In the 1980s Omni magazine attempted to make science fiction sexy. Today, Nice Price or Crack Pipe has a Dodge Omni-based Charger from the ‘80s that proves going topless is still the best way to be sexy.
It wasn't futuristic sexy but midwestern hospitality that ruled the day on Monday as a 1972 240Z played host to a Ford 302, and 65% of you offered to invite them both over to stay for a Nice Price victory party. That Datsun has seen some changes since it left the factory, and the V8 under its fiberglass hood should heighten its excitement factor by a couple of degrees. Today's candidate is a little newer, and pushes the power through a different axle than that 240Z, but it too is not as it was when it left the factory.
Before there were K-cars, but after the Aspen/Volaré crapped their pants automotively speaking, there was the VW Rabbit-aping Omni/Horizon. Those five-door hatchbacks proved that Chrysler could build a small car. It didn't prove they could build a particularly competent one, nor one that had any redeeming qualities outside of half-way decent mileage and an HVAC control placement putting the driver in complete command.
But along with those compact family haulers, Chrysler introduced a pair of sport-coupe offshoots that were less econo-box, and more econo-rocks! The Dodge Omni 024 and Plymouth Horizon TC3 were analogous in relation to their upright siblings, as the Scirocco was to the Rabbit for Volkswagen. Long and low, with a massive hatch and soft bumper cap ends, the coupes were as sleek as the sedans were stodgy. The only thing missing from the model mix was a convertible edition for sun worshipers and people who don't mind having pigeons shit on their seats.
That open-roof oversight was rectified in 1982 when Valley Dodge in Van Nuys California decided to put the can opener to the 024, replacing the hatch with a tent-like folding roof while keeping the interior dimensions of the tight 2+2 intact. Wisely they chose to go red queen on the re-branded Charger 2.2 edition which upgraded the 024 with an 84-bhp 2.2-litre replacing the anemic VW-sourced 1.7. Revised gearing, a faux bulge on the hood, and a tape treatment helped to further differentiate the Charger 2.2 from the standard 024.
This 1982 convertible Charger 2.2 is one of three the seller claims were converted by Coach Conversions Inc. for Valley Dodge. That makes this one rare Omni. The transmission is a 4-speed stick with 3.13:1 final drive, and the car wears Graphic Red paint over a beige interior. That interior looks like it could be straight out of That ‘80s Show if the sit-com actually had been referential to that decade. As it is, the convertible rocks sheepskin seat covers and one of those steering wheel wraps that always seem to leave hundreds of filthy dots on the wheel when you take them off. There's also a CD player for all your Roxy Music, as well as some floor mats so you don't get any ‘80s on your shoes. Outside it's mag wheels (plus a set of steelies) down below, and a tonneau cover for keeping all that black vinyl hidden when you decide to invite the outside in.
This Charger has 85,521 on the clock, and is claimed to have been in storage, but there's no mention of just how long it was out of active duty. A new clutch and pressure plate, as well as bearings have been tossed into the car, and the seller says the rest of the 2.2 is strong. Of course he also says that this was the only convertible offered by a U.S. manufacturer between 1981 and 1985, discounting the Ford Mustang, the VW Rabbit (not built here, but VW's Pennsylvania plant qualified them as a U.S. Maker) and even Chrysler's own LeBaron convertible, introduced that year.
Okay, so the seller's not up on his automotive history, but how is he on his pricing of quirky old cars? Well, he's asking $5,200 for this Charger 2.2 drophead. That's waaaaay high for a 1982 024 regardless of condition, but this is a very special edition that you've likely never seen before, and you are equally apt not to run into again anytime soon. It would be a hit at all Mopar events, and parts - outside the proprietary pieces of the convertible conversion - will be reasonably cheap and easy to find. Plus, with only one Corey left, somebody's going to have to help keep the ‘80s alive.
So, would you drop $5,200 to drop the top on this Charger 2.2? Or, is that too much cheddar for a car that's pretty cheesy?
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