Junkyard Gem: 1988 Dodge Omni America

A late-production example of the Simca-derived Omnirizon, found in Colorado.

Quick, what was the very first front-wheel-drive subcompact to go into automation in the United States? No, it had not been the Pennsylvania-built Volkswagen Rabbit, although the car concerned did have a Volkswagen engine. The early U.S.-market Ford Fiesta was constructed in West Germany, the Simca 1204 (sold at American Chrysler dealers) originated from France, the Ford Escort and also Chevy Cavalier didn’t go into American manufacturing up until 1980 and also 1981, specifically, and also Honda really did not begin developing Civics in Ohio till 1986. Chrysler Corporation asserts the honor with the Dodge Omni and its Plymouth Horizon double, which initially rolled off the Belvidere Production line in 1977 as 1978 designs. Though thoroughly out-of-date by the time united state sales discontinued in 1990, the “Omnirizon” worked as flawlessly useful transport and almost 2 million were marketed right here. Today’s Junkyard Treasure is just one of those later automobiles, found in a Denver self-service boneyard over the summer season.

The Omnirizon was based upon a design cooked up by Simca engineers helping Chrysler Europe, at the tail end of the long as well as complicated Rootes Group legend. The North American variation differed considerably from the Talbot/Chrysler/Simca Perspective constructed by Peugeot (which took over every one of Chrysler Europe’s procedures in 1978) and also marketed in Europe, yet the family members resemblance is apparent at a glance.

The earliest Omnirizons all had 1.7-liter Volkswagen engines, but the Chrysler 2.2 (of K-Car popularity) ended up being a choice in 1981 and also common equipment by 1987 (for some time between 1980s, a 1.6-liter Simca mill acted as the El Cheapo base powerplant). The 2.2 in this car had 93 steeds when new.

New cars with four-on-the-floor manual transmissions would be readily available right here for an additional eight years after 1988, yet the 1988 Omnirizon included a five-speed handbook as base equipment. If you wanted a three-speed automatic in your brand-new ’88 Omni or Horizon, the cost was a staggering $769 (about $1,845 in 2021).

Americans acquired obsolete 1988 Omnirizons for the very same reason they purchased the hilariously archaic Chevrolet Chevette the year before: cost. The MSRP on this car– and the identical-but-for-badging Horizon America– began at $5,995 (about $14,401 today). The most affordable feasible ’88 Chevy Cavalier was $6,995, Ford’s most modestly valued Escort set you back $6,586, the stripped-to-the-bare-minimum Civic went for $6,095, and the spartan Toyota Tercel EZ simply handled to press below the Omnirizon at $5,948 (those last two came with four-speed manual transmissions as typical tools).

You can locate a more affordable new auto than the Omnirizon in 1988, but each option induced an effective feeling of uneasiness in the smart 1988 automobile shopper. We don’t require to explain regarding why you might have fled in horror from the $4,199 Yugo GV and $5,295 Hyundai Excel that year, however what regarding 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 bad, neither was its Mitsubishi Mirage twin, but you obtained stuck with a four-on-the-floor as opposed to a gas-saving five-speed at that rate (sorry, the Colt’s remarkable Twin-Stick dual-range manual vanished after 1984). I assume I would certainly have pulled out the additional 4 clams to get a brand-new $5,999 Mazda 323 or resigned myself to 300,000 miles of sensible Tercel EZ routine, but I was a broke-ass university student driving a 15-year-old MGB-GT that year as well as any brand-new automobile was as way out of reach for me as an intergalactic starship.

Anyway, the Omnirizon was a lot of crude-but-functional automobile for the cash and also you still saw lots of them on American roads as recently as the center 2000s.

This set appears to have been abused in the majority of harsh style for years, then delegated degeneration in the rough Colorado climate for a lot of years.

It was parked beside an in a similar way rough Perspective when I discovered it.

Just a few rows far from those 2 lots, I discovered this Omni. Minutes later, I encountered an ultra-rare 1981 Plymouth Perspective Miser. Yes, 4 Omnirizons in the same cars and truck graveyard, and that’s not counting the ones packed with spare components at a yard across community that I saw a couple years previously. I suspect that a Denver-area Omnirizon fancier has actually been choosing a great deal full of components cars and trucks as a handful of wonderful ones get fixed up, which I’ll continue to find these cars in bunches (yes, the Omni GLH does appear in such backyards once in a while, thanks for asking).

For its first version year, the Omni’s advertising proclaimed its adaptability.