Dodge Diplomat

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Not to be confused with Opel Diplomat.
Dodge Diplomat
Manufacturer Dodge (Chrysler)
Also called Dodge Dart, Dodge Magnum (Mexico)
Dodge Coronet (Colombia)
Plymouth Caravelle (Canada; 1977–1981)
Production 1976–1989
Model years 1977–1989
Assembly St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Kenosha, Wisconsin, United States
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Bogotá, Colombia
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size
Body style 4-door wagon (1978-81)
4-door sedan (1977-89)
2-door coupe (1977-81)
Layout FR layout
Platform M-body
Related Chrysler Fifth Avenue
Chrysler LeBaron
Dodge Aspen
Chrysler New Yorker
Chrysler Town and Country
Plymouth Gran Fury
Outside the US:
Dodge Coronet
Dodge Dart
Plymouth Caravelle
Dodge Magnum (Mexico)
Engine 225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant 6 I6
318 cu in (5.2 L) LA V8
360 cu in (5.9 L) LA V8
Transmission 4-speed A833 manual
3-speed A727 automatic
3-speed A904 automatic
3-speed A999 automatic
Wheelbase Coupe: 112.7 in (2,863 mm)
1977–1979, 108.7 in (2,761 mm)
1980–1981, Sedan & Wagon: 112.7 in (2,863 mm)
1977–1989 (wagons through 1981 only)
Length Coupe: 201.2 in (5,110 mm)
1980–83 Sedan: 206.1 in (5,235 mm)
1987–89 Sedan: 204.6 in (5,197 mm)
Wagon: 205.5 in (5,220 mm)
Width Coupe & Wagon: 74.2 in (1,885 mm)
1980–83 Sedan: 72.8 in (1,849 mm)
1987–89: 72.4 in (1,839 mm)
Height Coupe: 53.4 in (1,356 mm)
Wagon: 55.5 in (1,410 mm)
Sedan: 55.1 in (1,400 mm)
Predecessor Dodge Dart
Successor Dodge Monaco

The Dodge Diplomat is an American mid-size car that was produced by Dodge from 1977 to 1989. It is essentially identical to the Plymouth Gran Fury in the U.S. market and the Plymouth Caravelle in Canada. It was also sold in Mexico between 1981 and 1982 as the Dodge Dart, and in Colombia as the Dodge Coronet. The Diplomat was initially offered in a coupe and sedan. In 1978, station wagons were added as replacements for the departed full-size C-body Wagons.

The Diplomat was offered with a base 225 cu in (3.7 L) straight-six-cylinder engine, in 318 cu in (5.2 L) V8 form, and an optional 360 cu in (5.9 L)) Diplomat, along with its Plymouth Gran Fury/Caravelle twin, were widely favored as a police car both in the US and Canada. Aside from the 3-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission, a manual transmission was available in some years and markets on six-cylinder and 318 engines; the 360s were automatics only.[citation needed]


The Diplomat name was originally used by Dodge on 2-door hardtop models from 1950 to 1954. It was also used on the export version of the DeSoto from 1946 through 1961. Between 1975 and 1977, the Diplomat name was also used on a trim package available on the Royal Monaco two-door hardtop.

Rear view of 1977-1979 Diplomat

Starting with the 1977 model year, the Diplomat became a full model line, rather than as the name of a particular body style. It was a longer, fancier up-market version of the F-body Aspen. The chassis and mechanical components are identical, and doors and various other body panels are interchangeable.

The 1980 model year brought new exterior sheet metal for the Diplomat, although wagons were unchanged, from the doors back. Manual transmissions were dropped. Following the demise of the Dodge St. Regis R-body in 1981, the Diplomat remained, becoming the largest sedan in the Dodge lineup, despite technically being a mid-size car. Dodge would not market another truly full-size car (at least based upon United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passenger volume statistics) until the Monaco debuted as a 1990 model.

By 1981, Chrysler was switching to smaller front-wheel drive designs. However, its older and larger rear-wheel drive Dodge Diplomat (as well as the Chrysler LeBaron and Fifth Avenue) continued to sell. Chrysler's then executive vice president for manufacturing, Steve Sharf, met with officials at American Motors (AMC) to use the extra capacity at an assembly plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin to build the full-size cars.[1] Chrysler's tooling was moved from St. Louis to Kenosha, and over the next two and a half years, about 250,000 Chrysler and Dodge models were built by AMC at a lower cost than Chrysler could.[1] This relationship evolved into Chrysler's purchase of AMC in 1987.[1]

Dodge Diplomat coupe

In 1982, the coupe and station wagon were discontinued and Canada's Plymouth version of the Diplomat came south of the border. The Plymouth Caravelle was offered in the US as the Plymouth Gran Fury. 1983 was the last year for the Slant Six, and afterwards, the only available engine was the 318-cid V8 with a two-barrel carburetor. A four-barrel 318 remained the optional engine choice for the police package.

For 1984, an upscale series was added to the American-market Diplomat, the SE. The SE used the Fifth Avenue's front end with its parking lights located above the headlights. The grille insert used thin vertical bars with a wide trim strip dividing the grille vertically as well as horizontally. The SE had more exterior trim and an interior that placed the SE between the Diplomat Salon and the Chrysler Fifth Avenue.

As the 1980s progressed, fewer private customers purchased the Diplomat, and the M-body was eventually dropped during the 1989 model year. One reason behind the drop-off in sales was fuel economy. Despite lower gas prices in the mid- to late-1980s and a 2.26:1 rear-end gear ratio, the Diplomat's carburated engine and lack of an overdrive gear on its TorqueFlite automatic transmission resulted in poor fuel economy compared with its larger competitors from Ford and General Motors, as evidenced by comparing the EPA estimates for 1986 models:

  • Dodge Diplomat (5.2 L V8, 3-speed automatic): 16 city, 21 highway, 18 combined
  • Chevrolet Caprice (5.0 L V8, 4-speed automatic with overdrive): 17 city, 25 highway, 20 combined
  • Ford LTD Crown Victoria (5.0 L V8, 4-speed automatic with overdrive): 18 city, 26 highway, 21 combined
1980 Station wagon

Late in the Diplomat's run, the car was subject to the federal "Gas Guzzler Tax."

Diplomats built from mid-1988 until the end of production were among the first Chrysler-built products to have a driver's side airbag as standard equipment, some two model years before the remainder of Chrysler's lineup (they were also among the only cars at the time to offer a tilt steering column with an airbag). Diplomats with airbags differed from earlier models in that they were also equipped with a padded, color-keyed knee blocker which extended out from beneath the instrument panel in front of the driver.

When the Diplomat and similar Plymouth Gran Fury were discontinued, it marked the last rear-wheel drive non-truck model (aside from the Dodge Viper) sold by the corporation until the Plymouth Prowler was introduced in 1997. The Diplomat's other rear-wheel drive sibling, the Chrysler Fifth Avenue, also ended production, but the nameplate was continued on a front-wheel drive chassis. In the Dodge lineup, the Monaco became the top-of-the-line sedan until the introduction of the LH platform.


  1. ^ a b c Smith, David C. (1 June 2008). "Oldest Auto Plant to Make Newest V-6". Ward's AutoWorld. Retrieved 16 June 2011. 

External links[edit]

Dodge Diplomat at the Internet Movie Cars Database