(first posted 2/10/2016) In hindsight, one may be tempted to dismiss the Dodge Spirit and Plymouth Acclaim as being frumpy sedans with dated mechanicals. After all, these sedans – built from 1989 until 1994 – were built on a variation of the K-Car platform and their interior and exterior styling was boxy and rather passé, even in 1989. However, despite these handicaps, the AA-Body sedans were sensible new car buys and had plenty to offer, even if they were never class-leaders.
Chrysler certainly got plenty of mileage out of the K-Car platform. Although the Spirit arrived 8 long years after the platform debuted in the 1981 Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant, the basic K chassis remained with MacPherson strut suspension up front and a beam axle at the rear. However, the wheelbase was stretched 3 inches to 103.3 inches and the Spirit was 3 inches taller.
The frumpy roofline allowed for plenty of headroom and an airy cabin, while the wheelbase stretch made for a spacious cabin. A front bench seat was still available for maximum people-carrying capacity, although the Spirit, like all other K-Car derivatives, was no wider than the Aries/Reliant. The cabin was also rather plasticky.
A Dodge showroom in 1989 was a rather confusing place. The Aries stuck around for one final season, priced to sell. The slow-selling Lancer was also a nominal presence in Dodge showrooms, while the new K-derived and even more rectilinear Dynasty was also available. The Spirit effectively replaced the Lancer, 600 and Aries and straddled segments; while the rival Ford Tempo and Chevrolet Corsica were classified by the EPA as compacts, the Spirit’s interior volume put it in the mid-size category. The Dynasty, although also available with a choice of four-cylinder and V6 engines, was positioned more as a rival to the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Lumina.
Unlike the larger Dynasty, the Spirit had an available turbocharged engine. The engine lineup included: a naturally-aspirated 2.5 four-cylinder with 100 hp and 135 ft-lbs; a boosted 2.5 with 150 hp and 180 ft-lbs; and a 3.0 Mitsubishi-sourced V6 with 141 hp and 171 ft-lbs. The fours were available with one of Chrysler’s notchy five-speed manual transmissions or an optional three-speed automatic, while the V6, initially restricted to the top-line ES but available on all trims after 1990, came only with an automatic.
The base four wasn’t as smooth as that in the Accord and Camry and it was also down 15-30 hp on those Japanese sedans. However, it had similar torque figures and that pull was available lower in the rev range. The available V6 – a feature lacking in the Accord – was also quite smooth.
The Spirit was distinguished from its Plymouth counterpart with a crosshair grille, less chrome and, underneath, a firmer suspension set-up. Although it was positioned as the least sporty of the two AA-Bodies, the Acclaim did gain a sporty Rally Sport option for its sophomore season. However, it was a one-year only affair and soon the Plymouth would be available only in one trim level and a series of option packages. The Spirit’s firmer set-up improved handling without compromising too much in the way of ride quality. Although not the most entertaining car to drive in its segment, it acquitted itself acceptably. Those preferring a plusher ride quality and a cushier interior could, after 1990, purchase the AA-Body Chrysler LeBaron sedan.
Plymouth didn’t receive a version of the hottest Spirit, the 1991-92 R/T. Packing a 2.2 turbocharged four with 224 hp and 217 ft-lbs of torque, mated to a five-speed manual, the subtly styled R/T reached 60 mph in under 6 seconds. It was faster in the sprint than the Taurus SHO which had two more cylinders and greater displacement but an extra 300 pounds in curb weight. However, the limited-production R/T, despite a tweaked suspension, was no match for the SHO in the twisties and the dated chassis was somewhat overwhelmed by the power. Still, for a boxy sedan that looked little different from a Spirit ES, the R/T was packing some serious performance. To sweeten the deal, there was a new, slick-shifting five-speed stick and a price tag more than $4k less than a Taurus SHO.
