21K Original Miles: 1987 Plymouth Reliant Wagon

A 1987 Plymouth Reliant wagon may not normally get your blood pumping, but this one is so clean, it deserves a closer look. With just over 21,000 original miles on the clock, it may very well be one of the best cars left, right down to its original hubcaps and a spotless interior. The seller notes it was owned by an older, single, female healthcare worker who didn’t smoke nor have kids, so you can imagine how minty is it inside. For under $5,000, this is the kind of classic you can use every day while likely getting a few thumbs up along the way. Find the Reliant here on craigslist in Wisconsin with an asking price of $4,800, and thanks to Barn Finds reader Jonny C for the find.

The Reliant and its corporate sibling the Aires were far better cars than they were typically portrayed as being in movies and pop culture. It was the ultimate insult to a teenage whose parents wanted sensible, reliable transportation, and not what you wanted to be handed down to you for the high school parking lot. Regardless, it’s a significant vehicle in Chrysler’s history, and car enthusiasts have begun warming up to the different varieties of K cars that helped Chrysler stave off financial death by paying off its bankruptcy loads. The derivatives were numerous, from wagons to coupes to convertibles, with a variety of powertrain options.

When you see carpets like this in a car manufactured in the late 80s, it’s hard to deny that the seller isn’t exaggerating about how clean it is. That’s better than anything I own, the newest of which was built in 2010. It’s just incredible to see a cargo area that remains this clean, even if the owner was exceedingly careful. The seller is right to point out that the longtime caretaker – an older woman with no kids and presumably a job with a short commute – is perhaps the best kind of individual to purchase a car from, as the odds are good it will be as spotless as this Reliant is inside. Not many features to report, but the A/C does work and has been converted to R134A.

Even the engine bay presents as-new, with the naturally-aspirated 2.2L four-cylinder looking like it just purred out of the showroom. There were a variety of engine options in the K-car lineup, including plenty with turbochargers, but most buyers prioritized the fuel-sipping qualities of the lineup that was designed from the start to help Chrysler Corp. compete with a wave of economical imports from overseas. Overall, this is a fine way to spend $5,000 with a good chance you’ll see all your money back when you get tired of your kids demanding to walk home instead of being picked up from school.

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Comments

  1. Big_Fun Member

    Best friend in high school family bought one of these new, dark red/ red int. – traded in an all green ’74 Fury sedan. His neighbor had the ‘K’ coupe version, 4 on the floor.
    Then my uncle buys one for his piano tuning business. First time I ever saw an all electronic AM radio. No FM.
    Might be polarizing at the cruise in, though.
    I can appreciate any well preserved longroof, this one included.

    Like 9
  2. Jim

    The K-car is a large part of automotive and Chrysler history. It’s great to see such a well preserve sample. Well worth the asking price and I would love to drive this to the local car show.

    Like 13
  3. robert

    Love it. If this were closer and in Canada, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Does anybody make a real stationwagon anymore?

    Like 8
  4. William Shields

    It seems fitting that it wears 70’s valiant hubcaps. It really was the spiritual successor to the valiant.

    Like 13
    • Joe

      Original wheel covers for a 73 Duster.

      Like 7
      • DON

        73 – 76 Valiant and Duster actually

        Like 2
      • DON

        that should be – 72 – 76 Valiant and Duster actually

        Like 1
  5. DocW

    Had a few K cars in the 80’s and early 90’s including one in this color. Nothing exciting but good transportation. This example seems very clean. One interesting thing about the 2.2 engine, the end of the spark plug wires pushed through the distributor cap. They tended to oxidize after about 5000 miles giving the car a rough idle and decreased performance on acceleration. Got to the point where I would replace pretty much every oil change to keep things running smoothly.

    Good luck to the new owner.

    Like 5
  6. David Z

    A restoration reference for something that will never be restored.

    Like 6
  7. Kenneth Carney

    One of the kids I worked with bought one as his first car in the late ’90s. Two
    days later, it caught fire and burned to the ground. It was nothing he did, but
    not long after, my mechanic told us that
    the fire was caused by a poorly designed intake manifold that allowed
    unburned fuel to collect in the bottom of
    it and POOF! instant fire. Same thing
    happened to my MIL’s ’86 LeBaron convertible in ’91. Unburned fuel collected in the bottom of the turbo
    and the rest was history. Seems like
    any of the Mitsubishi engines offered by
    Chrysler had this same defect. When you combined this with the God awful
    brakes these cars had, and you had the
    perfect recipe for disaster. It’s no small
    wonder why these cars had a bad rep
    for quality and safety. Makes me wonder when this one will go boom too.

    Like 3
    • Johnny

      My late dad,s Reliant K out back has the Mitisibutshi motor in it and its also a station wagon. When dad passed away. About a week later my mom and sister decided to go to the cenetary. I had told her before I left for work,.To take my car. Well they pulled in this gas station. Right up the road from the fire station.Sister goes in the store to buy something and it caught on fire. The fire department got it out in time. Burned the hoses and a few things off. When I went to look at it, Theirs about 6 rubber hoses that can rot and cause a leak. I replaced everything. That is a faulty design . These were good little cars,but like everything else.You have to keep checking and replace things once in awhile.

      Like 5
    • Gary

      A friend of mine had an ’80 something Dodge Omni 4 door. He bought the thing new. It caught on fire too. It burnt to a crisp.

    • stu

      The K cars were poorly built. This series of cars kept Chrysler from sinking down the toilet. The carbs were supplied offshore which were very temperamental and unreliable. The cooling of the intake was poorly design which caused the motor to overheat and cause premature headgasket failure. I remember walking into a dealership with a friend who wanted to buy one. I asked him they all look like lunch boxes! Are you sure? He made the purchase and it was garbage. Nothing but problems. No styling what so ever!

      Like 1
  8. Connecticut Mark

    Older scamp, duster hubcaps which I think are 14 inch , did this car not come with 13 inch tires? Where would old lady find these and decide to put on this car?

    Like 3
    • Johnny

      Some had 14 inch.

      Like 1
    • Evan

      I believe 2- and 4-door cars came with 13’s stock, with an option of 14’s, but the wagons came with 14’s stock.

      Like 1
  9. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    Maybe she lost an original hubcap and took the car to a used hubcap store (remember those?) they probably sold her a nice vintage matching set. My Moms 78 Duster had these also, not sure if they were original. Nice K-Car Wagon. My friends Mom bought a brand new 87 wagon and it seemed like a Cadillac next to my Mom’s 85 Escort Wagon.

    Like 3
  10. Jeff

    Hubcaps aren’t original, from ’73 Valiant/Duster/Scamp.

    Like 2
  11. martinsane

    I drove a white Dodge version in high school.
    Later in the late 80s my mom tried to battle a fire hydrant with it and the hydrant was the victor, totalling the wagon.
    I remember my folks teading a chocolate brown Aspen wagon for it. Probably should habe kept the 70s Aspen as id wager it may have faired better in the tussle as at least it had rather large chrome bumbers versus the very plastic K car.

    Like 1
  12. Dave Drews

    Earlier 1.7 motors were misibutchy built,2 .2 and 2.5 are Chrysler built

    • Norman Phillips

      I was told the 1.7 was a VW engine.

      • stu

        The 1.7 is a VW motor, in fact it was the seconds that did not pass for VW cars and Chrysler picked them up…That’s how to make a car on the cheap…

  13. chrlsful

    want it (but 3.8L 6 motor)

  14. JCA Member

    The color is apropos for this ride. Fecal brown.

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