Everyone, everyone, settle down! I need your attention! Over the course of a week I have somehow encountered two Dodge Omnis, each one representing an extreme of condition of Dodge Omnis still in active use.
While I am certain this is a meaningful omen, I am not yet certain exactly what it means. It’s like a double rainbow, but instead of two rainbows, it’s two Dodge Omnis, one immaculate and one shitty.
In case you need a refresher on exactly what the Dodge Omni was, I’ll tell you: it was a very Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit-like transverse-engined FWD hatchback, roughly based on the Simca Horizon, made by Chrysler’s French subsidiary.
The car was built as a European version for and in Europe and in the U.S. for the American market. When it came out in 1977, it became Chrysler’s first FWD car made in America and were the first mass-produced American cars to have a transverse/FWD layout. That’s a pretty significant milestone, when you think about it.
Back in the day, by which I mean the 1980s, mostly, these sold well and received mostly good reviews in the press. They have all pretty much died out and disappeared from American roads, the last ones being built in 1990 and are incredible rare to just see in the wild today.
That’s part of why spotting two in a one-week span is so odd, and the conditions of the two cars just makes it even more significant.
I saw these two cars exactly one week apart. Last Sunday, on the road to Washington, D.C. with my kid, I spotted this remarkably immaculate Dodge Omni. Based on the taillight design, I think this is one of the last ones, likely a 1990. It’s not a great picture, shot through the windshield while driving, but you can see how startlingly perfect this car is:
If this thing was a conception, the result would be someone millions of people pray to: it was immaculate. Whoever owns this thing clearly adores it, and maintains it beautifully. These are not cars people generally treated like this; they were cheap econoboxes, and people treated them pretty disposably. Seeing one at all is unusual; seeing one this cared-for is unicorn-grade.
Now, this would be enough to satisfy my Omni-glands normally, but yesterday, exactly one week after I took the picture above, I happened to be in Greensboro, NC, where I spotted this car:
Same car, same year (I believe), but wildly different condition. Both are still registered, road-going Dodge Omnis, but this one didn’t appear to have a single undamaged body panel, the rear suspension looks shot, the interior was a ruin, and the thing has the zombie-like quality of a car that just won’t die, possibly out of spite.
I salute both of these dedicated Omni-drivers, of course, but I’m sort of taken aback by the strange one-two Omni punch that fate and chance have delivered me.
I’m not a superstitious person, but it’s hard not to look for deeper meaning when you see two cars of a kind you never see otherwise, and the conditions of those two cars are radically and diametrically opposed to one another.
What should I take away from this spectrum of Omni conditions? Is this a yin-yang, balance in the universe sort of message, or a dire warning that we need to take care of ourselves or what we have? Is this alpha and omega of Omni maintenance designed to warn or encourage or inspire?
Oh great traffic-provider in the sky, how am I to determine these Chryslerian signs you have delivered unto me? What is the meaning of the Omni Spectrum of Decay?
In the name of Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler, who are three yet are the one almighty Mopar, we pray.