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Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon (and Talbot Horizon) engines

American engines

While the American Omni/Horizon started out with European engines, all were eventually equipped with the corporate 2.2. In Europe, Chrysler and Talbot Horizons used Simca engines, in 1.1, 1.3, and 1.4 liter sizes through their full lifespan, even after the 1.6 liter engine was fitted to the American version. Simca, by the time the Horizon was engineered, was owned by the larger American automaker, and Simca and Chrysler engineers worked together to create the new car, which was made and sold in both Europe and the United States, albeit with numerous differences (see engineering the Chrysler Horizon).

2.2 liter engine

Volkswagen engines

Originally, a 2.0 liter four-cylinder was created by Chrysler for use in the new car; and while this was being engineered, negotiations were started with Volkswagen to adapt their existing Rabbit engine to Chrysler’s needs. This involved a power boost, handled by expanding from 1.5 to 1.7 liters, and modifications to fit in the engine bay; minor changes were made to the block to accommodate the longer stroke and to attach the A404 automatic transmission. Engine dressing was very different from the Rabbit due to differences in the engine compartment; Chrysler used its own intake and exhaust manifolds, engine mounts, and fuel delivery. As a result, Volkswagen merely shipped “short engines” to the Trenton Assembly plant, which dressed the engines, adding even timing belts and sprockets. The engines produced 75 hp at launch, backed up by 90 lb-ft of torque (in California both numbers were lower), for sprightly acceleration with a manual transmission and acceptable automatic performance.

The 1.7 liter engine used an iron block with aluminum heads; valves were powered by a single overhead cam that used shims to adjust valve lash. There were five main journals on the forged-steel crankshaft; the timing belt drove the cam and an auxiliary shaft for the oil pump and distributor. A two-barrel carburetor was used, as was an electric fan. Emissions were aided by an air pump. The Omni and Horizon launched in the United States in January 1978 and were instant sales successes, despite the failure of prior European imports, due to the Americanization efforts and local manufacturing. Based on their success, Chrysler created the TC3 and O24 models, both using the 1.7 liter engine at first.

Over one million Volkswagen engines made their way into Chrysler Corporation vehicles by 1981; however, 1983 was the last year for both these and the Simca engines that were used on lower-end models. From 1984 onwards, it was 2.2 liters across the board — with or without turbochargers.

Chrysler engine

While engineering started early on the 2-liter four-cylinder engine, capital was needed to create the Horizon itself, and the Volkswagen engines released some of the time pressures; so Chrysler was able not only to take more time, but also to get a close look at how the Volkswagen engines performed in American driving conditions and to learn from their engineering. This engine was expanded to 2.2 liters, and was set up differently from the Volkswagen motors in numerous ways; however, they also moved from the Simcas. The famous 2.2 liter engines arrived, at last, in 1981, with 81 horsepower, as an option for the Omni/Horizon and TC3/O24; with substantially more torque, they were much zippier and only a little worse on gas.

See our extensive coverage of the standard 2.2 liter engine and the turbocharged 2.2 engines.

“Peugeot” (Simca) engines

Legendary Chrysler engineer Willem Weertsman wrote: “We used a Peugeot Societe Anonyme (PSA) engine in the L-body from 1983 through 1986. It was an overhead valve, push-rod, in-line four rated at 62 horsepower and 86 lb-ft torque. We made the contract with PSA because we were concerned about not getting enough engines from VW. It was definitely an entry-level engine, available only with manual transmission and without air conditioning.” It should be noted that the expected supply constraint from Volkswagen never materialized.

After some time, Chrysler contracted with PSA for additional engines out of concern of supply constraints from Volkswagen. These engines were available only with the manual transmission and without air conditioning. The PSA 1.6 liter engine was described in detail in Willem Weertman’s excellent engines book.

