1985 Plymouth Horizon

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1985 Plymouth Horizon
RCR Plymouth Horizon Thumb.jpg
Car Details
Make Plymouth
Model Horizon
Year 1985
Owner Bill Miller
Episode Details
Episode Link Watch
Season Vagabond Summer
Air Date November 7, 2016
Transcript
Credits u/Ianator

Thanks to Carlisle Events, Bill Miller and Mike Garland (PR Guy) we were able to review a Plymouth Horizon / Dodge Omni and it only has 26,XXX original miles!

This car was previously seen in Which Mopar is Best Mopar?.

Transcript[edit]

Corvette. Corvette. Corvette. Corvette. 1987 (sic) Plymouth Horizon.

---

INTRO SONG by THE ROMAN
to the tune of 'I Found' by Amber Run:

And I'll use you as an Omni car,
'Cause I haven't found much that can pass so far.

---

MONOLOGUE by MR REGULAR:

Since I started Regular Car Reviews I wanted to get my hands on a base Dodge Omni. That was my unicorn, my white whale.

This isn't a Dodge Omni. But it's close enough.

The Omni and the Horizon were the same car. Just like the Dodge Neon and Plymouth Neon. Or Dodge Stratus, Plymouth Breeze and Chrysler Cirrus. And this '85 Horizon only has 26,000 original miles. Who saves a Dodge Omni? AN AMERICAN HERO. THAT'S WHO.

The 1985 Plymouth Horizon. Yes, the conjoined twin of the Dodge Omni. They're both millennials because if you were born between 1982 and 2002, well, welcome to the age bracket baby boomers won't stop bitching about.

For the US market the Plymouth Horizon was the most important small car of the 1980s because it helped prop up Chrysler during the financial crisis and it proved it could hang with Ford and General Motors who were putting out other small compacts.

Because let's get real. No matter how much Chrysler pretended the Dodge Aspen was a small car, it didn't change anything about its actual proportions. We reviewed the Dodge Aspen and any car that can comfortably sit six grown-ass MEN is not a subcompact. And pretending to pretend otherwise is more awkward than when you're eating popcorn and you come across a kernel near the bottom of the bag that's wet for some reason.

Chrysler needed a way to compete with the Pintos and the Chevettes that were desperate and... and sadder than Bud Dwyer in that episode of Rescue 911 where somebody "oops," died. So Chrysler turned to their European division and in the same way we would turn to Europe if, say, the fate of America rested on a soccer match, Chrysler Europe developed the foundation for what would become the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon.

A 'world' car which either swallowed either a 1.6-liter VW engine - which this car doesn't have - or the 1.6 'Simca' engine, and I hope I'm pronouncing that right because that's what's in this machine. Although for most American buyers it didn't really matter what was under the hood, what mattered is how the car looked. And the Omni and Horizon added a visual design that was more appealing than the VW Rabbit which looked like the J.G. Wentworth theme song on four wheels.

But these sold well into the 80s, which is amazing when you consider that Chrysler didn't change a whole lot about the Horizon from one model year to the next. Sure, you get improvements like a five-speed manual and fuel injection but it was never like the same difference between something like a Malibu from the early 2000s versus one from today.

But even if this car bombed it still would've been a milestone for Chrysler. You see, the Omni and Horizon were the company's first front-wheel drive cars. Its first with a transverse-mounted engine. And also its first with a semi-independent rear suspension. In addition, it was the first Chrysler car with a metric-rated engine and it was the first company's (sic) four-door hatchback. The Horizon also had unibody construction like a knight welded into its own armor.

Nearly everything about it was unique for Chrysler and set it apart from anything else the company was offering at the time. And it certainly set it apart from the Chevette which was GM phoning it in from the start. The Omni and Horizon were something new. Especially in America. But its appeal was as much about comfort as it was about "performance" - quotation marks - and fuel economy.

Because indulge. Indulge in the freshness of a 26,000-mile original Horizon. Look at the heater controls placed so only the driver can control them. Behold: an AM-FM radio. With controls for bass. And treble. How about an electric cigarette lighter. And ashtray.

