Junkyard Gem: 1987 Dodge 600 SE Sedan
One of the earliest spinoffs from Lee Iacocca's versatile, Chrysler-saving K Platform was a stretched-wheelbase version known as the E Platform. These cars were supposed to resemble European luxury sedans, to the extent that a couple of models were badged as the Chrysler E-Class and Dodge 600 SE and given suspiciously Mercedes-ish badging. At first, the Dodge 600 was available in convertible and coupe form, but only sedans were sold for the 1987 and 1988 model years. Today's Junkyard Gem is one of those sedans, found in a Northern California self-service boneyard a few months back.
Though the K-Car family tree had many branches, with American sales of new K-derived vehicles continuing until the middle 1990s, only a handful of U.S.-market models were pure Ks: the Plymouth Reliant, Dodge Aries, Chrysler LeBaron, Dodge 400 and Dodge 600 coupe/convertible. Chrysler minivans through 1995 belonged to the extended K tribe, as did the Chrysler Imperial of the early 1990s. There was even a K-based Maserati!
The Dodge 600's main rival was the Chevrolet Celebrity and its siblings, the Pontiac 6000, Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera and Buick Century. The cheapest 1987 Celebrity sedan listed at $10,265, while its Pontiac and Olds counterparts cost $10,499 and $10,940 (those prices would be $18,049, $18,460 and $19,236 in 2022 dollars).
The base price for the most affordable 1987 Dodge 600 four door was just $9,891, with the better-appointed SE version listing at $10,553 (that's $17,391 and $18,555 today). Since this is an SE, it competed on price with the Pontiac 6000 sedan (not to mention the very cheapest Ford Taurus trim level, which cost $10,491). If you were willing to drive a manual transmission and insisted on a car that would likely hold together for a quarter-million miles, a new 1987 Toyota Camry could be had for $10,648.
The Plymouth-badged version of this car was the Caravelle, which cost a mere $9,762 ($17,164 now) in 1987. That's a better deal than those fine-print-laden prices on eighths offered on the dispensary billboard behind this car!
The engine is Chrysler's 2.2-liter four-cylinder, rated at 97 horsepower and 122 pound-feet in this application. A 146-horse turbocharged version was available for $685 extra ($1,204 after inflation). A five-speed manual transmission was base equipment in the 600 for the 1982 through 1984 model years, but a three-speed automatic was mandatory in all 600s after that.
This car has the $790 air conditioning option, which would be about $1,389 in present-day bones, or clams. That AM/FM radio was included at no extra cost in all 1987 Dodge 600s, no doubt because the music that year was so good that you needed FM to appreciate it.
Was this car a better deal than a new Pontiac 6000 sedan?
This one started out in Colorado, then moved to the West Coast at some point. Carlin Dodge is still in Colorado Springs, though it's now AutoNation Dodge Ram.
The moss and lichen buildup tells a story of long-term outdoor storage. This car might actually have just the 62k miles showing on its five-digit odometer.
1988 was the last year for the 600, after which it was replaced by its K-cousin, the Dodge Spirit.
You can't beat 'em!
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