Junkyard Gem: 1986 Plymouth Horizon

In 1986, Plymouth shoppers could choose between two totally unrelated econoboxes.

  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
Chrysler imported quite a few Mitsubishis and sold them as Dodge and Plymouth Colts, but the Colts of the 1980s had to compete with the Plymouth Horizon and its Dodge Omni sibling. Based on a Chrysler Europe design, production of the Plymouth Horizon ran in virtually unchanged form from the 1979 through 1990 model years. A simple, cheap econobox, the Plymouth Horizon sold well enough, but was such a disposable car that very few remain today. Here's one that lasted long enough to end its days in a California wrecking yard at age 31.

The genealogy of the Omnirizon gets a bit tangled when you go back far enough; the car is based on the chassis design of the 1975 Simca 1307, though by the time it got to Detroit it had evolved considerably. Chrysler was desperate for an American-built economy car during the late 1970s, and the Omnirizon got the job done.

The 1978-1982 Horizons had 1.7-liter Volkswagen engines, while the 1983-1986 models came with a 1.6-liter Simca mill as the base engine. The Chrysler 2.2-liter four was an optional Horizon powerplant starting in 1981, and the only engine available from 1987 through the final Horizons built in 1990. This car has the 2.2, rated at 96 horses in 1986.

The ' 86 Horizon weighed a mere 2,100 pounds (about the same as a 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage), and so 96 horsepower made it peppy enough by mid-1980s econo-commuter standards. The interior is right out of the Slippery Plastic With Fake Stitching™ playbook, but nobody bought an Omnirizon for the luxury.

This car was basically identical to its Dodge Omni sibling, and both had MSRPs of $6,209 in 1986 (about $13,900 in inflation-adjusted 2017 bucks). You could get cheaper new cars in 1986— the $4,995 Hyundai Excel and $3,990 Yugo GV come to mind— but the Omnirizon five-doors were better-built and had the sales advantage of being known quantities.

Even by 1986, the Omnirizon was showing its age (though not as much as the amusingly obsolete Chevrolet Chevette, which was sold through the 1987 model year). Still, it remained sufficiently relevant to sell in decent number for another four years.

The pride is back!

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