Home » Cheap And Functional, But Hideous: 1991 Dodge Dynasty vs 2001 Toyota Echo

Cheap And Functional, But Hideous: 1991 Dodge Dynasty vs 2001 Toyota Echo

Sbsd 2 6 2024
ADVERTISEMENT

Good morning! For the second (and at this rate, last) day of my Facebook Marketplace explorations, I’ve got a couple of cheap reliable beaters for you. Neither one will win any beauty pageants, but they should get you where you need to go.

Yesterday, we looked at two cars that would be a lot of fun… if they were properly drivable. It wasn’t a blowout of a vote, but a fair number of you would rather find an engine for the Trans Am than find a transmission for the Escort. Honestly, I have a feeling that the Escort’s shifting woes are an easy fix, and that someone with some knowledge, patience, and tenacity could get it going through all its gears in a weekend, and have themselves a fine little runabout for cheap.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

But I think I’m with you all on the Trans Am. I have wanted an F-body ever since I was a kid; the time has just never been right. And the third-gen with a stick is what I would want. It’s an easy car to work on, and replacement engines for it are cheap. Of course, I don’t own an engine hoist. (Yet.)

Screenshot From 2024 02 05 16 28 58

All right. Let’s take a look at a couple of cheap running cars, before I get completely fed up with Facebook’s inexplicable algorithms and clunky search function and endless spam/scam ads and go back to my trusty Craigslist. Here they are.

ADVERTISEMENT

1991 Dodge Dynasty – $1,150

425000689 122120456858168889 870982368830132700 N

Engine/drivetrain: 2.5 liter overhead cam inline 4, three-speed automatic, FWD

Location: Portland, OR

Odometer reading: 102,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives well

ADVERTISEMENT

Love it or hate it, you have to admire the versatility of Chrysler’s K platform. Park a Plymouth Voyager, a Chrysler LeBaron, and this car side-by-side, and while you’ll see the family resemblance, you’d never guess that half the mechanical parts were interchangeable. The C-platform Dynasty, along with the Chrysler New Yorker and Imperial, were as big as the K derivatives ever got, soft comfy sedans with nice traditional designs for buyers who were intimidated by Ford and GM’s modern soft shapes.

425004702 122120456468168889 830419187204862099 N

You would expect a car this size to have a V6 under the hood, and most Dynastys did. But the bare-bones base model, most commonly seen in fleets, made do with the same 2.5 liter four cylinder as the much smaller Spirit/Acclaim and Shadow/Sundance models. Coupled to a tried-and-true Torqueflite transmission, it made for pokey acceleration, but easy maintenance and solid reliability. This one runs and drives just fine, and looks as though it has a new battery.

425008245 122120456582168889 5152296023426532319 N

Inside, the no-frills motif continues, with a split bench seat, crank windows, and simple controls. One of the complaints leveled at American cars of this era is that the interiors don’t hold up. This one does look a little grubby, but everything is intact. I think it’s mostly just dirty. It seems silly to think of detailing a car like this, but a good deep cleaning would make this interior a much nicer place to be.

ADVERTISEMENT

425023579 122120456774168889 2519519874105671561 N

Outside, I think it’s probably beyond help. The clearcoat is toast, and that big scrape in the left front fender doesn’t help. It’s too bad, because this “Black Cherry” color used by Chrysler in the late ’80s/early ’90s was really pretty all polished up. I find it amusing that the seller mentions that they have a set of OEM hubcaps for it – sure, slap ’em on, why not?

2001 Toyota Echo – $900

423905131 7280512855302998 6934099439390183282 N

Engine/drivetrain: 1.5 liter overhead cam inline 4, four-speed automatic, FWD

Location: Portland, OR

ADVERTISEMENT

Odometer reading: 193,000 miles

Operational status: Your guess is as good as mine, actually…

I hesitated about featuring this car. It’s certainly cheap enough, and it fits the “ugly” part of the brief, but I have absolutely no idea whether or not it’s drivable. There is no text description in this listing whatsoever. I didn’t even know that was possible. I’m going to assume that it runs and drives, which may be foolish, but I can’t imagine anyone asking $900 for an Echo in this condition that doesn’t run. They’re not desirable cars, and this one is beat to hell, so it had better run.

423885172 25509091822023617 8323021915124145122 N

The Echo was Toyota’s replacement for the long-lived and much-loved Tercel. It wasn’t an exciting car, but the Tercel sold like hotcakes, and was the unofficial car of college campuses all across the country for a decade and a half. And yet, Toyota felt the need to create a movement to attract young buyers, something they called “Project Genesis,” which the Echo was part of. It didn’t work – the Echo was a flop in the US, possibly because we didn’t get the far more practical hatchback version that was available in Canada. Toyota should have known; Project Genesis didn’t work out too well for Spock, either.

