31,000 Miles? 1986 Plymouth Horizon SE

Chrysler had some interesting cars in their European division, maybe one of the more sane and useful lines that came out of there were the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon. This 1986 Plymouth Horizon SE looks like a fantastic car and it’s located in Satellite Beach, Florida. It’s listed on eBay with a current bid price of just over $1,600 but the reserve isn’t met.

This car is like any and every other car for me, I like it. I literally don’t care what it is, I love to remember the era that these older cars are from and what was happening at that time. Nothing brings me back more than seeing a nice example of a car, truck, or motorcycle from a certain era. This one brings me back to the mid-1980s, for better or worse. My dad died in a boating accident in 1985 so there’s a horrible memory, but I also started what would be a successful business at the end of 1985 so there’s a good memory. The bad outweighs the good for me but at least something good came out of this era, other than this Horizon.

The seller says that this paint isn’t perfect but it sure looks like it is to me. They didn’t pop for the enlarged / enlargeable photos for the eBay auction, unfortunately, so it’s hard to tell from these small photos. They say there’s “no rust” and those are thee two biggest magic words for me, vehicle-wise. It’s also a one-owner car, that’s fairly rare for a 32-year old vehicle. It’s like telling someone that you’ve worked at the same job/office for 32 years, that doesn’t happen too often anymore.

There really is only one thing that I would change on this car from the exterior to the interior, it’s all 99.9% perfect other than this one has an automatic transmission! At least it’s been rebuilt recently, so that’s a small consolation? They say that the 5-digit odometer shows just over 31,000 miles, and it looks like it could be a low-mileage car to me. But it could be 131,000? The interior looks just as nice as the exterior does, and that color is unbeatable in my world. The seats look perfect both front and back.

The engine is Chrysler’s 2.2L transverse-mounted inline-four that had around 95 hp. That’s not a bad amount of power for the mid-1980s in a small car. The seller says that this one runs good and the AC still blows cold. This isn’t a car that any of us had a poster of on our wall growing up, but I really like well-preserved cars from any era, even econoboxes like this Horizon. What are your memories of the 1980s?

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Comments

  1. MH

    Those are great cars. Lots of fun memories in one of these when me and a buddy were 16 years old terrorizing the town. We also took that car on the railroad tracks. It handled it pretty well. I would buy it if it was a manual.

    • Jerry Brentnell

      you know the trick here is find a shelby daytona turbo and transplant the power train in this and you got a wolf in sheeps clothing! and its a straight bolt in too! because we did just that years ago! the shelby trick works even better in a rampage!

      • Steve

        Or just buy a GLH/ GLHS?😬

  2. Sanity Factor

    I had one a 85…car never failed me besides broken ext. door handles….had to climb through the hatch once…i hated the car but it never left me stranded…

    • Kafka Esquire

      I had an 87 Horizon with the automatic. It was a fun, low-maintenance car. The engine blew at 87K miles. I probably should have changed the oil more often than once every 17,000 miles. Yup. Three oil changes. (maybe it would have benefitted from a little more maintenance…).

      :-)

      • Alan (Michigan) Member

        Lessons learned the hard way sometimes….

    • Kevin

      did you know that you could exchange a broken door handle with the opposite side and put the broken back on the other side? extra work but no need to buy a new handle……until you break the OTHER one. LOL

      • Alan (Michigan) Member

        That’s really be great, if all four were the same. Who needs to get in the back anyway?

  3. Rustytech Member

    These have to be as rare as hens teeth, especially in this condition. If it had the third pedal I’d be tempted.

  4. CanuckCarGuy

    We used one of these for Driver’s Ed when I was 16…I thought it was a great little car. Then, as now, when I grow up I want to buy a GLH 😁.

  5. HotWheelsCalgary

    Oye… The carbs on these motors were horrible! Other than that, great looking find!

    • 63Comet

      Yes they were but my complaints wouldn’t stop thee. My wife had one when we were dating. I wouldn’t pay$1.60 for it. It has 31k because it likely quit running at that point. Worse car I’ve ever driven. Repairs needed constantly. Terrible. I’d stay away from this, 80d nostalgia can be had with better vehicles.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      The 2.2 was injected starting in ’84.

