$399 Omni 024 Option: 1981 Dodge Charger 2.2


Does anyone remember the 1980s? Do you remember when a Dodge Charger was a rear-wheel-drive muscle car? This front-drive, original gem is on eBay with a current bid price of $3,050 but the reserve isn’t met. There is a Buy It Now price of $4,900 which seems very reasonable in looking at the condition of this car which, by the way, is located in Monroe Township, New Jersey.


And there it is, backing off of the trailer, freshly in from the original owner in Indiana. This is really an incredible little time machine, all original right down to the paint, decals, interior, the air in the tires.. well, who knows about that, but this is like stepping back in time. It doesn’t look like it has over 65,000 miles on it to me, it’s been very, very well preserved.


1981 was the first year for the resurrection of the Dodge Charger, albeit in name only as a $399 Charger 2.2 option package on the Dodge Omni 024. But, that’s not to say that this car wasn’t fairly fast for 1981, and it’s still what I would consider “fast” for the end of 2016. I like speed as much as the next person, but I don’t live and die for stoplight-to-stoplight drag races. I like crisp and/or fun handling more than I like to go fast in a straight line. This car could do both quite well. From a 1981 Car and Driver story: “It will suck the headlights out of a Scirocco in a stoplight drag-off. It’ll stay glued to an Audi’s rear bumper through your favorite esses—and will feel good doing it.”


Look at that interior! Nice. It’s probably as close to being like-new as you’ll find, and a 4-speed manual instead of an automatic is nice to see. The AC is even ice cold and the clock works! If those aren’t two kicks in the head I don’t know what are. This car most likely has never seen a snowflake and has been well taken care of. I don’t care what the vehicle is, when they’re this nice I like them; supercar, muscle car, family car, fast or slow, it doesn’t matter to me.


Here’s the 2.2 part – Chrysler’s 2.2L, 135 cubic inch, inline four with 84 hp. This isn’t the more potent turbo that Chrysler had a lot of success with and it’s about the only part of the car that looks like it could do with some detailing. Once that’s done you’ll have a crowd around this Charger 2.2 at almost any car show. This is the sort of car that a lot of collectors grew up with and they have a lot of interest in vehicles from this era, believe it or not. If you’re going to start collecting cars from this era, a rust-free, all-original first-year, black Charger 2.2 in this fantastic condition for less than $5,000 is a great way to start.


  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Nice! I don’t know what they are officially “worth,” but I think that’s a lot of car for the money. Ex-Shelby Charger owner here.

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  2. ldboehm

    I actually owned one of these in the Turismo 5spd version for a couple years. It’s surprisingly handled really nice and was very very quick. I enjoyed it.

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  3. Tom hetrick

    my sister had one in college painted in her sorority colors!!!! it needed a 5th gear. my mom had an 024 Omni that was great too.

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    • Kevin H Lautt

      I imagine this is gone. I had one out of college. I want one for sentimental reasons

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  4. Chebby

    It’s pretty amazing for a car of this age to be kept in this condition, especially when it’s from the era of peeling clearcoat and plastics that discolor and rot in the sun. Not sure if it’s desirable but it’s remarkable to see. The price is reasonable too, the flipper must have gotten it for nearly nothing.

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    • HotRodHarry

      And to who said
      “The flipper..must have gotten it for nothing”….I paid 4200 plus enclosed shipping of 800..last year from Indiana to NJ..I collect cars and enjoy them…only selling because I have to move to a much smaller place…so I actually lost over 200 bucks . … but am very happy it’s going to a collector that will continue carrying for this well preserved original icon of the 80s. Harry .. http://www.HotRodHarrys.com

      Like 2
  5. e55

    I had the Plymouth version – a Plymouth Turismo 2.2. It was a POS.