ADVERTISEMENT

416823522 7476100909103679 4142991529584750843 N

The US model Echo only came with a 1.5 liter four, with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. This one has the automatic. It doesn’t really matter; I’ve driven both manual and automatic Echoes and they’re both functional but forgettable. The Echo was the first small Toyota to place the instrument panel in the center of the dash, rather than in front of the driver – a trend that continued in various Scion models, as well as the Yaris. I suppose you’d get used to it, like anything else, but I never liked it, myself.

424554318 7119675381485994 8342153101595953896 N

Condition-wise, this car has definitely seen better days. It’s still under 200,000 miles, youngish for a cheap old Toyota, but they’ve clearly been hard miles. The hood is wrinkled up, the grille is missing, and so is the passenger side mirror. I would have assumed it didn’t come with one; plenty of economy cars didn’t, but there is a stump there. We can’t really tell what condition the interior is in, because the seats and steering wheel are hidden under aftermarket covers.

You might wonder why on Earth anyone would want a car as beat-up as these. Well, not too long ago, I had a job in a bad part of town, where I had to park on the street, and I specifically bought a $500 Toyota Corolla in about the same condition as these, just so I didn’t have to worry about my car. There’s something very freeing about driving a car that already looks this bad: Park it where you want. Bully your way into traffic; they’ll let you go first. And if something catastrophic goes wrong, you haven’t lost much. So which will it be – the slow-moving American tank, or the cure-for-insomnia Japanese compact?

ADVERTISEMENT

(Image credits: Facebook Marketplace sellers)

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
123 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Black Peter
Black Peter
2 months ago

I was all set to choose the K-variant until I saw more . It runs sure, but it’s a character car from either a dystopian action movie or a failed “Uncle Buck” remake. In the end I went with the Echo, only because while nearly as scruffy, it’s likely more reliable as is, parts availability should be good, and it’s so anonymous it’s practically invisible.

JDE
JDE
2 months ago

I think the center stack dashboard was to simplify the cars for cost no matter what side of the road they were driven on. But that is just and engineers guess. The miles and status of known functionality is the only reason I would choose the older but lower lime Dodge. if the Toyota was also known to run and even had a smidge fewer miles, I would likely have gone that route, though I am not really sure why anyone would buy either of these except cheap transpo until they die? or as said about the Tercel, to give to a college kid to trash while in college.

XLEJim700
XLEJim700
2 months ago

Not hearing it for the Echo

Not hearing it for the Echo

Luxobarge
Luxobarge
2 months ago

Nitpick: Project Genesis worked out great for Spock, in the end. It was Khan that got truly and permanently boned by it.

Jesus, these two cars look like shit. I don’t even wat to sit in either of them, but I guess I’ll take the Dodge because it looks like, with cleaning, it might be okay.

Mike B
Mike B
2 months ago

These are both terrible, but I’d take the Echo if I was desperate. The Dynasty is one of those cars that used to be all over the place that I haven’t seen in years, so I’ll give that one credit for still existing. These days, “continuing to exist” is about the best we can hope for.

Last edited 2 months ago by Mike B
Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
2 months ago

As much as I dislike the Dodge (except the interior, because color is king), I still have to pick it. The Echo (and first gen Yaris) had a fatal flaw for someone like me: getting in and out required either folding yourself in half or banging your head on the roof rail. Never had a problem getting in or out of a Tercel. But an Echo? In a way, worse than trying to get in and out of my Miata as a fat old man.

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green
2 months ago

There are two cars in my life that have scared/scarred me. The first is the Ford Tempo. The most miserable, awful, depressing car ever. It’s the car that convinced me that I needed a real job, because if I had to drive a Ford Tempo because I had no choice, I couldn’t live with myself.

The second is the Dynasty. One summer in college, I worked for an international snack foods company. I was a summer sales intern, meaning that when the sales guys went on vacation, I took over their routes, selling to grocery stores. The supervisor was given a company car – A Dynasty.

I felt like for the powers that be at Chrysler, it was like “we all know what a Cimmaron is, and we know that GM didn’t really try too hard on that car, and we just don’t feel like trying as hard as GM did. So here’s the Dynasty…”

And the guys at the snack food company who were using the company car as some kind of a bonus, the message I felt that they were sending is “We know that the standard is a semi luxury car. But we aren’t going to be spending that kind of money. So there’s this. We know it’s not a semi-luxury car, and we know you know it’s not a semi-luxury car, but we are going to call it a semi-luxury car, and we will not discuss this any further.”

