OK, so maybe it wasn't fair that Uncle Sam bailed out Chrysler but told AMC to drop dead, back in the Malaise Era. It seemed like the Chrysler bailout worked out as hoped, though, once the K Car emerged from factories that had long created gas-swilling behemoths. With so many early Ks made, you'd think there would be more of them still on the street nowadays, but that's not the case; I went out looking for a non-beater example and it was tougher than I'd expected. Finally, I found this '84 Reliant parked just around the corner from the '84 Porsche 928 (and, yes, I see that 70s Firebird in the background, next to the 70s Mercedes; unfortunately, driveway-parked cars are on private property and thus off-limits to DOTS... which is a shame, because there's a very clean 4-speed AMX parked in a driveway nearby).

It's not quite as pathetic as Ford claiming the Granada looks just like a Mercedes, but the Benz-ified pentastar emblems of early-80s Chryslers always seemed like a humiliation for once-proud Chrysler.

Still, the K car was definitely an American interpretation of the front-wheel-drive small-car theme, with its boxy styling, bench seats, etc. The reliability wasn't quite up to Slant Six Valiant standards (and not even in the same time zone as its Japanese contemporaries), but it was good enough to get the job done.


Alameda police had Aries police cars during the early-to-mid 1980s (on a small, densely packed island city with just four bridges and a tunnel to the outside world, you don't need a fast car to catch bad guys); the grille and overall shape of the K was certainly Diplomat-like, but the small size definitely lacked in the authority department.

First 200 DOTS