As I’ve shopped for cars to replace my stupid Ford Focus, I’m realizing that I really prefer hatchbacks and wagons. Staggering numbers of compact sedans, Civics and Corollas leading the charge, appear on Craigslist and cars.com every day. Yet I can’t muster the enthusiasm to go look at any of them. I just don’t want to give up the ability to carry home whatever I find. A month or so ago I was shopping with my mom, who recently moved to my town. We came upon a tall cabinet that she wanted for her new condo. No problem! I opened the Focus’s hatch, folded down the rear seats, shoved it in, and brought it to her new home. Maybe this kind of utility is what has always attracted me to the Dodge Omni and its Plymouth Horizon twin.
I remember the first one I ever paid any attention to. My high-school German teacher had one, a ’78 Horizon in dark blue. She liked its tidy, clean, tight European-ness, both its styling and its handling. That’s not surprising; she grew up in Poland (and had a harrowing story of escaping that country after communism befell it). This was not a woman you’d expect to see behind the wheel of any other contemporary Plymouth. None of them suited her style.
I was attracted to the Omnirizon’s tidy clean tightness, too. Inexplicably attracted, because when these were introduced our family car was a swoopy Oleg Cassini Matador coupe, the antithesis of these razor-sharp lines and sensible proportions. Officially, our family scoffed at econoboxes.
Maybe it was because econoboxes used to be so relentlessly plain inside. The Omnirizon driver’s immediate surroundings reeked of cost management, not that you can tell very well in my admittedly terrible picture. I think I prefer the 1990 steering wheel that featured the enormous airbag cover only because it doesn’t scream cheap.
And now here I am, an econobox fan looking to buy yet another one. How times change. But my attraction to the Omnirizon has not changed, it has just come out of the closet. I’d love to buy one in good nick, a later one like this with blackout trim rather than chrome, in this light blue. And gimme the 2.2 L four. I’d drive it to work every day, take it to the store, haul home large items. Maybe I should have tucked an offer-to-buy note under this one’s windshield wiper.