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  #1  
Old 02-25-2018, 07:46 PM
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MIPS MIPS is offline
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K-cars

I know that one day another panel welded in is just not going to be enough to keep my Geo Tracker on the road and I am slowly starting to look into other options. I need a good car I can put a phone into that's not a luxury sedan.
I've been looking at K-cars now for a few months to see which models are still relatively available or are the least painful to keep in service. Granted, they are all now at least 30 years old.
What I really need though is some owner feedback. I know some of you farts are old enough to of seen Sputnik make it into space so I am assuming there are a few people who had one. How good were they? What were the known issues? What kind of fuel economy was normal for them? Were there any later models that still featured a manual transmission?
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Old 02-25-2018, 07:51 PM
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K-cars were cheaply made, bottom of the line cars which were usually bought by either people who were disinterested in cars and bought on price alone, or diehard Chrysler fanatics.

It would be kind of cool to have one now, just because there's so few survivors, and they were once so common.

I've seen some manual transmission models, if you're looking now try and find one which isn't rusty above all else, the mechanical stuff is much easier to fix than the body, and these rusted quite fast
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Old 02-25-2018, 08:40 PM
dieseljeep dieseljeep is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxhifi View Post
K-cars were cheaply made, bottom of the line cars which were usually bought by either people who were disinterested in cars and bought on price alone, or diehard Chrysler fanatics.

It would be kind of cool to have one now, just because there's so few survivors, and they were once so common.

I've seen some manual transmission models, if you're looking now try and find one which isn't rusty above all else, the mechanical stuff is much easier to fix than the body, and these rusted quite fast
Try to look for a GM "X" car, Chev Citation or the Pontiac, Buick or Olds offerings and see what real junk was all about. How about a Chevy Vega!
The Chevette was almost a good car. Some almost lasted 100K miles.
Buyers of that junk had to be real GM fanatics. Many of those are now driving Japanese or Korean makes.
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Old 02-25-2018, 09:53 PM
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I'm actually at the point now where I wouldn't mind buying a Yugo if all the ones I see for sale are "collectors" cars with laughable prices. Come one man, driving an east bloc car around Canada for a summer sounds fun.

There's actually an '89 Dodge Aries not too far away from me right now that just its price slashed from $1500 to $950. Miiiighty tempting.
https://vancouver.craigslist.ca/van/...478855677.html
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Old 02-25-2018, 10:25 PM
Chip Chester Chip Chester is offline
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There's a 40,000-mile Chevette Diesel down here on CL from time to time that's going for $5000. Pretty clean, too.

Not sure I understand the attraction of K-cars, X-cars or Vegas. Because I've driven them when new. They cannot have improved.

Another Suzuki/Tracker? They're pretty cheap.

Up there, I'd go for a Volvo Cross-Country wagon if you want comfy, snow-worthy, and no rust. Kinda picky to take care of, but heated seats are worth the effort.
So you have an installed car phone? Does Rogers still have AMPS/NAMPS? If so, have I got a deal for you!
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Old 02-25-2018, 11:20 PM
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Another Suzuki/Tracker? They're pretty cheap.
Western Canada is weird. We barely use any salt.
We got a lot of kids here now that spend a few weeks in the fields and come home to all sorts of toys and the trailers to transport said toys behind their massive goddamn trucks. Little 4x4's like the tracker and Samurai are often $4k-$6000 for the 4x4 models and the much cheaper 2WD models are starting to get pretty rare as people strip them for parts.

Also no I don't have an AMPS car phone, I have the next best thing: this.
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Old 02-25-2018, 11:48 PM
Chip Chester Chip Chester is offline
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Not mine, no relation, etc.
'92 4WD 5-speed, surprisingly un-rusty for around here.
If my driveway wasn't full I'd get it for myself.
You'd have to work out delivery, though.

https://columbus.craigslist.org/cto/...510390321.html

You know why Yugos have heated rear windows, don't you?
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Old 02-26-2018, 12:18 AM
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First of all... I've never owned an original K car, but I will put forth the following: Lee Iacocca saved Chrysler corp. from ruin with the K cars, so if they were so awful, why did people keep buying them? Many of them are still on the road today. And in response to the no doubt numerous nay-sayers (as there WILL BE many), ANY cars that are made cheap and sold cheap get a bad rep, not necessarily because they're poorly made, but because they're bought by poor people, who don't maintain them properly, because they're poor!

