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    Dodge Omni / Plymouth Horizon 1977-1990

    The Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon were subcompact cars produced by Chrysler from December 1977 to 1990. The Omni and Horizon were reengineered variants of the European Chrysler Horizon, and were the first of many front-wheel drive Chrysler products to follow, including the Dodge Aries/Plymouth Reliant and the Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager/Chrysler Town and Country.

    The Dodge Omni and the Plymouth Horizon were front-wheel drive, five-door hatchbacks, introduced by the Dodge and Plymouth divisions of Chrysler in North America in January 1978. The Omni and Horizon were the first front-wheel drive cars produced by Chrysler, and among the first American front-wheel drive cars to sell in large numbers (previous front-wheel drive American cars such as the Cord 810, Cadillac Eldorado, and Oldsmobile Toronado were low-volume luxury cars). The Omni and Horizon were developed in parallel with the Horizon, a subcompact car designed by Simca, the French division of Chrysler Europe, and built on the then-new L platform. This was Chrysler's first and last attempt at a 'world car'. The Simca Horizon survived in various guises under the successor Talbot name until 1987.

    Born largely out of the need to replace the aging Simca 1100, the Horizon was essentially a shortened version of the larger Alpine, giving the vehicle an unusually wide track for its length. The Horizon, or Project C2 as it was known inside Simca during development, was intended to be a "world car" (designed for consumers on both sides of the Atlantic), but, in execution, the European and North American versions of the vehicle actually turned out to have very little in common. When Chrysler exited the European car market (and sold assets to Peugeot, which subsequently sold the same car in Europe as the Talbot Horizon) in 1978, Chrysler retained the North American rights to the car, and began production at Belvidere.

    Chrysler had previously avoided building a subcompact car, preferring to use branded imports like the Mitsubishi-made Dodge Colt instead. Presented as a significant domestic development, the models were initially priced starting at US$2,500. The Dodge Omni was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1978, and the related Talbot Horizon was voted European Car of the Year in 1979. The Omni and Horizon appeared at a critical time for Chrysler, when the company was on the brink of bankruptcy and sought government support to survive. In 1978, Chrysler had beaten out Ford and General Motors to the market with a domestically-produced front-wheel drive car to challenge the VW Rabbit. However, the L-bodies miscarried at first, since 1978 was a year of strong sales for larger cars and demand for compacts and subcompacts noticeably shrank. These initial poor sales of the cars contributed to Chrysler's financial woes at the time, but when the company requested federal assistance, the Omni was an important piece of evidence that they were attempting to compete with imports and build small, fuel-efficient cars and might be worth saving. For the three years leading up to the introduction of Chrysler's K-cars, the Omni/Horizon was Chrysler's best selling model line.

    The Omni and Horizon had few interchangeable parts with their European siblings. Aside from the heavier-looking American body panels and bumpers, the OHV Simca engines were replaced with unique 1.7 L SOHC engines sourced from Volkswagen, while MacPherson strut front suspension took the place of the torsion bar arrangement found in the European Horizon. The Volkswagen engine used an enlarged Chrysler-designed cylinder head and intake manifold and produced 75 hp (56 kW) and 90 lb⋅ft (122 N⋅m). Originally, only the CARB-certified version with an air pump and 70 hp (52 kW) had been available. In 1979 power climbed to 77 hp (57 kW), while by 1980 it dropped to 68 hp (51 kW) and 83 lb⋅ft (113 N⋅m) of torque in all fifty states.

    The climate controls were mounted to the left of the steering wheel rather than in the center stack like in most vehicles, meaning only the driver could adjust the interior temperature. Other Chrysler Corporation products (including the Dodge Charger and Chrysler Cordoba), as well as vehicles from other manufacturers came with instrument panels that placed the climate controls in this general location during the 1970s. Shortly after their introduction, Consumer Reports tested the Omni and reported that it lost control in hard maneuvering. As front-wheel-drive cars were still considered a new idea in Detroit, the allegation received extensive mainstream coverage, including a piece in Time Magazine. Other auto magazines reported no problems and said the test did not approximate real-world driving conditions. Chrysler made modifications that included a steering damper and a lighter-weight steering wheel.

    Source: Wikipedia

    Dodge Omni threads:
    Dodge Omni / Plymouth Horizon 1977-1990
    Dodge Omni 024 1979-1982
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    Last edited by Man of Steel; 08-25-2019 at 10:32 PM.
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