Real Low-Mile “Little Old Lady” Car! 1982 Dodge Aries

We’ve all heard the story of the car that was driven to church by the “little old lady.” Well, according to the neighbors, that’s exactly what this car did for many years. Showing just over 15K miles on the odometer, the car is a time capsule to the early 80s. It can be found here on Craigslist with an asking price of $3,300, the car is located just north of Chicago and doesn’t appear to have seen too many snowy roads in its life. While a 1982 Dodge Aries isn’t the sexiest car, any car that is nearly 40 years old with this low of mileage is pretty neat. Let’s check out more.

The photos of this one could be better, but you can clearly see the original condition of this car. I don’t think there’s much of a doubt that it could be a true story. The interior is immaculate! Even the headliner is pristine. It even retains the oh so popular for a Sunday driver plastic floor covering! The seller removed it for a few photos and it appears to have done its job.

The engine has been tuned up and is said to run well. We don’t get a look at it, but it’s said to be the carbureted 2.2 liter 4-cylinder. With a rating of just 84 horsepower, it’s no powerhouse but is plenty for those casual Sunday drives. With 15k miles on the clock, this K-car should have tons of life left in it.

Whether you love or hate K-cars, it hard to deny how nice this one actually looks. It sure would be a show stopper at a Concours d’Lemons type event. Heck, it would even be a sweet Radwood entry! So what do you think of this car? Let us know what you would do with it in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Moparman Member

    I drove one of these (a one way Hertz rental, from PA-GA), back when the speed limit was a strictly enforced 55 MPH in some states. Dark blue, below the radar, rode well. Had my first excperience with using cruise control in heavy rain; I could see when tires lost traction, as the tach would spin up! This is a very nice example. GLWTS! :-)

    5
    • JoeNYWF64

      Wasn’t it 55mph originally in ALL states (including wide open Texas!) after the gas crisis? Wonder if this speed limit was largely ignored, & how many more speeding tickets were handed out because of this. Good thing the government didn’t read the ’69 falcon’s owners manual – said optimum speed for best mpg was 45 mph. lol

      4
      • Mr.BZ

        Blame Gerald Ford for the curse of 55 (1974), thank Evan Mecham for breaking that curse!(1986)

        2
      • Dave

        Well…Nixon actually enacted it on January 2, 1974. Ford made it “permanent”. Several states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania did it before Thanksgiving 1973. It caused a truckers strike that resulted in Columbus being effectively blockaded and when they threatened a blockade of DC the Feds got mean.
        This led to an exponential rise in truckers and travelers use of CB radio to (1) relay the location of speed traps and (2) relay the location of truck stops that had fuel.

        8
    • jcnspots

      I love it. Not at all pretentious.

      5
    • C5 is Alive

      To my knowledge the Aries and Reliant never came with a tachometer. Speedometer, probably?

      4
      • W9BAG Member

        I sold these when new, and had a Maroon 2 door hard top, bucket seats, floor mounted shifter, and all the options. The instrument panel was completely devoid of any instrumentation, save fuel gauge & speedometer. There were no options available for any other gauges, including a tachometer. I liked the car for what it was. It was fairly quiet, rode smoothly, and had respectable fuel economy. Base model was $5,499 out the door. Sadly, a real pooch in the power department.

        3
      • JoeNYWF64

        Actually, doesn’t this go back to the duster when it switched from circular speedo to the rectangular one? Dumb move, if you ask me. I don’t think i ever seen a tach in any Chrysler with a rectangular speedo.

        1
    • chuck

      These cars never came equipped with a tach.

      4
  2. Mark S.

    If I had a million dollars🎶, I would buy you a K-car, a nice Reliant automobile 🎶.

    20
    • Barry L Klotz

      I drove one of the Reliant’s from 1996 until it run anymore. The floor in front rusted totally out. The carpet was the only thing holding my feet. Love it.Had alot of good times.

