1987 Dodge Aries LE sedan

We’ve got a lot of road work going on in our area. Two days ago, I had to take a short detour, which sent me down a route that included a few blocks I’ve never traveled. I saw a white Dodge Aries sedan parked on the side of the road. Yesterday, I went back and took a couple of pictures. The Aries was in pretty good shape and sported a Pennsylvania classic car plate.

“More car for the money than you thought possible.”

For 1987 changes to the Dodge Aries sedan were minor. A stainless steel exhaust system was new, as were standard front bucket seats.

The Aries’ standard powertrain was an E86 97 bhp 2.2 liter/135 ci inline four with central fuel injection paired to a five-speed manual transmission. A 100 bhp 2.5 liter/152 ci inline four was a $287 option for the LE only and required the $534 TorqueFlite automatic transmission.

Fuel economy with the standard powertrain was rated at 25 city/32 highway by the standards of the day (22/29 by 2020 measures), while ratings for the 2.5 liter/automatic combination dropped to 22/27. With a 14-gallon gas tank, the owner of a base Aries sedan could expect a range of 320 to 360 miles with a 10% fuel reserve. The driver of a 2.5 liter Aries could expect about 50 miles less. Best case 0-60 times were about 10.5 seconds in a car with a shipping weight of just under 2,500 pounds.

1985 Dodge Aries LE sedan photo
1987 Dodge Aries LE sedan circa 2020

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment for the $7,655 Dodge Aries sedan included halogen headlights, manual rack-and-pinion steering, power front disc/rear drum brakes, a compact spare tire, and P175/80R13 black sidewall tires (now generally a trailer size) on 13-inch wheels with hubcaps. Inside, a manual left exterior mirror, a Deluxe two-spoke steering wheel, a mini console, and cloth with vinyl trim low-back bucket seats with reclining seatbacks were included.

Moving up to the $8,134 LE (which 93% of Aries sedan buyers did) added Deluxe wheel covers, a power left exterior mirror, Deluxe windshield wipers with intermittent wipe, a trunk light, cloth door trim panels, and an AM electronic tuning radio with a digital clock. The LE could get a vinyl bench seat at no extra charge.

Chrysler corporation had begun to move to more options packages by the mid-eighties. The Aries sedan had four for 1987:

  • Basic Equipment Package ($261) included Deluxe 13-inch wheel covers, a black power left exterior mirror, Deluxe windshield wipers with intermittent wipe, and an AM electronic tuning radio with a digital clock. It was (natch!) only available for the base sedan.
  • Popular Equipment Discount Package included tinted glass, bodyside tape stripes, an automatic transmission, power-assisted steering, and P185/70R14 black sidewall tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch wheels with Deluxe wheel covers. Inside, the package included black dual remote exterior mirrors, special sound insulation, trunk dress-up, and an AM stereo/FM stereo electronic tuning radio with a cassette player, four speakers, and a digital clock. This package was LE-only and went for $740.
  • Premium Equipment Discount Package ($1,312 and LE-only) included everything in the Popular Equipment Discount Package and added an electric rear window defroster, electronic speed control, a Luxury two-spoke steering wheel, a tilt steering column, and power door locks.
  • Light Package ($59 and LE-only) included an ash receiver light, a cigar lighter light, a headlights-on warning buzzer, an ignition switch light with time delay, and an underhood light.

Individual options included tinted glass ($121), 14-inch cast aluminum road wheels ($332 with either the Popular or Premium packages/$381 without), a conventional spare tire ($75 for 13-inch wheel/$85 for $14-inch wheel), and air conditioning ($790 and requiring tinted glass). Between the packages and the options, a loaded LE sedan could surpass $11,000 on its window sticker.

The Aries sedan continued to sell respectably in 1987, with 71,216 sold. It remained by far the best-selling Dodge sedan. Interestingly, K cars have not entirely disappeared from the road—quite unlike many of their eighties peers. Examples of the Aries rarely show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, though they do appear on cars.com.

Make mine the extra cost ($41) Twilight Blue Pearl Coat, please.

Other K and K-based cars I have written about include the 1981 Plymouth Reliant coupe, the 1982 Chrysler LeBaron convertible, the 1984 Chrysler Laser hatchback coupe, the 1984 Plymouth Voyager minivan, the 1985 Dodge 600 Club Coupe, and the 1986 Chrysler Town and Country convertible.