The Cimarron was insulting, but this was just kind of sad.

Still better than the Tempo…

Cyko9
Cyko9
2 months ago

Plastic bits in the K car aren’t known for longevity, and it’s not worth having to repair. The Echo is beat, but it’s cheaper with slightly better build quality.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
2 months ago

Those Echos look like something Mr. Bean would drive.

I had a Reliant K car as a company car for a few months and the combination of the 2.2 with auto was just awful. I can’t imagine a 2.5 in this much larger car would be any better and I’m not sitting in that interior without a Hazmat suit. I can smell the vape from here.

I know the rules are we have to pick, so in this case I choose the Echo because it’s cheaper and I’ll just burn the $900 and never buy the car.

Mike B
Mike B
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

Not Mr. Bean, but Robin Williams drove one in “One Hour Photo”.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
2 months ago

To the crusher with the lot.

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago

I love that Echo. 0.29 drag coefficient and roughly 2,000 lbs weight. Would make a good Kubota diesel swap into an inexpensive 80+ mpg daily.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

How about a 1st gen Prius? Wasn’t that essentially a hybrid Echo?

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Heavier, slightly more drag, and good luck finding one for cheap where the battery is still operable and in good working order.

The 2nd gen Prius had about 10% less drag, and IMO would be an even better choice for a platform.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Fair enough.

Looking at the Echo on paper it looks a lot like a Gen1 VW GTI/GLI but better:

108/105 vs 90/105 HP/ft-lbs (VW might be underrated)
DOHC VVT vs SOHC fixed
8.5s vs 9.7s 0-60MPH
16.7s vs 17.1s 1/4 mile
29/37 vs 21/26 MPG
0.77 vs 0.78 skidpad (tires would help)
2128 vs 2100 lbs
early 2000s vs early 1980s safety standards
peak Toyota vs (maybe) peak VW reliability

That interior is very much up for debate though.

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Interior? I could care less. The less crap to break and add unwanted mass, the better!

I didn’t know the Echo was that fast, either. I’ve ridden in one being floored and the 0-60 time felt slower than that.

I’d have loved the equivalent of a GR edition with double the output. RWD and a fastback 2-door body also would have been nice, a nod to the original Toyota Corolla 1200 from the 1970s.

Last edited 2 months ago by Toecutter
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Maybe the one you rode in had issues. I had a 2nd gen scirocco with that engine and it was quick enough but the magic was in the handling.

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Maybe. The year was 2003 and the car was a 2000.

Max Headbolts
Max Headbolts
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Can confirm that 0-60 is VERY optimistic, dated a woman with one of these in the early aughts, it was a fine car, but VERY slow to get up to speed. hers was an auto not sure what the 5-speed was like.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Max Headbolts

I’d expect the 5MT was faster. Gearing makes a difference.

You sure it wasn’t a gen 1 Prius? 😉

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Max Headbolts
Max Headbolts
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Oh yeah, that was her aspirational vehicle…..

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Max Headbolts

I dunno if I’ve ever heard of a Gen1 Prius called “aspirational” and I was a grossly underpaid graduate student at the time.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
2 months ago
Reply to  Max Headbolts

My Blueberry has the same powertrain (with 227k miles and a lingering transmission solenoid code, but no CEL) and a couple hundred extra pounds of modernity, and it doesn’t feel particularly slow to me, in that it gets up to speed and cruises at 80-85 as easily as a well-maintained non-turbo automatic Volvo 240 can. Might be able to keep up with a manual N/A 240, even.

Now, that same 240 with a massive vacuum leak, or a 740 Turbo (lower compression) wagon with the wastegate arm unhooked, keeping the engine from getting any boost from its dying turbocharger? Those were slow. (Edit: And when that turbo failed completely, getting it 30 miles home was easily David’s-J10-towing-5000-pounds slow and took three quarts of oil.)

Edit two: MotorWeek tested an automatic ’07 Yaris sedan and got it to 60 in 9.5 seconds, which feels right to me; it’s certainly possible that shedding a few hundred pounds and the slush-o-matic could save the manual Echo a second.

Last edited 2 months ago by FuzzyPlushroom
Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Interior? I could care less”

if you could care less, that means you care at least a little bit!!!

