20K Mile Survivor: 1983 Dodge Aries

The Dodge Aries and all of the other K car derivatives were a staple of the American roads from the early ’80s until the late ’90s. Love ’em or hate ’em the Chrysler K platform family of cars were probably one of the most influential vehicle designs in recent history. Since these cars were used as cheap basic transportation. Seeing an early Dodge Aries like this one on the road is a rare sight now, finding a low mile survivor in like new condition is unheard of. Check it out here on eBay in Winfield, WV with a starting bid of $3,999.99 or a BIN of $4,500.

The Chrysler K platform family of cars were built from ’81-’88 and sold over 300,000 cars per year according to this interesting article on allpar.com.   The front wheel drive platform was a very versatile design that was badged as the Dodge Aries, Plymouth Reliant, Chrysler LeBaron as well as a few other variants through the years. This 1983 Dodge Aries is in like new condition and may be one of the best examples around. According to the ad this car has been kept in a climate controlled garage its entire life and is completely original down to the tires!

This mileage is listed as 20,310 and is portrayed as original, judging by the interior and exterior condition I believe the mileage claim to be true. The seat and dash look perfect and show the simple nature of the K car design. The interior was spacious for a small car and could seat up to 6 people. The Dodge Aries could be adapted to many different configurations from Police car to Limousine.

Power comes from a 2.2-liter transverse mounted 4 cylinder attached to a 3 speed automatic, a 4-speed manual was available. The early version of the 2.2 engine was known to have some problems with the head gasket but overall these were reliable engines. A 2.6 liter Mitsubishi “Hemi” engine was available in some models. The car runs well but has a high idle problem probably related to the carburetor. The owner drives the car for a short distance regularly but recommends new tires before taking it on the road. The seller is a Mopar fan and is getting rid of this so he can move on to another project. I’m not sure what I would do with this one, drive and maintain or preserve?

 

 

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Comments

  1. TimS Member

    I didn’t like these when they or any of their variants were new, and I still don’t now. But it’s nice to see one in this shape. Too much red on this one.

    7
  2. Walter

    I had one of these and carried me thru 2 years of college 4 days/ week. North Jersey to Jersey city without a problem. I owe that car.

    8
    • Pat Lamb

      And the beauty of it was nobody wanted to steal it. I grew up in JC and that was always a consideration. My friends father always bought army green Buicks… inside and out for that very reason.

  3. Ike Onick

    I guess it’s an OK car

    4
  4. motoring mo

    I could understand spending 30 mins behind the wheel for the novelty of driving a car from that era.

    Anyone who willingly spends one minute more than that in this ride is a masocist.
    Vehicle is a testament to everything wrong with American automobile design, engineering, and manufacturing in the ’80’s.

    7
    • Sidney

      No, not at all. For all of us who lived as adults during that time, these were nice little reliable cars. You young people seem to think that in the 60s and early 70s, we all drove screaming machines and drove like Richard Petty at work. Far from it, we all had jobs and responsibilities, and these and the similar “boring” cars that came before them, were just the ticket. By the mid 80s most of us had families and great responsibilities and we needed this. They drove well, and the steering for being a Chrysler was a joy to behold, if any of you recall the earlier Chrysler power steering. The K Car variants were wonderful, and anyone who says otherwise isn’t taking the time to understand their purpose. Also, we had just came through a gas price shock and doubling the MPG was great too.

      26
      • Howard A Member

        Thanks Sidney, that summed it up better than I could say. I had several K cars, a wagon like this, and a Dodge 600 and several mini-vans, and they were all good, simple, reliable cars. The auto industry was upside down, imports were killing us, and almost did kill Chrysler, but these cars showed the world, we can do it too, just took longer. Maybe crude by today’s standards, but these cars paved the way for most US cars made today, if any left, that is..

        11
      • Bubba5

        And they are very good in the snow.

        4
      • dweezilaz

        Excellent. Compared to the Volare/Aspen these were revolutionary in their efficiency, people packaging and light weight.

        They were a testament to what was right about American automobile design, especially after the monstrosities of the 70s.

        Yes, “more road hugging weight”, battering ram bumpers, tiny back seats in 4500 lb cars, single digit gas mileage, ramshackle emissions hardware.

        GM spent $3 billion in 1970s dollars on the X Car. And Chrysler who knows how much. These cars were revolutionary at the time. Yes they were flawed, but set the template for the future.

