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Plymouth Reliant

Plymouth Reliant

Overview
The Plymouth
Plymouth (automobile)
Plymouth was a marque of automobile based in the United States, produced by the Chrysler Corporation and its successor DaimlerChrysler.-Origins:...

 Reliant
(or Reliant K, as it was sometimes called) was one of the first two so-called "K-cars
Chrysler K platform
The Chrysler Corporation's K-cars were compact-to-midsize cars designed to carry six adults on two bench seats and were aimed not only to replace Chrysler's nominally-compact F-body Aspen and Volaré, but also to compete with intermediates like the Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fairmont...

" (the other one being the Dodge Aries
Dodge Aries
The Dodge Aries is an automobile sold by the Chrysler Corporation from 1981-1989. It replaced the Dodge Aspen as Dodge's family car with "mid-size room" in a size and front-wheel drive format commonly associated with compact cars...

) manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation
Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

, introduced for the 1981 model year. The Reliant replaced the Plymouth Volaré/Road Runner
Plymouth Road Runner
The Plymouth Road Runner was a muscle car built by the Plymouth division of the Chrysler Corporation in the United States between 1968 and 1980. In 1968, the first muscle cars were, in the opinion of many, moving away from their roots as relatively cheap, fast cars as they gained options...

, which was the short-lived successor automobile to the highly regarded Plymouth Valiant
Plymouth Valiant
The Plymouth Valiant is an automobile manufactured by the Plymouth division of Chrysler Corporation in the United States from 1960 to 1976. It was created to give the company an entry in the compact car market emerging in the late 1950s...

. Though technically a compact car
Compact car
A compact car , or small family car , is a classification of cars which are larger than a supermini but smaller than or equal to a mid-size car...

, the Reliant's spacious interior and six-passenger seating gave it a mid-size status from the United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

.

The two cars are largely credited for helping Chrysler
Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

 recover from bankruptcy.
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Encyclopedia
The Plymouth
Plymouth (automobile)
Plymouth was a marque of automobile based in the United States, produced by the Chrysler Corporation and its successor DaimlerChrysler.-Origins:...

 Reliant
(or Reliant K, as it was sometimes called) was one of the first two so-called "K-cars
Chrysler K platform
The Chrysler Corporation's K-cars were compact-to-midsize cars designed to carry six adults on two bench seats and were aimed not only to replace Chrysler's nominally-compact F-body Aspen and Volaré, but also to compete with intermediates like the Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fairmont...

" (the other one being the Dodge Aries
Dodge Aries
The Dodge Aries is an automobile sold by the Chrysler Corporation from 1981-1989. It replaced the Dodge Aspen as Dodge's family car with "mid-size room" in a size and front-wheel drive format commonly associated with compact cars...

) manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation
Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

, introduced for the 1981 model year. The Reliant replaced the Plymouth Volaré/Road Runner
Plymouth Road Runner
The Plymouth Road Runner was a muscle car built by the Plymouth division of the Chrysler Corporation in the United States between 1968 and 1980. In 1968, the first muscle cars were, in the opinion of many, moving away from their roots as relatively cheap, fast cars as they gained options...

, which was the short-lived successor automobile to the highly regarded Plymouth Valiant
Plymouth Valiant
The Plymouth Valiant is an automobile manufactured by the Plymouth division of Chrysler Corporation in the United States from 1960 to 1976. It was created to give the company an entry in the compact car market emerging in the late 1950s...

. Though technically a compact car
Compact car
A compact car , or small family car , is a classification of cars which are larger than a supermini but smaller than or equal to a mid-size car...

, the Reliant's spacious interior and six-passenger seating gave it a mid-size status from the United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

.

The two cars are largely credited for helping Chrysler
Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

 recover from bankruptcy. They also raised the standard for quality for American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 automakers in general.