:-p

JDE
JDE
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

buy it cheap without a functioning battery and swap it all out for a Diesel lawnmower motor I suppose. Worked for Robot Cantina. https://youtu.be/6pora5Sv32o?si=9W0ToEtY2IuWhAQQ

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Sounds good! I used to use Kubota diesel zero-turn mowers at work…those were great mowers

Beasy Mist
Beasy Mist
2 months ago

Woof, the 2.5 and Torqueflite was not quick in any car but it must be glacial in a Dynasty. My aunt had on with the 3.0v6 and it was a dog.

Saul Goodman
Saul Goodman
2 months ago

If only people would take care of their cars… these two have had it rough.

I’ll take the Dynasty: seems like a..
sufficient and… acceptable winter beater that, once cleaned up inside, will probably be decently comfortable. Just use it till it blows up, and then throw it down a mountain or something.

Last edited 2 months ago by Saul Goodman
Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
2 months ago

I chose the ((Dynasty))….((Dynasty))…(((Dynasty)))* only because I know it runs.

*Sorry, there must be an Echo in here! (͡• ͜ʖ ͡•)

Last edited 2 months ago by Shooting Brake
StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

Golf clap…

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
2 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Thanks Man! 🙂

EastbayLoc
EastbayLoc
2 months ago

Gimme the Echo, echo… Seriously and long as it’s running (I know, big assumption) it will run forever. And I had a crapbox like this in my hometown for a while and I never worried about parking it on the street either.

That Diplomat was hot garbage when new (Drives well? No it never drove well. It existed in a rental fleet) . I can’t believe someone is actually asking money for it. Has it been in a lake for part of its life? It looks as bad on the outside as the inside. I have seen better cars abandoned on the street with the plates removed than this thing. They do have some balls to be asking someone for money to take this monstrosity away.

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
2 months ago

I’ve tied the vote for the moment, and I bet you can guess how.

You did it, Mark… you found a purple car that I don’t want, even with that lovely red velour inside.

I wouldn’t say I want this Echo, either, but with basic maintenance, the little nugget ought to provide reliable transportation (of the sort you can say you have on a job application without feeling like you’re not being entirely truthful) for a few years yet.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago
Reply to  FuzzyPlushroom

Applying for a job as a door to door salesman, they asked if I had reliable transportation. I said yes. They didn’t ask and I didn’t tell it was a bicycle, at least until the first day I showed up for work. I had moved to the Triangle with about $300 borrowed dollars, I didn’t even have bad-side-of-town Corolla money.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
2 months ago

The Echo is almost unkillable, except for one issue. Rust. These things rust out from underneath unlike anything else. My sister had one for ages that she absolutely beat to hell, and only rust was able to kill it once and for all.

So Echo all the way, but only because it’s in Oregon. I wish Toyota still offered us something like this, especially in hatch form (Canada got the hatch, which looks slightly better, while we got stuck with just the sedan).

Fun fact, the interior of the Echo has basically zero equipment of any kind, so Toyota decided to basically put cubbies EVERYWHERE. Seriously, there’s a million little plastic compartments in this thing.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
2 months ago

That Dodge’s body would melt in any salt-belt climate.

The Echo, OTOH, will live through the apocalypse.

Neither will be ‘fun’ to drive, but a red interior of the dodge isn’t enough to offset the Yaris’ durability.

ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
2 months ago

The Dodge, for two specific reasons. First, Robin Williams drove an Echo in the unbelievably creepy One Hour Photo, and I cannot disassociate the car from that character. Second, a buddy had a Dynasty in high school, and after we broke the “y” off the badge, it forever became the “D’nasty.”

Last edited 2 months ago by ColoradoFX4
Mechjaz
Mechjaz
2 months ago
Reply to  ColoradoFX4

Oh my god. I was visiting my churchgoing, conservative grandparents for a week one summer. My cousin was there, too. We went to the store and each got to pick a movie to rent. I was 13, 14 and liked Robin Williams from Aladdin and Ferngully and standup routines.

Guess what I picked.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  ColoradoFX4

“Robin Williams drove an Echo in the unbelievably creepy One Hour Photo, and I cannot disassociate the car from that character.”

Well crap, now I gotta look for it.

David Smith
David Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Not sure I’d pay the 4 bucks to watch it. I too am a cheap bastard with my money and my time.

https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/one-hour-photo

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  David Smith

That’s why I get my older releases from my local library. Take a look. If you’re in California you can get stuff from anywhere in the state delivered to you local branch via Link+ Its free too.

If you’re not in California your local library may have a similar sharing system with other libraries around.

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

It’s a good movie, but man his character is something…

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
2 months ago

The Dynasty is a little more interesting I guess. It could be cool as a Mad Max car.

