Lost Iacocca Platform: 16k-mi 1982 Dodge Mirada

When Lee Iacocca turned Chrysler around in the 1980s, he started by launching a series of platforms intended to revive the brand and push it out of bankruptcy. The most successful of which was the small-to-midsize K-platform, which were mostly sparse, frugal little cars that nevertheless delivered what '80s American brand-buying consumers were hungry for: solid, dependable, no-frills day-to-day transportation. The K-cars certainly delivered efficiency: 26mpg city, up to 41mpg highway with a manual transmission. That's pretty impressive.

Lesser known was a platform for a larger series of cars called the J-platform, which had rear-wheel drive.

This 1982 Dodge Mirada is based on that platform.

The J-cars included the Mirada, Chrysler Cordoba and the Imperial, a briefly revived luxury brand from the '50s. J-cars were all made only from 1980-1983 and were all 2-door coupes.

The Mirada was offered with a choice of three engines: a 225cu Slant inline-6, a 318cu V8 and a 360cu V8. All cars had automatics. The Mirada also had three trim levels: Base, S/SE and CMX.

This Mirada is a CMX with a Slant I6, so unfortunately it's not a V8 but it is the highest trim level. Chrysler's slanted engines featured cylinders titled at a 30 degree angle for various minor advantages.

Styling-wise it's every bit early '80s Reagan-Iacocca-era-Chrysler and the awkward older sibling of the K-cars. The front end is quite homely, looking like an Atari rendering of a frog, complete with an anonymous protruding grill and Malaise-era government mandated divided multiple-unit headlamps.

The rear is a little better, just a straight angle drop with horizontal slatted rectangular taillights. American designers had a lot of trouble transitioning from 1970s styling cliches to 1980s styling cliches, but they managed to do rear ends ok some of the time. It's hard to mess up a series of rectangles, anyways.

Covering the roof is a simulated convertible cloth-top if you fancy that, one of the many idiosyncrasies of American car manufacturers from the '70s to the '90s (although I occasionally see them on even newer cars).

I also spot mudflaps with "Dodge" imprinted on them.

Inside the interior isn't half-bad. Enormous cloth seats beget a typical over-sized pre-airbag steering wheel, which sits in front of numerous round-housed analog gauges, a surprising relief to find instead of the digital layouts other manufacturers like General Motors were toying with at the time.

The seller states it has only 16,294 original miles which is pretty incredible and would classify it as a bona fide survivor. Apparently only about 53,000 Mirada were made, so to find one with this low miles is exceedingly unusual. The seller explains they are actually listing the vehicle for a friend's deceased father, who presumably owned the car since new, so that fleshes out the story and seems plausible.

Condition-wise the car seems to be in overall good but definitely not perfect shape. The seller says there are some dings and dents, and there is very noticeable damage to the plastic between the body and the rear bumper that is not a major operation but is cosmetically unpleasing and should be repaired by the next happy owner.

Mechanically, they said the a/c is not working and may need a charge but otherwise the car runs and drives "perfect".

Find it here on ebay in Bohemia, NY with active bidding, reserve not met, 2 days left, and a buy-it-now of $5,795. That's kind of a lot for a non-V8 Mirada with some cosmetic flaws, but then again the ultra-low mileage will make ultra-low mileage suckers like me think twice.

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