Nicest One Left? 1987 Plymouth Reliant

Here’s one of those cars that most of us saw on almost every streetcorner a couple of decades ago and then they all disappeared. They were everywhere and most of us either had one or knew someone who had one. The seller has this 1987 Plymouth Reliant listed here on eBay in beautiful Beverly Hills, California where I should have a little 12,500 SF winter home. There is no reserve on this beauty and the current bid price is an embarrassingly low $432.10. $432.10?! I just raised it to a more reasonable number, someone please outbid me!

I recently mentioned my 1991 Dodge Spirit and this car reminds me of sort of a Jan Brady-like evolution from Cindy to Marcia, so to speak. As in, my Spirit (which would be Marcia in this equation) was basically a newer K-Car but was much more evolved. You can see with this later, more-rounded K-Car that Chrysler was working its way up from the early square-edged Plymouth Reliant and Dodge Aries K-Cars (Cindy – are you still with me?) on their way to the next-generation Plymouth Acclaim and Dodge Spirit (Marcia). Did that make any sense at all? K-Cars and Brady Bunch, I hope that you’ve all had your coffee today.

This 1987 Plymouth Reliant looks like a fantastic example in almost time-capsule-status, which we might say here in the employee lounge at One Barn Finds Tower as we’re searching for unique vehicles. The photo above shows the only area on this Reliant with a visible flaw, at least that I can see. There are a few little soft dings on the trunk edge and those sure look like they could be massaged out by a paintless dent technician.

Some might call the automatic transmission another flaw, but most of them came that way. A 5-speed manual sure would have been unique to see here, though, but they weren’t available with this engine. The red velour interior reminds me of Todd Fitch’s prom tux and the interior of this car is in phenomenal condition. Even the AC works and blows cold.

The seller doesn’t mention what engine this is, but it’s unmistakable to me as it’s the same one that was in the aforementioned 1991 Dodge Spirit. This is Chrysler’s 2.5L inline-four, one of my top three personal favorite Chrysler-offered engines. The other two are the 225 slant-six and 2.6L four, actually made by Mitsubishi but offered in small Dodge pickups. This 2.5L four would have had 100 hp and that was enough power, at least in 1987. They say that this car was with the original owner until last winter and had only 60,000 miles at that time. It has new fluids and belts, including a timing belt, and it’s ready to go. Have any of you owned a K-Car?

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  1. Pat L Member

    Good luck with the auction Scotty, you would look right at home driving this car!!!

    Like 5
    • Weasel

      No he wouldn’t. He’s too tall. He’s told us he’s incredibly tall several times. He wouldn’t fit.

      We also know now that a 12,500 sq’ home is winter home category for him. Take that to the bank in the back of your head.

      We also know he drives more miles than most of us and would most likely burn this up in less than 2 years.

      Scotty, really??

  2. Robert

    Never owned a k-car but had a Dodge 600 which was basically the same thing. Paid $600 in 1997, taught my son how to drive in it in 1998 and sold it to my sister-in-law shortly after that for what I paid for it. Good, basic, reliable transportation … not fancy but cheap. I loved it.

    Like 2
    • Bob S

      Actually Robert, the 600 and Plymouth Caravelle, (same cars), were still built on the k-car platform.

      Like 3
      • James

        Actually they weren’t. The Plymouth Caravelle, Dodge 600, Chrysler E-class and New Yorker were built on the E body platform.

        Like 2
      • Ray Hunt

        Chrysler used the K platform as a basis for many different cars. That includes up to the Imperial and Fifth Avenue New Yorkers and Dynasty. The first stretch was the 600- E Class- Caravelle – New Yorker. Great work on these cars. My grandma had a 1984
        Reliant wagon and I loved driving it. As comfortable as my Newport, handled great, rode nice good milage too.

  3. Bob S

    Scotty, you guys have been hitting it out of the park here lately with all these clean everyman’s cars, keep em coming! These face lifted Reliants were nice looking, and pretty well screwed together. Too bad it’s so far away, or I’d be bidding.

    Like 11
  4. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Lol, got me again! Thanks for the Brady memories. I have been a life long fan of that show. I watched so many re-runs of the Brady Bunch in the 70’s that my address could have been 11222 Dilling St! This car is certainly a time warp and in amazing condition. Good luck with the auction!

    Like 3
  5. Ken Bell

    I had two K-cars! A new 1986 sedan and then a used 1987 Wagon. Both dark gray and both good little cars.

    Like 1
  6. ace10

    Ooooh it’s a coupé.

