Home / Car News / How I Got Six Years Of Service Out Of A $220 Car

How I Got Six Years Of Service Out Of A $220 Car

Image (86)

The paint in the Craigslist picture seemed to jump right off the screen. It immediately grabbed my gaze. “Whoa!” I believe was my initial utterance; seemingly unaware that I was channeling my inner Joey Lawrence. It was red. Not just red, but a red that you had to notice. 

I’m not really even into reds, since one of my favorite body-shop lines of all time is: “If you like red, you’d better also like pink in a few years when it fades in the sun!”

The Craigslist ad had the perfect picture, at the perfect angle, in the perfect lighting with the perfect editing and filter — the type that made any car look like a hero car. Honestly, I think the 50-something year old woman that sold it to me just had a really great cell phone camera and some good timing/luck on her side when she took the photo. Either that or a background in photography that didn’t seem to make it past the lead photo. Regardless, I already knew I was going to buy it.

Here I was, on my daily $500-and-under search of Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace in the summer of 2016 in Music City (Nashville). And there it was: a 2003 Dodge Stratus Coupe in “Indy Red” that had been whacked in the nose. Asking price?: “$500 obo.” It was close, it was cheap, it looked fast (even though it wasn’t) and it was soon to be mine.

At the time, I lived in a seedy part of east-central Nashville and the car was in The Hermitage, which was 20 minutes away (if traffic wasn’t too gnarly). After a quick phone call, I raced to the ancient, prior home of Andrew Jackson and found the car sitting at the end of a ½ mile, horribly rutted dirt road with a broken nose.

There’s just a certain romance and beauty to a broken mechanical hulk laying derelict. A machine that once possessed speed, movement, power and glory through motion — now fallen to its knees, motionless. 

It’s as if you can see all those tens of thousands of miles that it drove, sweeping through curves and blasting down highways – all juxtaposed against the sorry visage of the car now lying in knee-high grass, nothing more than a mechanical and financial hindrance. There’s an element of pity and empathy involved.

The seller explained to me that her teenage daughter had borrowed the car and hit something hard enough to crack the bumper cover, push back the radiator support and crack the radiator. She then continued to drive (temp gauge be damned!) until the head gasket blew. She explained that they were moving out of their trailer at the end of the lengthy dirt path and needed the car “gone” by the weekend.

Did I want to see this car junked? Hell no. Did I want to buy a busted ‘03 Stratus Coupe for $500, when you could buy running examples (at the time) for $800? Hell no. So I offered “almost double scrap price” for it and the woman immediately accepted. I said “almost” since I knew I only had about $220 in my pocket and scrap for this car was about $125 then.

Sidebar: whenever a seller immediately accepts your offer, there is always that instantaneous feeling that you overpaid. I briefly got this feeling, but then remembered that I just bought a car for about the cost of my monthly power and internet bills combined.

The Extraction

“It has to be gone by the weekend, and good luck!” the woman said, in a tone that almost made me believe that she found me to be equal parts weirdo, loser and sucker. That was the beginning of the “Extraction Phase” of this project, which was no easy task. After getting the title and plate in my name the following day, I returned down the long dirt road the following night with my at-the-time girlfriend, a bag of tools, a used radiator from the local Pick-n-Pull and multiple jugs of water. The plan was to keep the broken radiator full-ish with the water and see how far down Route 70S I could get without overheating due to the blown head gasket (there was no way I was going to take I-40, which was the most direct route- no death wish here). 

Upon jumping the battery and firing it up for the first time in a while (at least long enough for it to be in knee-high grass), we immediately set off down the rutted dirt path on the maiden/extraction voyage out of Andrew Jackson territory and back to the rougher eastern part of the city. It didn’t take more than a few hundred yards to realize that the rutted dirt road had done a number on the suspension over the years – it sounded like the War of 1812 with the ball joints turned into snare drums and cannons.

The head gasket must not have been compromised too greatly, as the car didn’t overheat the entire 20 minute trip back. “Glory be, hallelujah!!” I proclaimed in my best New Yorker-transplanted-to-Tennessee accent as a tribute to my good fortune on The Volunteer State’s lovely roadways. The Car Gods then looked at my Mason-Dixon sarcasm and smote me as the banged-up hood latch decided to give up the ghost and send the hood flying towards me. Yes, I found myself doing 70MPH down State Route 70S while looking at a sea of “Indy Red” hood through the windshield.

