Alejandro deTomaso was like a graffiti artist, always willing to append his name to damn-near any automotive enterprise. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Dodge 024 may be one of the Argentinian’s lesser scribbles, but does its price make it worth signing on the dotted line?
Consider for a moment the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon twins. Taking into account all the various parents responsible for their existence - many of those European - it’s not unreasonable to imagine them sired as result of some fondue and Chianti-fueled swinger’s party.
Originally engineered by France’s Simca - which in 1934 was founded by Fiat - and powered by a 1.7-litre from Germany’s VW, the five door hatch Omni and Horizon were bolted together in Chrysler’s Belvedere Illinois assembly plant. Following the 5-doors' 1977 introduction by two years, the 024/TC3 three-door hatches added sporty looks to the platform’s FWD efficiency.
Today’s 1980 Dodge DeTomaso adds even more sporty looks, and yet another name to the parent pile.
Born in Buenos Aries, Alejandro deTomaso was an industrialist with a penchant for racing and running failing automotive enterprises. Over the course of his long career doing the latter, he gave the world a series of knuckle bitingly beautiful but compromised sports cars, staring with the leave your wife worthy 1964-68 Vallelunga, and reaching its peak with the venerated series-production Pantera in the early seventies.
De Tomaso also “rescued” a number of car and motorcycle makers along the way, including Benelli, Moto Guzzi, Innocenti, and perhaps most famously, Maserati. A result of a promise made to the Italian government to increase production and hence employment, deTomaso was responsible for Maser’s lamentable Biturbo and its offspring.
The Argentinian was not without his detractors, but along the way he did make a number of friends as well, and one of the most influential of those was Lee Iacocca, who tapped deTomaso to add his name and some Italian flair to Dodge’s sporty two-door.
The De Tomaso edition was produced for 2-years only, 1980 and ’81. The changes were purely cosmetic, the mechanicals being the stock 70-horse SOHC VW mill and 4-speed stick. Special visual additions included paint schemes limited to Graphic Red or Bight Yellow with extensive blackout trim, OCD louvers, special 13” alloy wheels, and a brushed aluminum targa bar.
Inside the car received DeTomaso floor mats, a dash badge, and a rallye instrument cluster behind what could possibly be the era’s dishiest four spoke steering wheel. Flat high-backed buckets and a shift lever seemingly out of a bus are a buzz kill to the car’s sporting pretensions.
This car is said to be all original, but lacks the DeTomaso star spoke alloys, sporting instead a set off of a later Shelby edition. All the rest of the unique trim is there, including the crazy louvers all over the place. That’s probably because most of that trim is plastic, which seems to be more enduring than the steel body that currently supports it.
That body on this 77K car is rife with the tin worm. It’s especially bad in the floorboards, so the only thing keeping the driver from turning into Fred Flintstone is a thin layer of crappy carpet.
Above that does appear to be a single original floor mat - good luck finding one of those these days - and a pair of leather seats that are also not OEM. Added non-originally is offered by the hood which sports the blister and vent from again a later Shelby. Under that hood is a dead dog’s ass of an engine compartment containing what’s described as a tired but functional motor in need of some TLC and a carb kit.
Chrysler built 1,333 of the De Tomaso 024s in 1980, and an additional 619 of the 2.2-powered cars in the following year. Today they remain both a blip on the DeTomaso time line and remarkably rare. Neither as accomplished as Shelby’s more thoroughly modded versions, nor with his more universally known name, the DeTomaso stands as historically interesting, but questionably investment worthy.
Of course, that’s just the question you came here to answer, is it not? It’s now time to weigh in on this seller’s hopes and dreams for getting $4,500 for his rare but barely there DeTomaso. What do you think, does that price make this Dodge worth saving? Or, does that make you say rust in peace, Il mio amico?
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