    More importantly, it almost destroyed a relationship. When I graduated from college in 1983, I was driving a pristine 1974 phoenix red (aka orange) Porsche 914. I had a job waiting for me in the same city as my college. However, before starting, I went back to my hometown to organize and pack up my belongings, and move back to the big city to start my post-college life. While at home, my dad, who had owned several Porsches, Jaguars, Shelbys, among other cars, persuaded me that I needed to dump that 914 in favor of a “new car”. Somehow, he convinced me that the new car should be a 1983 Plymouth Turismo 2.2 in maroon with orange stripes and a red vinyl & corduroy. We sold the 914 to a friend, and we bought the mighty Turismo. I got in my trusty steed loaded down with a bunch of junk and new IBM computer, monochrome green screen and a state-of-the-art (but incredibly loud) daisy wheel printer (which, together, cost about $5,000!) and pointed her back to the City and my future. The drive went well and I arrived in town without incident. In fact, everything was going great until my girlfriend saw the new car. When she waved good-bye to me several weeks earlier, she watched me and my cute orange Porsche fade in the distance; when she greeted me upon my return, I was driving a Plymouth! Fortunately, we were able to overcome the Plymouth and 30 years later, we’re still married. By the way, we have had several Porsches since that 914 and, in fact, she drives a Cayman!

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    • moosie Craig

      huh ?

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    • Tim

      I agree with you 100%. I bought mine brand new, garage kept and treated with gentle care and it basically fell apart! One day the whole door handle assembly came off on the outside, the door hinge broke and every time I used the rear window defroster the lights would dim and the car would stall. The day I picked it up I turned on the headlights and it blew a fuse. I was told to make an appointment and they would look at it. They put a high amp fuse in the box and it kept from blowing. Last Chrysler product I ever owned and will never buy Chrysler again and that is 35 years later……………

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  6. e55

    The Shelby version (I believe it was the Dodge Shelby O24) was the one to get. It came out in about 1986.

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    • Dirty Dingus McGee

      Actually, the first with a Shelby tune and badging was in 1983. Turbo came in 1985. I have an 84 Shelby and an 86 Shelby (bought the 86 new). Best one was the last one, 1987, as it had the Turbo II motor good for 175 hp in stock trim.

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  7. Coventrycat

    Pretty good looking in the day, and even now.

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  8. KumbasDad

    I had a red one with gold stripes……….Best memory was when the CV joint feel out doing donuts !!!

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  9. gene

    Back in the day I did lots of work on these cars. For the most part, they were build well. But back then they were nothing special. Nobody really wanted these. The hot cars were IROC, GTA, Vettes.
    These days they are somewhat special because they look different than today’s cars.
    and most of these have been turned into laptops and tv by now.

    Like 0
  10. Melvin Burwell

    Sorry. I’ll never buy anything that is front wheel drive again. Had nothing but bad luck with American cars.Fwd.

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  11. Wayne Thomas

    Its missing the most important option – Rear Wheel Drive.

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    • Ron G

      I remember when my dad bought an 84 Charger when I was about 5 years old as a work car. When he told me he was getting a Charger I was excited, I thought he was bringing home the General Lee, since that’s what my 5 year old mind associated with Chargers. Then he pulled in the driveway with it. Gold with a tan interior and a black stripe with Charger down the side. I was disappointed, but I liked the car and didn’t think it looked too bad. I remember it being a good car too, my dad had it for about 2 years, which was a long time for him with a work car. This car is in great shape and looks almost new, except for the front bumper, if you look closely at the pictures of the front of the car, the paint is peeling on the nose. Not a huge deal or a difficult fix, but it makes the $4900 buy it now price a bit too high.

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      • HotRodHarry

        Sold for 4800

        Like 0
  12. Rustytech Member

    They weren’t the Chargers of old, but speaking as a mechanic that worked on many of them, they were fairly well built for what was basically considered a throw away car. This is in incredible car, it will never be a valuable collector car, but this is a fair price for a fun driver.

