1984 Plymouth Reliant

Discussion in 'Car & Truck Talk' started by markfnc, Mar 29, 2022.

  1. markfnc

    markfnc Well-Known Member

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  2. jwdtenn

    jwdtenn Well-Known Member

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    Hard to believe a car that homely saved Chrysler. But I guess it was right for the times.
     
  3. markfnc

    markfnc Well-Known Member

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  4. Krash Kadillak

    Krash Kadillak Well-Known Member

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    I think part of the attraction of the K cars was overall reliability and economy. This was also a time when GM's X-bodies had been out for a year and a half before the K cars were in the showrooms, and there were some initial reports of some minor troubles with them. The press reports alone may have swung over a few who were on the fence.

    Speaking of the ONE K-car I had experience with (an '86 Aries company car...) - It WAS economical, and it WAS reliable. I just HATED driving it......
     
  5. jwdtenn

    jwdtenn Well-Known Member

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    Have to give Chrysler credit for being very creative in coming up with the many variants they were able to build from this basic platform, including the original minivans that eventually lead to the demise of the you-know-what. :dead:
     
  6. Leadslead

    Leadslead Well-Known Member

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    Oh look, how pedestrian... Lol
     
  7. WagonTheDog

    WagonTheDog Well-Known Member

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    As @Krash Kadillak and @jwdtenn eluded to, I think the reason why the K-car was such a big hit was because it was just the right car for the right time. When it debuted in 1981, gas prices were jacked, the economy was in the dumper, yet here was this new economical, practical, reliable and cheap family hauler that really filled the needs of buyers at the time. The early 80s was just getting away from the 70s gas hogs where Gremlins and slant six Valiants were marketed as "economy cars", but were far from it. Not only was the K-car a turning of the page for the Chrysler Corporation, it was also a turning of the page for the rapidly changing auto market at that time. The K-car was modern, front drive, fuel efficient and actually had more interior space than the Chrysler Fifth Ave./Diplomat/Gran Fury of the same era. It also came in 2dr., 4dr. and wagon variants and people lapped them up because it was a whole new car that just fit the needs of the people. But the other part of the K-car's, and therefor Chrysler's success (partly due to necessity, and partly due to Lee Iococca's corporate brilliance) was also that it spawned endless models and platform variants that served Mopar very well throughout the 80s and into the 90s when the Neon finally took over from one of the last K-car derivatives: the Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance. The most successful of which was the Chrysler minivan, which was a market smash for them for years...despite the minivan leading to the demise of our beloved wagons. :(

    Certainly by the standards of today, hindsight doesn't necessarily do the K-cars and all their variants justice, or leave much room for the respect that they deserve. It's very easy to say they were frumpy, uninspired cars, and that argument can certainly be made. There are a ton of other cars that have been made over the years that are MUCH more inspiring and evoke a more of a positive emotion than the K-car. But have a look at what was available from GM and Ford during the first half of the 80s in particular. The automotive landscape was pretty dismal in the early 80s and they weren't offering anything better by any means. The K-car was simply a better offering, which is also why they sold so well because they were just a more appealing buy back then.

    But I think another reason why the K-car and its different platform variants are often looked upon with negativity is because it was used for nearly everything that Chrysler offered for nearly 15 years, and as much as they were still selling toward the end of their run in the early 90s, the K-car was an aging platform. The car market had changed and people wanted something new. However, it was the success of the K-car that allowed Chrysler to develop the cab-forward cars of the early to mid 90s that took the automotive industry by storm and caused a re-birth of the Chrysler and Dodge badges. Chrysler was flying high in the 90s, and all of it was made possible because of the success of the K-car platform.

    The Aries and Reliant doesn't inspire much emotion from me either, but there's no denying that it was one of the most important and influential platforms ever created. They might be a historical footnote more than anything, but for that reason alone I do have a lot of respect for them.

