T-Roof Project: 1980 Dodge Mirada

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This isn’t the first Dodge Mirada we’ve featured on Barn Finds, but it might be the cheapest. That’s because unlike the previous entries, this Mirada is firmly in project  car territory, but that does make it a bit more attainable. With factory T-tops and mag wheels, this 1980 Dodge Mirada “Special Coupe” here on eBay could be a distinctive project on the cheap. 

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There’s more than one reference online to the term “Special Coupe” as it relates to the Mirada, and it seems to correspond with the level of equipment offered as standard features. In fact, this Mirada is even – potentially – more desirable because in addition to the wheels and roof, it also has a center console and bucket seats, as opposed to the flat bench that appeared in some models. As you can see, however, the body is quite rough.

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It’s a shame about the outside because the inside looks fairly straight. More features abound, including air conditioning and cruise control, along with what looks like a cassette deck. The 318 under the hood is nothing to write home about, but the Mirada lived in the height of the Malaise era when you had to make do with decent styling because the performance would be perpetually disappointing. This example is not running at the moment, so I hope the seller isn’t lying when he says the reserve is low.

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It appears the car has been used for harvesting body panels off of, based on the clean cuts made to the tail section. Since it’s been a parts car for another Mirada owner, it makes me wonder if it will ever return to the road. Perhaps the T-top roof is desirable enough that another Mirada owner would be interested in swapping over the structural components. My guess is the interior and drivetrain will live on, and this rare open-top body will head to the scrap pile – or will it be repaired? What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Kevin

    I don’t think those are cut marks in the rear end, but rather joints where normally the plastic filler pieces would meet with the sheet metal. For me, these cars fall into the category of “neat”. Not super valuable, even in good condition, but not something you see every day either. I’d be surprised if it sold for over $1,000 in its current condition. The cost to bring it up to nice driver quality would likely exceed the value of the car itself. Still an interesting car though.

    Like 1
    • RichS

      Correct, those corner filler panels are plastic.

    • Russ

      I wouldn’t pay $1000.00 for it no matter how far left you move the decimal point. You could move it to the left of the 1 and I still wouldn’t touch it.

      • Russ

        I’m sorry if my multiple posts offend anyone, but having had such an awful experience with my Mirada despite trying for many years to love (or even like) it, I guess I earned the right to vent my spleen about it.

  2. AMCSTEVE

    Good luck finding parts.

    Like 1
  3. Chebby

    Why was all the plastic in the 80s yellow underneath?

    • Russ

      I don’t know about ‘all the plastic’ but the ‘chrome’ look trim was silver mylar under clear plastic and probably due to some defect, much of that ‘clear’ turned yellow. Of course on the same car, some pieces turned yellow, others stayed clear.

  4. Blueprint

    The Mirada to get is a first-year CMX with the 360 (one-year only IIRC), buckets and floor shifter. I have a mint Hot Wheels version of this done up as a Nascar racer – maybe it’s worth more than this project car!!

    • Russ

      I don’t know if the Mirada got any better after the first year, which mine was, and if there is one worth getting, it’s not the first year.

  5. Leon

    Studebaker bumper sticker ? Maybe it said My other car is a :::::

  6. Billy

    I have a very rare 1983 Mirada (only made them for two months that year, then the model was canceled) I have owned for 30 years. Presently it is the body shop getting a bare metal respray paint job. Financially that makes no sense, as the car isn’t worth the cost, but I do love it so. I take it to car shows and it draws more of a crowd then many of the now numerous over restored muscle cars, few even know what it is. I feel that if Chrysler had been in a better financial position during that time, these cars would have become classics. No one wanted to buy one for fear that Mamma Mopar was going to die and leave them orphaned. Just think of the engine developments that might have come in the middle eighties, as happened with the Fords and Chevys, it would have been something to behold. Oh well, for now, can’t wait to get my baby back on the road and see all those smiles and waves I get when passing by.

    Like 5
    • Russ

      Yours must not have been the steaming pile that mine was from day 1. Look down the thread for the photo of my silver one. Just plain awful car with nothing but problems, not even comfortable to drive unless one likes riding around on their tailbone with their legs straight out in front of them. Funny thing, I also had a 79 LeBaron 4 door, probably much the same under the sheet metal but it drove and rode beautifully and was one of the most comfortable cars I ever had.

      It is because Chrysler was making cars as bad as my Mirada that they were in those terrible financial straits. 98% of people who owned a car that bad would never have set foot in a Mopar dealer maybe ever again.

      • Billy

        Nope, nary a problem in three decades. Put 80K on her, only brakes, oil, belts. Of course, not used as my primary vehicle. Not good in the Wisconsin winters, so no snow. Last snow was when I got caught in a blizzard outside of Omaha in 1988. The only trouble my car has had were three children who repeatedly bumped into it with bicycles, dropped a ladder on it, that kind of stuff. The last insult was that the wife insisted it needed to be kept outside as to protect our “lovely” minivan. That minivan rusted anyhow despite biannual hand waxes. (it was an MPV, must have been radiation from where it was built………Hiroshima!) but my poor little Mirada had paint failure from the relentless sun, and mean birds. But now while the wife is still here, the kiddos are out of the house and mostly done with college so its time to get the lady sparkling again. Got me a nice shed with a critter tight floor and door, no more exposure, so she will out live me I suspect. Sorry about your experience, must have got a lemon. I feel your pain, owned a new 1988 Shelby Daytona for a few miserable years. great car when it ran, but was mostly in the shop. Traded it in on a base model Honda Civic on April Fools Day 1990. Kept that thing for 23 years until it became too rusty to be structurally dependable, then I donated it to a charity who I suspect yanked the motor to resell. While I am a Chrysler man at heart (third generational buyer) I now have appreciation for all sorts of makes. At our house we have a Miata, two Civics, a GMC pick up, a Saturn, a Neon, and my dear sweet Mirada.