      1
      • JoeNYWF64

        I would have pulled the carpet when you got the car & drove for a few months to see if water got in.
        Your car’s floors either rusted from underneath – too much driving on salted or even wet roads – undercoating would have fixed that. Or more likely, water leaked IN from the windshield, & made its way under the carpet & probably never dried out.
        If the car was a beater back then, a coating of clear roof sealer on the outside might have stopped leaks.

        1
  3. Tracy

    We’re hitting them out of the park this week! Yet another vehicle from the “I’m definitely not a car guy collection” where are they finding this junk? It was crap when it was new. It’s kinda like cleaning out the cat box and putting it in a time capsule to open 30 years later! It’s still cat poop! Geez I hope the car finds get better soon!

    10
    • jcnspots

      Nobody forced you to look. They can’t all be 69 Z-28s.

      44
      • Chasman358 Chasman358 Member

        I think low mileage cars of any kind are cool, and their history is usually interesting.

        13
    • 36Packard

      Oh come on. These were good little cars. Are you old enough to remember the early 80s? gas prices had just doubled and we were all in shock. These were indeed reliable and cost effective. They never were meant to be performance cars or status symbols, but to get you to work and where you needed to go, they were ahead of their time. They sold in large numbers, so calling them “poop” insults all of us who thought differently at the time. I find the radio delete and no air interesting, esp the radio. Air was pretty pricey then so I can understand that, but no radio? Truly was a little old lady who bought this. If I had room, I would consider this.

      23
      • Rube Goldberg

        Hey 36, don’t bother, clearly misguided. It’s hard to imagine, but someone walked into a Chrysler dealer and aside from automatic, wanted a basic car like this. They had no intention of spending 23 hours a day in it, like today. For the store or a church function, it worked.

        16
    • ChrisC

      They weren’t crap. They did exactly what they were designed for. Good cheap basic transportation. No frills.

      6
  4. Rube Goldberg

    This is an outstanding find. I’m simply amazed at the condition. I had many K cars, all great vehicles. People drove these too hard. I babied mine and they almost always got me home, ok a timing belt on one of the minivans, that I changed in a truck stop in a couple hours. In typical spoiled American fashion, people beat the crap out of these or never maintained it, and then it’s a POS when it gave up. Tell you what, anybody that drives a Chrysler product today and rips on this, Chrysler would be gone if it wasn’t for this car and I got news for you, the stuff Chrysler turns out today, they might be history anyway.

    18
  5. Bob C.

    No frills basic workaday transportation of the 80s. If I remember correctly, for 1981 only, the rear windows were stationary and the rear vents opened up. After that, the windows opened half way and the vents were fixed.

    3
    • C5 is Alive

      The windows were a running change through the 1982 model year, so early cars like this one still had the rear vent windows. It’s easy to spot sedans with roll-down rear windows as Chrysler widened the vent window for clearance.

      1
  6. Don H

    I’d rather have a granny with A Supper Stock Dodge👺

    2
  7. robh693

    No A/C AND radio delete! It’s like a cardboard box, no frills.

    4
    • Superdessucke

      Or a sleeper! Will a Mitsubishi 4G63T 2.0 turbo from a 1992-07 Lancer Evo fit in this thing? Anyone know? That’s totally the route that someone needs to go here.

      3
      • Bluetec320 Member

        I’d go all out and drop an SBC in it!

        3
      • Superdessucke

        Have you ever heard a 4G63T with an ETS exhaust and modified waste gate hiss and spit? You’d scare the living sh-t out of people in this little plain Jane demon!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBkALIqXZEg

        2
  8. FordGuy1972

    I had an elderly neighbor with one of these, probably an early ’80s model. It was a low mileage, very clean car. I told a brother about it and he bought it for cheap money. I don’t think he kept it for more than a month. It was so underpowered it was scary. Getting up to highway speeds was a real challenge and steep grades kept it to a crawl. 84 hp with an automatic meant bicycles pulled away from him at traffic lights. By a lot. I appreciate that this is a creampuff but unless it would accept an engine upgrade with acceptable power, I wouldn’t touch it.

    2
  9. Sparkster

    Some older folks grew up in the Great Depression and tend to buy cars with a minimum of options. My uncle brought a new 1969 Cutlass and had to decide on either power steering or power brakes. He went with power steering, No A/C., am radio.