    With that said, as a child of the 80s and 90s, there's still a part of me that would love to daily a Dodge Shadow or Plymouth Sundance (a P-body variant of the K-platform). After the minor suspension changes they received in 1991, along with a better manual shifter and linkage, they were actually very good and legitimately fun-driving cars. Call me weird, but I've always had a small soft spot in my heart for them.
     
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  8. markfnc

    markfnc Well-Known Member

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    my 1st car out of college was an 85 Plymouth turismo. it had the 2.2 with 5 speed. I drove that a lot of miles, with no issues.
     
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  9. WagonTheDog

    WagonTheDog Well-Known Member

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    The Turismo was an L-body platform, which was the same platform as the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon, and wasn't related to the K-series cars, but they were good little cars in their own right. (y)

    However, regardless of model, I just don't think Chrysler's early front drive cars got the respect the deserve. Nor do they deserve the heaps of negativity and sheer hate that perennially gets dumped upon them.

    Same thing goes for the 2.2 and 2.5 engines of the day too.

    It's true that the 2.2 and 2.5 were notorious for head gasket failures, but sadly, they were marred by the fact that there wasn't a proper replacement gasket back then. From what I have learned online, and heard from K-platform enthusiasts, is that the 2.2/2.5 engines were designed with a weak cork-like head gasket material which would eventually degrade and fail. For whatever reason, in Chrysler's infinite wisdom, who knows what possessed their engineers to design such a key component out of the same material used for wine bottle stoppers. :90: But there was nothing wrong with the design of the 2.2 and 2.5 at all. The issue was purely the head gasket material. Sadly, the reason why they garnered such a reputation for head gasket issues is because, since there wasn't a better replacement, if someone's 2.2/2.5 needed its head gasket replaced it would just get replaced with another cork-like one and eventually fail again, because that's all that was available at the time. However, with any of the current replacement head gaskets from Mopar Performance, Fel-Pro, etc., the head gasket issue of the 2.2/2.5 is completely solved. The 2.2/2.5 was actually a very good, well-designed and reliable engine. It's just a shame it was marred by such a crappy head gasket material.

    But on another note, one of Chrysler and Dodge's most forgotten K-platform variants is arguably one of the very best they designed in the 80s: the H-body 1985-'89 Chrysler LeBaron GTS 4dr. hatchback (not to be confused with the 2dr./convertible models, which was entirely different) and the equivalent 1985-'89 Dodge Lancer. Even in standard form, they were known as excellent, sporty handling cars with very good driving dynamics. A family friend of ours actually owned a Dodge Lancer for a short while about 10 years ago (before it got T-boned) and I can confirm it was surprisingly nimble and well-mannered in the twisties. However, if you got either model with a performance-oriented package with upgraded suspension, heavier sway bars (even the base models had front and rear sway bars), and quicker steering, they had even better handling with as much power as 175HP from a turbocharged 2.2 in the case of the Shelby Lancer, which is also the most forgotten "performance" model Mopar made in the 80s. In addition, the LeBaron GTS and Lancer were also built with galvanized steel, which is also why if you're able to find one of these cars, they are usually not rusted out or rusted at all. Even up here in Canada.

    Anywayyyyy, I'm rambling and getting off on a tangent again, so I'll stop here. lol Sure it nice to hear myself talk though! :D:rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2022
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  10. cammerjeff

    cammerjeff Longroofs Rule!

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    I agree with every thing you said, I have a friend that is a retired Chrysler engineer, His last job was Noise and vibration for the 2.2 & 2.5 engines. He was force retired with the Daimler Buyout. His insights were always entertaining. About how they finally found out what was causing the "harshness and noise" often complained about in the magazine tests of the era. The found that above around 4200 rpm the oil pump pressure would start to surge, not out of the range high or low but surge rapidly. This would cause the bottom of the oil filter to "Oil Can" rapidly causing the noise & vibration. The Solution was to dimple the bottom of the oil filter to prevent the oil canning.
    I never drove a performance version of the K-Car, just the very base model rentals, and I hated them. But AJ had good things to say about the Shelby Lancer. I would be interesting in driving one some day to see how they compare to the Rentals I did drive. To be fair I also hated driving the GM X-Bodies of the day, along with my girl friends 77 Horizon, and my mothers 82 Escort. They all did their part in making me dislike FWD cars.
     
