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Dodge Colt

rwgreenbergrwgreenberg Posts: 154
edited March 2014 in Dodge
Hi. I thought I would give this a shot. Maybe there are others who love this car as much as I. My Colt is in great shape, with 110,000 miles, original clutch, exhaust and very few replacement parts over the years. Well the other day it failed to start for the first time. Had it towed to my mechanic, where it sat overnight, and then started right up for him the next day. He is puzzled as am I. My friend happened to hear a broadcast of CarTalk the other day and suggested that I check out the "fuel pump relay switch". Of course I have no idea where it is, but will pass the info on to my mechanic. So, if there are other Colt owners out there, please say hello.


  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    About a 1982 if I remember correctly. Nice straightforeward car. Always liked 5 door hatchbacks and this was one of the more reliable ones. Think I sold it when it had about 130K.
  • perry40perry40 Posts: 94
    Hi! I bought a 1988 Colt DL with auto, PS, PM, PB & AM/FM cass. brand new back in Jan. 88 and would have to say it was a great little car ... the most reliable and trouble free car I have ever owned ... had the thing for 5 years (88,000 km) and it wasn't in the shop one day the whole time for anything other than reg. oil changes! Bought a 94 Hyundai Excel for my wife in 96 'cause I read that they were based on Mitsubishi design and figured that it would be as bullet-proof as the Colt ... WRONG ... the Excel was one of the most troublesome, least-reliable cars I have ever owned!
  • honushonus Posts: 17
    Hey, Rich! I too, share your admiration for the discontinued Dodge Colt. I'm still driving my teal-colored, 1989, manual, 1.5 liter hatchback with an odometer reading of 146K. Other than a bizarre transmission problem in 1993, it has been a very reliable car. I am continually amazed at the amount of cargo I can squeeze into it when the back seats are lowered. Right now, I use it to tote my two large dogs (weimaraners). Whenever I see other hatchbacks on the road (which is a rare event anymore), I compare cargo space, and it seems that the Colt is unusually spacious in comparison.

    My only complaint with my particular vehicle is that it is the base model, with vinyl seats, 4-speed stick shift, and no a/c. Heck, it doesn't even have a cigarette lighter (not that I smoke)! Not having a/c was very tough when I was driving it in Texas for three summers (college), especially that one year when we had 30 consecutive days of temperatures passing the 100 degree mark. I was so glad to move back to Detroit and drive it in snowy, sub-zero conditions. I have never had problems starting it in the morning no matter how frigid it was outside, and it performed admirably on roads with over six inches of snow. The Colt's body is virtually impervious to the severe winter conditions in Michigan, what with the chunks of salt peppering the roads six months out of the year. People are always telling me that my car looks brand new.

    The reason why this vehicle is so reliable is the Mitsubishi connection. Inside the drivers door, is a metal tag stating its place of origin: Japan. I wouldn't hesitate to buy its Mitsubishi version, the Mirage, if it was still offered in the hatchback configuration. Sadly, only the sedan version is available, and from what I hear, even this is slated to be discontinued in the next year or so. Thus, I have no choice but to drive the Colt as there is really no other economical and roomy hatchback to replace it least for now anyway.

    Oh, by the way - I will be relocating to Oklahoma next month, and will once again have to endure the stifling heat of the Southwest "sans" air conditioning during my daily commute. I know people will think that I am crazy, but I think it is crazy to pay over $300/month for a new car just to have a/c for a 10-15 minute drive to work. As long as the Colt runs reliably, I will continue to avail myself of its services no matter what the temperature may be.
  • rwgreenbergrwgreenberg Posts: 154
    Hi. Great to meet another Colt person. I too have the '89 base model, no air, no lighter, no day-night flipper on the mirror. Still going strong.
  • honushonus Posts: 17
    Yeah, my Colt is "going strong" as well. I think not having a/c has helped since the little 1.5 engine does not have to work so hard. When the odometer turned 100K, I was hoping to reach 150K, which I am just shy of by a few thousnd miles. However, now it looks as though I have a viable shot at 200K. My personal mission is to put as many miles on it before Father Time takes its toll on the vehicle.

    After your Colt expires, will you replace it with another hatchback? - if so, which one(s)? I am partial to the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix "sport wagon," which appears to beat the Colt in the category of cargo space. However, I'm sure that it will be priced over $15,000, which will offset its "economy" potential. The same can be said for the Civic Si sport hatchback (17-18K) and the BMW Mini Cooper (19-23K). I have no interest in the Ford Focus ZX3. Perhaps the Kia Rio wagon, slated to hit the dealers in October, will be an option (price expected to be under 13K).
  • perry40perry40 Posts: 94
    Hey all ... just reading the follow-up on this thread since my last post is making me all teary-eyed for my old 88 Colt DL ...
    Next to an 85 CRX that I once owned, the Colt was my fave. vehicle ... I can honestly say, that I loved that car ... it was reliable, well built, cheap to own/operate and had a "personality" for sure! Wish they still made/sold those here in Canada ... the new Accent's aren't bad little cars, but they still aren't as good as the Colts of a decade ago.
  • rwgreenbergrwgreenberg Posts: 154
    Well, I did sort of buy a "life after Colt" backup for my wife and I. I bought the ZX3. Figured I'd take a chance on a non-Japanese car. The Focus is a great car to drive, and has mucho space. But reliability is a big issue. Also, the Colt gets 30-40 MPG, while the Focus gets about 22-32 MPG. I'd love to buy the Honda hatch sometime after it reappears, but the Honda cars always seem to be very pricey. Maybe I would consider the Protege 5.
  • honushonus Posts: 17
    I hear that Mitsubishi offers the Mirage (Colt) as a hatchback in Australia. Too bad for us here in the States.

