of Mitsubishis during the gloomy years of the Malaise Era, and we have seen a good sampling of those cars in this series so far. There was the Mitsubishi Colt Galant aka Dodge Colt, the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda aka Plymouth Sapporo/Dodge Challenger, and the Mitsubishi Mirage aka Plymouth Champ, among others.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste aka Plymouth Arrow was never a big seller, but this one managed to outlive nearly all of its brethren, only washing up at this Northern California self-service yard after 36 years.
Junkyard Find: 1989 Plymouth Horizon America
The Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon (collectively known as the Omnirizon) was based on a Simca design originally intended for European use and was Chrysler’s first American built, front-wheel drive, economy car. The Omnirizon was cheap, got the job done, and sold very well, staying in the American marketplace from 1978 through to 1990 with few major changes.
We’ve seen an early Horizon and now I’ve spotted this late one in a California self-service yard.
Crapwagon Outtake: 1990 Plymouth Voyager Turbo
Earlier this week, several friends separately sent me this eBay Motors article, highlighting this relatively obscure performance machine sold at Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth dealers back in the late Eighties.
No, it never carried the vaunted Shelby badges, nor was it an R/T — though one could (and I almost did) buy such a vehicle these days. However, with proper application of a well-stocked junkyard or two (or eBay, naturally), one could easily build a family hauler that could haul down the quarter mile in around twelve seconds.
Junkyard Find: 1999 Dodge Neon Sport
When Chrysler went all macho with tough car names, it was partly an attempt to expunge the marketing memory of the cute and happy ads for the Neon. The Neon was much better than its wretched Shadow/Sundance predecessor, but still enough of a disposo-car that junkyards teem with them today. Mostly I walk right by discarded Neons (unless I see something unusual, like an Expresso or an R/T), but this ’99 Neon Sport has aftermarket performance gear to match its stickers and that’s interesting enough for this series.
Chrysler Files Extension for Barracuda Name Many Times for Zero Cars
Folks over at Chrysler have filed another extension for the Barracuda nameplate, according to Allpar, which would be at least the fifth extension in three years with no new car in sight.
The filing over at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is wonderfully vague, specifying only “passenger automobiles, their structural parts, trim and badges” in the filing made June 23.
Reviving the Barracuda name would be incredibly difficult, considering it may not currently have a place to live.
Junkyard Find: 1987 Plymouth Caravelle
The alphabet soup of platforms that Chrysler based on the K-car during the 1980s and 1990s gets a little overwhelming to sort out. The “extended” K-car chassis was known as the E Platform and included the Dodge 600 ( we’ve seen one in this series), the Chrysler E-Class ( we’ve seen one of those as well) and the Plymouth Caravelle — essentially an E-class with a different grille — appearing for the 1985 model year. They didn’t sell particularly well, nor did they retain much value over the years, so spying one in a wrecking yard today is unusual.
Junkyard Find: 1972 Plymouth Duster
Compared to the stodgy-and-sensible Valiant on which it was based, the Plymouth Duster was pretty sporty and sold well to coupe shoppers who wanted a cheap car that could handle indifferent maintenance and bad road conditions (the Zaporozhets not being available in the United States). These things were amazingly reliable for the era, when not so many cars made it to 100,000 miles, but most were discarded like empty pull-tab Burgie cans during the 1980s. The Duster survivors today tend to be lovingly restored trailer queens. That makes the 1970-76 Duster a rare Junkyard Find, so I broke out the camera immediately when I saw this ’72 in a Northern California wrecking yard.
Junkyard Find: 1953 Plymouth Sedan
When I visited Southern California back in December, I hit the jackpot with interesting junkyard cars to photograph. In addition to stuff I haven’t shared yet, there was this fully-loaded ’82 Subaru BRAT, John DeLorean’s weird rope-drive Tempest with 540-lb four-banger, this rust-free ’84 Cressida, and this ’51 Plymouth Cranbrook. The self-service yard that had the ’51 Plymouth also had today’s Junkyard Find, which tells you a lot about how spoiled Los Angeles car freaks are.
Junkyard Find: 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan
There was a time when the late-60s/early-70s Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant sedan was the generic automobile in the United States, possibly the most invisible car on American roads. Swimming-pool blue and this queasy shade of green were the most common colors, and the cars were so cheap to maintain that they survived in everyday use much longer than most of their peers. You don’t see the old A-bodies so much these days, but enough remain that they continue to show up in big self-service wrecking yards. Here’s one that I saw in Northern California last week.
Junkyard Find: 1976 Plymouth Volare Sedan
The Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volaré won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for 1976, and they spent a good decade among the most commonplace vehicles on American roads. Then just about all of them disappeared, no doubt as they depreciated well below scrap value in about ten years. However, the occasional odds-beating survivor shows up in wrecking yards now and then; we’ve seen this ’76 Aspen sedan, this brown-on-beige ’77 Volaré coupe and this ’77 Volaré Premier wagon, and now today’s ’76 Volaré sedan. This one shows evidence of having sat for the last decade or so, but still managed to rack up many more miles than most of its Civic and Corolla contemporaries.
Junkyard Find: 1979 Plymouth Champ, With Twin-Stick!
The tales of the many flavors of rebadged Chrysler Europe and Mitsubishi products sold as Plymouths and Dodges remain perennially fascinating for me, what with all the Chryslerized Simcas and Hillmans and so forth, and one example of this breed that appears to have disappeared from the face of the earth is the Plymouth Champ. The Champ was a fourth-generation Mitsubishi Mirage, a gas-sipping front-driver that received Colt nameplates for the Dodge side of the showroom floor, and I found one a few days ago at a Denver-area self-service yard.
Junkyard Find: 1989 Mitsubishi Lancer, Wait, I Mean Plymouth Colt
At the same time Chrysler was selling heavily evolved— if that’s the word— Simcas, you could walk into the same showrooms that sold Turismos and Omnis and buy yourself a badge-engineered Mitsubishi Lancer. By the late 1980s, Mitsubishi itself was selling these cars (badged as Mirages), which meant that car shoppers could choose between three more or less identical versions of the same car, all priced within it-doesn’t-matter distance of one another: Dodge Colt, Plymouth Colt, and Mitsubishi Mirage. The owner of this Plymouth Colt, however, decided that he or she wanted to go all JDM and convert this car into a Lancer (on a shoestring budget).
Junkyard Find: 1975 Dodge Dart Sedan
So many Chrysler A-bodies in junkyards these days, even though the last ones rolled off the assembly line in 1981 (in South America and Australia; the final Detroit-built A-body was a 1976 model). These cars were cheap and simple, and they’re still useful transportation in the 21st century, so many of them manage to stay on the street well into their 30s and 40s. Sadly, even the most fanatical Dart/Valiant restorer has all the affordable two-doors and/or factory V8 cars he or she can handle, and so when a made-by-the-zillions Slant-6 Malaise Era sedan craps out, it’s going to The Crusher. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’60 Valiant wagon, this ’61 Valiant, this ’63 Dart, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’67 Valiant, this ’66 Dart, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’73 Valiant, this ’75 Duster, and this ’75 Dart, and now we’re adding yet another ’75 to the list.
Junkyard Find: 1960 Plymouth Valiant Station Wagon
By my calculations, we will stop seeing Chrysler A bodies in wrecking yards by about the year 2109; so far in this series we’ve seen this ’61 Valiant, this ’63 Dart, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’67 Valiant, this ’66 Dart, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’73 Valiant, this ’75 Duster, and this ’75 Dart, and today I’m adding a first-year Valiant wagon that sat abandoned for about 40 years before being sent to a California self-serve yard.