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  13. ClassicCarFan

    I guess that there is a bum for every seat and some people who have had experience with this model will find some nostalgic appeal maybe, but I struggle to see the attraction of this one.

    Early 80s styling seems kind of garish and 84 bhp out of a 2.2 liter motor is not going to stir anyone’s heartbeat too much. FWD isn’t the enthusiast’s choice and re-using an iconic classic name like “charger” on a tame model like this always seems like a cynical exploitation of their muscle car heritage. Still, it does look like a well-preserved example, but I’d reckon if the bidding gets near the BIN price the seller will have done well?

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    • Billy

      I thought these models had 94 or 96HP. That is, if my senility isn’t set in too hard yet. Drove one new, a lot nicer than the 1.7L 1979 Omni I was driving at the time. Like usual, too cheap to buy and kept driving my Omni, that is, until I lost the 4th gear in the transaxle on the freeway near Tomah, Wisconsin. Man, I tell you now, that was a pretty loud drive home. (70MPH in third gear!) (okay, Maybe it was 55 or 60 in those days, but you get the idea. Wish I had a place for this one)

      Like 0
  14. Karl

    84HP can be fun enough if it’s set up right. I drove a 1981 Mustang with the 200 straight six and four-speed (actually 3 plus overdrive) good for a whopping 88HP. It was a blast in the low gears–people would ask me if it was a V8–but would top out at maybe 85mph on the interstate with the pedal flat on the floor and that poor little six sucking air through the one-barrel carb like a submariner pulling on a Momsen lung. It was fun around town and I kept it for five years–wish I’d hung onto it.
    If you like your 80’s nostalgia Chrysler flavored, this one’s the ticket.

    Like 0
  15. HotRodHarry

    Hey gang…I was the owner of this little amazing 81 2.2 Charger…she did sell and is going to a great hime of somone who collects these. He actually had an identical one as his first car. It is one fun ride still and everything worked incredible. The original owner really lived this car…R.I.P. But he will love that this car will stay amazing and be loved still. I have had 125 cars and some wild rides past and present…this Charger was pretty cool sitting in my collection. Everyone loved it. Selling all my rides now..downsizing and moving.
    http://www.HotRodHarrys.com is my website to see all for sale and my car passion. Have a great weekend and thanks for posting this car up gang! Harry

    Like 1
  16. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update, this great car sold for $4,800!

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    • HotRodHarry

      Yep..and it’s going to a Charger 2.2 collector. His first car was a Black and Gold 2.2 Charger…I’m glad it’s found another great caretaker . Thanks again everyone fir talking about it and telling some great stories. Harry http://www.HotRodHarrys.com

      Like 1
  17. jobohe

    I looked at these new for my first car… actually was _just_ beyond my budget and I almost took an almost-new 024 with the DeTomaso package that preceded the Charger, but I was put off by tape graphics, louvers and aluminum targa band. Maybe Charger 2.2 would have been more conspicuous than I could have handled!
    @Rustytech, they’re not the Chargers of old, but who would think Dodge would ever allow a 4-door Charger? Nothing stays the same.

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  18. Josh Echt

    The 2.2 motors from ’81-93 (pre-2.0-liter Neon in ’94) were basically akin to, in supercar terms, the Lotus Esprit keeping up with the big boys (Viper, ZR1, NSX, Skyline, Toyota Supra, Mazda RX7, Nissan 300ZX). A mighty-mite engine.

    In domestic terms, the 2.2 Series Is, IIs, and IIIs came in a scrappy 3rd to the 5-liter Stangs and F-bodies, but it wasn’t a blowout. Especially with the 175-hp. VNT versions and the 224-hp. DOHC variants.

    Like 0
  19. greg johnson

    i bought a new 1982 model, mine ran great, zero problems for the 4 years i had it. I put a factory spring kit which lowered it 2 inches, made the hood scope functional and sport exhaust kinda of miss it

    Like 0

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