Single Stick: 1982 Plymouth Champ

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

The trouble with vintage commuter cars is most have rusted to death or been swallowed up by one too many potholes. Fortunately, someone out there took great care of an all-but-extinct 1982 Plymouth Champ, yet another hybrid of the Mitsubishi-Mopar brotherhood of the 80s. Find this completely stock albeit twin stick-less example here on eBay with an opening bid of $2K and the reserve unmet. 

The one everyone always crows about is the genuinely slick GTS Turbo, which is rarer than hen’s teeth to find on the road today. Those came with an unbelievably trick “twin stick” transmission with a two-speed transfer case. This is much more plebian “E” or “DL” model, replete with steel wheels, a conventional manual transmission and no radio or A/C.

The interior presents amazingly well for an economy car of this vintage. Clean floors, untorn seats / dash pad / door panels that still retain plenty of shine – how does such a cheap car survive so well? The seller doesn’t necessarily have a great grasp on eBay listings, as the mileage listed of “33” is likely inaccurate, and he also included his personal phone number for all the world to see. Anyhow, the originality of the interior is a definite plus.

To my eyes, the paint is a touch too shiny to be original. That said, the federally-mandated safety bumpers are still lustrous and the steel wheels show no signs of the typical rust you’d see on a car from the Midwest. This Champ won’t get you anywhere fast, but its impressive fuel economy will make for a cheap ride. Placing a reserve on a car like this may stymie interest, so hopefully, the number isn’t too high.

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Comments

  1. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Wow – super tidy. I had a Dodge Colt GTS Turbo in Pittsburgh in the 90s. I bought it “as-is” for $700 knowing it wasn’t running right. One $35 timing belt later I had an awesome city car that my wife drove for 30,000 miles the first year. The manual steering and brakes made for great communication of road feel and brake lockup, respectively. Mitsubishi built these cars to be maintained. I had owned a series of ’70s GMs that were always a royal pain with boxed-in hardware that required impossible angles to reach, while the Colt would have a relief cut in an adjacent piece so you could get a socket extension onto nuts, and a grommeted hole in the inner fender liner so you could turn the motor with a long extension. Nearly everything on that car was 10mm. I still call my 10mm combination wrench “The Mitsubishi Toolkit.” I joked that one of the options was a 10mm wrench in a velvet-lined box.

    5+

  2. Fred W.

    I also had one, a Plymouth Champ with Twin Stick (not turbo). I remember it as being VERY fun to drive and dependable as well.

    2+

  3. Steve

    I had a buddy whose dad had a tan dodge colt with the “twin stick”. I think he put a couple hundred thousand miles on it commuting. (He was very meticulous with maintenance). When his dad passed away, someone local bought it and I saw it around for a few more years, still going strong. I moved away, so no idea what happened to it. I got to drive it a few times and it was actually a decent little car. He also had a maroon and silver Shelby Charger as his “weekend car”. How he fit in those things I will never know. He was a least 6’4″. I was only 6′ at the time and they were both a little cramped for me., His wife had a fifth avenue they used for trips. I remember they had an Aspen wagon for a while. My buddy had a Cordoba for a while, then a Dodge Omni. He was a “MOPAR” man, for sure. I never thought to ask him if he had any MOPAR muscle cars back in the day…

    1+

  4. giorgitd

    I had the Dodge Colt version in grad school. No turbo, but it did have the twin stick. Super reliable and, as Todd says above, easy to work on when necessary. This one looks pretty nice for the age and use case.

    Typo edited.

    0

  5. Mason

    My name is Mason Pichla I am the one who is selling this champ, this is my first time posting something on eBay that paint is 100% original the only thing I did was buff it out, it has 117,000 miles on it doesn’t leak oil and gets 32 miles to gallon

    10+

  6. AMXSTEVE

    It’s a good looking little car. I owned 2 earlier 70’s versions and the were very dependable. No AC is a killer though

    1+

  7. Miguel

    This is weird. I had that same exact color combination. I did have the twin stick though.