      • Guardstang

        Not in the non-turbo L bodies–the sale car is carburated

  6. angliagt angliagt Member

    We rented one of these with an automatic,after flying
    back from Hawaii in November ’89.I was impressed with it enough
    to go pick up a brochure from a local dealer.

  7. Alan (Michigan) Member

    $1785, and “The Reserve is OFF!”

  8. Bryce

    I wasn’t born. Doesn’t seem like a Mopar to me I’m a Mopar 11 owner though

  9. Mark Hoffman

    I agree with someone else that mentioned carburetor trouble.

    I had an 85 Plymouth Reliant 2.2. It was constantly in the shop during the 18 months I owned it.

    I drove many Omni/Horizon dealer rent a cars like this one while mine was in the shop.

    I owned a fuel injected 86 2.2 in 2005. It ran much better

  10. gtyates

    My wife and I had an ’85 Omni back in the day. It was a decent car until it got up to around 60k miles, then it started to nickel and dime us to death with repairs. Nothing major, but lots of small repairs, so we dumped it. The final straw was when the fuel filler tube ruptured while fueling it up…

  11. Paul M.

    I always enjoy reading this website. Thanks for your stories.
    I owned a 1978 Plymouth Horizon just like this one with the two tone color and red interior. It had the 5 speed tranny though. Loved the car and had good acceleration and traction too.
    Also purchase a 1979 Plymouth Omni 024, as well as a 1986 Plymouth Tourismo. Put over 230k. Miles on it before selling it and was still running strong.
    Great cars!

  12. Ocana64

    My memories of the 80’s? Bad hair, bad music, really bad fashions, and Camaros, fastback Mustangs, Chargers, Challengers etc everywhere selling for 1500 bucks

  13. Jeremy holmes

    I had one as a kid and hit a cow with it. Totaled the car and the cow. It was a good car

    • Francisco

      How were the steaks?

  14. Mr. TKD

    I like.

  15. Mark

    Last photo, if I did. It knowit was a horizon, I would guess that engine photo was a caravan with front nose .

  16. Alexander

    The problem I remember was that, when I was shopping for a car in 1986, I had a choice between the Plymouth Horizon America and the Dodge Colt. They offered me the Horizon for an out-the-door price of about $250 cheaper. I pointed out that between the Horizon’s official 19-24 mph (rumored to be a generous figure) and the Colt’s 27-31 mpg (which I later confirmed was conservative), I would save the difference in price in about a year buying the Colt (rebadged Mitsubishi). It took me eleven years and nearly 150K to finally kill that Colt with minimal maintenance. I never heard of anybody doing that with a Horizon save for multiple major transplants, repairs, etc. You could say I “Dodged” the bullet there……

    • Neal

      Great comment!

  17. Alexander

    Update:

    Seller now admits, “odometer shows 31000 miles, I am selling the car as over 100000 miles”.

  18. Classic Steel

    They were nice cars and the VW type four bangers…. They ran great as long you kept the maintenance up on them… Once one ever got them hot then the head gaskets were needed immediately and hopefully not the head too.

    My father in law had two of them and kept the same maintenance applied to both… One lasted and ran forever and the other one was the lemon with the head gasket issues at 50 thousand miles and then a couple thousand more and the second time the head was gone… .

    Second repair and traded it in quickly to unload to the dealer.

    I always said it was the American Rabbit edition car by Cbrysler…

  19. John D

    I sold one with a 5 speed to a friend. She called one day complaining that it didn’t seem to be going as well as it used to. I told her to bring out so we could check it. She was over-due and the next call was from an irate father. The car stopped driving half way to our shop. When it finally showed up, we confirmed that it ran but did not drive. We pulled the transmission to check out the clutch, but the only part of the clutch was the little ring that fits over the transmission shaft. The clutch had disintegrated!

