For $700, Could This 1988 Dodge Colt Wagon Be a TLC-Needing MPV?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The seller of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Colt claims its condition as ‘fair’ which seems accurate seeing as it looks dusty enough inside to be a recently discovered sarcophagus in Egypt. Let’s see if it’s cheap enough to also be a fair deal.

For an industry that was pushing 100 at the time, the automotive manufacturing business in the 1980s sure did exhibit some stereotypically teenage growing pains. This was the era when computers really began to take hold of both automotive design and their execution.


Today our cars are safer, faster, and far more efficient than their ancestors as a result. And while it may not feel like it when that check engine light pops up on the dash, they are also more reliable in spite of all the added geegaws.

In the ‘80s however, complications like electronic fuel injection and digital dashboards were just getting their start, and as you might expect of emergent technology, it wasn’t always a solid hit right off the bat. An example of that was the V8-6-4 engine that was evidenced as powering yesterday’s 1981 Cadillac Seville stretch limo. That turned out to be bad news back in the day, and may have played a factor in the massive 76 percent Crack Pipe loss the Caddy’s $12,200 price received. Oh who are we kidding? That crazy long Seville was so baroque there was just no fixing it. It wasn’t going to win the day at even half its asking.

Wednesday’s Caddy makes it three Crack Pipes in a row this week, an ignominious trend. Let’s see if a remarkably low price matched to an equally quirky presentation can put us back on track.


Here’s a name you likely haven’t heard in a long while: “Dodge Colt.” Yes, the littlest Dodge was for a while nothing more than a rebadged Mitsubishi—lots of them, actually—but the nameplate still garnered a small but avid following.

This 1988 Dodge Colt wagon would have been a Mirage outside of the Mopar universe, and presented at the time as a Corolla or Civic competitor. The cars weren’t particularly noteworthy in anyway. Nor however, were they really bewitched. They just were, which means that as time marched on, many of these cars fell by the wayside.


This one, in a classy blue over silver metallic, seems to have stood time’s test. Yes, it’s a little worse for wear—the clear coat has retired on the horizontal surfaces and there are some battle scars here and there—but overall it’s amazingly intact. It’s also unabashedly ‘80s. The styling, and the mere fact that it’s a small wagon, both harken back to that simpler, slower era.


The ad states the car’s condition as fair, and notes in its short description that it needs some ‘TLC.’ Before you go chasing waterfalls however, know that the issues noted are and oil leak and brake work. I happen to love the fact that as an enticement the seller adds “Partial brake shoes included” to that latter admission.


The biggest issue here is that the car seems unbelievably dusty inside. Is that the residue of some flooding incident? Will you find a desiccated carp under the seat when cleaning it? Whatever, it looks like you’d need a gallon of Purell and a mask just to drive it home.


Aside from its dirty nature, the interior looks otherwise reasonably intact, and the upholstery actually seems decent under its layer of dust. The load area lacks its floor covering, but the back window carries graphics for some local computer business so that kind of makes up for the loss. The car is powered (if you can call it that) by a 1468-cc four, good for 75 horsepower when new. When equipped with the standard 5-speed like this car, it could do the quarter in :20 flat.


Okay, so it’s not fast. Nor is it particularly clean. And it does need some work. Hell, the seller doesn’t even reveal how many miles it has. On the plus side however, it does seem relatively solid, it has a clean title and what appears to be current registration, and it only costs $700.

When you think about it, $700 won’t even buy you a decent weekend in Vegas these days. It will however put you behind the dusty wheel of this cool and quirky old wagon. The question is, should it?


You decide!


Boise, ID Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Fauxshizzle for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.