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Random Car Review: 1980-81 Dodge Omni 024 DeTomaso – The Benefits Of Friends?

Random Car Review: 1980-81 Dodge Omni 024 DeTomaso – The Benefits Of Friends?

The Dodge Omni might have been the most critical new car Chrysler Corporation could have brought to the market. After a decade of bungled leadership, sales banks filled with Yank Tanks nobody seemed to want, and quickly emptying piggy banks, Chrysler needed every last prayer they could get in order to make something happen. Getting Lee Iacocca on board as soon as Henry Ford II told him in which direction to screw off was a good step. Looking at the Simca Horizon in Europe and realizing that it might work in the States was another home run, and it’s that move that probably carried the most weight when Iacocca went to Congress, hat in hand. Look…Chrysler is building small, efficient cars and we can keep doing that if you just keep the lights on, ok? Not a gearhead choice, but by business standards it was a solid case, and one that worked.

The original Omni was the hatchback, but in short order the coupes showed up, the Omni 024 and Plymouth Horizon TC3. These were everywhere when I was a kid…bright colors on small cars with taillights that seemed huge for the body. Point and laugh now, but after years of Dodge Monacos and Chrysler Newports, the Omni 024 was an appropriate shot in the right direction, especially after a second gas crisis made the population twitch a little bit.

So, what’s the DeTomaso link all about? Iacocca and Alejandro de Tomaso were buddies, far as we can find out that’s the end of the story. That ain’t a Pantera. Nope, and it won’t run like one either. The DeTomaso package was a dress-up kit for the 024…DeTomaso badges and graphics everywhere, blackout trim, and a targa roof band with a brushed finish were combined with the upper-end interior treatment. Engines? Early on, it was the 1.7L Volkswagen-sourced four that might have made 65 horsepower and 85 ft/lbs of torque. In 1981, the 2.2L four-cylinder took over, though this was the one that didn’t have balance shafts and had a bit of vibration to it. Shame Alejandro de Tomaso didn’t stick around for the turbo 2.2 days, but then we wouldn’t have Shelby Mopars, either.

Craigslist Link: 1981 Dodge Omni 024 DeTomaso


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2 thoughts on “Random Car Review: 1980-81 Dodge Omni 024 DeTomaso – The Benefits Of Friends?

  1. john

    My Omni GLH was one of the most fun cars …except when torque steer would try to rip the wheel from your hand. ( of course the tiny Grant steering didn’t help)

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