    I asked her where she put her foot after she shifted the gears. She replied that she rested it on the clutch pedal to be ready for the next shift. :face/palm:

    Like 1
  20. Rube Goldberg Member

    Clean examples of these cars are bound to show up. They sold a jillion. John’s clutch story is typical. These were sold to the masses, and took much abuse. For many, these were the 1st small cars people drove. Maintenance was the key. Small cars require strict maintenance, not like my old man’s Oldsmobiles, where he never changed the oil. Great cars, single handedly saved Chrysler. I’ve seen these with over 100K on them, and they didn’t look like this. I suppose it’s possible from Florida, only 3500 miles a year. Great find.

  21. DRV

    It seems these either were fantastically reliable or fantastically unreliable. There is a blue 2 tone one in similar condition that is for sale in a front yard locally. It has over 250k on it.

  22. Miguel

    When you buy and sell cars you see a lot of the same type of car and you learn what to stay away from.

    I am glad a few people had good experiences with these but generally they were crap.

    You could expect a lot of engine noise and usually smoke from the tail pipe.

    They weren’t and are not worth the money to fix them.

  23. Alan

    In the 80s I can remember thete was a Mitsubishi version of this car.

    • Miguel

      They might have used the 2.6 Mitsubishi engine in this car but there wasn’t a Mitsubishi version of this car.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Maybe you’re thinking of the Champ?

  24. Gay Car Nut

    Sweet looking car. I remember the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon. My older cousin had one years ago.

  25. Jerry Brentnell

    the big thing with 2.2s was replace the timing belt at 70,000 miles and oil changes every 5000, and they will run forever, beat the crap out of any car and it will kick you in the ass, you guys call omnis junk! what about pintos, mavricks, escorts, chevetts, citations,vegas,we had a customer with a 68 mustang 6 auto, she dumped more money into that heap than it was worth!

    • Miguel

      The only one on your list that was actual junk was the Vega. The rest were dependable transportation cars and did their jobs well without door handles breaking off or rod knocks at low miles.

    • Gay Car Nut

      I agree. I’ve never thought the Omni/Horizon were junk, not like the Pinto, the Escort, or the Vega, or the Citation. Those have always been my least favourite cars.

  26. Nick

    A job I had in the early 90s had late 80s Dodge Omni’s, same car. They were reliable if you took care of them. Nothing really special about them. This one might be a little neat because it’s probably the only one left.

  27. geezerglide85

    We had 3 of these, 1st was an ’83 with a1.6 Puegot engine and a 4spd stick. This one was real slug, but never let us down. On the hiway I could get 40 mpg, but no air and power nothing. $6000 brand new. 2nd was a ’90 with 2.2 and FI, 5spd, again $6000 brand new. Power nothing and no air, but this was a rocket compared to the1st. Had to sell it after a couple of years, just to small with a growing family. When my wife needed a car for work we got a used ’90 Horizon 2.2 FI and 5spd, air and fully loaded, this was my favorite. Great cars all 3 of them.

  28. Gay Car Nut

    I was in the sixth grade when I first saw one like this. At the time, I didn’t find it very attractive, but was better looking than the VW Golf/Rabbit.

  29. Country Joe

    The only free car I’ve ever had was a 1984 Plymouth Reliant 2 door. Used it for a highway commuter for about a year. The headliner fabric flapped in the breeze and it required a pint of motor oil at every fill-up but it ran every day, except for the battery failing. A gear head that I worked with at the time told me that Mopar means “My Old Pig Ain’t Running” so he tagged the little beater with the name Piglet. It seemed to fit rather well. I found someone in more desperate need of transportation than I was and gave Piglet away. It took me until 2014 to give a Dodge vehicle another try. Mama loves her Plum Crazy Pearl Charger…..

  30. Rich

    I bought a 1985 Horizon for my daughter’s first car. The car leaked oil out of anything that contained oil. I placed cardboard under it to contain the oil, and since it was so cold blood I allow it to idle in the garage ONCE.Exhaust system got so hot it ignited the cardboard and almost burned down the house!

  31. Guardstang

    We had an 86 Charger, had it for years just did maintenance. What blows me away with this car is the original AM only radio

    Like 1
    • Gay Car Nut

      If I’m not mistaken, my cousin’s Horizon had an AM/FM radio. Was that available as an option during the Horizon’s production run?

