Too Nice to Race: 1985 Plymouth Turismo/Duster

When I think of the word Turismo I usually think of some exotic Italian high-maintenance car, and when I think of the word Duster I think of a V8-powered car from the 1970s. This 1985 Plymouth Turismo/Duster is neither of those things. It’s listed on Craigslist, or here on the CL archive with an asking price of $1,200 or best offer. Bring your passport if you plan on driving it back to the US as it’s in Fraser Heights, Surrey, British Columbia in Canada.

There are a few dings and small dents and it looks like either the bottoms of the doors or the rocker panels, or both, are starting to show some rust. The seller bought this car to use as an ice-racing car they they determined that it was “too clean and rare to destroy.” Chrysler redesigned the Chrysler/Simca Omni/Horizon sedans into a two-door sporty version and they became the Dodge 024 and the Plymouth TC3. In 1983, they were renamed the Dodge Charger and Plymouth Turismo. In 1985, Plymouth offered a slightly sportier version called the Turismo/Duster but, unfortunately, it didn’t come with a turbo engine option like the Dodge version had. As a lot of cars in those days were, the Plymouth Turismo/Duster was more of a graphics-engineered performance car than a speedy performance car. 1987 would be the last year for these cars.

You can see one reason that this particular car may not be as sporty as it could be, it has an automatic transmission. The interior looks great on this car but as always I want to see more photos. I wish car sellers would adopt a 2018 resolution to provide more photos in online listings. To see just how cool these cars really were (according to Hollywood and/or Chrysler marketing gurus), check out this 1985 YouTube video showing a 1985 Plymouth Turismo Duster!

This 2.2L inline-four would have had 96 hp, not exactly the stuff of ice racing lore. The 146-hp turbo engine would have been great in this car. The seller says that this engine “runs great when it warms up. Could use a tune up.” For the price this one is hard to beat, now about that shipping.. Have any of you owned or even heard of a Plymouth Turismo/Duster?

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Comments

  1. Steve R

    This is the sort of car you buy as a beater. You drive it, maybe do one somewhat expensive repair, then move it on when it needs a second.

    The seller is probably right, at present it’s too nice to turn into an ice racer. It’s not worth either restoring or paying having it shipped.

    Steve R

    • Arthur

      It might not be worth the standard restoring, but I’m thinking it might make a good restomod … especially if it’s powered by a 3G Hemi.

  2. edh

    These were everywhere in the ’80s but by the mid ’90s few and far between. There was a reason for this, they were crap.

    • Whippeteer

      Like most cars of the era, they started rusting out on their way to the dealership.

  3. glen

    Go with “or best offer”, because ice racers aren’t usually expensive cars. He probably didn’t pay a lot for this car.

  4. Johnny Cuda

    The Duster option was available on the 1984 models as well. I bought one new from Kehoe Chrysler/Plymouth in Wellesley, Mass.

  5. curt

    I always thought it would fun to get one of these or an ford exp,merc.ln7 something along those lines.trick out the motor turbos,superchargers nos,what ever it takes.surprise the hell a out of all the ricers and tuners running aroung….and i do like this body style.

    • Steve R

      Don’t bet on it, unless you are only planning on going up against some dumb kid with their first car. The local track runs a drifting program in conjunction with it Wednesday night drags, you would be suprised how many $500 beater rear wheel drive Japanese cars and BMW’s are running LS engines. That swap in those car outnumbers what you see in older domestic cars at the drag strip. Most that are still running 4 cylinders have a turbo hanging off the side of the engine. On the drag strip side, it’s pretty common to 11 and 12 second imports, some are even faster. There are several 4 cylinder front wheel drive cars available that will run well into the 13’s off the showroom floor. The tuner guys have really stepped up their game in the last few years.

      Steve R

      Like 1
  6. mike D

    a boss of mine ( f/m) bought one of these as a new car, apparently she had the worst luck, the only thing she “Liked” about it was it’s ability to climb snow covered hills and drive past everybody who was ” stuck” as soon as she could, she traded it off on a Camry , and has bought them ever since

    Like 1
  7. Rob

    When I hear Duster, I think of a rusted out two door from the early/mid 70s with the leaning tower of power laying down a beautiful blue/grey smoke screen, plugging down the road.

  8. Nick G.

    In the mid-90’s, my first car was an ’85 Shelby Charger. I particularity searched for this car because of all the “Direct Connection” Mopar ads claiming to offer parts to boost the horsepower to 300. Not that a high school kid has such money.

    It was fast but horrible in every way… I wish I still had it.

  9. Tony D.

    I bought a new (5-speed) Turismo in 1983.it was a fun little car, got good mileage, did ok in the snow and the hatchback access was convenient. The only real issue was that the odometer was inaccurate (indicated less that the actual miles driven). Traded it on a Suzuki Samurai four years later!

