Home » Three Domestics And An Import: Pontiac Trans Am vs Dodge Dynasty vs Dodge Omni vs Datsun 810

Three Domestics And An Import: Pontiac Trans Am vs Dodge Dynasty vs Dodge Omni vs Datsun 810

Sbsd 2 9 2024
ADVERTISEMENT

Good morning, Autopians! It’s Friday once again, and once again I have had a hell of a week. Let’s just say this year has been a little too eventful for my taste so far. I long for a little boredom. Maybe that’s why I picked a lot of mundane cars this week. I’m going to keep it simple this week: just a straight-ahead four-way shootout between the week’s winners. However, the usual rule applies about the comments: You do not get full credit unless you show your work.

So let’s take a quick peek back at yesterday’s wagon battle and crown our fourth champion. I knew the Mopar streak couldn’t last, especially with that charming little green Datsun in the running. And indeed, that poverty-spec Aspen wagon got left in the dust.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

You may be surprised to hear it from a die-hard Chrysler fan like me, but I think this is the right call. As cool as a crooked shift lever angled back over a bench seat is, that’s about the only thing the Aspen has going for it. Emissions-era Slant Sixes didn’t run nearly as well as the old “dirty” ones did, and that car is bound to be a nightmare of electrical gremlins eventually, if it isn’t already. Chrysler engineers, for some reason, decided to install an ammeter in the dashboard instead of a voltmeter like everyone else. Every bit of wiring in the car passes through it, so you can imagine what happens when it fails. On a hill. In rush-hour traffic. In the rain. Ask me how I know. No, I’ll stick with the reliable fuel-injected Datsun, thanks.

Screenshot From 2024 02 08 17 23 09

So that’s our foursome for the week. Let’s quickly recap, so you can make an informed decision.

ADVERTISEMENT

1985 Pontiac Trans Am – $1,200

412916699 122141923808035725 673015353920238557 N

This old third-generation F-body is one of those “good news/bad news” deals. It’s a Trans Am, with all the suspension and interior perks thereof, and even better, it’s a five-speed manual. However, its high-output Chevy V8 has suffered a broken camshaft, and is currently in pieces, so this is currently not much more than flashy ’80s yard art.

420861737 122148289538035725 1741706195977488440 N

Most of you agreed with my assessment that the old 305 probably isn’t worth fixing, especially since small-block V8s are so easy to come by. Drop in as much or as little power as you like, upgrade the gearbox as needed, and go have some fun.

1991 Dodge Dynasty – $1,150

425023579 122120456774168889 2519519874105671561 N

ADVERTISEMENT

This old Dodge is the textbook definition of a “beater.” It runs like a top, and isn’t a terrible car to drive – comfortable, though handling isn’t its strong suit – but it looks like absolute hell. You can drive this car anywhere, park it with impunity, and send it off to the great used car lot in the sky with no guilt if something goes catastrophically wrong.

425004702 122120456468168889 830419187204862099 N

You won’t spend much time in the fast lane in this one. While the majority of Dynastys had either a Mitsubishi 3.0 liter or Chrysler’s own 3.3 liter V6 under the hood, this base model makes do with a 2.5 liter inline four. The good news is that it’s a whole hell of a lot easier to service and repair than the sixes, and it’s paired with a reliable three-speed Torqueflite transmission rather than the finicky and trouble-prone Ultradrive four-speed.

1979 Dodge Omni – $3,500

418596806 8445278592165848 6158276121095040703 N

This near-perfect early Dodge Omni seems to have taken the ordinary-car internet communty by storm. (Yes, believe it or not, there now seems to be an ordinary-car internet community now.) I’ve seen this car referenced in at least two or three places since it first came up for sale. Everyone seems to agree that the automatic transmission in it is a bit of a letdown, but I still expect this little car to find a new home before long.