      • Guardstang

        You could order AM/FM Cassette. We had the dealer install a Mopar unit with AM/FM Cassette, it was a made by Audiovox. Interesting the factory AM could also catch AM stereo but that format never caught on. Ours had about every option a Charger 2.2 could have except sun roof and like a lot of kids in the 80’s we had an aftermarket one installed.

        Like 1
  32. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I owned an ’86 Omni when new and had a blast with it.
    Of course, it was the GLH-T model…..

  33. Gay Car Nut

    I wish I had one when I first got my license. It looks so much more fun to drive than a Toyota MR2 2 door runabout, and way more comfortable. :)

  34. Jimbosidecar

    I bought a brand new Dodge Omni in 1981 and moved my family back up to NH in it. It was an automatic with air car. Served me well until it was time to trade on one of those new fangled mini-vans Plymouth was advertising. But I have fond memories of that little Omni.

  35. Gay Car Nut

    @ Guardstang I believe my cousin bought his Horizon used, so if it had an AM/FM, possibly a cassette player, it was installed *before* he bought the car.

  36. Steve

    I have mixed emotions when it comes to these cars. I had a buddy in high school (80’s whose parents bought him one of these as his first car (86 or 87 (?) Dodge Omni with a five speed) dark grey with light grey interior. Lots of good times jamming to Whitesnake and Slaughter. He tried to straighten a 90 corner out one night (with me on the passenger side) after a few too many beers. Threaded it right between a utility pole and the guy wire. Ended up about thirty feet into a freshly plowed field (luckily there was no fence) no damage to the car but the dumbass burned out the clutch trying to get it unstuck. (His dad had a shelby charger turbo. No wonder my buddy never got to drive it.) The car met its end (and he almost did too) a few years later when either he or the other driver (both claimed they were on their side of the road) in a loaded one ton crew cab oil lease service truck were a little too close (or over) to the center line on a curve. Pre airbag days almost cost him his life. The head injury changed his personality and he ended up an alcoholic.

  37. Jonathan

    First car I owned, in 1982. And, coincidentally, paid $1,600 for mine. It was a manual. Strong Peugeot engine.

  38. Potrzebie

    My first new car was an ’83 Horizon, 1.6L, $5,900. All the water under the bridge between then and now has lent some fanciful enchantment and nostalgia to that car. The fancy and nostalgia end after some deep thought and pondering.

    The first thing that got upgraded (inside of a week) was to hit the local Radio Shack for a higher featured sound system than the stock AM only radio including two Minimus 7 speakers that I bolted to the rear deck… err… cardboard.

    I loved my first bucket seats, left-hand heater controls out of reach of my first wife’s hands, and actually decent sized storage space. It handled much better than my ’59 Rambler, especially in the snow.

    The honeymoon lasted for roughly three years before the inevitable beginning of the end. The first combustion system problems began pretty early on. Between carburetor problems, EGR valves and the like, it sputtered on for another half a dozen years, while other various issues conspired
    to continue the wallet-draining. To whit:

    The handbrake had an annoying tendency to rust solid every couple of winters, the wide use of pot-metal for trim pieces turned the exterior door handles to gingerbread, the Check Engine light was one of the first dash lights to burn out from constant use.

    To be quite fair, I could have been a little more diligent about following the recommended maintenance schedule. But hey, when you’re “20-something,” you have other things on your mind.

    Bottom line: Although there are times I remember fondly IN that car, I have many fewer fond memories OF it.

    Like 1
  39. Car Nut Tacoma

    Nice looking car. My oldest cousin had one like this. Although I didn’t find it the most attractive car at the time, I found it more attractive than Volkswagen’s Golf/Rabbit. And I find it way more attractive than anything offered today.

  40. RON MULLIN

    i had an ’87 carburated engine.the throttle linkage jammed-up constantly from day one when i bought it new. the dealership re-did the linkage and i drove the car for 119,000 miles (replaced front wheel bearings).if it were available today, i would buy one!

    ron mullin

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