The Spirit had been benchmarked against Camry and Accord but fell short in overall quality and refinement. But, in its favor, it also came at a lower price despite costing more than a Tempo or Corsica. In 1990, a base Spirit with the 2.5 four-cylinder and a five-speed manual transmission listed at $10,485; a 3.0 V6 ES retailed for $13,145. The cheapest Honda Accord sedan, however, was priced at $12,345 and lacked a driver’s airbag. The cheapest Camry cost $11,588 and also missed out on this increasingly popular safety feature. List prices don’t tell the full story, either: a Dodge dealer would probably have been much more willing to haggle.
Unlike the Spirit’s direct domestic rivals, the Ford Tempo and Chevrolet Corsica, there was a four-speed automatic available. However, the Ultradrive was only available in Spirits equipped with the 3.0 V6 and its shift quality was criticised. Reliability also proved to be an issue, a black mark on a car that was otherwise rated by JD Power and Consumer Reports as being one of the most reliable domestic cars.
Those seeking a smoother and more reliable transmission in their V6 AA-Body could select a three-speed automatic instead of the UltraDrive after 1992. Anti-lock brakes were an option after 1991, the same year the steering set-up and suspension were tweaked, but the option was deleted for 1995. Turbocharged Spirits, including the hot R/T, ceased to exist after 1992. For 1993, the Spirit received a mild facelift, arguably to its detriment: the new taillight assemblies looked cheap, as did the monochromatic grille treatment (the featured car is a 1993-95 model).
Otherwise, nothing much happened with the Spirit and Acclaim during their seven-year run, much like the Tempo and Corsica were relatively untouched during the 1990s. Sales fell each year: in 1990, Dodge sold just under 100k Spirits, but in 1994 only 42k were sold. The Spirit’s final season was even more meager, but that year Chrysler Corporation had introduced a much more exciting replacement.
Chrysler may have rebounded when Lee Iacocca took the reins, but by the late 1980s they had a mostly stale product lineup and a worsening financial situation. The early/mid-1990s would prove to be another boom period for the company, with the full-size LH sedans, the compact Neon and the replacement for the Spirit/Acclaim/LeBaron sedans: the “Cloud Cars”, badged as the Chrysler Cirrus, Dodge Stratus and Plymouth Breeze. These had striking cab-forward styling, were more fun-to-drive and yet still possessed a spacious interior. Much like the Spirit had been a stronger sales performer than the 600 and Lancer it replaced, the Stratus would better the Spirit’s figures.
The Spirit had been a last hurrah for the basic K-Car platform. By 1995, the Spirit and Acclaim were the last K-derived cars remaining. Chrysler had managed to craft an acceptably competitive sedan out of ageing mechanicals, priced and specified it in an appealing manner, and continued to sell it in serviceable numbers until the middle of the decade. R/T aside, it was never a very exciting car, but it was a good buy nonetheless. The Spirit was willing.
Curbside Classic: 1994 Chevrolet Corsica
Curbside Classic: 1990 Honda Accord
These cars were knowed, here in Spain, as Chrysler Saratoga.
Over the years we have had two of these as second cars. Both were very reliable, always started on the coldest day, super heater and cold A/C and went through snow like a 4X4. The fit and build quality left something to desire and the styling stodgy but for what they cost were great cars.
Yes, they were solid, honest cars, in many ways the polar opposite of the LHs.
The Spirit/Acclaim were the analog to the 1955-56 Dodge/Plymouth as the LH cars were to the ‘Suddenly It’s 1960!’ 1957 cars. The conservative, antiquated but therefore well-evolved, sedan vs. its flashy but quality-challenged replacement.
Excellent parallel. Tempo/Topaz -> Contour/Mystique is another that fits.
Strikes me as another Dart/Valiant: woefully out-of-style but roomy, practical and long lasting. If this car had come out in say 1985 or ’86 as a complete replacement for the Aries/Reliant, it might have done a bit better. But it just wasn’t good enough to thrive in the 1990s. Sure, it was comparable to the other painfully poor domestic offerings in the segment, but couldn’t hold a candle to the Japanese. Even the former Chrysler “captive” did a far more up-to-date version of an ultra-practical compact/mid size sedan with the 1989 generation Galant.
