1978 Plymouth Sapparo: Badge Engineered

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There’s an old salvage yard near me that hasn’t taken much new inventory in for several years, so there’s plenty of oddball stuff strewn about the property. Among them is a Dodge Challenger that looks like none you’ve ever seen – in fact, it seems strangely Japanese. That junkyard car’s twin was the Plymouth Sapparo, one of which is available here on eBay for $3,650. Built in concert with Mitsubishi, the Sapparo and Challenger were rebadged versions of Mitsubishi’s Galant Sigma, and featured modest power plants with a rear-drive layout. The 1978 example here from Plymouth was the luxury-themed option; Dodge’s Challenger was obviously marketed as the sportier choice of the two. While these cars aren’t terribly valuable (and in automatic form, not at all exciting to drive), it’s unusual to find one in such good condition. Did anyone drive one of these hybrids when new?

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Comments

  1. Mark E

    Man, if this was the Challenger I’d be calling FL to see about this mysterious front-end hood and bumper damage! Sounds like a nice buy, though I’d rather hold out for the Challenger personally. This is one series of cars I had zero interest in at the time but now I’d love to own one… ^_^

  2. Lee Jashinsky

    My brother had a Dodge Challenger, I believe it was a 1979. It had the 2.6 4 cylinder and 5spd. He bought it to replace his Mazda rx3. I think the Mazda was quicker but the Challenger was a nice car for that era.

  3. St.Ramone de V8

    The strongest memory I have of these cars was seeing the “Challenger” emblem on these things. The shape and size looked like the original, and I was put off by it. Loved the Challengers, and felt that Chrysler damaged the name by doing that. Never looked into the cars themselves, and they weren’t around long. At least calling it a Sapporo is appropriate. Challenger? Really?

  4. John D

    Oh man, they were a pleasure to drive. Equipped with the 2.6 and a 5 speed, it was a very comfortable highway cruiser. It hit all the right buttons with style, power, fuel economy and features.

    Neat features like the semi-hidden storage shelf under the glove box or the neat little nets at the front of each bucket seat. It was an easy place to store sunglasses.

    They had very good balance, I’d say nearly 50/50.

    It was my car to take to college, but it was also an easy sale. I sold the daylights out of them. Compared to the TC3, it was a car I did not mind selling to friends. I was even teaching girls to drive stick shifts with them, especially right after the second gas crisis.

    I’d love to have another one, but with the intercooled turbo from the Conquest/Starion. That would be a fun car. You just don’t see these or the Challengers or even Arrows around anymore. Well there are Arrows stuffed with V8s wearing slicks but that is about it.

    Like 1
  5. BMAN

    My Uncle had one….with the bigger engine. Sadly.. it was one of those cars where you… “Check the Gas, and Fill the Oil..” situations o_o

    • jim s

      if there is that much rust on the underside of the hood what the underside of the rest of the car look like. with a 5speed and no rust this would be a great driver. nice find

  6. PaulG

    This is one of those cars that people question “What is it” so often, that you almost get tired of answering. The 2.6 is a great engine, when maintained properly. Don’t overheat it, even a bit, or a new head gasket is in order.
    Love my Chrysler Conquest (re-badged Mitsubishi Starion…)

  7. sparkster

    You have to wonder what a rear window would cost , or if you could ever find one.

  8. Karl

    My parents test drove one with me in the back. Too small! Bought ’79 Capri RS. Much cooler looking, but not very fast and nothing like the previous Euro-Capri!(Later owned ’85 Dodge Conquest, which was the same cross-marketing deal with Mitsu. Flawless for 150K miles, except the paint)

  9. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    The guy who lived in the room next to me in college in the early 80’s had the Challenger. I think it was the only one I have ever seen. Not a bad car, but not memorable in any way except for the name.

    This one’s been around for awhile. I remember seeing it over a month ago on another site. Most comments revolved around the scary, strange, rust.

  10. Gagagarage

    It should be Sapporo, after the Japanese city that hosted the Olympics. Only one ‘a’.

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