Turbo Estate: 1986 Plymouth Reliant

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It’s brown and it’s got a turbo – what more do you need to know? The seller claims this 1986 Plymouth Reliant is an extremely limited production car that was previously a government-owned specimen that spent its life in southern California. It’s one of one without the wood cladding down the sides, and one of three to wear “Golden Bronze Metallic” paint. This one has had lots of money thrown at it and is listed for $5K here on craigslist with extra parts and the original transmission included. 

These turbocharged Aires / Reliant wagons pop up every now and again, but usually as an engine swap specimen. This one came from the factory with the 2.2L turbo motor, and the seller says only 50 Reliant wagons came from the factory so equipped. Engine-wise, it’s had some work: “Engine has a reman’d head with an aftermarket cam, new lifters, followers and valve seals. Turbocharger is new and new lines installed as well as a 3″ Turbosunleashed swing-valve and 3″ downpipe. Car has full 3″ exhaust with a high flow 3″ cat as well. Also has a Mopar Performance computer (11 psi boost) and Mopar performance injectors.”

Dang – I bet this sucker moves, or at least far quicker than it used. The interior has been tweaked as well, with Dodge Daytona “Enthusiast” seats and headliner, along with the iconic “Pumper” wheels from a Daytona as well. The seller notes working A/C inside the nicely preserved interior, along with a rebuilt transmission from a 1990 Turbo Dodge Caravan. With the amount of work done and efforts made to keep this an OEM+ specimen, the seller can confidently say you can drive this boosted Reliant anywhere.

The engine wasn’t the only area to see significant improvements, as the suspension has been tweaked as well. “Suspension is all completely rebuilt with an ’89 Shelby CSX K frame, 94-95 Lebaron front brakes and hubs with new bearings and brakes. New struts and shocks with Shelby Lancer springs were installed as well.” This seller effectively raided the factory parts bins, but in doing so, he’s created an even rarer specimen that could have left the assembly line equipped just like this Reliant. You won’t find another one anytime soon, and this is a project you can legitimately use everyday. Awesome!

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  1. Todd Zuercher

    Wow – I have to say that this is really a cool car! I love judicious use of factory parts to improve lesser models.

    Like 8
  2. CCFisher

    “It’s got a bunch of parts from higher-performance K-car derivatives, but the engine was factory installed. Built for the government, because the standard 2.2 liter simply would not do while tooling around the base.” Right. No documentation, no sale.

    Like 8
    • Andre

      Might not be any documentation, but this isn’t the first one to come up. There was a bulk order of factory turbo wagons for MPs, it seems known in the turbo dodge community. The unobtanium vented hood leads me to believe it’s a legit factory car.

      Regardless who cares about the documentation, it’ll never be a 6-figure barrett jackson car with or without it.

      Paperwork or not, very cool car.

      Like 8
  3. JoeMac Joe Mac

    Offer $3K-car. Looks clean and could be a riot to drive if the sum of the parts pan out.

    Like 4
  4. Howard A. Howard AMember

    Why someone would do all that to a car like this,,it’s a goofy world, for sure. Don’t get me wrong, I had a car like this, non-turbo, and it was a great car, but when it was wore out, it got thrown away. It did it’s job intended, but to put all that work into this, well, I guess some people don’t think like I do. You got that kind of money to pi$$ away rebuilding a Reliant wagon? Coo-coo, coo-coo,,,( spinning finger around ear)

    Like 3
  5. jpvogl

    Brings to mind the Monty Python line, “What’s brown and sounds like a bell?”


    Thanks but would pass on this turd.

    Merry Christmas, all

    : )

    Like 1
  6. Scott

    The only thing missing is the the manual trans set up from a Daytona or Spirit R/T.

