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Wearing White Walls: 24k Mile 1985 Dodge Diplomat

Today, in 2017, we are on the brink of electric cars for the masses, turbo-charged engines producing insane power from small displacements, incredible fuel economy, and automatic transmissions with as many gears as many people have fingers. But not so long ago there was a time when old technology meant reliability which sold cars, and this 1985 Dodge Diplomat is a perfect example of this. Take a trip back in time with me and let’s discuss this Diplomat which is for sale here on eBay with a current bid of $2,655 currently.

The year is 1985, Huey Lewis and the News’ The Power of Love is on the radio, and Lee Iacocca has just brought the Chrysler Corporation back from bankruptcy with just two vehicle platforms.  The first is the front wheel drive platform that spawned the K-cars and the brand new minivan and the other platform is the rear wheel drive carryover from the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volaré. One platform is new technology with transverse engines and a front wheel drive transaxle, and the other is tried-and-true rear wheel drive, older engines and conventional transmissions.  Can you guess which platform this Diplomat is on?

The Dodge Diplomat/Plymouth Gran Fury/Chrysler Fifth Avenue become the full size cars once the smaller front wheel drive platform was introduced.  The writing was on the wall for these cars but they still sold surprisingly well up until 1989 when they were replaced with front wheel drive versions. Mainly these cars were purchased by people who felt that these cars were more rugged or reliable than the front wheel drive platform or maybe they needed the extra torque provided by the 318 V8 (which this car is powered by). It was also possible to swap larger V8s into this chassis which could make the plushest hot rod ever (Check out those seats: they look as comfortable as riding on a pillow).

This beautiful Diplomat has just 24,000 miles and was certainly stored in a garage for its entire life. All of the wire wheel covers are present and the white wall tires and vinyl roof really complete the classy look. This car would have had acceptable performance with minimal shifting from the 3-speed automatic transmission and had 140 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. It likely would stay in 3rd gear for all normal driving except for full throttle kick-down into second gear for passing. The AC works, it has power windows and locks, and an AM/FM/cassette player if you can still find your Huey Lewis and the News tapes!

Comments

  1. Dovi65

    It’s great to see the average ‘mom & dad’ cars of the 80s pop up in such nice shape. Tho I didn’t know the Diplomat could be had with the 5th Ave wheel covers

  2. Nrg8

    That is a fifth avenue front clip

    • Corey Kemendo Member

      Yep, the top-of-the-line SE, Special Edition, Diplomats received the Fifth Avenue front clip with a cross hair grill. Also, the wire wheels were an option as were the beautiful snowflake aluminum wheels. My best friend’s father had one of these when we were growing up and was great except for the Lean Burn.

      One difference is the Fifth Avenue had chrome covered turn signal lamps, while these had earlier Lebaron exposed lens turn signals.

  3. nessy

    A rare find today. A guy in the next town from me has an 82 Diplomat just sitting in his driveway for years now. Dark blue, loaded with power everything and a perfect light gray plush leather interior. He was some kind of Private Investigator and used this car for years as his “Work Car” I took a peek inside, it has a vintage cellular telephone in the dash and some kind of Police radio with an antenna on the back of the car. I guess back in the day, these were used as Police cars so in dark blue, it must have looked like an official undercover car. I have not seen the car move in at least 10 years. It just sits in his driveway. Now I see an Impala there sometimes with black out windows. Maybe that is the replacement car. It has the same 5th Ave wire wheels as your feature car so I guess that was an option.

  4. Alan

    Last year I bought All original R body 1980 Chrysler NewYorker Fifth Avenue cream color with cream leather interior. All original 15K mile car with books and owners manual. 360 2B Tilt sterring factory front power seats factory AM/FM radio factory AC original wire wheels. Asking price was 14K I got it for 13K
    Attaching seller photo of car before my purchase

  5. XMA0891

    My family once bought a (used) ’85 Diplomat for $500. Ours did not have the vinyl roof, which may have been removed by the time of our princely purchase. It ran like a Swiss watch.
    In today’s FWD-world; driving it in snow really took you back to the days of open diffs, in RWD cars, with three-speed automatics! You had to know how to drive it when the roads got bad!
    Rust got to the frame, and one sad day, accelerating up a hill, the rear axle broke free. She was still sporting its original “Chrylser Paint” in the condition of the dark blue one above; the body however remained in amazing shape.
    Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge – We looked for a long time to replace our Diplo and could not.
    These really were great cars!!

  6. Mark

    How about automatic transmissions with no gears cvt my favorite

  7. David Miraglia

    Good riding cars. One of my old coworkers back at Atlantic Express had one.

  8. Bill Owens BillO Staff

    My father in law had a very similar 1987 Plymouth Gran Fury. Nice interior, but had crank windows and nice finned wheel covers. He later traded it for a 1992 Chrysler Fifth Avenue, both were blue. After his wife died and it only had about 35,000 miles, he traded it for a 1996 Chrysler Cirrus. He didn’t tell my wife or her sister and someone snapped up the trade real quick, or it may have stayed in the family.

  9. Wrong Way

    My goodness, what a great buy this car would be! I seriously would offer $5000.00, easily on this car! I would have no way to retrieve the darn thing! Shipping is expensive unless you have good connections! Otherwise I would be all over this car!

    • BMW4RunninTundra

      Wrong Way,
      If you are serious, reply back and I might be able to help you out in the ‘transportation’ department.

      • Wrong Way

        I appreciate the offer, but I have a lot of trucker friends I am a retired trucker! It’s really the wrong time for me to purchase anything!

  10. Rustytech Member

    I had the 5th Avenue version of this car, 1985, triple red with leather interior. That and the 1978 Lebaron I had before that were probably the best two cars I ever had. I wish they still made cars like this.

    • Roger

      We also had an ’85 Fifth Avenue only in black with grey leather interior,not long after we bought it the clear coat started peeling off so we had a local guy redo it,outside of the power antenna that sometimes was sluggish going up and down it was a great car,came with the AM/FM cassette stereo with built in EQ in it,ended up trading it for a ’89 Cutlass Supreme coupe,there’s a white Fifth Avenue not far from here that I keep watching to see if they ever decide to get rid of it but not holding my breath though.

  11. DaVuVuZeLa

    How fortuitous of this car to go up for sale just as FCA announces that the availability of Hellcat crate engines.

  12. frank

    Iacocca didn’t bring the company back from “Bankruptcy”. He avoided it completely, the company DIDN’T go Bankrupt in 1980, Their first Bankruptcy ever was in 2009……..additionally, this car was intended to be the Chrysler Newport, hence the Fifth Avenue grill with the Diplomat rear end treatment, but they changed their minds at the last minute and made it the Diplomat SE, it has different front end styling than the traditional Dodge Diplomat of the same year.

  13. Mike Mazzone

    wow you guys know an unhealthy amount about these cars!

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