CC Outtake: 1986-88 Plymouth Caravelle – Mint in Manhattan

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Not every car that is parked on the street in Manhattan becomes a dented and destroyed mess. Not every 1980s car parked on the street in Manhattan is slowly rusting away due to the copious amounts of road salt in the winter time. But still, one would expect a Manhattan-dwelling 1980s Plymouth to exhibit some signs of wear and abuse. Not so this Caravelle.

Maybe this pristine Plymouth was visiting from upstate. It has held up remarkably well, but so has the Caravelle’s design itself, more so than the rather frumpy AA-Body Acclaim that replaced the E-Body Caravelle in 1989 or the titchy K-Cars. The Caravelle effectively replaced the almost identical Chrysler E-Class in American Chrysler-Plymouth showrooms for 1985, although it was first introduced in Canada in 1983. This was Plymouth’s largest front-wheel-drive sedan and was only around a grand or two cheaper than the much older and less fuel-efficient Gran Fury.

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Like the Dodge 600 (which I have discussed previously), the Caravelle wasn’t an exceptionally strong seller. It sold about as well as its Dodge cousin, at around 40k units annually. Its successor, the Acclaim, sold much better. Was it internal competition from the cheaper Reliant? Or was it the lack of a V6 engine? The optional engine was Chrysler’s ubiquitous 2.2 turbo four, although the Acclaim would receive a 3.0 V6. Still, the mid-size family segment was fairly conservative and none of Chrysler’s offerings during this decade – Lancer/LeBaron GTS, 600 – were particularly successful and widespread acceptance of turbocharged four-cylinder engines in lieu of V6s was a couple of decades away. With even more conservative styling and available V6 engines, Chrysler would find success with the Acclaim, its Spirit twin and the Dodge Dynasty. These Caravelles are fairly forgotten Mopars today, so it sure is nice to see one in such immaculate condition.

Related Reading:

Curbside Classic: 1983 Chrysler E-Class

Curbside Classic: 1985-89 Chrysler LeBaron GTS