Last edited 2 months ago by Hangover Grenade
Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
2 months ago

There’s something very freeing about driving a car that already looks this bad: Park it where you want. Bully your way into traffic; they’ll let you go first. And if something catastrophic goes wrong, you haven’t lost much. “

You just described my daily driver 2004 Impala cop car. Even though there are no lights or any other indication it was a cop car (except the bars on the rear windows which aren’t noticeable unless the windows are down.) a lot of people still slow down when they see it, maybe because it’s blue with a white hood and nose? What cop is driving around in a 20 year old sedan these days?

D-dub
D-dub
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Wrench

What cop is driving around in a 20 year old sedan these days?

I still sometimes see people trying to pull the fake cop look in an old Crown Vic – side spot light, bogus antenna bulge on the trunk lid, etc. I’m always like “you’re not fooling anyone buddy, gotta get yourself an Explorer if you want to pull that shit these days.”

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
2 months ago
Reply to  D-dub

Yeah, I’m so NOT a cop wanna-be like those clowns. It’s simply cheap practical transportation. I should probably paint the front blue to match but I’m too lazy. I leave the bars on the rear windows to keep my dog from jumping out.

Clark B
Clark B
2 months ago
Reply to  D-dub

My ex has a 2005 Passat, once I installed HID headlights something about the front of the car must have screamed “cop!” This was when Crown Vics were still common in police fleets. We would be driving down the highway at night and when we got within a few hundred yards of another car they’d slam on their brakes and move to the slow lane if they weren’t already there. This happened frequently, always at night. I guess because the Passat had rectangular lights similar in shape to a Crown Vic’s? I’m still not sure, but it’s the only car I’ve ever driven that caused other drivers to behave that way.

Matthew C
Matthew C
2 months ago

I’ll go for the Echo because from carcass rose the Scion iA and iB . 1.5 L with manual or 4 speed automatic =check
Center mount gauge cluster = check

TriangleRAD
TriangleRAD
2 months ago

The C-platform Dynasty, along with the Chrysler New Yorker and Imperial, were as big as the K derivatives ever got

Oh, I beg to differ.

Thank you Mark for the opportunity to share that BaT link that I find myself obsessing over a bit this morning.



AlterId
AlterId
2 months ago
Reply to  TriangleRAD

I remember seeing these in a brochure at the time and even with my youthful naivete wondering who the fuck would possibly consider buying one of these. Even now my only answers would be Chrysler itself as a chauffered fleet car for execs or a funeral home worried about another oil embargo because the hearse ran out of gas on the way to the cemetery back in ’73.

Last edited 2 months ago by AlterId
AlterId
AlterId
2 months ago

It was a hard decision since the Echo is at a “buy here, pay here” lot and the Dynasty is at what looks like a small-scale scrap operation, but whose owner won a Snap-On special edition radio-controlled truck in a raffle that he’s also selling for $700 without batteries or charger. (I know there’s a Snap-On cult and it goes 45 mph, but for only $200 more you can get the Echo.)

The Echo’s ad shows an intact but stained back seat (the final picture is the driver’s seat of a Buick) and the guy had some semi-interesting stuff on his lot without any obvious sleazebag used-car sales red flags and $250 might buy another white hood, so the Echo assuming the trunk isn’t leaking due to what kinda looks like a dent.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
2 months ago
Reply to  AlterId

That RC car, if it’s a Traxxas X-Maxx underneath, would be a steal at $700. Sell the body and put on a regular body for any bashing. Batteries and chargers never came with those. Traxxas batteries are mad money when a connector swap opens up more affordable batteries. Well, affordable is relative since an X-Maxx needs a few large batteries. Even the little brother Maxx needs batteries that are at least $50 a pop.

AlterId
AlterId
2 months ago

Here it is.. I know nothing about RC cars except that there’s no way it would haul my fat ass to the Food Lion 1.5 miles away, let alone bring me back home with my week’s allotment of tasty and unhealthy “food”.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
2 months ago
Reply to  AlterId

Thank you for the link!

That’s an X-Maxx, all right! That body isn’t the nice Snap-On body that fetches $2k or more. But for a lightly used X-Maxx that is a fair price. Those are $1k new plus however much for the Snappy body. Tough RC trucks but they need a substantial commitment in space both for storage and in running it. This truck isn’t a backyard basher. It needs a park or other large area to really have fun. It’s little sibling Maxx is backyard size and a ridiculously capable truck.

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
2 months ago

Lean into the Diplomat’s awfulness with a can of flat black and a paint brush.

123
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x