ADVERTISEMENT

406767550 25427908843475196 2049131712677502988 N

It really is a time capsule: the bright blue vinyl, the simulated woodgrain, the simple AM/FM radio, even the aftermarket cupholder/center console storage, it all brings back memories for those of us of a certain age. Its carbureted 1.7 liter Volkswagen engine only puts out something like 70 horsepower, so it isn’t really up to the task of modern daily use, but it would be a hit at any Saturday morning Cars & Coffee.

1977 Datsun 810 – $4,400

00d0d K6uhqybz1dd 0dm09r 1200x900

Finally this week, we have this delightful little Japanese wagon. Datsun’s 810 was the predecessor to the popular Maxima, Nissan’s big sporty sedan, and even at this early stage the sportiness was there. This car is powered by a fuel-injected version of the same overhead-cam inline six as the 240Z. This is no one’s idea of a sports car, obviously, but it should be a bit snappier than your average ’70s small wagon, especially with a four-speed stick.

00t0t Cmty5ksd6wl 0dm09v 1200x900

ADVERTISEMENT

Even better, it’s a fairly low-mileage Japanese car, back from when their only natural enemy was rust. Since this one has enjoyed a life in sunny southern California, that isn’t a concern. It’s a classic, mainly because there aren’t many like it left, but it’s a classic you could drive everyday.

Now, very quickly, before we get to the voting: We’ve had a couple of reader-suggested cars this week, and I absolutely love that. Not only do I appreciate the help, but I want you all to feel like you’re a part of all this. But the truth is that not every car listing is suitable for our purposes. So I want to give you all a couple of pointers on what to look for:

  • Photos! I typically use four, sometimes five, photos of each car, so obviously there need to be at least that many. Not only that, but they need to be halfway decent images of the car. I’m not one to criticize anyone’s photography skills – just ask my wife – but well-framed and well-lit photos are important. And generally speaking, I like to see a couple of angles of the exterior, one of the interior, and one underhood shot.
  • It’s easier for me if the description and information in the ad is as complete as possible. If all it says is “New tires runs good,” that’s not much to go on. Particularly, if a car is available with more than one engine, it helps if the seller mentions which one is in it.
  • Personally, I can’t stand trying to browse Facebook Marketplace, but I’m happy to use listings from there. Or Craigslist, or Autotrader, or Hemmings, or anywhere with a listed price, really. I try to stay away from auction listings, because price is sometimes a deciding factor.

As long as those are satisfied, go for it! Send suggestions to our tip line, tips@theautopian.com, or post them to the Shitbox Showdown channel on our Discord server. Submit one car, or a pair you think would go well together.

For now, it’s time to choose your favorite of these four. Discuss, debate, and cast your vote.

ADVERTISEMENT

(Image credits: Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist sellers)

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
61 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
5 months ago

I missed the day that the Omni won its preliminary heat, so I’m thrilled to vote for it today. My first car was a ’79 Horizon with an automatic … which lasted six months until I ran it into a pickup truck on an icy road and totaled it. No, it wasn’t an especially “good” car per se, but it was good enough for me, and it’d be a great weekend runabout.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
5 months ago

Gimmee the busted Firebird and I’ll fix it…gotta have that V8!

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
5 months ago

Datsun for me! It was an easy pick over the others.

JDE
JDE
5 months ago

the Chrysler Turbo II engine might have Hemispherical head chambers, and it would fit since the later cars did not change all that much.

Not The Ford 289
Not The Ford 289
5 months ago

hard choice between the Mazda and the Omni, but I think I would go with the Omni.

I would shove a Hemi in the Omni… somehow.

Last edited 5 months ago by Not The Ford 289
AlterId
AlterId
5 months ago

Up with Datsun again, especially if I could keep it and drive it in its current hometown. I’m not much of a Mopar guy and it needs a manual, but the Omni has its charm and an air conditioner, and it’s a lot closer to me than the Datsun. If I was wrong when I assumed the Datsun also had A/C, then I might switch my vote. The Trans Am is too much of a project for someone like me who rarely gets out of bed, and I’m not buying an ugly Dynasty while there’s a chance that the presidential election will give the entire country a far uglier one at no upfront cost.

