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Plymouth Horizon, Rampage; Dodge Omni, etc. Feedback and Testimonials


I remember the Omni/Horizon scare about how in evasive maneuvers the car could spin out of control according to Consumer Reports. Yeah, just like the Isuzu Trooper was prone to rolling over and like the Audi 5000 was plagued with sudden acceleration. I drove plenty of Omnis and O24s as demonstrators and found them to be extremely stable. You could throw those cars around at speed and never feel like it was getting away from you. They were a blast to drive, especially when the Chrysler 2.2L was introduced.

Despite all the negative things Consumer Reports had to say about the Omni/Horizon/O24/TC3, customers waited in line to get them and paid over MSRP. We used to do reverse 180s using the emergency brake and reverse burnouts with them and they'd just take the beating without flinching. How we never blew up a transmission or fried a clutch is beyond me. It was one of the few cars Chrysler has offered that you could take from a bare bones strip down radio delete model all the way up to something with cushy velour seats, two tone paint treatments, even a woody option, with power steering, power brakes, A/C, a decent stereo, roof racks, engine choices, etc.

Colin in Canada

My parents bought a 1987 Omni the year after the Vancouver 1986 Expo. It had a big, ugly, white "Dodge Omni Expo" decal at the top of the rear windshield that-- god knows why-- we never scraped off.

At any rate, it was a great car. My parents basically "gave" it to me during high school. I doubled the mileage on it in six months (50,000km -> 100k km) and beat on it. During its short life, nothing was ever replaced on it but the clutch and the brakes. The only thing that ever happened to it, was when I was driving, er, spiritedly, and shifted at around 6500 RPM. I managed to snap a chunk of a lobe off the camshaft, and my dad drove it around for two weeks with it going "tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak!" When he took it in, the mechanic explained that "tak tak" was not a good sound and, in fact, the piston had been tapping on the valve for two weeks. And yet, the 2.2L was fine.

244K Horizon

Marc Konchinsky says "I have a customer right now who has an '86 Horizon with 244,000 miles (no lie!) He says "it'll see 300,000 miles no problem!" He changes the oil every 2,000-3,000 miles and has never had the engine or trans rebuilt! His Horizon runs like a Swiss watch!

Michael Marra's 2.2 Horizon

I am currently putting the finishing touches on the second stage of modifications to a 1986 Plymouth Horizon. The car was originally equipped with a carb. 2.2 coupled to the 413 Torqueflight trasmission.The first owner of the car wrapped it around a telephone pole, and my brother found it in the above condition in the back lot of a Chrysler dealership he was then working in. He dragged it home and pulled out the front end slapped a junk-yard hood on it and took it to a road-coarse driving school in Summit Point, West Virginia. He basically beat the heck out of the poor little car, repeatedly sliding it off the track into thick piles of mud. (It rained heavily all that weekend.)For over a year the car lay dormant next to our garage, until it was time to go back to the track again. This time, Joe removed the muffler, roughly ported the head with a die grinder, and replaced the feedback carb with a similar,but simpler Holley from a Ford Maverick. Again a junkyard piece. Again the car came back from the track alive.

The car then sat for two more years until I got my driver's licence, and needed something to drive. I stuffed the car into our garage and began to perform some cosmetic surgery. Magnets will no longer stick to my Horizon. Along the way I added a Mopar Performance Cam and header,ACCEL Super Coil, stock replacement shocks and struts (I'm on a very small budget), and BFG Comp T/A HR4 Radials on the 13 inch steel wheels. After lot's of practice, I was just about beating my friend in his Integra on the dragstrip.

Well, just after the 1995 racing season ended, I rearended a Mercury with my little monster. I thought she was totaled. My brother convinced me to keep her, and I'm more than happy that I did. I found a 1986 Turbo 1 engine and harness in the paper for $250. With it I also got two GLH high-backed bucket seats. Quite a deal. I rebuilt the shortblock myself. The head was treated to a three angle valve-job, and heavy porting. It was built with a Forward Motion camshaft with .475 in. lift. The computer was exchanged for a M.P. unit with 11psi. boost capability, and a custom mandrel bent exhaust system with a Supertrapp Muffler is in the works. Also a custom intake system(I made it myself) with a K and N cone element has been installed.

Experts with these engines estimate my power output, (once I get a larger throttle body) to be around 200hp, with 1/4 mile times in the mid to high 14sec et's with the stock gears and the auto.

Later mods I'm considering are an intercooler system of my own design, an MSD, and possibly nitrous oxide.

If you're interested in how the car finally turns out, I will be glad to E-mail you more information as things develop.

During the course of this project, I became fascinated with the FWD Mopar performance cars, and have learned quite a bit about their history.

Gary Howell's Rampage

The Rampage has had several carburetors on it. The one that I liked the best was the Holley 2305 series progressive 2bbl. Vibration destroyed several of them. The carb. on it now is a reworked factory 5200 series Holley, Barry Grant fuel systems did a stage 3 rebuild on it. They wouldn't give me any flow numbers on it, but it should be in the low 400 cfm range.

