Live Auctions

Turbo-Look: 1989 Dodge Omni

For a brief moment, I was excited – very excited – about this 1989 Dodge Omni. It’s just down the road from me in Middletown, Connecticut, and looked like the desirable GLH spec with its turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood and the ghost of Carroll Shelby misted around the intercooler. However, nothing is ever that easy, and this Omni is hiding a secret about its pedigree. The hood scoop may seem like a clear indication as to the power residing underneath but it seems like it could be a farce. Find the Omni here on craigslist for $1,500, and thanks to Barn Finds reader connbackroads for the find. 

The seller clearly doesn’t know much about the car, as the listing reads like it was penned by some guy driving past the car three days ago. The Omni doesn’t even get the dignity of being pulled out of the weeds for the photo shoot despite the fact that it still runs and drives. Curiously, the seller does say it “….has many Shelby parts on it,” which only deepens the mystery. Does it have a complete GLH drivetrain underneath? Just the hood scoop and some GLH wheels? A firmer suspension with fatter tires? The list of potential qualifiers is deep but nothing about this Omni indicates it has anything more than a badge and a hole in the hood. It rides on base model-spec steel wheels and has an automatic transmission.

I can’t recall if these heavily-bolstered seats were standard to the GLH and optional in other models; either way, this Omni doesn’t have the bargain basement bucket seats. The automatic transmission is a serious buzzkill, and it almost makes me wonder why someone threw the desirable GLH parts at a low-rent version of the Omni. To be fair, the seller never confirms whether there’s a turbocharged and intercooled engine under the hood, so it could just be a case of a hood and bucket seat swap and nothing else. Back in the late 90s, an Omni was a throwaway car, so it’s entirely possible someone snatched a grandma-driven example up for peanuts and swapped the components of a wrecked GLH over to a cheap-to-insure base model.

Comments

  1. Ed H

    As quick as a modern econo box without the reliability.

    Like 6
  2. mike

    Best left in the weeds..

    Like 7
  3. Terrry

    It’s missing the front bumper. No matter, it probably will never need it.

    Like 3
  4. Michael Berkemeier

    Why is this even on here? I, literally, know of not one person that would want this turd.

    Like 5
  5. Jay McCarthy

    I don’t remember these GLH’s coming in automatic

    Like 3
  6. Spudoo

    Those aren’t GLH wheels (none of them that you can see…and what you can see don’t even match each other), those aren’t GLH seats (upholstery is wrong) and beyond that who can say from those pictures. But the biggest tell? There’s no such thing as a “1989” GLH. They were only made in 1984, 1985, 1986. This thing is scrap…not worth getting poison ivy to look in the driver’s side window.

    Like 1
  7. Troy

    All that and no title

    Like 2
  8. Pt

    If it is a GLH it is no turd or even if it has just the motor. I got one at a salvage auction less then $500. Just a dented fender. Found note in car said something like “buy socks, clean room and get a good car” kid must have hated the nerdy car. Car was fast, friend had it for years after it just kept running. GREAT car

    Like 3
  9. chrlsful

    yeah, nuttin wrong here, I’d make it into the Rampage/Scamp tho:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/hugo90/2515049811

    Lower roofed/smoother topper tho.

    Like 1
  10. peter badenoch

    Before the GLH was the updated Omni with the 2.2L K-Car-originated “bulletproof” engine (replacing the VW 1.7L), plus 5-speed manual. It replaced a competent but relatively lack-lustre car with one that could qualify for the bottom end of the pocket-rocket stakes, especially with the optional “heavy-duty” suspension. An under-appreciated driver’s car and undoubtedly what led to the development of the GLH.

    But a major problem in the marketing of this improved Omni (and its Horizon sister) was that Chrysler dealers were still of the mindset that people bought smaller cars, particularly with manual transmission, only if they were stupid, cash-strapped, or desperate for fuel economy. So Omni and Horizon continued to be ordered by dealers predominantly with automatic transmission and therefore continued to be competent but lack-lustre commodity cars with minimal potential enthusiast visibility. And that mindset persisted through Neon.

    Like 4
  11. Rudy Trujillo

    Owned a 1982 Dodge Omni & the Heater holes kept on having to be Replaced then I Warped the Heads & Got them Replaced & then the Transmission went out ! Sold it for $50.00 & Moved on

    Like 1
  12. Hollywood Collier

    I think it is awesome that the great staff at Barnfinds post a huge variety of cars, boats, bikes, etc. I like it..but some people will bitch if it rains money.

  13. Emel

    You must get excited easily, lol. As Omni’s were about one of least exciting options in autodom.

  14. Tom L

    I had an 83 horizon and that car was the cheapest thing I have ever driven. The steering wheel horn fell off, the cvt joints failed regularly, and the clutch cable busted multiple times and left me once stranded in Compton at 10 pm. The 1.7 rabbit engine burned a quart every 100 miles at 80k. and the dashboard cracked in half.
    Otherwise a good car…. hahaha

  15. Richard Blodgett

    I owned an Omni and had a lot of fun with it. It fueled my desire to work on my own car doing simple things. I have been looking for either Plymouth Horizon TC3, Omni “Dodge” Charger (had the later Charger suspension) or an Omni GLH. I must admit they are hard to find.

    • Terrry

      That was the Omni O24, which looked a little like the Charger that replaced it. I used to have one in the early 80s.

  16. SaabGirl900

    This is no GLH…..it’s actually a ’90 Omni. The seats and outside rear-view mirror tell me this. Also, the GLH never came with slushdrive…..it was always a five speed.

    I’ve owned four L bodies…from an ’83 Turismo to a ’90 Omni, including a GLH Turbo. All four of them were tough little cars that took a lot of abuse and were fun to drive. OK, the Turismo, with its 1.7 litre engine, wasn’t a ball of fire, but it could get 40 MPG without breaking a sweat. The GLH was a blast to drive.

    This FrankenOmni isn’t worth the cost of gas for me to drive to Connecticut to pick it up and bring it back to New Hampshire…………

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