This car was marketed badge equipped as the Dodge or Eagle 2000 GTX in Canada via Diamond Star Motors. YES just as much the Plymouth Acclaim and Dodge Spirit were based from the Plymouth Reliant and Dodge Aries chassis, its competitors the GM FWD L-Bodied Chevrolet Corsica/Beretta and Pontiac Tempest and the GM FWD N-Bodied Pontiac Grand Am, Oldsmobile Calais and Buick Somerset/Skylark were also based from the combination of the FWD X-Bodied Chevrolet Citation, Pontiac Phoenix, Oldsmobile Omega and Buick Skylark chassis floorpans just behind the subframes while from the subframes frontward and rear axles were based from GM’s FWD J-Car quintet. The Ford Tempo used the old chassis dating back from 1984 through 1992 until it was replaced by a completely different Ford Contour/Mercury Mystique which were based from the European 1G Ford Mondeo. The same FWD Ford Mondeo also replaced the RWD Ford Sierra same as the former U.S. Merkur XR4ti.
Friend of mine drove a Plymouth Acclaim when I met her in 1998. She drove it until someone T-boned her and wrecked it. She’s owned two Accords since then, but if you ask her, she’ll tell you the Acclaim was her favorite car and she’d still be driving it if it hadn’t been wrecked.
In many ways these are – or were, anyway – the ideal beater car. Good interior space for four adults, conventional roofline for comfortable ingress/egress, good trunk space, good mix of mileage and performance, cheap to own, rugged and reliable.
Kind of like the American version of the B13 Sentra.
My wife and I were looking at V6 Dodge Spirits in the late 1990’s to replace the 7-year old Saturn I was driving at the time. A friend of the family owned a Chrysler dealership in a nearby small town, so we made the trek over. He had a Spirit on the lot, so we asked about it. I still remember him saying “Oh, you don’t want that one. Let me show you what’s over here…” He took us to see a used 1997 Cirrus with the 2.5L V6.
We ended up buying it from him. That was a good car, and the only Chrysler product that I didn’t have a lot of problems with. Its downfall was rust. We lived downwind from a paper mill at the time, which I am sure played a factor. We traded it in on a newer Caravan a few years later. That is the car purchase I most regret.
Having driven a million government low-bid motor pool cars in the ’80’s and 90’s, I judge these an improvement over the more tinny original K-cars. The Acclaim/Spirits just felt more solid and quiet. I think I remember Consumer Reports rating the 4-cylinder as the most reliable American car sometime in the late ’80’s. I know I never had one fail me, which is better than I can say for the Arieses. I did like you could still get a wagon in the K-cars though.
I had a 4 cylinder Plymouth Acclaim as my company car for a year or two. It was fully reliable, spacious and reasonably comfortable. Although it wasn’t fast, it wasn’t a slug, either. The build-quality was good, too. Much better than our Chevy Corsica pool cars.
Later, after a job change, I drove a Plymouth Breeze pool car. I drove from Asbury Park, New Jersey to Reading, Pennsylvania in a howling snow storm. The Interstate highways, (I-287 and I-78) had not yet been plowed. There are some pretty steep hills on I-78 near the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Other cars were sliding off the road, but the Breeze pulled through the snow just fine. No snow tires, no four-wheel drive. But it was good in the snow.
We loved our 1990 Acclaim – we bought it new and owned it for 10½ years until our daughter wrecked it once too often.
We also bought used a 1993 Spirit with the V6. It was a little road rocket, but wasn’t a good car.
I agree that the mild restyle for ’93 was retrograde. Chrysler was using amber-colored tail lamp lenses where turn signals didn’t blink, and it came across looking very Fisher-Price. I did like the Spirit and Acclaim when they came out simply for being a competitive underdog.
(Did anyone notice that the girl with the catcher’s mit in the Dynasty print ad looks like she’s laughing at the car? LOL)
Great piece, William, about a car I haven’t thought about in a long time.
