Rare Woody Horizon: 1978 Plymouth Horizon

There are different levels of excitement than can range from mild giddiness to over-the-top jaw-dropping, with several levels in-between. Then there are levels of excitement that aren’t necessarily excitement-excitement but more of an excited-to-see-something-that-you-haven’t-seen-in-a-long-time type of excitement, if that makes any sense at all? One such thing that fits that category for me is this 1978 Plymouth Horizon. This woody econobox can be found here on eBay in Grand Rapids, Michigan with an unmet opening bid of $999.

Whew, I’m tired after reading, not to mention writing, that first paragraph! I only bring up the excitement factor here because I haven’t seen a car like this woody Plymouth Horizon in literally decades. We haven’t seen too many Plymouth Horizons or Dodge Omnis here at Barn Finds and this one is quirky enough to fit in with all of the Chevettes, Gremlins, and Hornets that show up here every now and then. The fact that this car has the Di-Noc woodgrain treatment throws it on top of the pile for me, not to mention that it’s also a manual-transmission car.

This one isn’t perfect, though, there is quite a bit of rust lurking and just from what’s visible I’m almost afraid to ask or even guess what’s underneath. Stranger things have happened, but I can’t imagine anyone doing a nut-and-bolt restoration on this car or any Horizon or Omni, other than maybe a GLH or GLHS version. Hmm.. what a sleeper this car would be looking exactly like it does now but with a GLHS drivetrain. Hemmings did an article on a 1979 Plymouth Horizon woody that had a full restoration, it’s an interesting read.

Speaking of drivetrain, there are no engine photos which is always disappointing, but given the year and by decoding the VIN, it has VW’s 1.7 L inline-four which would have had around 65 hp. That isn’t a lot but the 4-speed manual will make it reasonably fun to drive. The interior looks great other than some splitting on the driver’s seat and whatever is going on with the driver’s floor – they say that the floor is weak there so add it to the list. There isn’t a lot of room between the rear seatbacks and the hatchback, but it’s enough for most people on a daily basis. The seller has only driven this car 75 miles over the last 18 months but it runs fine and the shifter is a little vague, to say the least. Have any of you owned a Plymouth Horizon?


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  1. CapNemo CapNemo

    75 miles over the last 18 months. It probably actually took that long. Ha!!

    Like 9
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff


      Like 5
  2. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Cool find and write up, Scotty!

    Like 5
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Jamie! It’s oddly tempting, if I don’t get something else that I’m looking at presently…

      Like 4
  3. Jay

    Rare ?

    Like 1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Rare, Jay. As they say, rare doesn’t mean desirable for some folks but yes, it’s rare.

      Like 4
    • Sherminator

      Rare to see one still on the road…or near the road.

      Like 2
      • Chebby Staff

        Needs the Shelby GLHS treatment! Too bad they didn’t offer sleepers with the wood paneling.

  4. Ben

    These had VW Rabbit motors in them. My folks had a 78 Dodge Omni that lasted for ever!

    Like 3
  5. William Shields

    Strangely enough I have a cousin that might be interested in it for parts for his 79 Horizon but I can’t find the ad.
    Is it gone already?

    Like 1
    • Rock On!

      Just click on the link in the story that Scotty has provided. It still works, 3 days to go.

      Like 2

    My shop teach Mr. Woody had one of these, how fitting, we laughed about that all the time.

    Like 3
  7. Mark

    My neighbor bought a 1978 Dodge Omni on opening night. He was a bank executive that was there to approve car loans.

    When I left town in 2004 he was still driving it in his retirement years.

    Like 7
  8. Ralph

    Its the most loaded up Omnirizon I’ve ever seen, it’s funny how the early ones of these have sort of a baby-Volare vibe on the inside, that dished steering wheel looks like something from an Alfa Spider.

    Too bad its kinda rusty. Its got charm in spades.

    Like 3
  9. Matt G

    A woody AND a stickshift?!! Be still my heart! That combination is rare in any car! A brown-tone of some sort would have been classier than the white though in my opinion…

    Like 1
    • Del

      Is it true or just Urban Legend that Lee I. was buried in one ?

  10. RobM

    Me and a buddy learned stick in one of these. Fun car. Sadly no match for the F350 that pulled in front of it.

    Like 3
  11. Bakyrdhero

    Oddly appealing. Craptastic interior though. Looks like a dreadful place to spend time.

    Like 3
  12. Eric

    I owed 2 Horizons in the 1970′, the one a Talbot, the other a Chrysler.
    Good cars, but rust buckets! (I live in Belgium).