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  11. elB

    elB Well-Known Member

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    Oh yeah, when I bag on the K-cars, I'm not silently praising the Ford econoboxes or GM X-cars of the same era - those cars were hot garbage and there's a reason you never see them anymore. You see more K-cars because they were a better made and WAY more reliable car, but that doesn't mean they set the world on fire or were great performers. Every time I had to drive one for work it just reminded me how I couldn't wait to get back into my own '72 Lemans, which other than fuel economy was a better car in every way.
     
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  12. markfnc

    markfnc Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I'd take this over a same condition Chevy Citation any day.
     
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  13. kevdupuis

    kevdupuis Membrane

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    I liked the K-car especially after they got fuel injection. The only thing I didn't like in my 89 was the bench seat but that was cured with a spare pair of racing buckets.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I only it hadn't gotten T-boned.
     
  14. WagonTheDog

    WagonTheDog Well-Known Member

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    That's interesting about the oil pump issue. I have never heard the term "oil canning" before, but was there one dimple or several dimples in the bottom of the filter? Was it something that an owner could do to help alleviate the noise and harshness? I know the 2.2 was noisier and rougher than the 2.5 (that came out later) which had some design refinements that helped with some of the NVH. But if you know anything else about the oil filter fix I may have to forward that to the Allpar website for them to consider it to be added to their 2.2/2.5 tech information pages.

    The interesting thing though is that the 2.2 (in stock form) doesn't have a lot of low end power, but is better than the 2.5 higher up in the rev range for passing on the highway. While the 2.5 was better down low off the line and was generally better suited for city driving than the 2.2.

    Nope, they didn't set the world on fire, but they were still, historically, a very important car and platform that also spawned an entirely new vehicle into the automotive world (the minivan), which was not only one of the most successful vehicles for Chrysler, but also changed the landscape of the North American auto industry. As soon as they hit the market and started selling like hotcakes, GM and Ford scrambled to create their own minivans too. Even the Japanese were caught flat-footed and had to play catch up. So, when I mentioned how the K-platform is one of the most important and influential platforms ever created, it's not hyperbole. It literally saved one of the Big Three, helped create an entirely new automotive segment (the minivan) that influenced every other manufacturer that followed in its footsteps, and changed the automotive market and the purchasing decisions of car buyers everywhere. It can even be argued that (whether good or bad) the minivan is what also led the market to wanting SUVs and crossovers, which is just a continuation of the minivan's people and gear-hauling utility. The K-car is certainly frumpy and uninspired by today's standards, but there's no denying the influence and impacts it had on the market. :)

    With that said, I'd also probably take a '72 LeMans over a K-car too. lol What kind of powertrain was in the one you had?

    As a Mopar guy, I'd have to issue you a citation if you chose one over a K-car! ;):p

    Well, there's something you don't see everyday! Racing seats in a K-car! o_O But agreed, the K-car was made better with TBI (throttle body injection). Those quasi-electric carburetors of the early K-cars were kinda' crappy and were just a stepping stone between mechanical carburation and electric fuel injection.
     
  15. elB

    elB Well-Known Member

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    Oh there's no disputing the K-car saved Chrysler and revolutionized the industry in a way that just seems *obvious* to us 40 years on but was completely foreign back then (hence EVERY other manufacturer being caught flat-footed when it came out). I just felt they were no fun to drive when they were still everywhere. My parents bought a K-car-based minivan and I learned to drive one ;-)

    It was a 350-2bbl to start with and then I upgraded to a 455-4bbl. Back when you could buy one and drive it home for $1000-1500 (1999).
     
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