During filming of the 1931 classic, The Champ, they used to tell child actor Jackie Cooper that his dog had been run over in order to get him to cry. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Champ needs no such manipulation, although its twin stick gearbox might take some getting used to, as might its price.
Are you freaking kidding me? A 55% Crack Pipe loss for the balls-deep awesomeness of yesterday’s 1968 Volvo Amazon/1984 Toyota 4x4? What’s this world coming to? It was even a stick, which should have sealed the deal like JB Weld. Oh well, I’m over it. Now let’s see if an imported Plymouth rocks.
Chrysler, more than the other members of the Big Three, went to the least effort to differentiate certain models shared between their Plymouth (R.I.P.) and Dodge (F.I.A.T.) brands. Hell, two years after today’s 1980 Plymouth Champ was built they changed its name to the shared with Dodge sobriquet Colt.
Based upon the Mitsubishi Mirage, and the first transverse-engine front wheel drive small import for Chrysler, the Champ/Colt was modeled after Honda’s successful Civic, and approximately mirrored that car in size and shape.
Early Champs were powered by a 1.4-litre 70-horse four, but this ’80 model gets ten more than that from its 1,597-cc SOHC 4G32. What always made the Champ and its Colt sibling interesting however, was its KM110 4-speed manual, which came with a second lever (hence the Twin Stick name) that served to offer an overdrive in fourth. . . and every other gear, including reverse!
This 118,000 mile Champ is so fitted with the Twin Stick, and is said to come with a clean title - a relief considering the junkyard like surroundings in the pics - and to run. . . like a champ.
Oh sure, the paint has seen better days, and perhaps the seller could have taken a Swifter to the interior before snapping the shots, but other than that it seems pretty intact. It even has one of those cool aftermarket sunroofs if you're into leaks and squeaks.
The body style also appears to have held up well over the years, the sort of truncated Chevy Monza/AMC Pacer look offering an airy greenhouse and overall style free of the questionable ornate elements typically found on ‘70s and ‘80s Japanese cars.
As noted, Mitsubishi built the Colt/Champ for Chrysler, the American company at the time owning a 15% stake in the Rising Sun brand. By the time this model was introduced, the Colt was on its fourth iteration, while it was the first Plymouth edition, that brand having lacked a really small car since the demise of the Rootes Group-sourced Cricket back in ’73. Fun fact, the Jensen Healey got its door handles from the Cricket/Hillman Avenger.
Finding a Champ in decent shape these days is a rare occurrence. The build quality of Mitsubishi’s products at the time was a step below that of competitors Toyota and Honda, but that still made them the best built things on the Plymouth or Dodge lots.
This one seems to have stood the test of time, and, with gas prices doing what they are want to do, its promised 40 MPG doesn’t hurt either. Much of that comes from the double digit horsepower rating, but also to be taken into account as a factor is the car’s diminutive 1,800-lb weight.
What do you say to this Twin Stick Champ’s $1,450 price, is that something that truly makes this Plymouth a Champ? Or, for that much is it not even a contender?
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