$1,000 OBO: 1982 Plymouth Champ

Vintage Japanese car fans, and captive-import fans, here’s a 1982 Plymouth Champ and it’s on craigslist with the price dropping faster than the temperature in Minnesota. The ad lists several prices from $1,700 or best offer, down to $1,000 firm, and then at the end they say $1,000 or best offer. They mention that they want to trade it for a camper so if you have a spare one lying around in Midland, Michigan, there ya go.

The ol’ taking-photos-of-your-car-at-night trick (in my best Don Adams voice). That’s always a head-scratcher for me, but it is what it is with this one. The Plymouth Champ was, as you all probably know, a sister car to the Dodge Colt and they were both really a Mitsubishi Mirage under the Dodge and Plymouth badging and a few details. 1982 was the last year for the Champ name and in 1983 they were renamed Plymouth Colt, just to further confuse things.

You can see some rust here, which is unfortunate. If this were a Midland, Texas instead of a Midland, Michigan car it would most likely be in much nicer shape. Michigan winters wreak havoc on thin metal such as on these cars, or really on any vehicle. The body of this car looks pretty straight but I’m worried at what’s lurking just beneath the surface. Just get it up in the air, treat the existing rust which hopefully will at least slow it down to a crawl and drive this one. It would be a good commuter car if you have a long, lonely commute on a deserted road and you aren’t driving among semi-trucks on the freeway the whole time. We all know that there isn’t much crash protection on these tiny cars from this era.

The interior is another story, it looks fantastic! And, even though this isn’t the coveted twin-stick, at least it’s not an automatic. It’s a standard 4-speed manual which would do nicely with just 64¬†hp on tap. Speaking of that, there are no engine photos but it should be a Mitsubishi 1.4L inline-four with around 64 hp, and it should look something like this. The 1.6L had a whopping 72 hp but it was only available with the automatic. And, the famous 1.6L turbo arrived in 1983, that would be the one to have. But, this interior saves this car for me. The exterior may be a scary, lurking monster under your bed of potential rust, but the interior is great. The dash looks as perfect as the back seat does as the front seats do! Nice. If you’re looking for a well-kept little commuter car that has had an oil change every 3,000 miles, and just needs new tires, and also needs to have new brake parts put on that are in the hatchback for the next owner, for $1,000 or less this would be hard to beat.

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Comments

  1. Dan D

    My first new car was an ’82 Colt – with Twin-Stick. Loved that car. Silver with red interior. Too bad most cars have only black or tan interiors these days. The combination was great.

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  2. Dovi65

    Considering that this little guy has lived in Michigan for 35 years, he’s in decent shape. He had an owner that cared enough to keep it clean, and, likely, garaged.
    Great car for weekend errands, or just an extra set of wheels. $1k is a good deal

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  3. EJB

    Learned how to drive stick on one of these. My grandparents had one in black with a gold racing (ahem) racing stripe on the hood.

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  4. mark

    $1000 Bucks. If this cars runs decent and is not ready to fall into a pile of rust this is a great deal.

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  5. Fred W.

    Bought one used around ’85 with Twin Stick, a gold Plymouth Champ. Good driving car with great gas mileage.

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  6. Adam Wright

    I traded a VCR for one of these one time in the 90’s, still not sure who got a better deal…

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  7. JoeBazots

    I know it’s a quirk, but I love these everyman (or everywoman) cars from this era. Took my first driving test in one of these – but that’s another story. To most, these are somewhat forgettable cars, but I always grin when I see a well kept example of what was available when I was coming of age (driving age, anyhow). Someone will get a fair bargain with this – and I actually hope it goes to someone with an appreciation for cars that is a new driver.

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  8. Royal Ricci

    I had an 81 Plymouth Champ Silver with Red interior with Maroon Vynil trim Package like the one shown here. It was my first functional car. My folks spent 3K on it the start of my Senior year of HS in September 85, and I drove it through April of 89 when the tranny died for the second time when I was commuting to college. I rear ended two folks on two separate occasions (86 & 88) and it still was able to be driven afterwards. A Priest owned it before me and it was in perfect shape with about 56K miles on it when I got it. It had the 1.6 with the automatic transmission and I used to burry the needle on my way to Albany on the TSP on trips with my girlfriend. I also took it to Maryland. It had plenty of pep for a tiny car even with AC. It held the curves well as it didn’t have power steering either. It was as if you were on a set of rails. Parking was a bitch at times.

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  9. Bruce Best

    My parents had one of these, the Dodge Colt and it was surpassingly fun do drive and very inexpensive to own. I think we got near to 200K on it and it never gave us any trouble at all. The only bad thing was it was an automatic and on the hot July day when I tried to go from Denver to the Western slope of Colorado it would not make it up to the Eisenhower Tunnel. I could see it but there was just no power left and I had to go back down to Denver.

    I really enjoyed that car not fast not perfect in anyway but very simple and nimble in traffic.

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  10. Car Nut Seattle

    I had a neighbour when I was a boy who had one like this. His was a 3 door, beige colour, similar interior.

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  11. Alan (Michigan)

    If I ever run across another ’83 Colt GTS in decent shape, I’ll be all over it.

    Part of the reason that these disappeared almost completely is the location of the rust which formed on the unibody. Several areas had multiple layers of sheet metal spot welded together, and guess where moisture would accumulate? Apparently there was no coating of the metal inside. The ’83 Plymouth I had became flexible across the front end, while the body still looked presentable. And the 8-speed was sounding like bearings might be in order too. Had to let it go.
    So much fun was had in that car, and it brought two national championships in SCCA autocross. Royal Ricci has it right, handling was extraordinary.

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  12. Brad

    I sold these while working at Blue Grass Chrysler/Plymouth in 1981. We had about 30 of them on our lot. About $ 4500 out the door. We had ONE that had the Twin Stick; Medium Blue and Silver, fully loaded. Even the entry level ones had twin speakers for the AM radio, and they all had rear window defrosters. Very nice fit & finish. Money well spent for an inexpensive car.

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    • Ron L

      Bought a brand new 83 Colt base base model, no radio, no rear defroster. $4995 and they were in such demand all I got for a discount was a set of stripes. Put 135k on it in 4 years and it was pretty much rusted out and the engine was ready to die with a serious rod knock. I did 100 mile commute every day in it before it gave up the ghost and it did the job and got a consistent 35mpg.

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  13. Alan (Michigan)

    Car is still listed. Midland is a bit too far from me to offer a look for anyone here.

    I forgot to mention: The rust you see on the bumpers was there when the car was manufactured, I think, just hiding somewhere inside the metal. My car did the same thing. Had both sandblasted, primed, and well painted. Except for pitting, they looked great. The rust returned in less than a year. I *think* that on a couple of models there were actually aluminum bumpers. Those would be the solution to the ones which will always rust until they disappear.

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    • Alan (Michigan)

      Gone.
      Hope it lasts for the new owner.

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