All-American 1981 Plymouth Horizon Stomps On "World Car" Ford Escort

Illustration for article titled All-American 1981 Plymouth Horizon Stomps On World Car Ford Escort

Yes, what could be more American than a Volkswagen-engined Plymouth based on a Simca design? Actually, big spenders could get the '81 Horizon with Chrysler's new 2.2 engine, which upped the American-ness to some extent.


The Omni/Horizon did its job, which was to provide a semi-homegrown econobox to help replace the captive-import Mitsubishis and keep the revenue flowing until Chrysler could start moving K cars into the showrooms and pay back that big government bailout loan. In fact, this platform continued in production until 1990.

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A true FWD Chrysler product fan such as myself (hangs head in shame) would know that the Simca and Plymouth Horizons shared little other than appearance. The suspension is different, the interiors don't resemble each other at all, they share no engines in common, and I'm not even sure that body panels could be swapped. The Simca rear windows roll all the way down, too. There was never a Euro version of the 3-door Turismo/Charger body, either. The Horizon did make plenty of money for Chrysler in the US, but its synergy with the Simca is hardly the reason. There are so many differences that they might as well have not looked alike.

Anyone who's ever seen a late-build Omni will be left scratching their heads, too. It's always a surprise to see such a dinky and primitive car with an airbag.