Thank you for noticing that in the Dynasty ad. I saw it also and wondered who let that through to print.
I had a ’91 Spirit ES in silver that I bought used – 3.0 V6 rather than the turbo. I very much liked the boxy lines and visibility, and for someone 6’5″ it had plenty of room. I originally wanted the white one, but the one in silver looked striking. I liked the trip computer that showed fuel economy. Through about 8 years of ownership, I never had trouble with rust.
however… my wife had a ’91 Tercel at the same time and I easily spent 10 times what she did on repairs. The supposedly superior engineering of the Mitsubishi V6 resulted in chronic head gasket leaking and oil burning that I could never fix. It got stolen twice (easy to break into) and on the second occasion the joy riders damaged the tranny but it didn’t fully show up until 6 months later, by which point the insurance company said “too bad.”
We finally got rid of it with 212,000 kms (about 170,000 miles) when my second daughter came and we realized with two kids in the back and the stroller in the trunk, there was no room for luggage.
I have mixed feelings about it – it came at an important time of my life and I had high hopes for it, but the quality and repair bills soured me on Chrysler and I’ve been with Honda since.
These cars hit the road just after I had graduated college and was getting in need of replacing my 1972 Pontiac – which had started its time with me as a cool old car, but had become a beater thanks to the guy that hit it while in the parking lot at work, and the guy that stole the stereo using a crowbar. When the time came for a new car, I knew I also needed to upgrade my parking – the cheapest place downtown wasn’t working! Not to mention that being propositioned by the hookers was a bit awkward.
I was the perfect demographic for a Honda Accord, or Civic, but I and most of my car loving friends had an American bias. The Spirit / Acclaim had a lot of merits, but their bodies were nothing more than first generation K cars with the edges filed off. The look aged very quickly, and they seemed to once again have a government fleet aura about them. After I had decided these were not going to work for me, I was doubly glad. The father of a girl I dated for a while had an Acclaim that was that purple / red that was popular on these. Her dad was a quiet bookkeeper type and quite sensible.
The replacement Cirrus did get me in a Chrysler showroom several years later, and I ended up taking home a Concorde due a need for more legroom. Chrysler had finally produced some sedans that could appeal to a 20-30 year old for the first time in a long while.
I remember when the ’94 Dodge Spirit tail light update appeared, changing from white to orange. I thought it was funny because the entire orange bar end to end was fake while the actual turn signals were still in the red lenses. Only the reverse lights within the orange bar were real. I can’t think of another time before or since when the orange portion of a taillight was all non functional.
“I can’t think of another time before or since when the orange portion of a taillight was all non functional.”
Well, the 2000-2005 Impala comes to mind. The tail light panel was all red, but only two portions were actual tail lights, while the other two circles were reflectors surrounding the backup lights, but overall the entire panel was red, but for a year or so, they made it black.
Not an exact comparison, but close.
The Ford Escort sedan of the same era also had fake “amber” signals.
Earliest example I can think of was the Mercury Monarch. Also, recently the VW Tiguan.
Before I got married, the future Mrs. JPC’s 88 Accord got damaged in a hailstorm. For a time, we considered replacing it and looked at several new cars. I remember being excited about the Acclaim/Spirit, as the first really competitive stuff at a Mopar dealer in awhile. One look at the styling (both inside and out) and the lady crossed it off the list. She pegged it as an old person’s car. I don’t think she was wrong.
These may have been as good as anything built during Chrysler’s Iacocca era. In my judgment, the overly conservative styling killed any chance these had to grow Chrysler’s market presence. I think these were significantly better cars than the Tempo or Corsica.
The Spirit / Acclaim could be looked at two ways:
*Channeling K.T. Keller and the ’49 Plymouth.
*A perfect replacement for the ’67 – ’76 Valiant, the trouble was this size car had in the American mind moved from compromised compact to the mainstream, and mainstream sedans need a bit more pizazz to move the metal. This was no longer an economy class segment.