The basement of the engine is pretty much stock 84, the cylinder head is G casting with a good 3 angle valve job. Cam is a .460 lift 288 duration. TRW followers and lifters. Stock lifters are the weak link in the valve train the ring are the protruding part is crimped on and doesn't live long above 7000 rpms.

Mopar Performance intake, not much different than stock. Hedman Hedder with 2.5 in exhaust, no cat, and a turbo muffler. Sound like a angry swarm of wasps.

Power put to the ground through a MP clutch and pressure plate, and a Shelby 5-speed with 3.85 gears. The secret to the low et is the body. Rampage is a pick-up, i.e. no weight in the bed, front wheel drive, hook and gone.

S. Rutherford's Horizon

First, congrats on putting together what I must say is an infinitely more useful Chrysler Corp page than any of the sites actually maintained by the company.

After spending some time browsing the site, I noticed the Consumer Reports notes and thought I would add my 2-cents. I was the very happy owner of a 1986 Plymouth Horizon, which required minimal maintenance through all the time I owned it. The car looked almost too-good-to-sell when I finally parted with it -- after 170,000 miles! Actually, the dealer where I traded it kept it for about a year after that -- apparently the service department used it for parts runs.) Still, when I once looked to Consumer Reports, their rating for the 86 Horizon 5-speed? "Avoid."

Obviously, after spending 170k miles in a car (that remains my favorite, before or since), I'd have to disagree.

Again, thanks for maintaining an excellent CC site...

Brian Williams' Omni Expo

In 1986, my automatic 1979 Chevette was getting a bit tired and being 19 years old, I wanted "more car." As a University student, my budget was limited but nevertheless I began to shop around. A friend had an '82 or '83 Omni (automatic) that he loved - it handled well, was reasonably quick and got fantastic fuel economy. At about the same time I read an old article in the
June 1983 issue of Motor Trend about a 5-speed 2.2 Omni that they raved about, and got to 60 in 9.99 seconds. That did it. I wanted a 5-speed 2.2 Omni. Forget about the new 1987 Chevette Cameo or the Escort EXP ($13,000!). There were no other dealers in my rural area, so I didn't exactly have a big choice.

So in December 1986, I traded my Chevette for a brand new silver 1987 Omni Expo 5-speed. It was so base that not only did it not have a radio, it did not even have a setting on the dash to blow air through the vents! It had a setting to blow air to the windshield for defrosting, or to the floor, but not through the dash vents. Egad. The interior was light gray cloth and vinyl.

I got $1300 as trade for the Chevette, and the Omni was $8500 or so on the road as a result. [Editor's note: these are Canadian dollars. In the US, the Omni sold for $6,209, though the 2.2 would be extra; Charger 2.2 was $7,732.]

I loved that car. It was light years ahead of the Chevette in terms of performance and fuel economy. Being 19, I did not spare the front tires. Man, could that 96hp 2.2 light up the front tires when I dropped the clutch. And fitted with winter tires, it was a formidable winter car. But despite having a solid motor, it had no real suspension. If I was speeding along a straight, I'd have to slow for the turns since the car would want to keel over. It leaned so badly that I considered suspension upgrades but my budget was zero after I bought the car, so I never did get any work done.

I kept the car until June 1990. At this point, I was nearing graduation from University and needed some cash. The Omni had only 48,000 kms (30,000 miles). It had only been in the garage once for warranty work (the plastic connector at the base of the 5-speed shifter had snapped, leaving me stranded one cold night). I washed/waxed/polished/vacuumed that car on a regular basis, so it was still shiny and sparkling even after 3 1/2 yrs of ownership.

I put an ad in the local paper and on the local radio, seeing as this was pre-Internet! Within a couple days, a female about 35 yrs old made a deal for $5500, which I thought was pretty good. I felt upset at selling the car, since it was my first new car and I had developed a relationship with it. I really liked that car!

Anyway, my regret at selling my baby turned to horror within a couple weeks. The buyer and her boyfriend were at a cabin party at a nearby lake. All persons were imbibing rather heavily, I was told, and the discussion turned to the topic of whether a car can float. You know what happened next. He said a car cannot float, she said a car can float. To prove her point, she got in the Omni (which she has had now only a couple weeks), and drove it into the lake. It did float, for a few seconds, and then settled up to the glass, to the sandy bottom.

The next morning, they towed the car out of the water. However, against advice from bystanders, the car was immediately started. Within seconds, the engine decided it did not want to operate on watery fuel and oil, and it grenaded, damaging the engine compartment in the process. The car was towed to a garage, where a 1.7 VW engine was installed. The car was driven this way for a few more weeks, during which time the owner managed to rip off the front airdam on a parking lot divider and somehow also rip out most of the grille in another incident. I had to bear the pain of seeing the car being driven around my town, in its damaged state. Soon, the battered Omni was driven on a couple thousand mile journey to a new Province (Ontario) and I never heard about the car again.

So ended my time with my 1987 Omni 2.2. What a car! It was waaaaay more reliable than my next car, a 1991 Honda Civic Si which I bought new in January 1992 (what a lemon that car was....). I currently own a 2002 PT Cruiser which is a money-pit but I love it. However, not as much as I loved my brand-new Omni.

Brian Williams
Gander, Newfoundland

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