Good morning! Today, I’m setting a challenge for you all. I can literally hear the groans of disappointment from the photos, but just sit tight; we’re going to play a little game. But before I explain what we’re doing, let’s look at yesterday’s foregone conclusion:
Now, I want to point something out about those results, and it kind of leads into today’s pairing. The idea here is not, as some of you seem to think, to feature practical, desirable, or even reasonable cars. The idea is to get you to click, and read, and discuss, and vote. And by that measure, that Seville was wildly successful. I knew it was going to lose by a landslide, but how often do you see one for sale? How could I not write about it? Cars you love to hate are cars you love to talk about, and I’m going to take advantage of that whenever I can.
Today, I have two cars that I know are unpopular around here. Both are from the same seller, part of a property cleanup effort. Both are dirt-cheap. Both, ostensibly, run, at least enough to move onto a trailer. And both are cars I legitimately, unapologetically, unironically like. In fact, I have model kits of both of them in my stash:
But I don’t want you to just hate on them. That’s easy; anybody can do that. It takes a true love of automobiles to find something positive to say about some cars. So here’s what I challenge you all to do today: Find one thing you genuinely like about one of these cars. Find a reason, however insignificant, to vote for one of them. This is purely a thought experiment; no money is on the line, and you don’t have to drive one of these to work tomorrow. All I want is a positive comment, something that you think is cool about one or the other of these cars. That’s not too much to ask, is it? Let’s take a look at them.
Engine/drivetrain: 2.2 liter overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, FWD
Location: Ridgefield, WA
Odometer reading: 135,000 miles
Runs/drives? Allegedly will run if you put a battery in it
The two-door variant of the Chrysler L-body was a neat little car. Sure, it wasn’t very powerful (at least until Carroll Shelby got his hands on it), and it wasn’t cool (even when Alejandro DeTomaso got dragged into it), but there’s something appealing about it, especially the early ones. They’re just cheerful little cars.
Starting in 1982, the Dodge Omni 024 and Plymouth Horizon TC3 became the Charger and Turismo, respectively, and gained some much-needed horsepower courtesy of the K-car: the ubiquitous 2.2 liter four, fitted with a two-barrel Holley carburetor. Chrysler chose to advertise this fourteen-horsepower bump with a borderline-obnoxious graphics package, a spoiler, and a bulge in the hood. Hey, it was not a great time for performance cars; you got your jollies where you could.
This Turismo 2.2 funnels the K-car power to the front wheels through a five-speed manual transmission, which is a good thing. With a manual, the L-body is a tossable little plaything; with an automatic, it becomes almost a punishment. The seller says this one will run if you put a battery in it, but I get the feeling that information is out of date by a good few years.
But with its wedgey ’80s styling, happy face, and flashy orange stripes, it just calls to me. It looks like it has a bit of rust here and there, and the paint isn’t in great shape, but the inside looks all right, and the original seats are included if you want it all to match.
Engine/drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.2 liter overhead cam inline 4, three-speed automatic, FWD
Location: Ridgefield, WA
Odometer reading: unknown (digital, no battery in car)
Runs/drives? Will run with a battery, engine knocks
The K-car rescued Chrysler, and then the minivan gave it some stability, but no one was ever going to call a Reliant or a Caravan “fun.” The Charger and Turismo were sporty, but they weren’t a match for the Mustang or Camaro. Chrysler needed a pony car. Enter the Daytona. Based on the K platform, but rocking a turbocharger and flashy fastback styling, it still wasn’t a match for the Mustang or Camaro, let’s face it. But it was good enough for Dee Dee McCall.
This Daytona’s turbocharged 2.2 is stuck in front of an A413 Torqueflite automatic transmission. It’s not a bad automatic as automatics go, but a car like this deserves a third pedal. I used to own a Chrysler Laser, this car’s twin, with the same drivetrain, and I can tell you from experience it does take a lot of the fun out of it. This one is said to run, but it has a knock.
The interior of this one looks pretty good, if a little dirty. Red interiors seem to be a love-it-or-hate-it thing; personally I love them, but your mileage, as always, may vary. This car’s mileage is listed as unknown; I think that’s because it has a digital instrument panel and no battery.
Outside, it’s rougher than the Turismo, with some surface rust where the paint has been baked off. And it has the later front end, with pop-up lights, instead of the original quad rectangular lights, which personally I don’t like as well. But Daytonas of any age are getting hard to find, and this one looks save-able, and for practically pocket change.
I fully expect a few “Those both suck, and I’m not playing” comments. But I also hope that there’s something here you can find to admire. Dig deep – there’s a lot here to like, if you look closely. Find one thing about one of them, and cast your vote. Tomorrow’s cars will be more likeable, I promise.
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)