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25k Miles + No Reserve! 1980 Plymouth Horizon TC3

When was the last time you saw one of these unusual-looking coupes scooting around in your town?  I remember when these first came out, and as a youngster, I actually thought they were kind of sharp cars for the time period.  I also liked the Dodge Mirada from the same year, and believe it may have been the sloped front end on both cars that caught my eye.  Lee Iacocca was President of Chrysler at the time, and it was he that prompted the design department to create the TC3 version of the Plymouth Horizon and the 024 variety of the Dodge Omni, both of which were similar offerings and somewhat sportier versions of the base cars they were derived from.  The TC3 and 024 had short lifespans, beginning in 1979 and ending in 1982, and while these may not be in high demand they’re not exactly common sightings nowadays either.  If you’re in the market for an inexpensive example that won’t break your bank account, this 1980 Plymouth Horizon TC3 may be worth checking out.  It’s located in Manasquan, New Jersey, and can be seen here on eBay with a current bid of $1,625.

We’d like to thank Barn Finds reader Larry D. for the great tip on this one!  The seller says right off the bat that this is a one-owner car, but to clarify, I think what he means is that he recently acquired it himself from the son of the original owner.  The story goes that the TC3 was originally purchased by an older gentleman who ended up parking it in 1994, with only a claimed 25,000 miles having been driven at the time. He goes on to say that the car has been garaged since day one and has no rot, just some surface rust where the paint has been chipped.  A good indicator that the finish is original can be found near the gas cap, as I can’t imagine a crooked Unleaded Fuel Only sticker would be retained or replaced after a respray!

Painfully slow is how the owner describes performance, as Chrysler originally used a small 1.7 liter VW 4 cylinder motor in these vehicles.  Zero to 60 takes 16 seconds, according to the seller.  The car was not running when purchased, but not much was required to get it going again.  A new fuel pump was added, gas lines were replaced, the carburetor was rebuilt, the oil was changed and a new battery was installed.  After that, the engine is said to have fired right up, and the transmission is stated to shift smoothly.

Everything we can see inside presents respectably, and to be over 40 years old, things in there really do look like they may have been in the garage most of the time and only been sat in for 25k miles.  The car is said to even still have its original tires, although they have flat spots and don’t ride very well.  There’s no reserve, so the high bidder will be taking this one home.  What are your thoughts on this 1980 Plymouth Horizon TC3?


  1. Moparman Member

    Very sharp! these were some good looking cars, I found one identical to this one for a relative’s first car. IIRC, the only downside was that replacing the water pump required that the engine be pulled! GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 3
    • P the T

      Bought the Dodge version of this new back then, the Omni 024. I want to say it was just under $5K. Was a fun car.

  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I agree, these were attractive, sporty-looking versions of very basic economy cars. I haven’t seen one, even in beater shape, in years. Good write-up Mike.

    Like 13
  3. Cadmanls Member

    Yes they sold quite well and got good gas mileage. Sporty but not overboard so sold to an older crowd as well. Friend of mine father left him one and he drove it many miles. Pretty sure there is an old timing belt in there somewhere someone should attend to though. Today’s gas prices drive it.

    Like 6
  4. Bob C.

    Wasn’t this engine used in the Rabbit? IIRC they used to boast about the Rabbit being able to do 0 to 50 in 8.2 seconds, which was pretty impressive for the time. This car must be considerably heavier.

    Like 2
    • nlpnt

      Chrysler bought short blocks from VW (whose new Westmoreland plant had more block-casting capacity than they could use) and finished them themselves with non-interchangeable Mopar parts.

      Later on it was replaced by a Peugeot engine, likely actually the Simca-designed unit originally intended for it before Chrysler sold off their overseas subsidiaries, alongside the optional K-car 2.2.

      Like 5
  5. Leslie Martin Member

    My first brand new car ever was ’82 Plymouth Turismo 2.2. Much better engine and acceleration and surprisingly agile handling for an FWD car. I was a Field Service engineer and drove the crap out of it for 3 years until the 4 speed transaxle could take no more. Yes, the early 80’s Chrysler build quality was exactly as bad as you’d expect. But that was still one of the most fun and enjoyable cars I ever owned.

    Like 6
  6. PartsIsParts

    The 1979 TC3 that my parents bought new was the worst car we ever owned but definitely looked sharp. The transmission case cracked twice by the time it got to 53,000 miles, simple things like door handles would snap off in your hands, etc. The second time the transmission case cracked, I had to drive it home in reverse for 2 miles in an Edmonton, Alberta winter. The car looked sporty at least but couldn’t get out of its own way.

    Like 2
  7. SaabGirl900

    Ah, the memories! I had an ’83 Turismo with the 1.7 litre engine. Fantastic gas mileage (with a light foot, you could actually get 40 MPG as I did once or twice) but I’d agree….this car will not win any races, especially with an automatic gearbox. Mine had a four speed, and it may have been a bit quicker than this car, but not by much.

    As an aside, the TC3 and the 024 morphed into the Turismo and Charger for the 1983 model year. The Turismo 2.2 and Charger 2.2 were the “go quicker” variants. The 5 speed became available in December of 1983…mine came off of the line the first week of September of 1982 (and was delivered a week later to the dealership, where I was eagerly awaiting it), hence the four speed.

    Too bad it’s an automatic or I’d bid on it……………

    Like 5
  8. Hoover

    For Christmas, at age 15, I got a brand-new 1981 Dodge Omni 024. LOVED that car! Drove it everywhere, even before I had my license. (don’t tell my mom!)

    At age 17, after a night at the outdoor theater, around 3am, I got pulled over for speeding in a 55mph zone…

    the sheriff said, “do you know how FAST you were going?”
    I said, “no, the speedometer only goes up to 85 but it was BOUNCING like crazy!”
    he told me, “You were doing 110mph!!”
    I said, “I didn’t think this car could DO 110!”
    he said, “NEITHER did I.”

    He laughed and gave me a ticket for 85mph and saved me from losing my license due to the “point system.”

    Other memories include dozens of road trips, concerts, and overloading the car once with our entire HS pom-pon squad. Tore my muffler off when I drove into the parking lot to drop them off at Pizza Hut. Worth it.

    I miss that car and ALL those teenage shenanigans!!

    Like 7
  9. Troy

    Didn’t they also build a el Camino like car in these same years i seem to remember little trucks that had kinda the same front clip but pick up body

    Like 1
  10. Joe Wilner Member

    Troy I believe they were called a Rampage? Cool little pickups.

    Like 1
  11. Randy

    My first car! Living in a Chrysler town you felt for your neighbours and wanted to do your part to save the company. Remember it well as the dark days of the auto industry. I had a 1981 and it had a 1.8 litre VW engine in it. It was a bare bones car no a/c no power steering auto transmission. That car lasted 15 years with just basic maintenance and replacement of the distributor cap every few years. The car floorboards rusted out but that engine was still going strong! When I ordered it my friends said it will leak oil all the time. It never did.

    Like 1
  12. Richard S Sikes

    I left an Old’s dealer in 1980 because they wouldn’t transfer me from the make-ready shop to the salesfloor, but by 1981, I got my first job selling Chrysler/Plymouths at the dealership across from Six Flags over Texas, I was 21. I went through sales school and for 4 weeks I didn’t sell anything and I was ready to give up. Then I ‘up-ed’ a couple and got them to buy a little jewel just like this one…but gold with tan, my first delivery!! Super excited, and over the next 35 years, I sold thousands of vehicles of all makes, shapes and sizes and had a good car business career; but you never forget your first. Thanks Tom Demerest.

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