1983 Plymouth Reliant Custom 2.2L from North America


Ugly, but comfortable.


The worst thing to happen to the car was an electrical fire caused by a faulty alternator. It overcharged and melted a wiring harness which shorted out and flamed up. This, in turn, caused some light failures, mainly the turn signals and brake lights. I have since hard wired them and the car is now roadworthy.

The A/C compressor needs replacing, but the car is 21 years old. Not surprising.

General Comments:

Sans the alternator trouble, which was actually my fault (the battery light lit up and I assumed the alternator was undercharging) and the lack of A/C in Southwest Arizona, this has been a pretty decent car.

It is surprisingly roomy and comfortable, even for big framed man as myself (6', 275). It's been in the family since it was purchased new by my grandparents and I will probably keep it as hauler when I buy my new car.

Mileage is not great for a 4 cylinder, but I can average 25mpg using the cruise control.

Plenty of pep for an old station wagon.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 30th June, 2004

1983 Plymouth Reliant LE from North America


I'll regret having this car for all eternity


First, the heads have been replaced, its gone through too many alternators, fan belts, etc to even count, the heater core has gone out several times resulting in the entire radiator fluid content of the heating system to pour out onto the floor of the passenger compartment, the AC died, shocks and struts have been replaced many times and are again worn out, it has fuel starvation and ignition timing problems regularly, causing the engine to die at random, even in the middle of traffic, the head gasket's blown, transmission finally gave out while driving in downtown seattle; had it towed home. Air vents have billowed acrid white smoke on occasion, radio and speakers completely shorted out, engine -severely- underpowered (who the heck puts an 80hp 4-cylinder engine into a 1.5 ton sedan??), others.

General Comments:

My family bought this car a long time ago (1987) and it was my mother's work car until a few years ago, when I got stuck with it for my first car. Even though its essentially been a nightmare to own, it has a few good points. First, the seats are comfortable, it handles well, its easy to see out of, the paint and body have held up very well (no rust at all, amazingly.. despite several accidents and sitting outside in the weather), and nothing's fallen off the car, caught on fire, or exploded. Despite the largely good reviews I've seen for the K-series cars (Dodge aries, Plymouth Reliant) I've heard several horror stories concerning them. I also heard that GM's quality control was absolutely terrible in the late 70's and early 80's. I guess ours was a lemon. The family recently sold this heap anyway and replaced it with a 1973 Mercedes Benz 450SEL, which I'm VERY happy with... take my advice, buy a pre-1991 Benz if you're looking for a cheap bargain...I've seen ones with upwards of 400k on their original transmissions and engines. I got mine for 1500 bucks in perfectly good condition.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 30th October, 2003

28th Dec 2003, 02:32

What does GM have to do with this Plymouth/Chrysler car?

EVERY American car maker in the 1980s produced absolute crap. Only recently (last 5-8 years) has Ford, GM and Chrysler realized that they were building absolute junk.

Now lets not put ALL the blame on them. They were building cars with massive V8s and the cars weighed over 2 tons. Then BOOM, they had to do a 180 to small, light, slow, 4 cylinder cars filled to the brim with emissions and fuel economy systems. Import makers had always been making smaller, lighter cars so it wasn't such a shock for them to switch to even smaller cars which means their quality was better.

Today's cars are so complicated, it is a miracle they are so reliable. I mean, we are amazed when a washer or VCR lasts 10 years, then we start cussing and yelling at a car that has lasted 20 years or more and is finally being fussy. And we can't fault car makers for their engines or transmissions, again VERY complicated machinery compared to the days of Ford Model Ts. Them lasting 100,000 miles is amazing. Someone would be lucky if a model T would last 30,000 miles before the engine was worn beyond repair. A simple matter of looser tolerances and technology that wasn't there.

So lets respect a 20 year old car for what it is, a tired, old, slow machine that is failing with bad parts like mad. But it has been 20 years for goodness sake!

Oh and BTW, we talk about how unsafe and unreliable 1980s cars were. Well wait 20 years and look back on the cars now that are "so safe" and "so reliable"

We also can't fault a car for being less safe than a modern car, if we knew then what we know now, then it WOULD be as safe as today's cars.

28th May 2004, 09:58

The person who posted the first comment is clueless. Babbling on about Model T's--what does that have to do with today's cars or even 1980's cars?

And if the person who wrote the original review thinks that a 1973 Mercedes 450SL is going to provide reliable, low-cost transportation, he will have his bubble burst the first time he has to bring it in for repair, which will be soon if it hasn't happened already. If you can't afford to buy a new, or at least a late model used Mercedes, you will not be able to afford the maintenance costs on an old one, as countless people have found out. You can't take them to Joe's Corner Garage when they break--you have to go either to a dealer or one of those "European car specialists"--either one is $$$!

1st Mar 2007, 23:14

In 1983 the reliant got an increase of horsepower to 93, earlier models had around 80. Worst carburetor I have ever seen.