1986 Dodge Ramcharger SUV

Mecum’s “Summer Special” auction in August 2020 included three examples of the 1980s Ramcharger. The one that did the best was a 1986 Royal S.E.—the top-of-the-line for that year. Its hammer price was $15,500.

“Tough in the Rough.”

For 1986, Dodge’s Ramcharger SUV received a new crosshair grille, which had a strong resemblance to their early 1970s pickup truck design. The side mirror assemblies were simplified but other than that, there was little change besides some new colors.

The Ramcharger’s standard engine was an LA 150 bhp 5.2 liter/318 ci V8 with a two-barrel carburetor. It came with a four-speed manual if four-wheel drive was chosen and a three-speed automatic if two-wheel drive was preferred. An LA 175 bhp 5.9 liter/360 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor went for an additional $261. With the base powertrain, fuel economy was rated at an uninspiring (and somewhat uncompetitive) 11 city/14 highway by the standards of the day in an SUV with a curb weight that started at 4,045 pounds. A capacious 35-gallon gas tank did give a respectable 360 to 395-mile range with a 10% fuel reserve.

1986 Dodge Ramcharger brcohure cover
1986 Dodge Ramcharger brochure cover

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $11,534 Ramcharger included tinted glass, chrome front and rear bumpers, two-wheel drive, power front disc/rear drum brakes, power steering, and P235/75R15 tires (a size still readily available) on 15 x 6.5-inch wheels. Inside, Deluxe vinyl low-back front bucket seats and an ETR AM radio with a digital clock was included. The four-wheel-drive version of the Ramcharger went for an additional $1,229.

Among the many individual options available were aluminum road wheels ($350), a heavy-duty alternator ($145), intermittent windshield wipers ($55), air conditioning ($740), and an ETR AM stereo/FM stereo radio with a cassette player and a clock ($360).

A few options packages were available. Prospector Package I ($768) included a bright grille, Deluxe wheel covers, a Ram’s Head hood ornament, Prospector nameplates, and a convenience package. Prospector Package II ($1,251) added the Royal S.E. décor package and power door locks. Finally, the top-of-the-line Prospector Package III ($3,269 2WD/$3,186 4WD) added two-tone paint, air conditioning, power windows, speed control, and a tilt steering column.

The Ramcharger’s sales peaked at 37,055 in the 1985 model year and would never again come close to that total. With little changed for 1986, sales slipped substantially, with only 20,815 Ramchargers produced compared to 37,310 Chevrolet Blazers and 57,488 Ford Broncos.

Along with other eighties SUVS, Ramchargers are attracting significant collector interest. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a loaded 1986 Ramcharger Royal S.E. 4×4 in #1/Concours condition is $29,100, with a far more normal #3/Good condition AD-100 version going for $9,400. Ramchargers are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors. As I write this post, a Black 1989 Ramcharger with tan bucket seats and 61,000 miles is for sale on Hemmings for $20,000.

Make mine Charcoal Gray Metallic, please. Other Dodges I have written about are the 1985 600 Club Coupe and the 1985 Omni GLH.

1985 Dodge 600 Club Coupe

The crazed folks at The Truth About Cars posted recently about a 1984 Dodge 600 Landau Coupe as part of their Junkyard Find series.

There’s a strong feeling of fulfillment behind the wheel of this striking coupe.

The Dodge 600 was an extended (E-platform) version of the original K-platform cars, with three more inches of wheelbase added to the sedans (coupes and wagons kept the same wheelbase as the first K cars). It debuted in the 1983 model year, two years after the original K cars made it to market. Other E-platform cars were the Chrysler New Yorker, Chrysler E-Class, and (later) the Plymouth Caravelle.

There were three engines available for the Dodge 600. The base engine was Chrysler’s K 99 bhp 2.2 liter/135 ci inline four with fuel injection. The high-performance option was the Turbo I 146 bhp version of the same engine with a Garrett T3 turbocharger and fuel injection. The other option was Mitsubishi’s Astron series 4G54 101 bhp 2.6 liter/153 ci inline four with a two-barrel carburetor.