Neither of those comparisons was likely to produce a car that would appeal to a young woman in that era.
I had no idea the Spirit R/T was quicker (in a straight line) than a Taurus SHO, but I imagine there’s a Car&Driver comparison test somewhere I’m forgetting.
Didn’t know the orange portion of the tail lights on the “facelifted” models was strictly decorative. For “looks” I guess it was better than a solid wall of red.
I agree with a previous comment that Chrysler might have been better served if these had been brought to market sooner….if possible.
These are very rare cars in my area but they still show up occasionally on Craigslist. Heck, I even found a Shadow for sale locally with about 80-90 thousand miles advertised on Craigs.
I had a ’94 Spirit with the 3.0 V6. Ran nicely. Only problem was the automatic transmission, which after giving out, was replaced with an unit that was even worse. It never ran right again after that. What a shame. It was decent at the time.
I could never understand why Chrysler, the home of the Torqueflite, could never again seem to make a decent transmission.
Nothing really wrong with the Ultradrive once initial production issues were ironed out, except for the stupid labeling on the dipstick…later changed…that you could use Dexron fluid, the cheapest around. Chrysler meant that you could use a little Dexron as a top-off, if you could not get the proper Chrysler ATF. You couldn’t, and cheapskates would do entire fills and flushes with Dexron, whose friction characteristics would not work properly with the transmission’s calibrations. Dexron specs are notoriously loose…which is why so many carmakers went to their own specific fluid types as transmissions got more sophisticated and left Dexron behind in the dust of antiquity…and in old, classic cars. The result is that I have to keep a supply of four different transmission fluids on the shelf in my garage, but today’s transmissions do work far better than the old Powerglide which is my last Dexron box.
That labeling allowing Dextron was also in the owners manuals, and nowhere made it clear that it was for emergencies only. Chrysler sent out stickers to paste into owners manuals with revised language. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
That said, even when maintained properly, the 4 speed auto transaxle was Chrysler’s weak link for years.
Properly serviced (7176 fluid ONLY!), I have seen them wind up 150,000+ miles in minivans used as taxis.
But yes, they reacted very badly to Dexron. Making things worse, I think the 3-speed autos DID still call for Dexron.
I’ve often wondered that myself.
My friend had a similar car, a 91 LeBaron, when I was in High School. It was roomy, but super dorky with that landau roof and bench seat. I don’t know what the market was for the Chrysler version, it seemed like the car Grandma or Grandpa would rent at Avis while visiting the Grand Kids. Probably why the LeBaron was rarely seen.
In many places the LeBaron appears to have sold well. Much of that was probably in how the factory built them for dealer stock, with the V6 and the plusher interior, and in colors that didn’t remind you of the Government Strippos. If the Spirit/Acclaim and their LeBaron cousin had been introduced before the Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable to replace the Aries/Reliant, they would have sold strongly but like everything else would have been swept away by what Lee Iacocca derisively called “those potato cars” which he predicted were “gonna bomb.”
As for building cars for dealer stock…and nearly all are sold that way now…how about a silver-grey exterior and a mousy-grey interior?
It’s funny, where I grew up (southern Kansas) I remember the Acclaim and Spirit being common (people bought American there) but this was literally the only LeBaron sedan I remember being around. I wonder if maybe the fact you could option an Acclaim similarly to the base LeBaron had something to do with it.
I had a 1991 Lebaron sedan–I called it the Republican ‘Plaid Pants-mobile’. It was an old people survivor-mobile when I bought it in 1998. Great driving car, the Ultradrive transmission didn’t give a micro-second of trouble (Must’ve been owned by an old guy who didn’t cop out and dump Dexron into the transmission). Looks? Well-it must’ve been popular at the bridge club. Trim aside, they were one of the last examples of a dying breed..the basic, efficient, relatively indestructible American compact(ish) sedan.
I really miss ’80s and ’90s cars with nice upright greenhouses and low beltlines. These made for easy ingress/egress and great visibility. Look at a late ’80s Integra and the beltline looks stupidly low, but it’s a great design.