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
5 months ago

The Datsun is obviously going to win (and I voted for it yesterday), but that TA really is a pretty sweet spec. I actually saw one on the road today* and thought back to Monday’s Showdown with a little regret, so I’m taking that as a sign.

*the one with the asymmetrical hood scoop; it had a small screaming chicken on the scoop only. which I don’t recall seeing at the time. But TBH teen me was paying a LOT more attention to Porsches than Pontiacs.

DaChicken
DaChicken
5 months ago

That Datsun is tempting but I’d still go for the Screaming Chicken.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
5 months ago
Reply to  DaChicken

Exactly the debate I had. Didn’t even consider the other 2

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
5 months ago

Give me Omni or give me… please just give me the Omni. I unironically like it.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
5 months ago

How about a cheeseburger instead?

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
5 months ago

I’ll take what I can get.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
5 months ago
Last edited 5 months ago by Manwich Sandwich
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
5 months ago

Spoken like a person who may not have owned one

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
5 months ago

Oh absolutely. But there are lots of things I haven’t owned that I crave. And a lot of those things objectively suck.

I cannot pretend that owning this Omni would definitely be a great experience. Sometimes I’m just drawn to particular types of crap.

Mike B
Mike B
5 months ago

The pressure!!!

I love the fact that the little Omni exists in this condition. Honestly the only car I DON’T like is the Datsun.

The Omni I’d leave as is, the ASPEN and T/A both have great potential. Unless you’re handy and/or already have the parts laying around, it may be cheaper to just buy a nicer,.complete turd gen though.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
5 months ago

This was a hard choice after quickly dumping the Firebird and Dynasty from contention. The Omni and 810 are both good choices. Both can haul around a fair amount. The Dodge is younger, though both have low miles. The Datsun has a long roof and a manual. The Omni is simple, no frills, less to go wrong. They’re both a great color, though the Omni wins by a nose here. The Dodge wins the MPG battle and maybe in handling, too, although that’s not a crucial discriminator. The Datsun wins all of the other road battles, save for snow traction. Really tough choice, but in the end, I picked the Omni because my dad drove one for seven years before his untimely death. It was his last car and he really liked it. He was an engineer and all of our car purchases were preceded by multiple research efforts, graphs and checklists. Sentimentality wins the day.

EastbayLoc
EastbayLoc
5 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Yeah, same. We had the predecessor to this, the Datsun 710 Wagon which only had a 4 pot but in pretty much same color. This was my mom’s car and the one my brother and learned to drive. I can remember blasting ELO while racing to get to school on time.

My dad was the same at the dealership. A worn copy of Consumer Reports, an electrical engineer’s logic and a Scotsman’s thriftiness. My mom hated to go with him to negotiate the price while my brother and I loved it. My favorite memory is buying an ’85 Civic and him telling to sales manager to remove the mudguards and pinstripes because he didn’t want to have to pay for them. The guy just stared and then resignedly walked backed to the manager’s office with our “counteroffer”.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
5 months ago
Reply to  EastbayLoc

Sounds like our dads could’ve been related.

EastbayLoc
EastbayLoc
5 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Separated at birth I think. Same guy who thought getting a vacuum cleaner as a Valentine’s gift was a good idea because it was practical.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
5 months ago
Reply to  EastbayLoc

It was a washing machine for mom’s birthday at our house.

EastbayLoc
EastbayLoc
5 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Ah, well that is the gift that keeps on giving. . Yeah, after the Hoover incident, my mom was sure to give him very specific directions which included address, , brand, size, color, who to talk with etc.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
5 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Same here. Christmas was a new washer and dryer.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
5 months ago

The busted Trans Am is leading the disheveled Dynasty by 400% in the poll so far.

This makes me happy, even though I voted for the Datsun 810 wagon.

61
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x