Fuel economy for the Turbo I and three-speed automatic transmission combination (the five-speed manual was no longer available) was 19 city/24 highway by the standards of the day (it would be 17/22 today). With a 14-gallon gas tank, the new owner of a club coupe could expect a range of between 245 and 270 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $9,060 club coupe (about $22,000 in today’s dollars) included power brakes, power steering, halogen headlamps, a Landau padded vinyl roof, and P185/70R14 tires (a size still readily available) on 14-inch wheels. Inside, cloth front bucket seats, a full-length console, color-keyed steering wheel, and an electronically-tuned AM radio were standard. Features listed in the brochure that wouldn’t be considered worth mentioning now included a tethered fuel filler cap and an inside hood release.

Optional equipment included sport/handling suspension ($79), air conditioning ($757), tinted glass ($115), automatic speed control ($179), leather-wrapped steering wheel ($50), and tilt steering wheel ($110).

Page from the 1985 Dodge 600 brochure, linked from the Old Car Manuals Project’s amazing brochures pages.

The original K cars and their many variants were once so common on the roads, but have essentially disappeared in mid-2019. I haven’t seen a 600 of any type in years, even though Dodge produced over 300,000 of them between 1983 and 1988. You’ll sometimes see the original Dodge Aries/Plymouth Reliant cars at AACA shows along with the top of the line Chrysler LeBaron convertibles.

You do occasionally see Dodge 600s for sale in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, but there are no coupes out there as I update this in August 2019.

Updated August 2019.

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1985 Dodge Omni GLH

“… never, never, take it home to meet Mom.”

Though 1984 was the debut year for the Dodge Omni GLH, 1985 was the first year that Chrysler’s Turbo I 2.2 liter/135 ci turbocharged inline four was available with it (for an additional $872). Packing 146 bhp and 170 lb-ft of torque, the turbo delivered 0-60 times in about 7.5 seconds. Standard power on the GLH was the High Output 110 bhp 2.2 liter/135 ci inline four and both engines came with a five speed manual transmission.

1985 Dodge Omni GLH pages from the 1985 Dodge Performance brochure, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Mileage for the turbo was from 21 city/30 highway (18/27 by today’s standards) on premium gasoline. Giving up the turbo took you to 25/34 and let you run on regular fuel. Range with the 13 gallon gas tank was almost 300 miles with a 10% reserve.

The base price for an Omni GLH was $7,620 (about $16,600 in 2015 dollars). For that money, purchasers got a front air dam and side skirts, both finished in black, as was the grille. Distinctive aluminum 16-hole “pizza” wheels rolled on low-profile 195/50R15 tires—now considered a tiny size, but still available. Power steering, power brakes, and a sport suspension were standard and fog lamps completed the “sporty for a 4-door compact” look.

Inside, a GLH was pretty basic. You did get cloth high-backed bucket seats, rallye instrument cluster, dual remote mirrors, intermittent windshield wipers, and an AM/FM stereo radio.

The GLH had few exterior add-ons available. Inside, buyers could add options such as air conditioning ($643), automatic speed control ($179), and an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette.

Dodge sold 6,513 Omni GLH models in 1985, including 3,004 normally-aspirated models and 3,509 with the turbo, making the GLH about 9% of total Omni/Horizon production for that model year.

GLH‘s rarely show up in either the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds or on eBay Motors; I don’t think many of these cars lasted even a decade. Make mine black, please—so the ground effects match.

Some Quiet Love For A K Car

I walked to the local supermarket today to secure some Coca-Cola which we had somehow run short of. We’re located on the southeastern edge of what most weather forecasters seem to think is going to be a full-out blizzard over the next day and a half or so.

It’s only a couple of blocks to the supermarket. On the way is a little tan house which almost always has an original Natural Suede Tan Dodge Aries or Plymouth Reliant station wagon parked next to it. There is no garage for the wagon, so usually it sits out in the weather and rust is definitely showing in parts of that famously squared-off body.

This morning, however, there was a fitted blue car cover on the wagon to help protect it from this particular storm, which has just begun.

An original K car wagon sits under snow and a car cover this morning
An early Chrysler corporation K car station wagon sits quietly under a little snow and a car cover this morning

I may be projecting here, but I choose to see a lot of love and caring for an old and hardworking friend. Is that cover original or new (you can still get them) ? Does it only go on when the predictions are as dire as today’s? How many miles does that wagon have?

Questions, questions, questions. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the owner — if I do, maybe I’ll ask a few.