Upscale Aries: 1983 Dodge 400

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Among short-lived models, Chrysler Corporation’s 400 line didn’t stick around very long. Originally conceived as a step-up from the Aires lineup, it was quickly folded into the 600 series just two years after introduction, making this clean coupe here on a bit of a rare bird. It’s listed for $3,295 and supposedly has under 90,000 original miles. Is it worth a closer look? 

Now, bear in mind: upmarket from the Aries wasn’t saying a whole lot, and this car comes from an era when “luxury” was often as diluted as “performance.” The Aries also wasn’t a terribly equipped car to begin with, so even with the badging on the rear decklid that clearly resembled the same script Mercedes was using at the time, there was no confusing this car with a Benz. If nothing else, the lone engine options of two four-cylinder powerplants would give it away that this 400 wasn’t knocking on Germany’s doors.

The interiors at least looked nice, with plenty of details to make you think you were driving something special. This 400 coupe appears to be in great shape, with well-preserved leather seats – but are my eyes deceiving me? Yes, those are crank windows. Oh, mama. I don’t know who thought that was a good idea, but it seems to me if you’re trying to entice Mercedes shoppers into the showroom, the car should at least have power windows to go along with that fancy script on the trunk lid.

Though the details are scarce in this particular listing (which appears to belong to a dealership in Pennsylvania), the engine bay looks quite clean. I think someone went a bit heavy with the ArmorAll, but that’s a minor quibble. Finding an elusive 400 or 600-series Mopar makes this one standout from the variety of K-Car derivatives that are out there, but you’ll have to be quite the LeBaron or Aries enthusiast to want to fork over $3K to add this one to your fleet. Then again, who am I to talk about questionable purchasing decisions? If this 400 would fill a void in your life, let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Stang1968

    Should return those horrible wheel covers back to Walmart.

    • Kris

      They’re the stock hubcaps, amazingly.

    • Joe

      Stock Alloys. My Dodge 600 had them.

  2. ags290

    That’s a definite thumbs up Stang1968!

  3. jwinters

    the shop I used to work at back in the 90’s had an Aries K car used for deliveries. it was an x US navy fleet car. I beat on that thing for 2 years trying to break it. never could.. the thing was bullet proof I tell ya

    • Marshall

      I wish I had your car. My 1987 Plymouth Reliant station wagon definitely was not bulletproof. It bit the bullet at 115,000 miles in 1999. I later found out from a junkyard employee that if you were not religious enough with changing out the radiator fluid (and apparently I was not pious enough) then the anti-freeze will start eating through the aluminum engine. He explained that that’s why so many of them went to the scrap yard. Mine had the 2.2 L engine. Yet my sister had a 1994 Plymouth Shadow that had the same engine that lasted over 200,000 miles. Maybe she was more religious as she always referred to it as her “God car”.

  4. Mark S

    Sorry for going off topic guys but I know all you gear heads will be sad to here that up in the small town of Olds Alberta Canada a storage building housing 3 million dollars worth of antique cars burned to the ground on Thursday I feel for the owner.

  5. Mr. TKD

    Aries, not Aires.

  6. grant

    No. Just no.

  7. DG

    Funny you mention the Mercedes comparison. That’s exactly what Iacocca did in the adverts for the 600ES when it came out. Nobody was buying it then, either.

  8. glenn

    this was an early rendition of the lebaron coupe

  9. The Giant Cornstalk

    Aries and Reliants were downright criminal on lack of headroom (I’m 6’4″ and when a Chrysler executive took me for a ride in his Aries, my head was pushed down so far I nearly suffocated). The LeBarons and E-body New Yorkers were little if any better. My divorce from Chrysler was finalized in 1998 after a multi-year fling with a 1990 New Yorker Landau, and I haven’t looked back since. Recent IIHS crash tests on various FCA products have reassured me that I made the right decision. After nearly half a dozen Pentastar products between 1975 and 1998 under a misguided allegiance to Walter P. Chrysler’s offerings, I finally gave up and have never looked back. While there are few angels in the automotive business (don’t kid yourselves, no one is giving it away out of the kindness of their hearts), I have had supremely better luck with pickup trucks from another American car manufacturer. I was wronged too many times to forgive. WPC has likely been spinning in his grave for the past 40+ years, and it should have never happened.

  10. Sam

    My grandmother’s last new car was a 4dr “ice blue” Dodge 400. She traded her 1976 Chryslerodge Newport 4dr….dark green with green cloth paisley interior. Grandfather was an engineer and always drove Mopar.

  11. Keith C

    What’s an “Aires”? I’ve heard of an ARIES, but never an “Aires”.


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