    Tres sporty!

    Like 6
    • nlpnt

      Too bad.

      If it was a four-door, especially in SoCal it would earn its’ keep being rented out to Hollywood as the protagonist’s dad’s car in a late ’80s or ’90s set story of some kind.

      Like 3
      • Country Joe

        I owned a free Plymouth Reliant for about a year before I met someone even harder up for transportation than I was. I gave it away for free and couldn’t have been more relieved. I almost felt a little guilty, but I had thrown in 4 quarts of the cheap oil that I had been pouring into the poor thing the whole time I had it.

    • Big_Fun Member

      I always like the triple gauge cluster in the right side circle. That, along with the floor shift, well, it makes us Walter Mitty types think we are Chuck Yeager…

      Like 3
  7. Mark

    I had two. A 1985 Plymouth Reliant. 2.2 L carb engine. Only new car I ever owned.

    Lemon lawed at 18 months. It was a 4 door.

    And a 1986 Dodge Aries wagon with a 2.5 fuel injected. 76,000 miles. Dependable.

    Like 4
  8. Bob_in_TN Member

    Scotty, great writing with the Brady Bunch reference.

    Keep the everyman cars coming.

    Like 9
  9. bikefixr

    I had one, same colors, too. I loved my K-car. It was reliable, comfortable and quiet. it had a ton of room, big trunk. I’d love to find a Chrysler version in a ragtop with low mileage. I might throw a bid. Transport to NJ would cost as much as the car.

    Like 3
  10. Willie

    Had an ’87, 2.2L, 5spd Reliant. Bought it new, had to special order because of 5spd. Loved that car. 30+mpg, fun to drive.

  11. Cadmanls Member

    Had a coupe 1988 vintage, same colors, found it in the back of a car lot back in the day. Was a 5 speed and had 14″ wheels with 5 lug wheels and bigger brakes than the standard K car. Needed a clutch and brakes, was really good driver for a couple of years.

    Like 1
  12. Jack M.

    Nostalgia is a powerful drug. Nobody would take a second glance at these cars in the 80’s or 90’s. Best of luck with your bidding Scotty, personally I would choose a Pinto or Vega if I wanted something that slow.

    Like 4
  13. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Hey Scotty. Thanks for stirring up memories with this amazing K-Car. My Dad had the more square-ish predecessor of this car for a winter beater in PA, maroon inside and out two-door with a four-speed manual. Easy to work on, cheap parts, good mileage. The ’80s velour… totally a match to some velvet lapels and matching bow tie I may or may not have worn a few years before this beauty was built.

    Like 2

    Great Example pretty clean..

  15. art

    This was on Craigslist in San Diego a while ago.
    Was a smokers car from the earlier ad. Cigarette burns were shown on the carpet in that ad.
    The price at that time was pretty fair. Not sure why it is for sale again. The seller at that time claimed he/she bought it from an estate sale.
    Note the “National City” license plate frame..San Diego county.

    Like 3
  16. Bill

    I have showroom condition 87 Aries coupe here on the east coast. I’ve been trying for the past 3 years to sell it. I should have sold it 14 years ago when I was offered 4500 (guy took out a wad of 100s) for it at a show.

    Like 8
    • ace10

      Yeah, you should have thrown the keys at him.

      Like 8
  17. geezerglide85

    We had an ’86 Dodge 600 about 15 years ago. Long story short we were down 2 vehicles, my wife’s van and my truck. My boss at the time said ” have I got a deal for you” 150 bucks and he threw in 4 good tires and a good battery! It had 160,000 on the clock and was rusted up to the door handles. It ran great, we both used it and it never let us down. After about a year I sold it for 200, great cars you just couldn’t kill-em.

    Like 2
  18. Howard A Member

    We must get Scotty to say “only” instead of “nicest”. I too, had several K-cars, mini-vans, and all were great vehicles. I did get a Dodge 600 once with a bad motor, I changed in an afternoon. Couple bolts, the whole drivetrain drops out the bottom. Once people finally got used to 4 cylinders, these racked up hundreds of thousands of miles. Say what you will, but I can’t think of another vehicle that had so much influence on our changing car culture. Oh, that, and it saved Chrysler.
    In the “for what it’s worth dept.” I read, Fiat/ Chrysler changed it’s name to,,,( holding in laugh),,,”Stellantis”, what the heck is that? Way to go,,,that should take it down altogether.

    Like 1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Hey, you may be right, Howard. There can’t be many of them left, especially in this condition.