    Like 0
  7. Kenneth Carney

    Great car, but I’d have some reservations
    about that factory turbo though. My MIL
    had an ’86 LeBaron ragtop with a 2.2L
    turbo in it. Due to a defect in the turbo
    charging unit, the car caught fire one
    morning and burned to the ground!
    Mom wasn’t hurt, but the car was a total
    loss. Seems that unburned fuel from the
    turbocharger leaked onto an already hot
    manifold causing the fire. At least that’s what the adjuster told Mom after everything was all said and done. After
    that, she drove a Dodge 600 ragtop that
    was nice, but didn’t have the punch the
    LeBaron had. Woild love to see Mom and
    Sis driving this one–after I had the turbo
    inspected by a qualified technician and
    the car was declared safe to drive. You
    can almost guarantee that you’ll never
    see another like it at Oldtown on cruise

    Like 1
  8. Rob Walsh

    I have one of these.this is one of 4 left known to exist. A factory COPO car. No Plymouth wagon was sold with a turbo to the public. A corporate order for 50 wagons with 150 hp was up for bid and Chrysler didn’t have a v6. So they won the order and built 50. Ask for the Vin and look it up. Chrysler at first will tell you the car doesn’t exist.

    Like 1
  9. Mike Askew

    Know your history, the VIN will tell all…if its “factory” the VIN code shows it, if not, its just someones Hot Rod, buyer beware. Documentation makes the facts, not verbal claims.

    Like 0
  10. Gay Car Nut

    Nice find! I find later 1985 and later Chrysler K Cars more attractive than the earlier models.

    Like 1
  11. Johnny Cuda

    We had a 1985 Dodge 600 Turbo from 1986 to 2000. I loved it. My wife loved it.
    It ran great, it was a good looking car. We never had a problem with it….except the Massachusetts winters did a number on the wheel wells and floor. So we replaced it with a 1998 Plymouth Breeze. Still have the Breeze with about 80,000 miles on it. Mopar or No car!

    Like 3
  12. Audifan

    It’s very refreshing to see a brown car, instead of all the boring white, black silver and 50 shades of grey cars.

    Like 0
  13. cmarvMember

    Back in the 90’s I got all the trade-in’s from a small town Dodge dealer near me . I got a one owner Caravan with a factory 2.2 turbo and a 5 speed with a few other vehicles in a package deal . I had never came across a turbo mini van before , much less a 5 speed . I kept it for a parts runner for a few months before a Mopar guy saw it sitting out front and the stick had him excited . He bought it for $1500 (I had it inventoried @ $250) it had 70 couple thousand miles and would fry one front tire right off , it also surprised many people in “performance” cars . I kinda miss it .

    Like 5
    • Fiete T.

      The turbo minivans were 2.5L; not 2.2; I had an ’89 we did some work to and rolled up over 308+k miles

      Like 1
  14. dweezilaz

    Needs the wire wheel hub caps for that total “sleeper” look.

    Like 1
  15. Steve

    This is the first time I ever seen a turbo K-car. This is awesome. I wonder what the rare replacement car is.

    Like 0
  16. lc

    5Gs for a sorted package ‘+ parts’ that you wont find anywhere….! You need a daily, under the radar, parts chaser that wont break the budget? I think this is it.

    Like 2
  17. Del

    Pretty cool.

    But I am with other guys.

    Need some proof. At least post fender tag to prove its what is claimed.

    I think its swapped in.

    Like 1
  18. Miguel

    I just found this car in Mexico. Just like the featured car, the guy has a huge list of recent work having been done to the car. Also his price is around $2350.00 USD.

    The car shows 71,159 KM which is 44,216 Miles.

    It looks interesting enough to go look at. It has brown leather interior with an automatic. It was a loaded car for Mexico.

    Like 0
  19. Miguel

    Here is a shot of the digital dash.

    Like 1
  20. stillrunners

    Dang was that a k kar wagon that just blew by us ? Yep it had a Shelby emblem on it…

    Like 2
  21. Dave

    You gotta remember that this car was from an era where “turbo” was the ultimate buzzword. Even the computers had a turbo button on them.

    Like 1
  22. Maestro1

    Immediately get either this one or if you are close to Miguel’s find ( ask him) get that one a compensate Miguel for the find. Then take it to someone who knows these cars and have him/her tell you the truth. If the car lines up you’re a hero. If not, who cares? You have a great parts/grocery getter with lots of sexy stuff underneath. Go for it.

    Like 0
    • Miguel

      Maestro, mine is in Mexico.

      What that means is there is a minimum of smog stuff on the engines here, so I would guess the car will be much faster than an American version.

      Like 0

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