[Editor’s Note: Never get too cocky with a car you know is mechanically compromised. What were you doing going 70?! -DT]

What to do?

Well, somehow hazard lights, slow braking, and pulling gradually over to the shoulder without contacting any of the other mouth-agape motorists I was sharing the road actually worked. Now, how to prevent this from happening again in the remaining 10 miles of highway? 

Zip ties? No place to anchor them and not long enough to connect to anything of merit. Even with daisy-chaining them together.

Drive slowly and pray? Enough with the quasi-religious angle – it’s not working at all on this night. 

The one bungee cord in the trunk that randomly came with the car? Bingo-bango. Latching it from the hood to the lower subframe worked well enough that I had an elastic, floating-style hood apparatus, but it worked….under 50mph.

That extraction and that night turned out to be the hardest night I’ve ever had with that car. Every day after that was easier. Once it was safely back, I took my then-GF out to a well-deserved steak dinner and soon after started my search for another car to drive while I was doing the head job – check out how that went here.

“We Can Rebuild It Better, Stronger, Faster…”

The great thing about having a car with the smaller of the two engine options offered is that there is more room to wrench. The additional accessibility is a silver lining for what’s usually the lesser of the two powertrain choices. (I will note however that this seems to have been more likely the case 10+ years ago before The Great Turbo 4-cylinder Revolution started offering the smaller engine option as the more powerful/upgrade option. Still, those turbo 4s are usually big when you add in the intake/cooling systems)

My Stratus has the 2.4L Mitsubishi version of the “World Engine ” that was shared by basically all of Daimler executive Jürgen E. Schrempp’s brands/automakers at the height of his global DaimlerChrysler ambitions. Mitsubishi literally put this engine in just about every car it made during this era — more on that below.

The head gasket job went about as easily as possible. I couldn’t believe it: no broken bolts, nothing cross-threaded, no fasteners stuck or seized, no rounded fastener heads, etc. I popped the head off and sent it to a machine shop in East Nashville that looked like it had been there since the 60s (which is the best type of machine shop – full of knowledge and experience). 

A $40 head gasket, a gallon of universal coolant, four quarts of fresh oil, a $35 junkyard radiator, a $40 timing kit and a $25 set of new torque-to-yield head bolts and she was back together and ready to roll. Behold the glorious moment when I fired the motor back up for the first time since I took it under the knife:

The ease at which I completed this job, and the low cost, honestly shocked me. I kept waiting for something to go horribly wrong, but it never did.

Literally under $200 in parts and $300 in services (at the machine shop) was all it took to save this car from becoming an I-beam in a building in China. Plus, that front bumper with an eight-inch crack I took care of with a quick trip to the junkyard, where I found some black leather seats to replace these nasty things:

Wait, A Dodge Stratus Coupe? Why?

I am a man of my time. This car came out in its first generation as the Dodge Avenger in 1995, right when I was 15 and obsessing over my upcoming driver’s licensing. The timing was perfect for any kid my age who wanted something with a little style, had the right number of doors (2), and that wasn’t a Honda, Mustang, Camaro, etc. The “same-old, same-old” aversion bites a good number of Autopians who just need something a little different and out of the ordinary. 

Now I know that we’re not talking about a Citroen or something truly unique on U.S. roads, but think of it this way: compare the last 90s Mustang sighting you had to the last 90s Avenger sighting. It was and still is just the right amount of different. 

The 1st Gen Avenger was built alongside the Sebring Coupe, Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eagle Talon in Normal Illinois by “Diamond Star Motors” (a name created to reference both Mitsu’s and Chrysler’s logos) in what is now the Rivian factory. These cars were essentially 2-door Galants, riding on a version of that cars’ platform. Chrysler provided the 4cyl engines, manual and auto transmissions, styling, marketing and interior design. Mitsubishi did the V6 engines and all the rest. 

The Talon and Gen 2 Eclipse (named after a race horse!) have a legendary following; the Gen 1 Sebring and Avenger no so much. It has always struck me that the stretched versions of the shorter wheelbase Eagle Talon/Mitshishi Eclipse are viewed so much more poorly, even though the Avenger was built with the same parts, by the same people at the same factory, at the same time. 

Interesting Diamond-Star fact: Chrysler sold its equity stake to Mitsubishi in 1993, and Diamond-Star Motors was renamed Mitsubishi Motors Manufacturing America (MMMA) on July 1, 1995. Avengers and Sebring coupes built from 1994 to 1996 both have DSM markings in their engine compartments.