        1
    • Dave

      In 1983 I was the father of a two year old son. Married in 1979, the second Arab oil embargo had forced the replacement of my 1971 Plymouth Fury 440 with a 1982 VW Rabbit. It was quite a shock. The Rabbit served us well until we could afford a new 1988 Dodge Caravan. Today the K-car and its various derivatives are laughable by comparison, but the government had a heavy hand in automotive design despite claims by the Reagan administration. 1983 was the beginning of my recovery from the devastating loss of industry in what became known as the Rust Belt. Mandated fuel economy and emissions standards created a lot of cars forgettable by today’s standards, but if a nice 88 V6 Caravan shows up on here I just may go for it even though my wife and I both drive Jeep Patriots.

      10
    • DAVID G BARNETT

      Come on. Be specific. What exactly was wrong with design etc. in the 80’s

  5. Steve

    Nobody has driven this car because no one has ever wanted to. We had neighbours with a beige one of these once who were like Jack Sprat who would eat no fat and his wife and dog who would sit together in the front seat.
    Nice people, hilarious watching that poor car try to drive down the road.

    1
  6. dave brennan

    Had a friend a long time ago who used the fwd from a toronado (he knew what he was doing) in the rear of his custom (caster/camber/steering etc. welded in place), with a vw front end . 425ci rear engine screamer! After the body rots away from regular use as a dd ,maybe this fwd could find a similar use.

  7. Fordguy1972

    My elderly neighbor had one back in the early ’90’s. It seemed dependable, never let him down. I drove it once or twice and it was the most gutless car I have ever driven. Very underpowered and the impressions you got from the interior were: cheap, low quality. They were cheap on fuel, that’s why you saw so many of them back when they were new. If gas was cheaper back then, Chrysler probably would have went under because they were crappy little cars.

    I’d never own one and I don’t see much value in this one even though it’s pristine.

    1
  8. Vairnut

    In 1983 this car sold new for $6,718. High retail on it now is $2000. Add in the extremely low original miles… maybe $3000 tops. If the seller started the bidding at $2500, with a $3000 reserve and a $4000 BIN I am pretty sure they would get a better idea of the market for this survivor. I owned this same year & color combo. It came to me from the local church in 1991. It had just over 60K miles on the clock and was well maintained as it was the nuns grocery getter. The first problem I ran into… getting the carburetor / fuel system to work right in cold weather. Most of the wear & tear parts were non serviceable, and not designed to last more that it’s “expected life span” (10 years). Every year when it was time for it’s annual New York State Inspection, something from the undercarriage needed replacement. From 1993-1997 I replaced just about every suspension part front and rear, including the rack-and-pinion which at the time was over $1000 alone just for the part. I will bet this survivor will suffer from similar ‘unseen” decay from age and if the next owner wants to make it a daily driver will have to put countless hundreds, if not thousands of dollars into making it reliable, and that is if they can find the 36 year old parts. And even then, you still have a disposable car that is under-powered (0- 60 mph 12.9) and under city driving would get maybe 13.7-16.4 MPG. However, as I often say “Find another one”. I know I would consider it for $2500… knowing I would have to put that into it to make it a daily driver.

    4
    • Dave Rhodes

      I would consider $25.00

  9. jw454

    Yes, it’s right out of the “Land of Bland” but, in their day, these cars served a purpose. Without them, I doubt we’d have today’s Demon, Hellcat or possibly the competition’s Shellby Mustangs and power inspired Camaros.

    4
  10. Sal

    I think you just had some bad luck (and maybe a crooked mechanic)
    Granted, I didn’t drive an actual K car, mine was dodge spirit (AA platform). These were dependable cars that were made cheaply and were easy to fix with low cost parts.
    I’ve owned a dozen or so newer cars since, all which were better then these. But they should be – They cost more and had better technology.

    1
  11. Robert White

    My brother had a K-car Aries and every single dime he made in the four years he owned the car went back into emission control & carb problems, plus transmission/clutch problems. Bottom line is that his K-Car Aries Dodge bankrupted him outright. Furthermore, without any equivocation on my part the Dodge Aries K is absolutely the worst car ever produced by any auto manufacturer ever. The Aries K is even worse than GM’s Corvair.

    Do NOT walk away from an Aries K, folks. Run like Hell instead.