    My only gripe with the Accent is its paltry rear space when the seats are lowered. I think that the Animal Humane Society would go after me if I tried to cram my two large dogs in that vehicle. My Colt, on the other hand, easily accommodates the pooches (I once drove them from Texas to Michigan; they slept most of the time)

    The VW Golf is even worse for cargo space. The rear seats lie at a steep angle - almost 45 degrees. This fact coupled with the sticker price keeps me from seriously considering the Golf as my Colt replacement.

    Rich - the only reason why I do not consider the ZX3 as a viable substitute for my Colt is because I have GM connections (which means discounts). Thus, if I am to gamble on an American-made vehicle, I would rather invest my GM rebate earnings in the Toyota-designed Pontiac Vibe, though I must confess that the ZX3 has a more appealing visage.

    The problem with the new hatchbacks slated for next year is their cost (over 15K) and their modest fuel economy. The prime virtues of the Colt was its low cost, great reliability, excellent MPG, and impressive cargo capacity. Hopefully, the Kia Cinco (Rio wagon) will be a contender to match the Colt in price, utility, and reliability, though not likely in the category of fuel economy.
  • perry40perry40 Posts: 94
    In this class of vehicles, have they generally gotten better over the past ten years, or just more expensive (and needlessly more sophisticated)? My '88 Colt DL had all the "bells & whistles" of the day ('cept A/C) and cost me $10,000 Cdn ... which won't even buy you a Rio or Accent today, let alone an Echo or Civic ...
  • honushonus Posts: 17
    I think that hatchbacks are more expensive as compared to their '80s counterparts, but not necessarily better. Of course, "better" is a relative term. Now a days, when a car is upgraded, that usually means more horsepower and a sports package. Thus, the Acura Integra, Protege 5, Elantra GT, VW Golf (turbo), Saab, and Ford Focus ZX3 are deemed "better" than those of a decade or more ago. Unfortunately, fuel economy, cargo capacity, and inexpensive price are sacrificed as a result of these aesthetic gains. The whole "economy" category is being transformed. "Economy" vehicles use to be for low-income workers or disenfranchised college students. However, auto makers seem to be targeting a different consumer - a middle class, more "bourgeois" demographic.

    I personally believe that my '89 Colt (your '88 Colt DL)is superior to today's hatchbacks because it has excellent fuel economy (30-32 city MPG), spacious interior when the seats are folded down (I once loaded a 36-inch TV), and a true economy price tag. I would willingly sacrifice a few ponies and leather seats in order to own a reliable, utilitarian hatch that is priced under 12K. The only manufacturer that comes close to this price is Kia, but reliability would still be an issue. Hopefully, Toyota will offer the Echo in a hatch configuration some day, but then, the price will likely creep up past 12K.

    Remember when calculators first came out? They were very expensive, but now, you can find them as prizes in cereal boxes. Technological advances brought down their price. Why hasn't this happened with economy cars? Perhaps we are being offered unnecessary standard features, too many "bells and whistles," that are terribly overpriced.
  • rwgreenbergrwgreenberg Posts: 154
    Couldn't agree more. Bring back the low-cost, reliable, base hatchback, and I'll be there.
  • perry40perry40 Posts: 94
    I too agree with honus ... my 01 Accent is a decent car, but it doesn't get the gas milage that my '88 Colt got, nor does it seem to have the same "get up & go", overall "feel", visibility (esp. to the rear), or simple ergonomics that the old Colt had. If they brought it back, it'd probably be my next car for sure!
  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    hatches do? Just remember, safety hardware/design puts on weight. Also newer cars tend to develope more horsepower.
  • honushonus Posts: 17
    That is certainly a fair question (see #14) - one which I am unable to answer at the moment. I do know that in the category of economy sedans, the Corolla/Prizm has front and side air bags, impressive crash scores, superb fuel economy (31 City/41Hwy) and decent horsepower (roughly 125-130). So, at least in this vehicle, it is possible to maintain a desired balance of key features, except for cost, which fails my personal test of 12K or less; a base Prizm is priced around 15K (not including rebates or GM employee/credit card discounts, which can usually reduce the overall price by 3K). If only the Prizm was offered as a hatchback!
  • occupant1occupant1 Posts: 412
    The Corolla is offered as 2 and 4 door hatchbacks in other markets, but not in the US or Canada. The Corolla from 1984-1987 was offered as a 4-door hatchback. The Corolla FX from 1987-1988 was a 2-door hatchback. The Nova was offered as a 4-door hatchback form 1985-1988. The Prizm was also available as a 4-door hatchback from 1989-1992. Corolla wagons were available from 197x to 1983 and 1988 to 1995.
  • honushonus Posts: 17
    Hey, folks! I was in Boston on vacation and can vouch for what "occupant1" related to us. I saw with my own eyes, a Prizm hatchback. I first spotted this car from a distance, and immediately new that it was Corolla-related. It was a good looking vehicle. There is something about the shape of those 80s/early 90s Japanese hatchbacks that resonates with me. These older economy cars have a simple elegance to their design.