I do however own a 93 Chrysler Lebaron convertible. It's what you'd call an EEK (Every Extended K car). I love that little car, it's a lot of fun. Though it's not a good example of reliability, because - who'd've guessed? - it was previously owned by poor people who abused it. But once I got past its initial problems, it never fails to serve me. Hell, I leave it alone outside for the whole winter, and it'll start right up in the spring without a jump. I have done a lot of work to it, and the great thing is that it's easy as pie to work on those cars. Tons of room in the engine bay, above AND below. Tiny little K frame ftw. Also, linkless sway bar, among many other neat little innovations.

That being said, any one of them you buy is going to be 20+ years old, you should set your sights a little newer, methinks. I like old cars as much as the next guy, but unless you're planning on restoring the car you get, newer would be better.


Lastly, on Yugos. I once saw an absolutely MINT Yugo going down the road and I had to pull up and tell the owner how neat that was. He and his passenger said it was a barn find, etc, etc, I told them, "Nice Yugo, and I see you brought a friend to help you push!"

:P
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Old 02-26-2018, 04:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadMan View Post
First of all... I've never owned an original K car, but I will put forth the following: Lee Iacocca saved Chrysler corp. from ruin with the K cars, so if they were so awful, why did people keep buying them? Many of them are still on the road today. And in response to the no doubt numerous nay-sayers (as there WILL BE many), ANY cars that are made cheap and sold cheap get a bad rep, not necessarily because they're poorly made, but because they're bought by poor people, who don't maintain them properly, because they're poor!
No kidding, they would do anything short of deliberately wrecking them. I've gotten flack for my interest in the Mercury Lynx (not to mention the slightly plainer-looking Ford Escort) but our '84 Lynx served us very well in spite of previous owners beating the tar out of it. Aside from the usual rusty exhaust system it came with a lot of Bondo on the driver's side quarter panel, an oil pan leak, a non-functioning parking brake, a busted half-shaft and a 4-speed that was VERY difficult to get into reverse. That was in 1992, and I've seen older ones in far better shape since then.

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I do however own a 93 Chrysler Lebaron convertible. It's what you'd call an EEK (Every Extended K car). I love that little car, it's a lot of fun. Though it's not a good example of reliability, because - who'd've guessed? - it was previously owned by poor people who abused it. But once I got past its initial problems, it never fails to serve me. Hell, I leave it alone outside for the whole winter, and it'll start right up in the spring without a jump. I have done a lot of work to it, and the great thing is that it's easy as pie to work on those cars. Tons of room in the engine bay, above AND below. Tiny little K frame ftw. Also, linkless sway bar, among many other neat little innovations.
I used to drive a 1987 Dodge Lancer ES. The only persistent mechanical problems it had was a transmission that often had trouble upshifting and trouble engaging at all in cold weather and a mysterious knock in the front end. Other than that the worst problems were a blown head gasket and a broken timing belt. All problems aside, it held up very well underneath in spite of all the salt used when Fail Town still had a real winter and the coldest weather never prevented it from starting, it just cranked slowly.

It had the optional 2.5 which was rather noisy, one time someone asked me if it was a diesel.
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Old 02-26-2018, 12:58 AM
Titan1a Titan1a is offline
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Try getting a GEO Metro. The three-cylinder is torquey and gets phenomenal fuel economy. Fairly roomy too! My brother's was very nice.
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Old 02-26-2018, 06:58 AM
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The later ones with fuel injection were really solid cars, that Aries OP linked above is a good example. They were simple, parts are still easy to come by and they are easy to wrench on. The 2.2 is a little underpowered, but the 2.5 will move it along pretty well.

The higher end models with Turbo are going to be more complicated, and try to avoid the earlier carbureted models. In addition to Reliant and Aries, you might want to search for Sundance and Shadow, or even better, a 4 cyl Acclaim or Spirit.
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Old 02-26-2018, 10:55 AM
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maxhifi maxhifi is offline
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I recall peeling factory paint, creaky doors, misaligned instrument clusters, stuffy and uncomfortable seats.. And by the late 1980s terribly outdated styling. Shift points in the 3 speed auto chosen to make driving as bland as possible.. They did really sell a lot of them so there must be something to it, and I've had at least one friend who absolutely swears by them, he's had three or four. Not my cup of tea, but they do have fans.

I think some of the last run K car descendants just before the Neon were available with a small Mitsubishi 6 cyl, which was a little more fun to drive, and fairly reliable.

Wasn't there a front wheel drive new yorker based on the K car chassis too? Those were a bit nicer than the usual K's.
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Old 02-26-2018, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxhifi View Post
Wasn't there a front wheel drive new yorker based on the K car chassis too? Those were a bit nicer than the usual K's.
The New Yorker, Imperial, and Dodge Dynasty (my buddy has one that was beat to hell but it still works). His has the 3.3L, like from the vans. Decent motor, very simple. Those cars look miniscule on the outside, but are actually fairly comfortable inside. And the upper end New Yorkers and all the Imperials are nicely appointed.