    Bob

    3
    • Howard A Member

      Sorry, Bob, can’t agree with you there. Nothing could be further from the truth. Chrysler sold over 2 million K cars 1981-1988, not including the millions of minivans. I can see how you might feel that way, but the numbers are against you. And the Corvair was a good car, as well.

      4
      • Robert White

        My buddy Ralph Nader said the Corvair was ‘unsafe at any speed’, and he forced GM to discontinue their terrible engineering on that car and scrap it, Howard.

        My brother’s Aries K was a 2.2 that was made in North America whereas the Mitsobichi made engine was purportedly the better engine. Anyways, my brother had the carb rebuilt and it backfired from there on out. Always knew when he was home because when he turned the ignition off the car backfired exactly like a shotgun blast in terms of sound.

        I had a buddy with the Mini-Van and he had no problems until the van was over 10 years old. Once his engine started going it was anightmare just like my brother’s K-Car 2.2.

        No kidding.

        RW

      • Ralph

        Robert White-None of what you wrote about the Corvair is correct, just wanted to let you know that.

        And if Ralph Nader is your “buddy”, you need to find some more friends……

    • 63Comet

      Well, I agree with you Bob. I had a friend in the 90s who had a Plymouth Not-so-Reliant. In all fairness, though, when I met my wife, she was driving what may well have been the worst car ever produced (though maybe a Yugo would’ve been worse)–a Plymouth Horizon. So, it could get worse than a K car. Honestly, those two vehicles were sooooo bad I wondered why anyone drove anything made by Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler. I’ve since come to love some of the older ones but the 80s were a bad decade for their cars, from what I saw those two go through (I helped her eventually get a much more reliable Escort, which we bought together right when we got married)–mind you, it was a ’94 Escort, not one from the 80s–I had friends who had trouble with those earlier ones too–goodness some terrible stuff came out during the 80s.

      2
  12. James

    Great. Another overpriced Mopar… ;)

    1
  13. RichS

    I’d rather have the ShopKo shopping cart.

    1
    • Robert White

      You missed the roll of tape, step-ladder, & shop-vac.

      Bob

  14. John Member

    I/we thought it was a neat vehicle, flew into San Fran in 84, rented a Aries, drove it for a couple weeks, good milage, handled OK, at the end turned it in it was a
    little short on brakes, never backed up to adjust them, I’m over 6′, and I fit in it.

  15. Peter

    Why even post this one at best a used car lot despite the “low” mileage. They were never great cars even when they were new.

    2
    • dweezilaz

      ‘They were never great cars even when they were new’. As are the vast majority of the cars featured on Barn Finds. So what ?

      1
  16. Craig M Bryda Member

    I had an ex mother in law that owned one of these. The only time she would visit is when the car needed something fixed, I saw her nearly every weekend. She loved the car, I didn’t.

    2
  17. Brakeservo

    I’m surprised the world isn’t filled with more low mileage K cars – so ugly and uninspiring I can see why people left them in the garage and walked, bicycled, hitchhiked or whatever instead! Even your kids would insist you not drive the entire way to school – they’d want to get out and walk rather than be seen in one!

  18. Chris C

    These were great vehicles. Super reliable. Easy to repair and inexpensive parts. Wish I still had one in my fleet.

    2
  19. P Wentzell

    A Roommate of mine had one, never a problem. I’ve driven the variants: Dodge 600, Le Baron, and first gen. mini van – all solid and reliable. It’s always good to see a Day to Day survivor on here, regardless of make/model.

    3
  20. Frank M

    We had a 86 Dodge Aries. White with a black carriage roof. Looked like a 4 door convertible. We bought it in 90 with 45.000 miles and gave $4800 for it. Drove it 6 years and sold it with 166.000 miles. Never had any major repairs and we were sorry we sold it.
    I wouldn’t mind owning this one. It would make a nice daily driver for running around town.

    2
  21. W9BAG Member

    For the love of all that is sacred & groovy, would you do do a puff piece on a disposable car like a Dodge Aires ?

    1
  22. RK

    My dumb neighbor had one in the early 80s and would put a brick on the accelerator in winter to warm up and then go back in her house. I worked nights and it woke me up every morning.

  23. J

    I think the best place for this kind of car would be a museum of some sort. I just can’t see keeping it as an investment, and driving it regularly wouldn’t make sense with all the other options at $4500. Perhaps there is an 80s museum or place somewhere that could make use of it?

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