    4
    • Jcnspots

      My grandfather did the same every three years with new Studebakers and after 1966, a few Buicks- a LeSabre, then a Skylark and last an Apollo. All dark blue sedans. All manual transmission, no power anything, no radio, Black wall tires and dog dish hubcaps. And whatever engine was standard. Always tried to order them without an ashtray or turn signals because “he didn’t use them”.

      6
  10. Keith

    A k-car is a k car is a k car is a k car, junk back in the day and still JUNK today!

    4
  11. normadesmond

    Concours d’Lemons!

    2
    • Gary Haddon

      People may laugh but the Kcar along with the Caravan saved Chrysler. It was cheap and got excellent MPG. Also easy to repair and keep on the road as parts were cheap. There are actually many K-car clubs dedicated to keeping them alive. Good way for someone to get into the old car hobby as they are affordable and sure to be the only one at your local meet.

      5
      • W9BAG Member

        Honestly, I can’t recall the last time I saw a K Car, not even a rusty one.

        1
  12. Mark

    Boy does this bring back memories. I drove a green 81 Aries for a week. rental car while my 77 Impala was in the body shop.

    Loved it so much I replaced the Impala with an 85 silver Reliant

    2
  13. eieghn

    The only better “little old lady’s” car deal that I know: a friend of mine bought a ’65 Buick Special, driven only to church & the store. 310 V8, 2 sp auto, P.S., manual brakes no radio. He bought it in ’94 with 4,400 on the odo. Really was a “creme puff”; cream over beige “cloth” vinyl interior; still SMELLED new.

    If it was driven every week, she averaged about 3 miles per week.

    2
    • Marshall

      Unless it was kept in the garage, 3 miles per week is not enough to keep it from turning green, not in the Seattle area anyway.

  14. William Shields

    People forget. When these came out back in 81 they were pretty revolutionary.
    A small, four cylinder with room inside to seat 6 adults.
    Nowadays not that uncommon but back then if you wanted to carry 6 real people most still bought the traditional full size sedan.

    6
    • Geoff

      I’m sorry but I wouldn’t want to sit in that by myself, let alone with five other people. ugh.

      3
    • Marshall

      In 1981, the movie “Buddy Buddy” came out, starring Walter Matthau playing a hitman, who drove around in a black K-car. I think it was product placement. I remember thinking that at the time the movie came out as well.

  15. William Shields

    I’m not arguing Geoff that they were about as exciting as a dead tuna but they did their job.
    I had an 81,83 and 85. As a simple 3 person, 100 mile a day commuter car they were comfortable, got the job done and were a lot cheaper on gas than the full size cars I had been driving.

    5
  16. Rube Goldberg

    Some of you people, I swear. Either you are just saying these negative comments because, A) your old man happened to never maintain one so they are all junk, B) you didn’t live through this time, it was mighty tense for a lot of people, the K car was the answer or C), you’re just plain agitators. My old man was a doofus when it came to cars, so I never listened to him anyway, yet, he had several K cars. The Belvidere, Ill. plant built K cars from 1978 into the 90’s. Chrysler made a whopping 3.5 MILLION K cars. If you say these were lousy cars, I put you in the same class as my old man.

    11
    • jcnspots

      Well said except the K Car came along for 1981.

      2
    • TheGasHole

      I’m with Mr. Goldberg on this one. Look at it this way… that sweet 1936 Olds coupe the other day had 8 comments….this car has 52. Were these great cars…nah not really but it’s interesting to see a low mileage clean one. And I’d still consider a K car wagon.

      1
  17. Bo

    Plain Jane and 15k miles. I love this. The condition and mileage make this really special. No one else will have one and it will be really cheap to own. The fact that it’s very existence aggravates the “muscle cars are the only true classics” crowd is a great bonus.