  10. Allen Member

    My son had a bone-stock ’85 Horizon and my daughter later had an ’86 Dodge Omni. We had a neighbor who routinely ran an ’88 Dodge Daytona that he prepared for the drag strip. I don’t remember what times he got, but he was consistently beating 5-liter Mustangs. I will not claim any fantasies here in terms of build-quality, and user interfaces did not yield much of an impression. But both of these Omnirizons did their jobs sturdily – up to nearly 200,000 miles on our watch – and a number of additional years of service to known subsequent owners. “Detroit’s best-kept secret” I called them. And… even the boring econo-box sedans were a ball to drive and throw around.

  11. Scott Tait

    Inline 4 … no its a TRANSVERSE 4 cylinder…

    • sparecr

      Actually Inline refers to the style of engine and transverse refers to how it is located in the car. So both are correct. You could even say Transverse Inline 4 cyl, much like a Lamborghini Miura Is a Transvesre V-12.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Scott, no matter how it’s oriented/mounted in the vehicle, the four cylinders are in a straight line which makes it an inline-four. I have been wrong many times, though, so thanks for the clarification on how the inline-four is mounted in these cars.

      • james

        do they make a v4, if so , who?

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        Lancia made a v4.

  12. sparecr

    I started my car life back in 1986 with a 1980 Omni O24 hated the car. Wasn’t cool enough. This was after my Parents having a 1982 Charger 2.2 and a rampage and well we had just about every front driver Chrysler Iaccoca could put out. Funny thing is these are all now the cars I want to collect. With the advent of the Radwood show I will now have place to show them….

  13. chad

    Hi Scott,
    inline as apposed to V, boxer (flat), etc
    yes, there’s also – longitudinal/transverse
    (i4, i6, etc)

  14. robh693

    Owned an ’87 Turismo since new. 5 speed manual, replaced the clutch once, rebuilt the carb twice but other than that drove that sucker for 140,000 miles without a hiccup. Great economical 2 door.

  15. Kyle

    Thanks for the add !

    I’m the owner of the car lol

    • charles nichols

      Is this still for sale Kyle?

    • David Arellanes

      Hello, David A. Here. My wife,back in 1981, bought brand new, and I mean she and I saw it still sitting on the new-car hauler 18-wheeler at the dealer in Hot Springs, Arkansas, a 1981-1/2 Charger 2.2. It’s when they first introduced it. It was Yellow with black side stripes, hood and tail decals, rear window metal louvered screen and Dodge factory mags. She loved it, as well as I. It was totaled out in 1991 by a drunk college student in a Camaro when he hit me head on when he crossed the center line. Now that you have that story, I was wondering if you still have this car for sale? You can contact me at
      e-mail. I have wanted to find another model close to her original year and rebuild another like her’s was. I even have a complete original NOS body stripe & decal kit from Chrysler, but the 1981-1/2 body style has been impossible to find. The interior of your car is very similar to the original interior colors in her car. Attached is a picture of exactly what her Charger looked like.
      When you look at the picture you will likely notice it is the box of a 1/24th scale model for sale, but the model was created exactly like her car. Anyway…..Thank you for your reply.

      Respectfully

      Like 1
  16. Kyle

    Here’s a real find for you Scotty. This car was sitting across the street from a building I was looking at repairing for a local property manager. At first glance I thought just a Capri. But after a closer look I couldn’t believe it . A 1981 Capri RD Turbo . Thinking of going back and talking to the owner .

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Thanks for sharing Kyle! Can you send us more photos so we can do a sighting story?

  17. Arthur

    I can easily see this car being fitted with an Art Morrison or Roadster Shop chassis and a Hellcat engine under the hood.

  18. Trevor Smith

    My first car was a white 85 Duster I bought while on vacation with my family in 2001. My dad had had an 85 Charger he bought new when I was 2 and I loved it. My Duster had a ton of mechanical and rust problems due to age, and yet I would love to have it back again. Still have the key on my key chain.

  19. Michel Beauchamp

    I had the 2.2L, 5 speed, 4 cyl. Plymouth Turismo 1984 (didn’t trust the all new to market Mitsubishi 2.6l at the time). Loved that car. Ran it for 15 years which was unheard of for American cars in those days in our part of the Big White North. Consider that I did not have a garage and lived in Québec so that cutie had to endure winters outside. I kept up with the dealership maintenance plan for the first 7 years and maintained it myself for the remaining period with whatever I could do myself otherwise, I had a good dependable mechanic to give it the TLC it required.

    Though they called this shown model a Turismo/Duster, it seemed to have been a revamped Omni. We could tell the difference in 1984 by the back spoiler. The Omni had a spoiler molded in the hatchback whence the Turismo had a separate part for the spoiler. I’m sure of that, they kept me waiting 2 weeks for delivery because they did not have the spoiler on hand. So it seems they went around the manufacturers shelves an put up some Turismo parts into an Omni for 1985 (the Omni had a smaller motor, a 1,6l I think) and called it a Turismo/Duster. The Duster name was used for all kind of models in Chrysler’s history it seems….

    Da**, I miss my car!! §:c)

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