      Stellantis?! That sounds like it would have been on the shelf next to Hi Karate and Brut in the men’s cologne department in 1972.

      Like 1
      • Miguel

        A lot of these were sol din Mexico and they are still around.

        They are really cheap here, just as they should be in the US.

  19. Jack H.

    Parents had a baby blue ‘84 Reliant sedan, silver ‘87 LE sedan and I had an ‘85 yellow Reliant wagon, all 2.2s. Not fast or exciting, but they were sturdy and easy to fix. I even broke a timing belt in my wagon – thankfully a non-interference engine. If it was closer I’d be a Nostalgia bidder for sure.

  20. RNR

    My wife and I bought a three year old ‘84 Aries wagon, which we replaced four years later with a ‘86 Aries wagon that had AC (it was summer and she was pregnant with our first child, and she spotted it at a Chrysler Plymouth dealership on the way to her doctors appointment- put on the Visa card then and there- she was done driving without air!)I thought the K wagons were the perfect size and crisply styled. The ‘86 was especially good looking in black with a red interior. Put 150k + on both before she graduated to a new second gen Caravan.

    Like 1
  21. karl holquist

    JUNK K-CAR!!!!Drill out the return holes for oil in the head STILL JUNK

    Like 1
  22. Maestro1 Member

    Someone buy this. It’s a wonderful driver.

    Like 3
  23. Michael Keil

    Bid is not at $2300. Anything ove $3k will be too much for this old lady car lol

    Like 3
  24. Keith c Knox Member

    Had an 85 LaBaron. Same car. Was a great car. It replaced my 81 Omni after it was wrecked.

  25. Donald W Young

    We had 6 K car types, ‘83 Reliant 85,000 mi. traded, ‘85 Dodge Lancer 300,000 mi. totaled, ‘86 Laser 205,000 mi. sold, ‘88 Shadow 76,000 mi. traded, ‘88 LaBaron GTS 185,000 mi. sold, Spirit RT 220,000 mi.totaled. Besides wrecking 2 the biggest problems were a head gasket in the Lancer that was replaced under warranty, shift chain on Lancer and Laser, timing belt in Spirit and paint on Shadow peeled away, it was awful. Spirit RT with 2.3 Stage 3 turbo was one of the greatest unknown cars ever. Fasted American production sedan and one of fastest in world. No turbo lag there. K cars were great cars that never got their due.

    Like 1
    • Country Joe

      I owned a free Plymouth Reliant for about a year before I met someone even harder up for transportation than I was. I gave it away for free and couldn’t have been more relieved. I almost felt a little guilty, but I had thrown in 4 quarts of the cheap oil that I had been pouring into the poor thing the whole time I had it.

  26. Monte

    How could it be nicest one left when they were never nice

  27. Bob

    The motor is either a 2.1 or 2.2. The 2.5 was the turbo engine and it wasn’t a Chrysler motor. I have an 89 4 door I picked up cheap, these cars don’t hold much value other then being cool

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Bob, this is absolutely, without question a 2.5L and they weren’t the turbo engine. Even the VIN confirms that, but I recognize it as a 2.5 from owning two of them for over a decade and a half.

      Like 2
    • Stevieg

      2.1 didn’t exist. 2.5 was a Chrysler engine, based on the 2.2. Both the 2.2 & 2.5 were available as a turbo, but neither was available as a turbo in this car.
      I’ve had a LOT of these K-cars & their derivative models, sort of a 1980’s Mopar nerd lol.

  28. dyno dan

    had a 1989 eagle medallion wagon. 3 years in germany, no problems at all.
    wish I still had it. anyone seen one lately?

    Like 1
  29. Guy Vincent Coulombe

    I still have my K-cars, because too many of you don’t appreciate them, so one man has to save a few. My 89 Aries has almost 300,000.

    Like 1
  30. Gus Fring

    According to the leader of the K-Car Club, there are none of these left anywhere. He said it is the only one registered in the entire State of California. His name is Guy, and he is the world’s foremost authority on K-Cars.

  31. karl

    I still remember about 20 years ago the first 4 cylinder demo derby at our local track. I found a free 1987 Aries sedan to enter that had a bad wrist pin that sounded like a rod knock . When I was pulling it out on the track one of the employees cries out ” you painted over the taillights ? I need the left one ! ” Needless to say the light didn’t survive the first hit ; I thought that was probably the only time someone was upset that a K car got wrecked

  32. michael kelly

    The 2.6L Mitsubishi 4 was an option in the Aries/Reliant through 1985.

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