There were actually two PSA engines used, both of 1.6 liters; the first was designated E82 and started in 1983, while the second was designated ECA and started in 1986. Bore, stroke, and compression ratio (80.6, 78, and 8.8:1) remained the same but horsepower went from 62 hp @ 4,800 rpm to 64 hp at the same revs; torque went up by one foot-pound and peaked at 2800 rpm in the newer engine, after starting at 86 lb-ft @ 3,200 rpm. They both had deep skirts, cast iron blocks, five forged steel main bearings, overhead valves with single rocker shafts, chain drive, mechanical valve lash adjustment, and two-barrel carburetors. The engines weighed 256 and 266 pounds, respectively. They made a bit less power than the 1.7 liter Volkswagen engines introduced in 1978, but by 1983 the VW powerplants were down to 63 hp and 88 lb-ft of torque - pretty much the same ratings. At the end of 1986, despite the revisions and slight power bumps, the engine was dropped and just the 2.2 liter engines were used.

Weertman noted that the PSA engine had been used to power Simcas for numerous years, which means that it was, basically, a Chrysler Europe engine — not designed by Peugeot but by Simca while under Chrysler ownership. Mike Royce worked on getting the engine ready for American needs, which included modifying it to fit into the American Horizons and getting it past emissions requireemnts. The engine itself was built in the Poissy plant, near Paris, France, and was shipped in a more ready-for-installation state than the Volkswagen motors. The 1.6 liter Omni/Horizon engines were tested in Paris, then shipped to the Belvidere plant, where they were given an alternator, Holley electronic-feedback carburetor, emissions controls, power steering and air pump, and air cleaner, and then installed.

Burton Bouwkamp added:

The first engine in the "L" Body was a 1.7 liter VW engine. I traveled to Germany with Riney Bright to get VW's approval to sell Chrysler this powertrain. Chrysler USA had a backup Simca 1.6 liter engine program for the "L" Body in case VW could not supply our volume requirements but that didn't happen. The 1.6 liter Simca engine was developed in France and was used in the C2 and C6 in Europe. It was built in the USA "L" Body but only with a manual transmission and without A/C.

European engines

European Horizons used 1.1, 1.3, and 1.4 liter engines. The 1.4 (1442 cc) engine produced 82 horsepower; the 1.1 liter (1118 cc) ran to around 50 horsepower.

For the 1980 model year the luxury SX model debuted, featuring the 1442cc engine and three-speed auto, with trip computer, electric windows and headlamp washers. The range at this time comprised of 1.1 LS, 1.3 LS and GL, 1.5 GL and 1.5 SX auto.

In 1982, the Horizon was the first model to receive the new Peugeot XUD 1.9-liter 65hp diesel engine (subsequently to be developed as 71hp non-turbo and 92hp turbo versions in other Peugeot models). Since that time over 7.5 million of these engines, credited with converting many countries to diesel, have been produced.

Specifications and such

1986 Horizon/Omni engines Compression
Horsepower Torque Manual MPG Auto MPG
1.6 liter (97.1 CID) 2-barrel (Simca) 8.8 64@4800 87@2800 31/39  
2.2 liter, 2-barrel carburetor 9.0 96@5200 119@3200 26/35 24/29
2.2 liter, turbocharged (Omni GLH only) 8.1 146@5200 170@3600    
2.2 liter, high output (Turismo 2.2) 9.6 110@5600 129@3600 22/30  

Charger, GLHS, and GLH engines

Car Power Note Production
1983 Shelby Charger 107 none 8,521
1984 Shelby Charger 110 none 7,552
1985 Shelby Charger  110/146 Carb / Turbo 7,709
1986 Shelby Charger  110/146 Carb / Turbo 7,669
1987 Shelby Charger 146 Turbo 2,011
1987 Shelby GLHS (Charger) 175 Garret* 1,000
1984 Omni GLH  110 none 3,285
1985 Omni GLH 110/146 Carb / Turbo 6,513
1986 Omni GLH  110/146 Carb / Turbo 3,629
1986 Omni GLHS 175 Garret* 750*

* 500 Omni GLHS cars were made.

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