        Like 2
    • Noel Patrick

      Billy, are you from wisconsin? Would you be interested in a 1982 mirada ttop version. Been in the barn for 25 years. My dad passed away. I was going to scrap it unless I find someone who wants it for parts

      Like 4
      • Stan Walsh

        Noel,
        I would like to get some more info / pics on the car to mentioned.

        Like 2
  7. Miguel

    I can’t imagine the car going for much more than it is at right now, which is $800.00 USD.

  8. Wayne Thomas

    Malaise cars suffered from poor tire technology, bad rubber for suspension and weak engines. All three of these issues are easily rectified today. Pilot SS tires, urethane bushings and new struts combines with a new Hemi swap and you’re good to go.

    • Russ

      The 1980 Mirada’s 318 was rated at 120 net horsepower. Mine had all the get up and go of a bowl of soup. An out and out slug.

      • Billy

        Why did you buy it if the performance was lackluster? I knew when I bought mine that it would never out run my 1970 Road Runner in a drag race, but I wanted it for a highway cruiser, not a street racer. I had mine to the mountains and the prairies. Even used it as our wedding car, looked almost as pretty as my bride in the pictures. What a great trip car. Once on the open road, she just was the most comfortable thing, and lots of trunk space for luggage.

        Like 1
      • Miguel

        Billy, you had to remember what was available at the time. Nothing had power so I would expect that complaint came later after some driving.

  9. HeadMaster1

    I like these, but then again I have an 82 Imperial FS in my garage awaiting a re-spray. Nether an Imperial or Mirada/Cordoba make any sense to restore, but if you like it that’s all that matters. My favorite is the Imperial as I just love cars with covered lights…….

    Like 2
    • Russ

      I’d restore a Magnum with the covered lights (clear covers) before I’d mess with an “Imperiordobada”. That ‘bustle back’ styling fad was ugly on the Chrysler product, just as it was on the Caddy Seville and the Lincoln Versailles. Thankfully that was a short-lived fad.

      Supposedly the Imperial of that era was specially built by the most experienced workers and checked and tested for quality every step of the way. I doubt that would have managed to avoid many of the problems that were inherent in the design and materials of the car.

  10. Russ

    I owned one of these, bought it as an ‘executive’ car with very low miles in 1981. WORST CAR I EVER OWNED IN MY ENTIRE LIFE OUT OF DOZENS!!!
    1. Chrome jumped off the rear bumper – it was already starting to do that when I bought it. Stopping for gas on my way home from the dealer I saw another car like it with a postcard-sized area where the chrome was gone from the bumper. I finally got the regional service manager to agree to replace my bumper but the guy tried to tell me that the chrome had come off mine because I hadn’t waxed it.
    2. Leather seats poorly stitched and crooked and the leather was paper thin. Seating position so low it was uncomfortable – after riding in my cousin’s Olds 88 I was tempted to sell it and get something else.
    3. Trunk wells full of water due to a leak, and no way for it to drain. The day after I bought the car I was outside drilling holes to let the water out.
    4. Lame, limp, pathetic power from the 318.
    5. Interior trim was made out of some cross between plastic and Turkish Taffy. It all cracked. Chrysler allegedly found the source of the trouble, sent all new trim, dealer replaced it, it cracked again every six inches.
    6. Interior faded to at least three different shades of ‘heather’.
    7. Paint was dull when I bought the car, could not be made to shine, eventually all horizontal surfaces peeled down to the primer. I didn’t wash the car, I swept off the flakes.
    8. Differential had so much slack that shifting into reverse at fast idle caused a very loud CLANG.
    9. Dashboard top warped, like the one in this pic.
    10. Gas filler door had crap in the steel and could not be sanded down to good metal. Looks like the one in this listing has the same syndrome.
    11. Plastic-coated silver trim yellowed in some places, not in others.
    12. Said trim in nosepiece of the car would not stay in the little slots. At 80mph it was blowing up on the hood of the car like catfish whiskers.
    13. Taillights were crooked, could not be adjusted straight.
    14. Front and rear fender end caps’ crease lines did not match up with the ones in the sheetmetal.
    15. I had the car stripped down and painted, kept it for many years, tried to learn to love it, sold it after 17 years with 37,000 miles on it and hate it to this day.

    This kind of garbage is what almost put Chrysler out of business. And to think I traded in a wonderful 79 loaded Plymouth Trail Duster on this piece of JUNK! I should have bought a Dodge Magnum with T-tops and a 400 like I planned to before I bought this clunker. Don’t let the pretty picture fool you. I know I’ve missed even more issues that this car had. I’ve had numerous Mopars since that have been 10000 times better than this lemon!

    Like 1
    • Russ

      Ah, I thought of more…
      16. The outside door handles routinely broke, to the extend that they were sold on the HELP! parts rack at the auto parts stores. I replaced three on the drivers side and two on the passenger side when the thin pot metal broke on the little pivot point. I even wrote Chrysler and said ‘these are the same door handles you use on that expensive new Imperial? You can’t even drive the car if you can’t get INTO it.’
      17. Lighted entry system quit early on.
      18. Carpeting cut so stingy it would not stay under the door sill trim, there wasn’t enough for it to stay tucked in.
      19. Chronic horn failures.
      It was just sad – junk, for which I paid $304.97 a month for 3 years after trading in a beautiful Trail Duster that was so much better.

      Like 1

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