Turbocharged Survivor: 1985 Dodge ES 600 Convertible

In the 1980s, the reincarnated Chrysler Corporation went to significant lengths to reinvent itself via multiple iterations of its “K” car platform. Sometimes these attempts were intended to project something a little higher brow than what they really were. This platform was hugely variable as it was the basis for many vehicles as well as “stretched” versions for cars like the last version of the Chrysler Imperial. One of the more intriguing models to flow from the ubiquitousness of the K platform was the Dodge ES 600 convertible like today’s find, a 1985 example, located in Moraga, California and for sale here on craigslist for $2,350.

The seller states in the description of the listing that this convertible is in “excellent” condition but later refines the estimation as “fairly nice condition considering age”. Either way, this Dodge shows well in the accompanying images, especially considering its 96,000 miles of travel. There is an extensive list of newly installed parts referenced so that’s encouraging to see. Clearly the owner, who had possession of this convertible for fifteen years, has had an interest in maintaining its condition.

Under the hood, we find Chrysler’s 146 HP, 2.2 liter, in-line four-cylinder turbocharged engine. This power plant received praise back in the ’80s for its lively performance, especially when compared to the more typical, languid performers of the day. The transmission choice in this configuration really wasn’t a choice, it is the required three-speed automatic transaxle.

There is no reference to the interior in this convertible but from what can be spied between the two available images, it looks really good. There are no noticeable rips or tears and fading doesn’t appear to be a problem, which it often is with a convertible. In particular, dash pads can suffer the sun’s wrath when a lot of top-down operation occurs but not so in this case.

The seller also has some extra parts, including the convertible top boot, and documentation included in the sale. This being a California car helps to explain what appears to be a pretty sound body. There is no reference to corrosion and no visual cues of rust, dents or misaligned body panels.

My understanding is that a K car, equipped with a 2.2-liter turbo is fun to drive; having the top-down only adds to the experience, especially if you are located in an inviting climate that encourages such operation. And this price – what’s not to like? If you were in the market for a convertible, would you consider this 1985 Dodge ES 600?


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  1. Tirefriar

    The ES600 above may not have a V8 but I find it a more interesting alternative to the Allante featured earlier. No, I am not a Caddie hater but this car just seems a bit more fun to own in part to a turbo under the hood, styling is not better or worse than that of a Caddie but the interior is more roomier. Great weekend family cruiser. You cannot beat the value of this Dodge.

    Like 4
  2. John D.

    Great car. Great price. Wrong coast. I liked the 600 convertibles as I thought they were sportier looking than the LeBaron convertibles I sold. Many of those were saddled with the Town & Country-esque wood paneling, that I didn’t care for. I was relieved when the sleeker 87 LeBaron launched.

    I would own this but for how far I would need to travel for it.

    Like 1
  3. Grandpa Lou

    Beautiful car, like the styling, but has anyone ever driven one? They twist with every bump and corner taken, no structural rigidity and the sudden thrust from a turbo after the turbo lag kicks in does not help at all. Add in the problems with the leaking head gaskets of these turbos and I would be wary of one with 96000 miles. Chrysler cheaped out on the quality of the head gaskets from the factory and when they disintegrated, they caused owners quite the headaches. I have read that Mopar Performance sells more stout metal based gaskets for these that solves the problems, perhaps that has one of these put in place. At least the price is still affordable.

    Like 1
  4. Guy V.Coulombe

    I own an identical car like this one, except it is the 1986 Dodge 600 ES 2.2 Turbo Convertible, same color and interior. Here in California. This is also a VERY rare car as only about 5,000 were made for 1985 and 4,000 for 1986.

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