I had a 1990 Acclaim LX from new, which served me well for 8 years and 125,000+ miles. The V6 was smooth and torquey. Transmission fluid changes with Mopar ATF+4 every 30,000 miles kept the transmission gremlins away until the very end (never use Dexron in an Ultradrive transmission, it will kill it). The seats were very comfortable and the ride was comfortable but well-controlled. It had plenty of room for child seats in the back. Until the day I sold it, it never had a squeak or a rattle. I wish I could say the same for other Chrysler products that I have had. It’s one of the favorite cars that I have owned. I replaced it with a Plymouth Breeze, which was a horrible car – cramped, noisy and slow. I got rid of that after two years, regretting that I hadn’t just fixed the transmission in the Acclaim (which was starting to slip).
Like the steering lock. Attach it to the car so no one steals it, cleaver..
My father traded in his 1980 Cutlass LS for a 90 Acclaim. The Acclaim had a V6 and AC. My parents never had a car with air conditioning (western Canada) but appreciated it on the many hot summer days they went travelling in that car. As others have stated the Acclaim wasn’t stylish nor ground breaking in terms of engineering. But my experience in driving Dad’s car was that it was comfortable, quiet and well put together. I seem to recall the transmission wasn’t too smooth in shifting. He kept the car until 2002 when he purchased a Taurus. The Acclaim went to my son for a while then tranny problems made him think it was time to off load the car so it was sent to an auction house.
These were reasonable replacements for the K-cars in search of good paint quality, better interior materials and assembly and a good trans axle. The only engine worth bothering with was the rather sluggish 2.5 but even that had several catches. Head gasket failures were common as was piston pin knock. And they only came with Chrysler’s dated 3 speed automatic which held this engine back and gave only average 28-29 highway MPG when some competitors were achieving mid 30’s. My buddies 1994 3100 Corsica easily averaged 27-28 and got mid 30’s on the road with V6 power and smoothness and GM’s vastly superior 4T60 trans axle for example. That car impressed me enough to purchase a 1996 Corsica with the same power train and that was a fun little rocket with amazing mileage.
The 3.0 and Ultra drive were a disastrous combo keeping many a Chrysler dealer’s service bay a very busy place. The turbo engines are rarely seen in these but it seems the later 3.0 V6’s got better and Chrysler teamed the 90’s examples with the 3 speed trans axle which was far more reliable.
Were great rental cars and solid compared to Tempo and Corsica.
The Cloud cars were “pretty”, but had a disconnected feel to them, though.
Seems like the AA’s lasted on road longer than their replacement ‘Beauty Queens’.
I was thinking that same thing while reading the section about the cloud cars–there seem to be more Spirits/Acclaims left on the streets than their successors, though I wouldn’t say either is common these days.
I never cared for the looks of the Clouds for the same reason I dont like the Charger and most other current sedans: Theyre trying half heartedly to be something they arent. Some like the VW CC and the BMW ‘Gran Coupe’ are the most laughable. Calling something a ‘coupe’ by way of a lower roofline yet has rear doors that are visible from space is just insulting. Soemthing along the lines of the Mazda RX-8 would be believable.
Owned a ’91 Spirit R/T briefly. Very roomy and fun to drive, when it ran right, which wasn’t often. The DOHC head was designed by Lotus, and intermittently ran rich, burned oil and used coolant, sometimes all three at once. It was a complete dog off the line, but pulled like a freight train above 4000 RPM. Top speed was quoted at 141 mph, I got it up to at least 130 once.
Body was solid and basically rust free, white paint started to peel towards the end. The fuel pump went out on it but the access panel was on the rear of the tank and could be removed without dropping the tank, wish all cars had that design!
At the time, it would’ve cost much more to fix the mechanicals and body than the car was worth. Since I didn’t have good storage at the time to keep it long term until rarity increased its value, I decided to cut my losses after a year and a half. Fun car overall, though.
I would say that the feature car seems to have found the perfect environment for these — doing battle on the streets of New York.