Here’s how that 1st Gen did in sales:

2001 143
2000 5.512
1999 17.658
1998 24.084
1997 31.943
1996 35.752
1995 34.521
1994 4.846

Those would actually be really solid numbers for a coupe today.

Pasted

The 2nd generation of these oddball coupes came in 2001. Dodge changed the name to Stratus Coupe, replacing the discontinued Avenger name. Like its Chrysler counterpart, the coupe models shared very little other than the name and a few exterior styling cues with sedan and convertible models. Anyone who has owned a Stratus of this generation has undoubtedly had to deal with getting the wrong parts more than once, as Chrysler’s weird decision to give a completely mechanically different sedan and coupe the same name. The sedan is a Mopar, the Coupe is a Mitsubishi. 

The Stratus Coupe was restyled for the 2003 model year, which I think is a huge improvement from the ‘01 – ‘02 cars’ styling which you can see above, and which I think had a bit of a guppy/tadpole element to the nose. The coupes had an updated 200 horsepower 3.0-liter V6 Mitsubishi engine as an option, with a 2.4 liter Mitsubishi engine as standard (my engine). Rumor has it that a young David Tracy was smitten by these cars in his youth. I wonder what made him turn away and toward XJ Jeeps. I’m still here with the Stratii.

Speaking of The Man Himself, here’s an Interesting David Tracy Sidebar: 

David asked me if the engine in my car was in fact a Mitsubishi, which made me think that if he, one of the most knowledgeable Autopians out there, an ex-Chrysler engineer and rumored Stratus Coupe fan wasn’t sure about the powertrain origins, that there were also many others out there in the same camp. This inspired me to twist his arm/bug him enough to allow me to create this article to spread The Good Stratus Word.

[Editor’s Note: I’ve always liked the look of the Stratus Coupes. I remember seeing them everywhere in Kansas, where I moved from Germany in 2003. The fact that the thing is built on a completely different platform as a regular Stratus — and equipped with different motors — is amazing to me. As amazing to me is that Stephen here got a car this cheap. I love it. Wish it were a five-speed manual, but at $220, who cares? -DT]

The curtain fell after years of indifference and tepid sales, and the Stratus and Sebring Coupes (see above) were discontinued after 2005. This then started a very tough three years for Moparians. One of the only times in Mopar history that the only 2-door hardtop/coupe car you could buy from any Chrysler brand was the Viper, until the Challenger came out in ‘08. And no, the PT Cruiser Convertible and ‘06 Sebring Convertible don’t count.

If you really put all of your prejudice aside (assuming you have some for this car – most do), you’ll realize that this is a weird, odd bird of a creation that will never happen again. Mitsubishi and Chrysler are no longer partners. Two door coupes (not lame-ass 4-door coupes) in the non-performance Grand Tourer style are no longer made off of sedan platforms. Heck, cars priced like these cars will never exist again — the top-dawg 2001 R/T Stratus Coupe had an MSRP of $20,805 (inflation adjusted at $33,982.56 in ‘22).  [Editor’s Note: That’s really not that cheap, Stephen. -DT]

Pasted

They weren’t performance cars and they weren’t commuter cars. They seem to have been marketed toward the youth and speed market, although that facade faded quickly when the youth of the world realized that the drivetrain was the same as the Galant.

I honestly don’t even know which cars these beauties competed with in their day other than maybe the last Monte Carlo or the Grand Prix/Grand Am/Alero coupes. There really is no car like them for sale today. Go ahead, try to find a modern analogue — there isn’t one. They were cars that just had great styling, comfortable comportment, affordability and that looked the part for a then-broke-but-aspirational 20-something post-college me and about 34K other folks each year.

Ever Since The Head Gasket Change, The Thing Has Been A Tank

Are these cars known for being well-built? Not really. In fact the Sebring/Stratus names have a pretty bad connotation in the realm of reliability. Are they the worst though? Far from it. These are no Audi A6 Allroad (with the 2.7 Turbo) but they’re no ‘98 Corolla either. Was my car well-cared after? See the beginning of this piece for that answer. Did my Stratus provide reliable transportation for many miles and 6 yrs after it was rescued from the crusher? Hell yes it did. 