    It is odd to see this car as I haven’t see one this color since 1986 or thereabouts.

    If I wasn’t in another country right now I would grab it.

    0

  8. Shelli Anne

    My brother bought a Dodge Colt new and spent minimal amounts of money maintaining it for 100 thousand miles. The Honda Civic he bought new before the Colt went through 3 of the 4 wheel bearings ,2 water pumps,two exhaust systems,two rusted out front fenders,two cam belts ,and sundry other parts in a 100 thousand miles. The Colt had one cam belt and the original wheel bearings,water pump,exhaust, and front fenders. It was a far cheaper car to operate and maintain than the Honda Civic could ever hope to be.

    0

  9. Sportriderok

    I’d gladly trade my GTS Turbo for this one. Much less finicky!

    0

  10. nessy

    Who remembers when the turbo model came out in this car, I think for the final 84 model year of this body style? Anyone remember what the factory decal said on top of the rear window? I do. It said, “Don’t step on the gas unless you mean it” It’s true.

    2+

    • John D.

      Torque steer was sudden and bad. Rather than trying to fix it and to avoid law suits, I imagine the factory put a decal across the top of the windshield and turned a negative feature into an advertised plus.

      0

  11. Howard A Member

    Champ, as in gas mileage champ. At the time, I believe this car got the best mileage of any gasoline powered vehicle sold. I think it was more than 32, although, even 32 was fantastic in 1982.( I think only the VW diesel got better) I had a friend with one of these, drove the heck out of it. You know, seems just about everybody has had a good experience with these cheap, simple, durable, economical cars. And we can’t buy new cars like this, WHY???

    0

    • Alexander

      Emissions, dude.

      0

  12. Gay Car Nut

    I had a neighbour when I was a boy who had a 1982 Dodge Colt similar to this. I can’t remember whether his had a twin stick manual shift, or a single shifting.

    0

  13. Chebby

    A college buddy of mine had a beater in high school that he shared with friends, they called it “The Coltster” and covered it with shower flowers, the kind you put in the bathtub so you don’t slip. I asked him what the twin-stick was like, and he said, “We never took it out of ‘Power’.”

    0

  14. Alexander

    Count me in with the Colt loyalists. I had a 1986 Plymouth Colt, which I picked up right after my then-girlfriend ended up with a 1986 Dodge Colt Vista. 32-35 mpg. Got recalled to adjust the emissions microscopically with a shim or two here or there. It survived three accidents. The car finally crapped out on me in 1996 hauling Metroliner car parts from an Amtrak shop to the Railroad Museum of Pa. when it overheated and did in the head gasket at 170,000 miles……. so I was getting about 17,000 miles a year out of that sucker. Though I followed that car with a succession of used Saturns, I still end up wondering if, given today’s stuff, I should have dropped a used engine in the Colt…… [wanders off to compare parts availability and pricing at RockAuto……..]

    0

  15. W9BAG

    I sold these cars new, at a Chrysler/Plymouth dealership in Lexington, KY. We had more of these on the lot than any other model offered. Every stinkin’ one was silver, except for 1 twin stick, that was blue/silver. Couldn’t give it away. Too expensive; like, a little over 6 large.They went for $4850, base, brand new. They sold like hot cakes. We sold the crap out of these little econoboxes. I had one customer that resembled Larry the Cable Guy, complete with overalls, man boobs hanging out of the sides, and a “chaw” in his mouth. We’re talkin’ Hazard, Kentucky, here. Paid cash money. Pulled it right out of one of the pockets of his overalls. I watched him do it. Just started peeling off the 100’s. Well built economy cars. I drove several, and found no problems their build quality or reliability. The AM radio even had 2 speakers, and I believe that a rear window defroster was standard equipment.

    0

  16. Alan (Michigan)

    $2250 bought it.

    0

  17. Royal

    I had an 81 Silver with Maroon Stripe and interior. It had the 1.6L with the Automatic and it still went pretty good. Used to burry the needle on my way up to visit Albany.

    0

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