Would you like a three-speed automatic transmission with console shifter? How about an armrest that moves out of the way when you pull on the parking lever! How 'bout that? You also get adjustable intermittent windshield wipers that's- hey, that's not bad, even my first-gen Fit doesn't have that.

Under the hood, you're looking at a 1.6 French Simca engine (Annotation: "Correction: This is the 2.2L Chrysler motor") with a two-barrel "electronically controlled" - with big quotation marks - carburetor with automatic choke. The Simka engine is a cross flow, single overhead cam powerplant designed in the 1960s and updated continuously through the 70s and the 80s. And it has an air pump.

Okay, what's an air pump? (Video caption: "Vagabond Falcon back when she was stock with the 144ci I6")

An air pump is an early version of emissions control and what it does is- okay. You get a car... You know how old American cars have that gasoline smell? They're not leaking any fuel, there isn't any problem with it, they just smell that way because they don't quite burn every single molecule of fuel as it comes out of the exhaust manifold. Some of the fuel is still burning and burns itself out or runs out of oxygen as it's being shoved out by the piston, out through the exhaust valve and out through the pipe. Yes, is was an inefficient engine. But gas was cheap before the oil crisis so who cared?

Now if you look at old photos of Los Angeles from the 70s, that was real smog. Look at old photos of Pittsburgh from the 1970s. We had to figure something out to stop all this soot and junk coming out of the exhaust pipes. So what they came up with is an electric - or mechanical - air pump that forced outside air either into the exhaust manifold or somewhere along the exhaust pipe as it comes out the back of the car. The closer to the engine, the better. The idea is, and it does work, is that you're adding oxygen to the exhaust gases, helping it burn more.

Yeah, I know, you're not really burning the gas that's inside the combustion chamber. But like the Chevy Chevette it's something, it's a solution to a problem. And it did work, allowing the unburnt gas to combust somewhere before it gets out the back of the car- yes, you do reduce emissions a bit doing that. It was a compromise until technology developed for catalytic converters and of course better engine management that could solve that problem. But like this electronically-controlled carburetor, it's that weird in-between technology that I love so much.

Also, the Omni and Horizon... This isn't a K car. It's not a K car platform, it's in fact an L body. Iaccoca had nothing to do with this car, he had nothing to do with the L platform. In fact, Chrysler was developing this car even while they were circling the toilet. So there's a question, could Chrysler have survived without Iaccoca, there's a chance they could. This car ended up being a success, with or without Iaccoca's genius marketing. Maybe Chrysler would've pulled themselves out- I mean, they still would've been bankrupt, they probab- Chrysler stood a good chance of getting absorbed into General Motors. But the story of the K car is a story for another day.

Look, the Omni and Horizon, the- this was the small American car that Americans wanted to buy. See? It's about the same size as Silicone Sally. The fit and finish was better- yes, the fit and finish of a Plymouth Horizon was better than the equivalent Honda or Toyota in the 1980s. And I know I'm seeing a pristine version of a Horizon so in my mind I'm- I'm destroying the interior and you know what? It still feels soft. They put more thought into making you comfortable inside this car than they did in Toyotas. The plastic is softer. The cushioning is thicker. The carpets are thicker and denser. This is a nicer place to sit than the equivalent Toyota.

The Horizon is small but broad, if that makes any sense. It's like Danny DeVito were a car. The wide stance sort of calls to mind the look of an actual horizon with the windshield cresting over the summit. Naturally, the Horizon wasn't the safest car in the world - hell, this one didn't even get a front airbag until the 90s and that's 'cause Chrysler had other things to worry about like keeping the lights on, stemming the company-wide bloodletting from the late 70s into the early 80s. It's miraculous that Chrysler was saved at all from its financial crisis... although I question it, don't I? Well, that's a story about management.

But the Horizon did its duty: keeping the company afloat until the K car and the government bailout could save the day.

That's all. Oh yeah, how does it drive? I don't care. And neither did anybody else who bought it.

---

OUTRO SONG by THE ROMAN
also to the tune of 'I Found' by Amber Run:

And when I found Dodge,
Where it wasn't supposed to be,
Not an Omni,
This Plymouth in front of me.

Oh, and I found Dodge,
Where it wasn't supposed to be,
Oh, thriving without me,
It makes no sense to me.

References[edit]