My dad had a Spirit R/T for a long time. Absolute blast to drive, just so long as you regularly fed it timing belts and head gaskets.
These cars had a light metallic ice-blue paint color that my wife particularly liked. However, I never heard her suggest that we might trade her current Accord for one.
These were good, honest cars. I have no problem with the looks of these, considering their intended purpose: They’re sedans. That means transportation devices. That formal roofline and the squared off lines look pretty purposeful and clean which is right in line with the job theyre here to do. If you wanted sexy or exciting, then the Lancer and LeBaron GTS were more in line with that or if you really wanted to commit to a car that looks good and is fun to drive, then the Daytona and LeBaron coupe were available.
These were still pretty strong sellers in their day, although if released a few years earlier they may have resonated even better. Still, there are a fair number of them plodding away. As a cheap commuter, any of these with the 2.5 and 3A would be a solid buy.
theres a few of these around here, pretty much all driven by the elderly.
These cars were the equivalent of the 1949 Plymouth and Dodge, only 40 years later. Same kind of conservative styling, and reliability. they were pretty good cars, and still see quite a few still. Mostly college kids, low income people and elderly people drive them now. I don’t see this car as ever being collectible, or someone restoring one. Is there one living person who will read this article, see the pictures and say “I gotta find one of those”?
If the right Spirit R/T fell into my lap…..
That’s one reason why we bought our 1990 Acclaim – in gray. It reminded me of dad’s 1950 Plymouth, also in gray. He and mom drove that car for 10 years, like our Acclaim.
The Acclaim/Spirit was a direct descendent of those models in styling!
I absolutely loved my 1991 Dodge Spirit ES. No, it wasn’t the most stylish sedan, but when you had the ES in white (like I had), it came with the white wheels, white grill, and the really nice grey interior with black and red stripes on the seats. The car was extremely comfortable, got great mileage, and gave me no problems for 10 years.
I brought the car brand new in September 1991 off the dealers lot (Reedman’s in Langhorne PA) for about $12,200. The car was full loaded except for the pop up sunroof. I considered it a bargain for getting a decently built comfortable good riding car.
Sorry, but I always found the Acclaim/Spirits as dull as nails. The only advantage was the availability of a V6.
Now the cloud cars, that was a different story!!
I’m pretty sure that the original rear design of these owed a lot to the RR Silver Spur. The overall style was obviously dated (if practicality oriented) but very nicely done unlike the crude original K cars.
Original Acclaim rear view:
Eh, I donno. Without getting into what I consider the faults and shortcomings of the Silver Spur rear design, and its significant functional difference to the Spirit/Acclaim rear design, there’s a pretty good list of cars with broadly similar rear styling. Behold the Plyncoln Concclaim:
What killed me about these cars were the cheap interiors. Playschool quality plastics and vinyl. One color. These felt like disposable rental cars. Nice in many ways, but a car you pick when you are out of choices.
These were reliable as the same era minivans, but more likely vans will get a fresh motor/transmission with high miles, while cars get crushed.
Tempo and Corsica were the “cheap interior rental cars” of the era, IMHO. Would take an AA over those back in 1990-94. Import makes had cracked rental market until 1998-2001 Altimas started showing up, then more and more.
Tempo and Corsica were cheap cars (cheaper than this), and it’s not like this interior was leaps and bounds above them in quality.
I found my Tempo interiors to be pretty durable and well designed. Corsica interiors had cheaper fabrics that ripped and looked old before their time. These had dashboards and rooflines from a decade before their time (seriously, that upright squared rear roof profile screams 1982), lots of hard plastics, nothing to brag about.
I’d still take any one of them over most modern cars.
My mom’s last car was an AcClaim. She put almost no miles in it from 1990- 2000. Passed it on to my nephew in 2001; he had it painted and looking quite good.
Had a few accidentsthough. I think it went “away” in 2005-6.
The car was a good ‘local driver” but really not a well put together one.
Typical 1980’s design.
Seems a Volvo 740.