  13. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Great rig with the manual tranny, I love the rack also. for a grand it would be fun. I can’t recall the hot rod Horizon, Maybe was the GLS ? Maybe source some perfomance parts from those.

    Like 1
    • wallyum

      I think it was known as the Horizon HO. Can’t find much out there on it other than it was a 1984 model.

      Like 1
  14. Jeff

    Rabbit motors last forever!

  15. Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking car. I remember both the Plymouth Horizon and the Dodge Omni. If only I was old enough to drive at the time to drive. I would’ve bought one.

    Like 1
  16. Jeff

    my sister had one a 1982 Plymouth Horizon lasted and lasted and lasted good car and great on gas I would drive this

    Like 3
  17. Frank

    My Father in Law had the Dodge version of this car, and it was a magnet for accidents! In the 4 years of ownership, he probably had 4 or 5 accidents….none his fault! When he traded it in, I don’t think it had a body panel that was still as it came from the factory!

    Like 2
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      How the hell does that happen, that someone can be a “magnet” for accidents?

  18. Car Nut Tacoma

    My cousin had one back in the 80s. His was beige. It had an automatic transmission.

  19. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    My parents bought a Horizon brand new in ’79 – a two tone automatic.
    For as long as I live, I will never forget the smell of that brand new – all plastic interior.

    Like 1
  20. theGasHole

    Back in high school (late 80’s early 90’s) this was a lot of guys and gals first car. My high school parking lot was littered with them. While they maybe weren’t the greatest thing ever, they beat walking or riding your bike to school.

  21. wallyum

    I went from a rusted out v8 Duster to a 1979 Horizon about midway through college. My friends were aghast, but I loved getting 35 mpg versus 12 in the Duster. I also liked having a floor. I’d take this in a heartbeat.

    Like 1
  22. Robs495

    That was my car Hemmings did the story on…I own 7 Omni’s and Horizons :)

    Like 4
  23. Andrew Franks

    Bless you Robs495 they are wonderful cars that just need normal servicing and very little attention.
    I had one that I used as a parts getter, and it worked out fine until the collection expanded and I needed something with more capacity. I sold it to a neighbor who gave it to his daughter and she drove it forever.

    Like 3
  24. Bubba5

    If you have one go and buy the little plastic ball that is located in the bottom of the shifter. When it wears out it will fall out the bottom and jam the stick shift in whatever gear you were in. Plastic ball and ball peen hammer to whack it in should be in glove box at all times. Will save your bacon one day.

  25. Pete in PA

    My girlfriend’s brother had a bright orange one back in the 80s. Roof rack and stick shift too! I really liked driving that car after working on it once or twice and thought about trying to buy it from him. Then he hit a tree with it…

    This offering is oddly appealing but the fact that it’s a Michigan car makes it a “no way” for me. I worked in MI periodically in the late 80/early 90s. Before that I thought PA rot was bad.

  26. Russ

    Brings back bad memories of a 78 Omni I bought at auction from the old Northwestern Bell phone company. It would either run all day without complaint or barely make it to the end of the driveway. It was the early 80s and electronic ignition was still kind of a foreign concept among most backyard wrenchslingers.

  27. Riceman

    This used to be my car. I loved this thing but needed to thin the Omni herd at the house. It runs and drives great.

    Like 1
  28. Linnea

    I had an’83 Turismo with the same drivetrain. It couldn’t catch a cold, but i regularly got 40+ MPG with the car…..and it would run on anything that came out of a pump marked “gasoline”. I also had an ’85 GLH Turbo and an ’89 Horizon Miser….I wish I still had all three. The engines were bulletproof, the gearboxes shifted OK–the vague shifter is an L-Body thing–but they had a vibe about them that appealed to my broke-college-student persona. Best thing about them was that, no matter how rotten the weather was in my home state of New Hampshire, these cars would start, run and go through whatever Mother Nature could throw at us (had to out snow tyres on the GKH, tho).

    The rust on this car scares me…once the tinworm gets into an L Body, it can be tough to root it out completely. Otherwise, I’d find the money somewhere to buy this one………

  29. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended:Sep 20, 2019 , 8:30PM
    Winning bid:US $1,410.00
    [ 14 bids ]

    Like 1
  30. chrlsful@aol.com

    1st ‘world car’? C the european models (race, rally)
    Any wagon is good to me, hatch is close…

  31. Jon

    Hi Scotty! Great article. Also, I am the one who bought the car! Brought her home this weekend.

    Like 1
  32. Mark M.

    Are these also rabbit frames and bodies and engines?

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