    7
  18. don

    I bought one of these for $50.00 to put it in a 4cyl demolition derby back in the 1990s . it had a wrist pin knock , but it ran well. Long story short ,it came down to me and a guy in a Hyundai .We couldn’t go backwards anymore since both cars were smashed up to the speaker decks , so we went at each other head on . I didn’t know Chrysler put one of the computers right behind the headlight area so when we hit it smashed it and I was done. Still had a lot of fun with my only K car !

    2
    • Robert White

      Right to the very end the K-Car was a loser’s car to be sure. I’m not surprised that a Hyundai won out over a K-Car. My brother bought one once and regretted it from square one. Frankly, I would not even live near a K-Car given how much I despised my brother’s K-Car.

      I would nominate the K-Car for the worst car ever made.

      Bob

      3
  19. James Martin

    Seriously. We are arguing over a k car? Designed to pull Chrysler out of hole. Did that. But to say it was great car, is a statement for sure. Cheap transportation.. that’s it.. I blame this car for the fall of the American automotive decline. It and the pinto same boat. And who the heck buys one of these and only drives it 15000 miles.old ladies can drive a car and keep at looking like new. Probably 115000.

    1
  20. Jay

    In 86 they changed to fuel injection that made a much nicer car. Oh the problems with the 81s the upper strut towers rusted and they made a repair kit to weld in it looks like this car had that done with the tar painted over strut top picture. Very under powered with a automatic but not too bad with a stick shift. Replace the noisy pistons with loose pins at 40k miles.And a recall for vapor lock to replace the gas tank and install a fuel return lines. Then a plastic cover to go over the distributor to keep the moisture out. These cars sure kept the Chrysler technicians Busy. One guy in town was making rafts out of the huge pile of old gas tanks that the Chrysler dealer had

  21. Jay

    In the early 80s Chrysler had there K cars Ford had there Pintos GM had there Vegas That helped to make the foreign cars to USA market what it is today

    2
    • Miguel Member

      Ford had their Escorts and Chevy had their Chevettes, to be more accurate.

  22. Louis Q Chen

    All of these comments here are truly not knowledgeable on the K-cars except a few car heads that knows and owned some. A short history on these K-cars. These cars was Chrysler’s savior after the bankruptcy as well as saving my bacon when I decided to make a big time gamble and bought 10K of share at $1.00/shares. My parents and family threatened to disowned me because I my college and inheritance to buy the shares! I did find alternative way to financed my college education! I knew that Chrysler run by Lee Iacocca and the U.S. gov’t. was determined to rescue Chrysler which panned out for all of us gamblers later on. Personally this K-cars was the the second “coming” of the VW Beetle! It was cheap, not attractive, easy to repair, decent MPG. Your basic ride in the day. I can recalled old Lee I commercials: If you can buy a better car, buy it! Too bad Mercedes got fed up with Chrysler’s poor quality and unreliability issues they just gave up until FIAT decided to make a run for it till now. Too bad Chrysler had bad luck with finding a decent partner. They did have a decent deal with Mitsubishi Motors but it failed! Again I would buy this time capsule had it been closer to me.

    1
  23. John

    About this time we did fly out to San Fran, rented a K car, an Enterprise, drove it all over California. A great little car, really impressed me for what it was. Was very eco friendly, and we turned it in in San Diego, the brake really needed to be replaced or adjusted, think adjusted. The thing W/me is fit, and I fit in it great.

  24. Jay

    My grandfather had a 1981 Reliant with a 4 on the floor. It went to Florida twice and Minnesota once from Massachusetts. It was a good car!

  25. C.Jay

    In 1988 I bought a 1981 Dodge Aires Kcar with 100k mileage for $450. 4 cylinder 4 speed,2 doors am radio no ps, no ac, no pb, The guy selling it thought it need a steering box. It would almost 70 mph in second gear. Would beat a Beretta GT outta the hole every time. When you replaced the head gasket you had to replace the head bolts. I upgraded to 5 speed (out of a later model) at some time and beat the HELL outta that car for 8 years. I put over 170,000 mile on that car, It was stress cracking above the door frame up into the roof. When I broke my leg and couldn’t drive a stick for a year and the car got parked. I would buy another in a heartbeat!!!

    1

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