All that I’ve done to this car since 2016 has been oil changes, some aftermarket ball joints (a result of the rutted dirt road where I found it), a couple used tires and batteries and that’s it. It starts up every morning and takes me where I need to go, no questions asked. I love the color, I love the shape, I don’t care that the snobbier factions of car-culture disregard it – that makes it even better to me. Hell, I even used it in my intro picture on this site

What this car shows more than anything is that something that may be viewed as complete garbage and a total waste of time and other resources could actually be one of the cheapest cars to own and operate; one of the most economical and best value-buys I’ve ever come across.

David was flabbergasted when he first learned of me saving this car. “…let me just note how amazed I am that you put so much time and effort into vehicles this crappy. I mean, to swap the radiator, fix the front fascia, repair the head, and swap out the interior on something this, err, ordinary, is just remarkable.” – DT

What’s truly remarkable is that the $220 busted-up shitbox right under your nose that everyone else may have already written off as junk may be something much more than it appears to be. Go find yours and get to wrenchin’. 

You may just build something you’re really proud of for the next six years.

 

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit

52 Responses

  1. Great write up!

    The Monte Carlo was indeed its main competitor at the time. And maybe the Pontiac G6 coupe. They were last of the large but affordable sporty personal coupes, a segment that was already on life support by the time the Stratus Coupe came out.

    Chevy still had a Cobalt coupe, but that (and its Pontiac sister the Sunfire) was smaller, and the Grand Am/Grand Prix was just way uglier in its ribbed for no ones’ pleasure styling and general bloat.

    I have a soft spot for the Stratus coupe as I test drove the R/T version (yes, they did make them in that flavor) before eventually deciding on my Mustang. It was fun for what it was I thought, but I just couldn’t pass up RWD.

      1. I think it’s the expectation.

        To most people, an Accord coupe is a two-door version of the Accord sedan, a fine, all-around good quality car.

        But a car like this isn’t the two-door version of a sedan, it’s something else entirely…a promise of some elemental connection to idealized domestic performance cars of old perhaps

        Maybe it’s the advertising, but the people I know at least who like the Accord coupe would never consider a car like this, and vice versa.

        But I’ll say…I always liked the Camry coupe from back when, and even more now that they’re a total whoa wait they did that? curiosity.

    1. Ah. I highly suspect the people that cross shopped Stratus and Monte Carlo you could could on one hand. Seemed to be completely different markets- stratus was not quite in the personal luxury segment. Status was small and kinda sporty. You’re comparing to a Mustang- market placement sound right.

      Does make me thing…. 80’s Dodge Daytona, and Chrysler Laser…. They had their moments. But we’re before the author’s time…..

      Personal luxury…. The Thunderbird and Cougar of the later 80s / early 90s had some good moments. Esp with the turbo or 5.0 v8.

      Reminiscing….

      1. I think they tried to compete with Mustangs/Camaros, but it just wasn’t the same market – a long-legged sporty tourer vs. a pony car. Agreed it was more toward the sporty end than the Monte, but closer to it than one of the ponies.

        I love the Daytona of the ’80s (and wow you pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the Laser…I’d totally forgotten about that version) and think it’s still a sharp design that holds up. I mean, unlike their perennially sagging rear suspensions. The first gen DSMs were pretty nifty too I thought.

        ’80s T-bird is one of my all time favorites. The proportions just worked. I like the ’90s final gen just fine, but styling was a little too aero for my tastes.

        1. After that hood nearly killed me, you can bet your ass it’s getting pinned down. I actually kept the original hood on the car all these years as a reminder of that event.

          Plus the pins added 5HP.

          Cheers and thanks for reading!

          1. Ironically, hood pins are what nearly killed us in my recent $650 1993 Del Sol purchase. The previous owner just drilled and installed hood pins because the car was built from a scrap shell with little to no front clip remaining. We found out on a side road drive that the pins stay connected but the nuts below that hold them in were loose and “left the chat”. Our hood got destroyed but we pulled over and fortunately the glass was intact.
            I’ve since gotten a junkyard hood latch, welded in a mount and rigged it to a bike shifter under the bumper as a hood latch “release”. Safe and sturdy.

    2. It seems like the Toyota Camry Solara would also compete but it may have been a price band higher.
      By way of minor trivia Canadian music legend Gordon Lightfoot drives a FWD Monte Carlo, or at least he did in 2018.

  2. This right here. Every car deserves to be loved. Especially the pedestrian ones.

    In the random trivia dept, the Sebring Convertible (the second generation, at least) is actually built on the sedan platform (says the man who just bought an 04 for his wife and is counting the seconds till the sludge monster comes for the 2.7 v6).

