By the late 1970s, the Chrysler Corporation was going through a lot of changes. The corporation had gone through a number of owners and had been split up into various smaller companies. It was also under pressure from the government to become more fuel efficient. To do this, it would need to create a new vehicle line that would use a smaller engine, yet be as powerful as the larger engines in its other vehicles.
To create this new line of vehicles, Chrysler turned to two men who had been involved with its earlier success. The first was Lee Iacocca, who had been responsible for creating some of the most popular vehicles in Chrysler’s history. The second was Hal Sperlich, who had been involved with many of Iacocca’s successes and would now be responsible for designing these new smaller cars. Sperlich’s goal was to make sure that these cars were just as capable as those they were replacing, while being much more fuel efficient and easier on the environment.
The result of their efforts was what became known as the K-Cars. The K-Cars would eventually become known as Chrysler LeBaron, Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon – three very different looking vehicles that all shared many features. These features included a fuel efficient 2.2 liter engine, a body that was made of plastic (the first plastic bodied car in the United States), front wheel drive and more.
These vehicles were an instant success. By 1982, the Horizon had become the number one selling car in America and the Omni and LeBaron were close behind. Chrysler’s efforts to make these cars more fuel efficient had paid off big time. The K-Cars were not only able to provide great performance while being much more fuel efficient than other cars on the market, but they also helped Chrysler recover from some of its financial problems and put it back on track for success.
In this article, we will look at these three cars as well as some of their competitors from the late 1970s and early 1980s, including Ford’s Escort and Fairmont as well as AMC’s Gremlin. We will also take a look at how Chrysler was able to make these cars so successful and why they have been considered one of the most important vehicles in American automotive history.
The Plymouth Horizon
The Plymouth Horizon is considered by many to be one of the most important vehicles in American automotive history because it was responsible for saving Chrysler from its financial problems and putting it back on track for success. It is also considered one of the most important cars in American automotive history because it was the first vehicle to be built with a body made entirely out of plastic.
The Plymouth Horizon was introduced in 1979 as a 1980 model. It was based on the Chrysler K-Car platform and came with a fuel efficient 2.2 liter engine that could produce up to 65 horsepower. This engine gave the Horizon excellent fuel economy, especially when compared to other vehicles on the market at that time. In fact, its fuel economy was so good that Chrysler was able to claim that the Horizon got 50 miles per gallon, which helped it sell very well right from the start.
The Horizon was offered in two models – base and DL (Deluxe). The base model came with power steering, power brakes, front disc brakes, full instrumentation and vinyl upholstery while the DL added air conditioning, power windows and door locks, an AM/FM stereo system and cruise control. In addition to these two models, there were also two special edition models available – a “Sport” model (similar to today’s Sport trim level) which included black sidewall tires and red accent stripes along with special graphics and colors, and a “Highline” model which included power windows, door locks, an AM/FM stereo system and more.
The Plymouth Horizon was one of the most popular cars in America during the early 1980s. It was also very successful for Chrysler. The Horizon sold over 400,000 units in 1980 alone and would go on to sell over a million by 1982. This was especially impressive considering that Chrysler had only sold half that many in 1979. The Horizon also became Chrysler’s best selling car and helped save the company from its financial problems.
The Plymouth Horizon was built through 1983 when it was replaced by the Chrysler LeBaron convertible (a coupe version of the LeBaron). The Horizon continued to be a popular car until it was discontinued in 1984. However, it is still considered one of the most important cars in American automotive history because it helped save Chrysler from its financial problems during a time when many people thought that it would go out of business.
The Chrysler LeBaron
The Chrysler LeBaron is a compact four-door sedan introduced in 1983. It was manufactured by Chrysler Corporation from 1983 to 1987, and again from 1990 to 1995. It was available as a four-door sedan, two-door convertible, and two-door hardtop. It was replaced by the Chrysler Sebring in 1996.
The car was available with a 2.2 L I4 engine with 95 hp (71 kW) or a 2.5 L I4 engine with 105 hp (78 kW). A Mitsubishi 2.6 L V6 engine with 115 hp (86 kW) was optional on LX models from 1984 to 1986, and standard on 1987–1995 models.
The LeBaron nameplate first appeared in 1951 on the export version of the New Yorker. This was due to General Motors policy that forbade the use of the New Yorker nameplate outside of North America; export markets such as South Africa and Australia were known to be major export markets for Chrysler at this time.
In Australia, it became popularly known as “the LeBaron”, although this is not its correct name, rather a mispronunciation by Australian car buyers who had never seen or heard of an American LeBaron until then. In reality it is simply called the Chrysler LeBaron – in Australia this is considered the original usage of the term LeBaron when referring to the Chrysler model.
A restyled version of the LeBaron, called the Dodge Monaco, was sold in North America as a companion to the Plymouth Gran Fury.
In 1990, Chrysler Australia released a special edition of the LeBaron, called the Spirit R/T. It featured Recaro seats and 16″ wheels with 225/50 tyres. This model was released to celebrate Chrysler Australia’s 60th anniversary. Only 300 were produced.