Dodge Omni

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Dodge Omni
1990 Dodge Omni.JPG
1990 Dodge Omni
Manufacturer Chrysler Corporation
Also called Plymouth Horizon
Production 1978–1990
Assembly United States: Belvidere, Illinois (1977–1990)
Kenosha, Wisconsin (1988)
Body and chassis
Class Subcompact
Body style 5-door hatchback
Layout Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
Platform L-body
Related Chrysler Horizon
Dodge Charger
Dodge Omni 024
Dodge Rampage
Plymouth Horizon TC3
Plymouth Scamp
Plymouth Turismo
Shelby GLHS
Engine 1.6 L Simca 6J I4
1.7 L Volkswagen I4
2.2 L K I4
2.2 L Turbo I I4
Transmission 4-speed Volkswagen manual
5-speed manual
3-speed A404 automatic
3-speed A413 automatic
Wheelbase 99.1 in (2,517 mm)
Length 163.2 in (4,145 mm)
Width 66.8 in (1,697 mm)
Height 53.0 in (1,346 mm)
Successor Dodge Shadow / Plymouth Sundance

The Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon were five-door, five-passenger front wheel drive hatchbacks introduced by the Dodge and Plymouth divisions of the Chrysler Corporation in North America in December 1977 for the 1978 model year[1] — as badge engineered variants of each other. The Omni and Horizon were based on a European Simca-based design called the Simca Horizon, and were the first of many Chrysler front-wheel drive models, including the Dodge Aries/Plymouth Reliant and the Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager.


The Dodge Omni and the Plymouth Horizon were rebadged variants of a front-wheel drive, five-door hatchback model introduced by the Dodge and Plymouth divisions of the Chrysler Corporation in North America in 1978. The models were initially priced starting at $2,500. The models had substantial European origins; the car was actually developed by Simca, the French division of Chrysler Europe, before that company was sold to Peugeot, which released the car as the Talbot Horizon. Presented as a significant domestic development, the Horizon and Omni were assembled by Chrysler, who retained North American rights to the car. Both the Omni and the Horizon were based on Chrysler's then-new L platform. The company had avoided building a car for the subcompact market up until that time, preferring to use captive imports like the Dodge Colt instead. The Omni and Horizon were the first front-wheel drive cars in the Dodge and Plymouth lineup, the first front-wheel drive transverse engine production car in the North American market,[citation needed] and among the first American built front-wheel drive cars to sell in large numbers. Previous front-wheel drive American cars such as the Cord 810, Cadillac Eldorado, and Oldsmobile Toronado were low-volume luxury cars.

Plymouth Horizon

The Horizon and its corporate twin the Omni appeared at a critical time, when Chrysler sought government support to survive. In 1978, Chrysler had beaten both Ford and GM to the market with a domestically-produced front-wheel drive car to challenge the VW Rabbit.[2] The new small cars began to sell well, and helped persuade Congress and the White House that Chrysler had a future worth saving. The Omni was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1978.

The Omni and Horizon had few interchangeable parts with their European siblings. Aside from the heavier-looking American body panels and bumpers, the OHV Simca engines were replaced with a 1.7 L OHC engine sourced from Volkswagen, while MacPherson strut front suspension took the place of the torsion bar arrangement found in the European Horizon. The Volkswagen engine used an enlarged Chrysler-designed cylinder head and intake manifold and produced 75 hp (56 kW) and 90 lb·ft (120 N·m).

Shortly after their introduction Consumer Reports tested the models and reported that it lost control in hard maneuvering. The allegation received extensive mainstream coverage, including a piece in Time Magazine.[3] Other auto magazines reported no problems and said the test did not approximate real-world driving conditions. Chrysler made modifications that included a steering damper and a lighter weight steering wheel.

The HVAC controls were mounted to the left of the steering wheel rather than in the center stack like in most vehicles, meaning only the driver could adjust the interior temperature. Other Chrysler Corporation products (including the Dodge Charger and Chrysler Cordoba), as well as vehicles from other manufacturers came with instrument panels that placed the HVAC controls in this general location during the 1970s.