    And in the random small world dept, the author of this here post both came from and moved to the same region of the world as my sister…I sent her the first article and she said “yeah, he’s from (her old NY rust belt city) and now lives in (her current coastal NC city) and everybody knows he’s awesome.”

    1. Big Sebring Convertible fan here – I think I’ve had about 8 of them. Agreed that the earlier 2.7s are junk – I believe it was quietly fixed in ’03 according to the forums.

      Thank you for the kind words and for reading – much appreciated!

  3. Okay, I laughed out loud at this:

    “…let me just note how amazed I am that you put so much time and effort into vehicles this crappy. I mean, to swap the radiator, fix the front fascia, repair the head, and swap out the interior on something this, err, ordinary, is just remarkable.” – DT

    Man, it’s just shameless!

    1. The pure chutzpah of David Tracy calling this vehicle crappy. Even when Stephen first found it, this car was in better shape than just about anything in David’s current fleet!

  4. In around 2015 I worked for a bankruptcy agent and we had a lot that had about 20 of these in them, we sent them to auction two or three at a time so as to not glut the market, we didn’t have a deal with Chysler or anything it just seemed that their lending strategy fit with our client base

  5. Great write-up! This article speaks to me on a few levels, having lived in Normal, IL where these were built, and having “rescued” a vehicle myself. There is something very satisfying about taking something headed for the trash/scrap, and making it useful again. I bought my current tow/haul vehicle – a ’94 F150 with the 300 inline 6 for $1000 8 years ago and have slowly brought her back from the brink. It had a great motor with low miles (125K!) and no rust on the wheel wells which is rare in MO, but everything else was crap. I didn’t think of it as a rescue at the time, but after the unnerving 1.5 hr drive home, and digging into it, I knew where it was going if I hadn’t come along. Fast-forward several years, MANY junk yard trips, and LOTS of elbow grease, she looks and drives great. This need to breathe new life to otherwise junk has bled over to other non-automotive lost causes as well. Here’s to keeping them on the road!

  6. Great article! I’ve always had a soft spot for “big” coupes. My first car was a ’91 Cutlass Supreme SL. It should have been a ’98 Monte Carlo Z34 (still angry at my dad about not letting me get that one, but he’s probably right that the 3800 would have been too much temptation for me as a new driver). My second car was a ’01 Grand Prix GT coupe. Then kids and crossovers happened, so now my coupe is just a third stall toy instead of the big, comfortable, cool-looking cruisers I’ve always loved.

  7. Wonderful article (that I am only now getting around to reading.) This type of story was somewhat common 70+ years ago but work like this seems to be a lost art these days. But when the repairs needed are “only” mechanical and bodywork (rather than electronics like PCMs and the like) you showed the intrepid can still be successful. Hope you have many encores to supplement the material that never seems to stop from Mr. Tracy.

  8. What a story, well done! Putting that much intense mechanical work in a misfit car should be an example for other people, who treat their cars like disposables…
    That rust though, is that normal for mopars from this era?
    My personal shitbox, a 1994 Peugeot 205 bought for 700 Euros, has practically no rust after 28 years, all of which were spent sitting outside. French cars from the 90s were know to be quite rust resisant*, especially Peugeots, but seeing a transparen rocker panel like that is err, eye- opening!

    * French cars are more durable than most people think!

    1. This car was originally from Kentucky and has spent some time in salt (see the above salt-crusted picture in the article), which is why it’s perforated.

      The examples I see here in NC are rust-free.

      Thanks for the comment and for reading – cheers!

  9. I paid $35 for a 55 Buick and pulled it out of a field. Cleaned it up – bodge repaired the rust and painted it. I drove it for well over a year until the DynaFlow transmission gave up.
    Followed it with a Country Squire I bought from a guy who was on his way to the scrap yard with it. I seem to recall that was $40. Another over a year car.
    Good times.

  10. Great article to read as I’m soon going to be doing similar. My neighbor said I could take his old Civic since he’s moving, saying I can have it if I can pull it out of where it was sitting. I got it out around 3 days later and had my dad use the family truck to pull it down the road while I kept the car relatively in line (brake lines were rotten but at least the parking brake still worked).

    So far I’ve only had time to clean it out and take some pictures, one of which I’m currently using as my account icon. When I’m more free in the summer I’ll finally see if I can get it running after it sat for 22 years.

  11. Great write up! I did a similar deed many times, most recently with a 1996 Honda Accord LX coupe 5 speed. The guy had scrappers begging him to get it, when I said I intended to put it back on the road, he said “I’ll hold it for you”.