Overview


The Reliant and Aries were downsized
Downsize (automobile)
Downsizing in the automobile industry is the practice of redesigning a vehicle to retain the interior volume, and often the nameplate and styling of a larger car to a smaller, more efficient platform. General Motors was among the first to announce a downsize strategy for the whole company as a...

 replacements for the six-passenger Volare and Aspen, which in turn were modernized version of the original Valiant and Dart compact cars of the 1960s. Based on experience gained with subcompact Omni/Horizon of 1978, the roomier K-cars set out to build a family sized car with a radically new front-wheel drive design powered by a four cylinder engine. Rather than offering the fastback styling popularized by the Maverick and Duster compacts, or hatchbacks, they were offered as 2 and 4 door notchback sedans and wagons that were called boxy or "generic car" styling. Like the Valiant and Dart, they also retained six-passenger seating on two bench seats. While the Chevrolet Citation
Chevrolet Citation
The Chevrolet Citation was a compact car sold by the Chevrolet brand of American automaker General Motors for model years 1980-1985. The Citation and its X-body siblings were among GM's first front wheel drive compact cars, following the trend of front drive compacts such as the Honda Accord...

 introduced front-wheel drive in the 1980 model year to replace the Nova, its unusual styling and problems with recalls hampered its success. By contrast, the K-cars would be accepted as adequate and relatively reliable, if not exciting cars. They racked up nearly a million in sales between the two original nameplates before being rebadged and upgraded, not counting the numerous stretched, sporty or minivan derivatives. Ford would not replace its family-sized Fairmont with a front-wheel drive design until the 1986 Ford Taurus
Ford Taurus
The Ford Taurus is an automobile manufactured by the Ford Motor Company in the United States. Originally introduced in the 1986 model year, it has remained in near-continuous production for more than two decades, making it the fourth oldest nameplate that is currently sold in the North American...

, while cars like the Chevrolet Cavalier
Chevrolet Cavalier
The Chevrolet Cavalier was a compact automobile produced from 1982 to 2005 by General Motors. Built on the company's J platform, the Cavalier was one of the best-selling cars in the United States throughout its life.- Predecessors :...

 and Ford Tempo
Ford Tempo
The Ford Tempo is a coupe/sedan car model that was produced by Ford Motor Company for model years 1984 to 1994. It was a downsized successor to the boxy Ford Fairmont that introduced "jellybean" styling, which would later be shown on the larger 1986 Ford Taurus. and was replaced in 1994 by the...

 would be marketed as upscale compacts rather than family sedans.

Sometimes in marketing, the Reliant was advertised as the "Reliant K", to emphasize the importance of the K-platform. The nameplate was similar to the "Valiant" name of the first Plymouth compact car that preceded the Volare, except for the first two letters. A small "K" badge was also added after the word "Reliant" to the rear of the car. The Reliant was Motor Trend
Motor Trend
Motor Trend is an American automobile magazine. It first appeared in September 1949, issued by Petersen Publishing Company in Los Angeles, and bearing the tag line "The Magazine for a Motoring World". Petersen Publishing was sold to British publisher EMAP in 1998, who sold the former Petersen...

magazine's Car of the Year
Motor Trend Car of the Year
The Motor Trend Car of the Year is an award given by Motor Trend magazine, an American monthly that is published since 1949.- Background :...

 for 1981. It was built in Newark, Delaware
Newark Assembly
Newark Assembly was a Chrysler automobile factory in Newark, Delaware.-History:The factory opened in 1951 as a tank plant and was converted for the production of automobiles in 1957....

, Detroit, Michigan
Detroit, Michigan
Detroit is the major city among the primary cultural, financial, and transportation centers in the Metro Detroit area, a region of 5.2 million people. As the seat of Wayne County, the city of Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan and serves as a major port on the Detroit River...

, and Toluca, Mexico
Toluca Car Assembly
Toluca Car Assembly is a Chrysler automobile factory in Toluca, State of Mexico, Mexico. It opened in 1968. Toluca Stamping is located nearby....

.

After being launched in 1981, sales of the Reliant and Aries got off to a bad start; this can be attributed to Chrysler's inadequate preparation. Early advertisements for the K-cars promoted the low $5,880 base price. Rather than honoring that by producing a sufficient amount of base models, Chrysler was producing a larger number of SE and Custom models. When consumers arrived at Plymouth (and Dodge) dealers, they were shocked to find that the Reliant they were planning on purchasing would end up costing hundreds or thousands of dollars more. As a result of this, Chrysler corrected their mistake and began building more base models. After this, sales of the Reliant skyrocketed.

