Fast, what was the primary front-wheel-drive subcompact to enter mass manufacturing in the US? No, it wasn’t the Pennsylvania-built Volkswagen Rabbit, though the automotive in query did have a Volkswagen engine. The early U.S.-market Ford Fiesta was in-built West Germany, the Simca 1204 (offered at American Chrysler dealerships) got here from France, the Ford Escort and Chevy Cavalier did not go into American manufacturing till 1980 and 1981, respectively, and Honda did not begin constructing Civics in Ohio till 1986. Chrysler Company claims the distinction with the Dodge Omni and its Plymouth Horizon twin, which first rolled off the Belvidere Meeting line in 1977 as 1978 fashions. Although comprehensively out of date by the point U.S. gross sales ceased in 1990, the “Omnirizon” served as completely useful transportation and almost 2 million had been offered right here. At this time’s Junkyard Gem is a kind of later vehicles, present in a Denver self-service boneyard over the summer time.

The Omnirizon was primarily based on a design cooked up by Simca engineers working for Chrysler Europe, on the tail finish of the lengthy and convoluted Rootes Group saga. The North American model differed considerably from the Talbot/Chrysler/Simca Horizon constructed by Peugeot (which took over all of Chrysler Europe’s operations in 1978) and offered in Europe, however the household resemblance is apparent at a look.

The earliest Omnirizons all had 1.7-liter Volkswagen engines, however the Chrysler 2.2 (of Okay-Automotive fame) turned an possibility in 1981 and customary tools by 1987 (for some time within the center Eighties, a 1.6-liter Simca mill served because the El Cheapo base powerplant). The two.2 on this automotive had 93 horses when new.

New vehicles with four-on-the-floor guide transmissions could be obtainable right here for one more eight years after 1988, however the 1988 Omnirizon got here with a five-speed guide as base tools. For those who needed a three-speed automated in your new ’88 Omni or Horizon, the value tag was a staggering $769 (about $1,845 in 2021).

People purchased outdated 1988 Omnirizons for a similar cause they purchased the hilariously antiquated Chevrolet Chevette the yr earlier than: worth. The MSRP on this automotive— and the identical-but-for-badging Horizon America— began at $5,995 (about $14,401 at this time). The most cost effective potential ’88 Chevy Cavalier was $6,995, Ford’s most modestly priced Escort value $6,586, the stripped-to-the-bare-minimum Civic went for $6,095, and the spartan Toyota Tercel EZ simply managed to squeeze under the Omnirizon at $5,948 (these final two got here with four-speed guide transmissions as customary tools). 

You might discover a cheaper new automotive than the Omnirizon in 1988, however every selection induced a robust sense of trepidation within the savvy 1988 automotive shopper. We do not want to enter element about why you may need run away in horror from the $4,199 Yugo GV and $5,295 Hyundai Excel that yr, however what concerning the miserably tiny $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 dangerous, nor was its Mitsubishi Mirage twin, however you bought caught with a four-on-the-floor as an alternative of a gas-saving five-speed at that worth (sorry, the Colt’s wonderful Twin-Stick dual-range guide went away after 1984). I believe I would have pulled out the additional 4 clams to get a brand new $5,999 Mazda 323 or resigned myself to 300,000 miles of smart Tercel EZ tedium, however I used to be a broke-ass school scholar driving a 15-year-old MGB-GT that yr and any new automotive was as far out of attain for me as an intergalactic starship.

Anyway, the Omnirizon was loads of crude-but-functional automotive for the cash and you continue to noticed loads of them on American roads as just lately as the center 2000s.

This one seems to have been abused in most merciless style for many years, then left to decay within the harsh Colorado local weather for a bunch of years.

It was parked subsequent to a equally tough Horizon when I discovered it.

Only a few rows away from these two heaps, I discovered this Omni. Minutes later, I ran throughout an ultra-rare 1981 Plymouth Horizon Miser. Sure, 4 Omnirizons in the identical automotive graveyard, and that is not counting those filled with spare elements at a yard throughout city that I noticed a pair years earlier. I believe {that a} Denver-area Omnirizon fancier has been culling quite a bit stuffed with elements vehicles as a handful of good ones get fastened up, and that I will proceed to seek out these vehicles in bunches (sure, the Omni GLH does present up in such yards at times, thanks for asking).

For its first mannequin yr, the Omni’s promoting touted its versatility.

Afterward, Omni advertising and marketing was all about low stickers and low rates of interest.

Chrysler got here up with the “America” trim degree for low-priced variations of its cheaper Dodges and Plymouths beginning within the 1987 mannequin yr. You may get the Aries, Reliant, Sundance and Shadow with the America package deal, however all Omnirizons turned Americas beginning at that time. So far as I do know, there was by no means an Omnirizon with America badging.

The Talbot model had ¡Fuerza Dinamica!