Chrysler's 2.2 L K-car engine appeared in 1981 as an upmarket option to the Volkswagen engine. It produced 84 hp (63 kW) at first, rising to 93 hp (69 kW) and finally 96 hp (72 kW) by the end of production. The Volkswagen 1.7 was replaced by a Simca/Peugeot-produced 1.6 L inline-four unit in 1983. This engine produced 62 hp (46 kW) and 86 lb·ft (117 N·m), and was only available with a manual transmission. The Omni/Horizon received a facelift in September 1983.[1] The 2.2 L Chrysler was the only engine from 1987 onwards.

The Omni and the Horizon finally ended production in 1990, and were replaced by the Dodge Shadow/Plymouth Sundance, which had both been introduced in 1987. It outlived the European version by three years; Peugeot had bought Chrysler's European division in 1978 and re-badged the Horizon (along with the rest of the British Chrysler and French Simca range) as a Talbot, with production lasting until 1987.[4]

Chrysler invested in a number of significant changes that ended up being used for only one year; the cars gained larger exterior rear-view mirrors (borrowed from the departed M-body sedans), a driver's side air bag and a mildly redesigned instrument panel, complete with HVAC controls finally moved to the center. As production was being wound up all tooling needed to produce the vehicle was sold to the Tata Group in India, and the car was produced there for several more years.

Production numbers[edit]

Year Omni
1978 81,611
1979 141,477
1980 138,155
1981 77,039
1982 71,864
1983 42,554
1984 71,355
1985 74,127
1986 73,580
1987 66,907
1988 59,867
1989 46,239
1990 16,733

The Omni almost reached the 1 million unit mark, but production stopped in 1990; with a total of 961,508 Omnis assembled.


Several variants of the platform appeared later, including a 3-door hatchback known as the Dodge 024/Plymouth TC3, and briefly a small car-like truck under the Dodge Rampage/Plymouth Scamp name.

The 024 and TC3 were marketed as sporty cars, although the 94 hp (70 kW) four-cylinder engine was not powerful. The TC3 was renamed the Plymouth Turismo, and the 024 the Dodge Charger in 1983. The last 1,000 Dodge Chargers were modified by Carroll Shelby into Shelby GLHSs.


1986 Shelby GLHS

The ultimate Dodge Omni was the modified Omni GLH. The original name, "Coyote", was rejected, and Carroll Shelby's choice, the initials GLH, which stood for "Goes Like Hell", were taken instead.[5] 1984 was the first year of the GLH, which carried over most of the modifications that had been made the previous year to the Shelby Charger. 1985 was the debut of the GLH-T model with the Turbo I (K) engine option. This engine, at low boost (7.2 PSi) coupled with the car's very low weight (as low as 2,200 lb (1,000 kg)), earned this car its name. The car carried over into 1986 unchanged aside from the addition of a hatch-mounted third tail light, and production was then stopped.

The final 500 GLH-T cars (all black) were sold to Shelby, who used them as the basis for the 1986 Shelby GLHS ("Goes Like Hell S'More"). These cars were modified by Carroll Shelby in California and sold as Shelbys. With 175 horsepower (130 kW) and 175 lb·ft (237 N·m) of torque, the Shelby GLHS was a modified 2.2 with a Turbo 2 setup which included a two-piece blow through intake (the GLH-T was a draw through turbo design) shelby ECU, boost raised to a conservative 12psi, T2 turbocharger compressor cover, and a front-mounted intercooler. The short block stayed the same between the GLH-T and GLHS. Further modifications included 205/50R15 Eagle GT Gatorback tires mounted on Shelby Centurian wheels, Koni adjustable struts and shocks, and stiffer springs. Different decals were also part of the package. Silver pin stripes down the ground effects along with "SHELBY" decals replaced the standard red GLH-T decals. A "SHELBY" decal was added to the windshield and a large "GLHS" decal on the driver side rear sail panel. All GLHS cars came with a numbered dash plaque, Mobile 1 valve cover plaque, MOMO shift knob and Shelby leather wrapped steering wheel and A black/yellow overlay sticker was placed at the bottom of the speedometer to read to 135 mph.


  1. ^ a b Mastrostefano, Raffaele, ed. (1985). Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985 (in Italian). Milano: Editoriale Domus S.p.A. p. 249. ISBN 88-7212-012-8. 
  2. ^ Vance, Bill (28 April 2006). "Motoring Memories: Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon, 1978-1990". autos canada. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Storm over Omni-Horizon". Time. 26 June 1978. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Development of the Chrysler - Talbot - Simca Horizon". Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Griffey, Evan (2007). "Cool Cars We Miss". MSN. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 

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