The Reliant was available in standard "base", mid-level SE, and high-end Custom (later renamed LE) trim levels. Unlike the coupe
Coupé
A coupé or coupe is a closed car body style , the precise definition of which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and over time...

 and sedan, the station wagon
Station wagon
A station wagon is a body style variant of a sedan/saloon with its roof extended rearward over a shared passenger/cargo volume with access at the back via a third or fifth door , instead of a trunk lid...

 was not available in base trim. "Custom/LE" Reliant wagons came standard with exterior woodtone siding, although it could be deleted if the buyer wanted it to be. All models except base could be ordered with front bucket seats rather than the standard bench.

Changes through the years


Changes for 1982 included a revised hood ornament (changed from a Plymouth logo to a Chrysler Pentastar), roll-down rear door windows vs. the former stationary glass with rear quarter pop-outs, a counter-balanced hood, and black painted valve cover on the 2.2L engine (vs. the former blue). Changes for 1983 were limited to a blacked out grille. In 1984, the hood ornament was removed and the Chrysler Pentastar moved to the grille. Also, the tail lights received chrome trim, and the interior received a padded dash and new black instrument cluster with round gauges. For 1985, the Reliant received a substantial restyle, with new, rounder front and rear fascias. This included new head & tail lights and a new grille that was the same height as the headlights (rather than going all the way up to the hood as with previous model years). The base engine was a transverse mounted Chrysler designed 2.2 L (135 cid) in-line four-cylinder
Straight-4
The inline-four engine or straight-four engine is an internal combustion engine with all four cylinders mounted in a straight line, or plane along the crankcase. The single bank of cylinders may be oriented in either a vertical or an inclined plane with all the pistons driving a common crankshaft....

 with an electronic 2 barrel carburetor (later replaced by a fuel injection system in 1986), rated at 82 hp. Transaxles were a 4-speed floor shift manual
Manual transmission
A manual transmission, also known as a manual gearbox or standard transmission is a type of transmission used in motor vehicle applications...

 or a 3-speed automatic
Automatic transmission
An automatic transmission is one type of motor vehicle transmission that can automatically change gear ratios as the vehicle moves, freeing the driver from having to shift gears manually...

 with either a floor or column shift. A Mitsubishi motor was optional, and cars so equipped for 1981 were badged as 2.6 HEMI. Reliants equipped with this engine accelerated 0-60 mph in the 13 second range. The Mitsubishi 2.6 L G54B engine was a popular option, but driveability and reliability problems led to the Mitsubishi engine being replaced by a fuel-injected Chrysler 2.5 L I4 for 1986. For 1987, the coupe's fixed rear windows got a small pivoting vent at the trailing edge of the rear doors. Also for 1987, the base model was renamed America in the U.S (this was later done to the base models of the Horizon and Sundance
Plymouth Sundance
The Plymouth Sundance is a compact car model that was produced for model years 1987 to 1994. It was designed to compete with upmarket compacts such as the Geo Prizm, Ford Escort and the Honda Civic after the production of the Horizon was to be extended...

). After 1987, only minimal changes were made through the end of the production run.

The last Reliant rolled off the assembly line on August 25, 1989. The 1989 Reliant was a carryover from the 1988 model year. Only the America trim was available on these models. No station wagon models were sold in 1989. The Reliant was replaced by the Acclaim
Plymouth Acclaim
The Plymouth Acclaim is a mid-size sedan produced in the 1989 to 1995 model years. The Acclaim was Plymouth's updated replacement for the similarly sized E-body Caravelle; both cars were built on the Chrysler K platform...

 for 1989, with the coupe replaced by the Plymouth Laser
Plymouth Laser
The Plymouth Laser was a sports coupe sold under the Plymouth brand from 1989 to 1994. The Laser and its siblings: the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eagle Talon, were the first vehicles produced under the newly formed Diamond Star Motors, a joint-venture between the Chrysler Corporation and the...

liftback.
Production Figures 1981-1989
Year Units
1981 151,637
1982 139,223
1983 146,562
1984 152,183
1985 136,738
1986 123,007
1987 103,949
1988 125,307
1989 36,012
Total 1,114,618

Trim levels


Base: 1981-1987 (87 Rare)
Custom: 1981-1984
SE:1981 1/2-1986
LE:1985-1989
America LE 1988-1989

External links