    A good friend has it today, loves it.

  12. I admit I am biased, but I love this article and that this car was saved.
    The only new car I have ever bought was a 2005 Stratus R/T coupe, Indy Red, and with the 5 speed. It is still my daily driver, with over 220,000 miles. Even though I live in the Midwest, there is no body rust, and the engine and transmission work great. The dash is warped, but otherwise the tan and taupe interior still looks pretty nice. Besides wear/maintenance items like the clutch, timing belt, and brakes, I have replaced a few other things: radiator, alternator, starter, axles, front hubs, suspension control arms front and rear, and currently the AC does not work. Replacing the clutch was probably the biggest PITA; you have to drop the entire transaxle, and it is VERY picky about orientation trying to get it back in, especially when using jack stands rather than a lift.
    Stephen touched on why I got this car – it is handsome, but different from other sporty coupes of the time. I wanted something with a warranty to replace my 95 Z-28 that kept crapping water pump seals and subsequently ruining Optispark distributors. Pontiac no longer made the 2-door Grand Prix, I could not afford a GTO, and the Solstice was not quite released. My parents already had a Monte Carlo, and with V6 Mustangs all I could think was “You could have had a V8” (except again, I could not afford one). I was a snob back then and would not even consider foreign brands, even though I knew the Dodge was really a Mitsubishi built in Illinois.
    When I started looking for one of these in summer 2005 (not realizing there would not be a 2006 model), the only criteria I would not budge on were that it had to have a 5-speed, cloth interior (I have never liked non-sueded leather seats), and it could not be white. All the local R/T coupes had leather and automatics. The dealer kept trying to push a dark metallic red car with automatic and gray leather that they had on the lot, until I finally said “for that kind of money I would instead go down the street and buy a V8 Mustang. Can you find me a car or not?” They found this one a state away. It has a sunroof which was a nice to have (and which does not leak), and it does not have ABS (I had not even known you COULD get a car without ABS in 2005). I have CD AND cassette, and I have added satellite radio.
    The car is stylish (in my eyes; I don’t care what other people think), comfortable for commuting and for 12 hour road trips, fairly quick, handles nicely (there are a few curvy roads around here that I hate driving in my van with my family but are a blast when alone in my coupe), and can still get over 30 MPG on interstate cruises.

    1. Now you’re making me a little curious/second-guessing.

      I test drove an R/T (see below) back in the day but went Mustang…but my test drive was with an automatic model (b/c of course for a car like this, as you point out). What’s the manual drive like?

      1. I don’t have experience with a lot of manuals (mainly MGBs and trucks), but I have always like the feel of this one. Even with cables, it feels notchy and engages positively. In my parking garage with the windows down, the sound of shifting reminded me of Burnout 3 shifts. 🙂

        A couple of years ago I ran across a comparison test where the Stratus R/T manual beat out a V8 mustang and another car. I gotta run now but I will see if I can find the link later.

  13. Buying a cheap busted ordinary car for next to nothing and proudly fixing it up? Nope, can’t relate at all. (Looks out at driveway) Oh, right.

    Does the Stratus have that weird 2-piece lower control arm with two ball joints on each side like the Eclipse? Man, that setup confused me the first time I saw it.

    1. Excellent call out of one of the more odd aspects of those cars.

      I went to the local Pick-n-Pull yesterday to verify the above and found that the 2 ball joint setup was used on the Gen 2 DSM cars (along with the stretched versions), but that they went for a conventional lower control arm/1 ball joint setup when they moved to the next generation of cars in ’01.

      Cheers, and thanks for the comment Mark.

  14. Little confused at the Gen 1, 2, etc comments. I recall the original Plymouth Laser, Eclipse and Talon from 89-94 or so. Build quality was not stout, but with the turbo engines they were a hoot. The first vehicles out of Diamond Star.

    I also recall a rental Plymouth. Breeze in 1997. Stands out because it was during a move to KC. Car was totally unremarkable. Worked very hard to be dog like. Not something a thinking man / women would purchase new.

  15. Great read, thanks for saving it! I own a 2009 Hyundai Accent base model hatchback I affectionately call ‘Humdrum’ and people don’t get why I love such a mundane and basic car so much….this write-up is right up my alley 🙂

  16. Great write up, but I think there might be a missing paragraph after the first editor’s note? Otherwise it’s a great story, and it’s crazy how you got the car running for that cheap!

Leave a Reply