Junkyard Gem: 1988 Dodge Omni America

Fast, what was the very first front-wheel-drive subcompact to go into mass manufacturing in the United States? No, it was not the Pennsylvania-developed Volkswagen Rabbit, though the car in question did have a Volkswagen engine. The early U.S.-industry Ford Fiesta was built in West Germany, the Simca 1204 (bought at American Chrysler dealerships) came from France, the Ford Escort and Chevy Cavalier did not go into American generation until eventually 1980 and 1981, respectively, and Honda failed to start out making Civics in Ohio until finally 1986. Chrysler Company promises the honor with the Dodge Omni and its Plymouth Horizon twin, which initially rolled off the Belvidere Assembly line in 1977 as 1978 designs. While comprehensively obsolete by the time U.S. revenue ceased in 1990, the “Omnirizon” served as perfectly useful transportation and nearly 2 million were sold listed here. Modern Junkyard Gem is a person of those later on vehicles, discovered in a Denver self-assistance boneyard above the summer months.

The Omnirizon was dependent on a layout cooked up by Simca engineers doing the job for Chrysler Europe, at the tail finish of the extended and convoluted Rootes Team saga. The North American version differed considerably from the Talbot/Chrysler/Simca Horizon built by Peugeot (which took over all of Chrysler Europe’s functions in 1978) and sold in Europe, but the relatives resemblance is apparent at a look.

The earliest Omnirizons all experienced 1.7-liter Volkswagen engines, but the Chrysler 2.2 (of K-Car fame) turned an alternative in 1981 and regular tools by 1987 (for a while in the center 1980s, a 1.6-liter Simca mill served as the El Cheapo base powerplant). The 2.2 in this vehicle had 93 horses when new.

New autos with 4-on-the-flooring manual transmissions would be obtainable here for an additional eight years right after 1988, but the 1988 Omnirizon arrived with a 5-velocity manual as foundation products. If you preferred a a few-velocity automated in your new ’88 Omni or Horizon, the cost tag was a staggering $769 (about $1,845 in 2021).

Us citizens acquired outdated 1988 Omnirizons for the very same cause they acquired the hilariously antiquated Chevrolet Chevette the 12 months before: value. The MSRP on this car— and the similar-but-for-badging Horizon America— begun at $5,995 (about $14,401 currently). The lowest priced probable ’88 Chevy Cavalier was $6,995, Ford’s most modestly priced Escort expense $6,586, the stripped-to-the-bare-least Civic went for $6,095, and the spartan Toyota Tercel EZ just managed to squeeze below the Omnirizon at $5,948 (people previous two came with four-pace manual transmissions as conventional gear). 

You could locate a less costly new auto than the Omnirizon in 1988, but each individual alternative induced a impressive feeling of trepidation in the savvy 1988 motor vehicle shopper. We really don’t want to go into element about why you may possibly have run away in horror from the $4,199 Yugo GV and $5,295 Hyundai Excel that year, but what about the miserably small $5,490 Ford Festiva or the wretched $5,556 Subaru Justy? The $5,990 Brazilian Gol? The $5,899 Dodge/Plymouth Colt wasn’t so poor, nor was its Mitsubishi Mirage twin, but you bought caught with a 4-on-the-flooring instead of a gas-conserving five-velocity at that price (sorry, the Colt’s awesome Twin-Adhere dual-range guide went away right after 1984). I consider I might have pulled out the additional 4 clams to get a new $5,999 Mazda 323 or resigned myself to 300,000 miles of practical Tercel EZ tedium, but I was a broke-ass faculty student driving a 15-year-aged MGB-GT that yr and any new vehicle was as significantly out of get to for me as an intergalactic starship.

In any case, the Omnirizon was loads of crude-but-useful motor vehicle for the funds and you however noticed a great deal of them on American roads as lately as the center 2000s.

This a person appears to have been abused in most cruel trend for a long time, then still left to decay in the harsh Colorado local weather for a bunch of decades.

It was parked up coming to a equally tough Horizon when I located it.

Just a few rows away from individuals two heaps, I observed this Omni. Minutes later, I ran across an extremely-unusual 1981 Plymouth Horizon Miser. Sure, four Omnirizons in the exact automobile graveyard, and which is not counting the ones packed with spare sections at a property throughout city that I observed a couple a long time earlier. I suspect that a Denver-space Omnirizon fancier has been culling a whole lot whole of parts vehicles as a handful of great kinds get fastened up, and that I will continue to locate these vehicles in bunches (indeed, the Omni GLH does exhibit up in this sort of yards now and then, thanks for asking).

For its to start with product year, the Omni’s marketing touted its versatility.

Afterwards on, Omni advertising was all about very low stickers and minimal fascination charges.

Chrysler arrived up with the “America” trim stage for small-priced variations of its more cost-effective Dodges and Plymouths starting up in the 1987 design year. You could get the Aries, Reliant, Sundance and Shadow with the The usa bundle, but all Omnirizons turned Americas beginning at that place. As much as I know, there was in no way an Omnirizon with America badging.

The Talbot edition had ¡Fuerza Dinamica!