Captive Import: 1982 Plymouth Champ

Andrew TannerBy Andrew Tanner

You may have heard of the Dodge (Mitsubishi) Colt, but have you heard of the Plymouth Champ? I hadn’t! Captive imports have and will always fascinate me, especially Chrysler’s unusual relationship with Mitsubishi. Thanks to Matt W. for sending this one in! Dodge Colts are interesting enough, but extremely uncommon these days. The Plymouth equivalent is even more scarce! Though this one has seen some love, it is in excellent condition and very possibly the nicest one for sale right now. The seller has provided an unusual assortment of pictures as well as much of the necessary information. Find it here on Craigslist in Michigan with an asking price of $2,500.¬†

This Champ is in complete and good quality condition, with minimal wear to the interior. The seller states “the interior is like show room new super clean zero rips” and while the seats do indeed lack damage, I wouldn’t quite call this showroom quality. For $2,500 this would be a super cool little daily that would not only be a lot of fun, but bring a lot of attention. It is always the odd little cars like this that people constantly gravitate towards because someone they knew had one back in the day. The dash is clean and un-cracked, the seats don’t look dried out, and it looks ready for a new home! This car is said to run like a Champ (I feel like the seller really missed an opportunity there) with the only non-functioning item being the parking brake.

The tree air freshener is a sure sign of a used car, and it seem pretty likely that this Champ has been equipped with one most of its life. Though the interior is irrefutably nice, to call it showroom quality and not clean it up is a bit of a misfire. A quick vacuum and wipe down would go a long way on this Plymouth! I don’t know what the wet spots on the floor mats are, but I like to think the car has just been washed and the seller had wet feet upon stepping into the passenger compartment and that it isn’t the result of an unresolved issue. Maybe its wearing “sell-me” red, maybe its Maybelline, but I kind of want this car! There are no photographs of the engine bay, and it is not mentioned what engine it has. It is likely a 1.4 or 1.6 liter Mistubishi four cylinder. A turbo 1.6 was available, but it seems like that would be mention if this car were so equipped. Would you daily this car, restore this car, or avoid it altogether?

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Comments

  1. redwagon

    epa estimates about 31mpg hwy, car looks clean, hopefully it runs as good as it looks, visibility is quite good but i already know that i do not fit in this one!

    dont get in an accident. something, something, something tin can.

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  2. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Loved my ’84 Dodge Colt GTS Turbo. This one doesn’t seem to have the “Twin Stick” (4 speed manual with dual range). You could repair nearly anything on the car with a 10 mm wrench, which we called “The Mitsubishi Tool Kit.” Manual steering and brakes were both perfect for feeling the road. I must have taught 10 people to drive standard on that car. My wife put 30,000 miles on it in one year. Guy at the local Dodge parts counter had one (a Turbo) he converted from EFI to a Weber carb and a few other tricks and turning 15s in the quarter-mile. Not blistering these days but pretty quick back then for a little tin can that got 30 MPG.

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    • Andrew Tanner Andrew Tanner Staff

      “The Mitsubishi Tool Kit,” I love it!

      2+
  3. Miguel

    I haven’t seen one of these in such a long time, this one shocked me.

    This is the color combination I had as my very first car I was able to drive.

    Mine was a Colt with the twin stick.

    Later on I bought a white Champ automatic. If you ever have a chance, don’t.

    I have a great fondness for these cars and if it was possible I would probably buy this one.

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    • Bruce Best

      The auto versions were pretty gutless especially at altitude. I tried going over I-70 in a auto version and could not make it up to the Eisenhower Tunnel at the top. About a half mile before the top it ran out of steam and I had to head back down. I do not know if a manual would have done better.

      Great computer cars and the milage I got was in the low 30’s for average city and highway driving. I really liked the one we had, but the rust worm finally dissolved it but not after we has some really high milage on it. I think around 250K. Not quick but a lot more fun than you might think.

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  4. Fred W.

    Had a Champ with Twin Stick and loved it. For comparison, if you drove an Omni or Escort and went through the gears, you could feel the quality difference for yourself. Shifters in those felt like rubber.

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  5. Bobsmyuncle

    Twin stick in a passenger vehicle? Off to Google I go…

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  6. Royal Ricci

    I was the second owner of a 1981 Plymouth Champ. It had 56K on it and was owned by a Priest and my folks picked it up for 3000 at a little used car place in Wappingers Falls. It was my first car silver exterior with Red Interior and maroon stripe package shown here. It had the 1.6 liter motor with auto and A/C. Typically if you had the standard transmission, it came equipped with the 1.4. Believe it or not, it was pretty powerful on the highway with the 1.6 and I often found myself “burrying” the needle at 85 on the TSP heading to Albany with my GF at the time. I drove it to see my other GF at Hood College in Frederick Maryland over 350 miles south of me.

    It also held up well to accidents as I hit some lady who used her clutch to stop her car behind some drunk making a left into a bar for happy hour. Did some real damage but it still drove away and my father managed to bang it all out within three weeks so I could start commuting to college. Overall, lasted me three and a half years before the differential gave out inside the transmission in the middle of my Junior year which we had to have rebuilt once before at the end of my Freshman year of college. Replaced it with a nice 83 Accord Sedan with a 5 speed and 88K for 4,000. I used to have large studded snows on this in the winter that allowed me to go places others could not including many of my college professors.who would not show for class whilst I would be there.

    Great little car which I miss dearly. It sits in my yard rotting away probably too far gone for a proper restoration.

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    • Andrew Tanner Andrew Tanner Staff

      Great story! Rough as it may be, I’m glad to hear you still have it! Maybe one day you’ll hit the lottery and feel crazy enough to restore it better than it ever was.

      1+
  7. Bill Miller

    Great cars! The “twin stick” split all the gears, even reverse! Had 2 shifters. Put it in 1st then pull the split lever while in 1st, then go to second and pull the split lever! 8 gear ratios forward thru the gears and 2 in reverse. The TURBO version would pull hard and change lanes if you weren’t careful. A lot of torque steer. I owned a Plymouth Arrow at the time and almost traded it in.

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  8. chad

    never saw 1 w/auto or w/o the twin stick

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