Also, yes, sadly, clearcoat delamination was a problem for those years. Fortunately, the actual paint under it rarely comes off, so it just makes the cars ugly, not rusty.

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We had a 1990 Dynasty which was an upscale K-car and it had a Mitsubishi V6 motor and it was an awesome car that got fantastic gas mileage.
I have the same V6 in my 'baron. Mitsubishi used it for a long time, then continued using variations of it for even longer. They licensed it to Chrysler in... I think 89, as Chrysler had no V6 in its arsenal at the time, and the Caravan really needed one. Chrysler used it all the way up till 96 or 98. It's a pretty sound motor, maybe not that powerful, but if you compare it to other cars at the time, 150 hp was not too shabby. And it has the very desirable attribute that its torque curve is as flat as a table. And the intake is as flat as a table too! So you can put your tools there while you work on it! They do have a tendency to burn oil, but replacing valve stem seals on it is actually pretty easy, and it's done.

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That car offered NO protection. Sure, they get phenomenal mileage, because they are a 3-cylinder-powered soda can.
lol soda can. Hopefully all 4 of you turned out ok. But yeah, it's a tradeoff. You want safety you pay more for gas. Me? I wouldn't drive a 90s Toyota Corolla on the highway if you paid me. I know inside and out how those cars are built, like you say, a soda can.

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Originally Posted by Username1 View Post
I got an 88 Dakota, and it has a computer, and digital radio, and like he said, you can park it all winter and it'll start up in the summer without a jump.
Chrysler actually has a tighter tolerance on ignition off draw, they spec max 30mA, and every other maker specs max 50 mA, so I imagine that's why.

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Originally Posted by bgadow View Post
Like any used car, take the time to buy the nicest example your budget will allow. I'd try hard to find one that was fuel injected if at all possible. A manual, outside of Daytona's or maybe some of the convertibles, would be a tough find.
Agreed. Carbuerators suck. The only argument in favor of them is 'oh but you can make the car run better just by turning a screw!' Or, you know, you could let a computer do that for you, in realtime. As for the stick shifts, they were quite common in the day, I've seen many examples in the junk yards, but that's just it, the manual ones get junked first. Very few are left.

Fortunately both automatic transmissions, the 3 and 4 speeds, are pretty hearty little things (despite what people may say). And very easy to work on. The 3 speeds have a tendency for the governor to stick, giving you only 2nd and 3rd in forward, but you can, you know, fix that. The 4 speed A604 which you find on the later EEKs, people will have you believe are awful. The exact opposite is true. They are a shining example of simplicity AND electronic automation. They have NO bands at all, the solenoids come in a convenient small pack, the computer can actually detect how much of your clutches are left (something I've yet to see even the most expensive and modern cars do), and the only reason people think they're bad is because people used to change the trans fluid out for Dexron II (which was the prevalent fluid at the time), which disagrees with the clutches. Fortunately, you can't even buy Dexron II anymore, so you'd be hard pressed to make that mistake as pretty much any trans fluid you can buy now will agree with it.

Last edited by MadMan; 02-26-2018 at 10:55 PM.
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:32 PM
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I think some of the last run K car descendants just before the Neon were available with a small Mitsubishi 6 cyl, which was a little more fun to drive, and fairly reliable.
With all due respect, you don't know what you're talking about.

K cars had a very long and also very successful production run, and as pointed out previously they basically saved Chrysler from the dustbin of history. A little more fun to drive than what? A potato? You've apparently never been in a 2.2 or 2.5 turbo with mild tuning done to it, I promise it shits all over that piss poor excuse for a japanese V6 and its impossible to change timing belt. Transmissions? Yeah the 3-sp torqueflite is sorta gay, but once again with a 2.5 turbo attached it most likely shits all over whatever you're currently in.

If you can't tell, I'm tired of people talking shit about my car. And no, I'm not a K-car fanatic. I'm a turbo fanatic. I also have a factory turbo Corvair, wanna fight about it? I'll put my '89 Spirit up against whatever you got, and while it may or may not not win you'll definitely be surprised...
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Old 04-11-2018, 12:34 AM
mgross0 mgross0 is offline
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Speaking as a Mopar or no car sort of guy, cool your jets. Nobody is questioning your masculinity. I agree that the K-cars were the best 'small' cars on the road, with room for six Americans, but there is no need to be so darned hurt. Even the rice burners that were supposed to be the death knell of the U.S. autos are long since shredded and turned into toasters, while Reliants still cruise city streets. By the way, the Diplomat was still the better car. A 318 kicks the hell out of a four banger any day of the week, no matter how torquey it may be.
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