    I have browsed through the Prizm message board and have heard a similar sentiment regarding the older Nova/Prizms. The general impression there is that the newer Prizms are not as nice as the older ones, even though the new models have increased horsepower and amenities. Somehow, that characteristic tight Prizm build has been lost. I use to drive my parents' '85 Nova, and can remember the solid feel that was so impressive in such an inexpensive vehicle. I feel the same way about my Colt and hope that when the time comes, I can find a comparable hatchback to replace it with. As of now, the current selection is not very appealing in that the automakers focus more on horsepower and other luxury features. As I've said before, I would much rather have the old reliable 1.5 liter Mitsubishi or Toyota engine in a car with considerably less horsepower and Spartan amenities than the newer, more powerful 1.8 liter Prizm or 2.0(?) liter Mazda Protege/Hyundai Elantra hatchback (with standard leather seats).

    But alas, my definition of "economy vehicles" is different from that of the auto makers. I define this group as an inexpensive class of vehicle offering very basic amenities and 30 MPG or more in the city. But to the auto manufacturers, "economy" refers to any vehicle that costs less than a mid-size luxury sedan. I think that the average consumer who wants more features in their vehicles than what traditional economy cars have offered, are demanding a new category of "economy" vehicles priced under 20K yet offering all the bells and whistles found in the luxury vehicles. This is why today's hatchbacks are quasi-luxury in orientation.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    Early Novas and Prizms were remarkable cars. Still mourning the demise (two weeks ago) of my 87 Nova, but I couldn't wait around to see if the automatic transmission was really cooked so I bought an Elantra. My daughter still drives a 90 Prizm. In comparing a new Corolla with these two cars it seemed to me at least that in both cleverness and build quality that Toyota was backing up. It wasn't even close between the Elantra and the Corolla S I test drove, although the next generation Corolla should improve things a bit.

    I could say the same thing about 80's Civics. They were remarkably clever cars, especially the two wagons which were on the short list of vehicles I always wanted but never owned. The new ones are bland and less sophisticated than the previous generation.

    I also have fond memories of a 1982 Colt hatchback, nice straightforward car.

    Have never driven a second generation Accent hatch, but Hyundai's build quality is rapidly improving. That's a pretty basic, uncomplicated car, although availability as a 5 door would probably be appreciated.

    I must say, however, that driving the Elantra has made me appreciate remote locking, cruise, a decent air conditioner and all of the other things missing in my Nova.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    When I was about ten years old, I went down to my small town hardware store to buy a rod and reel. Shakespeare made two reels which were in stock. The cheap one had a plastic reel assembly, the expensive one was stainless steel. Since it was thinner it held more line. Not having the extra five bucks I bought the cheap plastic pooled model. Within days the plastic popped off and the expensive stainless steel spool assembly was underneath. Must have been marketing.

    Remember when digital clocks were first introduced? Some companies made cardboard digital assemblies that mechanically flipped numbers. I always wondered whether the cost of the mechanical units were greater than the cost of an electronic unit, but that "new" corrolated with expensive.

    Same with digital displays for clocks and radios, mid-eighties radios were analog on the low end, digital on the high end. What was the cost of that mechanical tuning assembly at that point?

    I wonder if the same thing applies today. Do power windows, mirrors and locks really cost a lot more than their mechanical counterparts? Obviously, both have mechanical mechanisms, but can small motors affect a simpler assembly than a crank mechanism. If this is the case, then a lot of the nostalgia is for basics that may never return, especially if the market dictates that doodads are really simpler to sell en masse.
  • honushonus Posts: 17
    I agree. Manufacturing costs undoubtedly determine the options available to the consumer.

    For example, the toaster I grew up with as a kid was from the early '60s, and it could brown toast in 20 seconds or less. My new toaster requires almost two minutes to produce the same effect. However, though this plastic appliance was surely cheaper to manufacture en masse than the stainless steel toasters of old, I would not consider this to be "progress" in toaster manufacturing. Same thing with the 80s Japanese economy vehicles (Colt/Mirage, Nova, Civic). I'm sure these older vehicles have some impractical hardware compared to today's models, yet, like that stainless steel toaster, I still prefer their build/material quality.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    I look back with fondness on my early eighties Colt. I was also trying to nurse along my mother-in-law's old 87 Nova when the transmission gave out on me forcing me to buy an Elantra GLS. I was waiting for the hatchback GT's and the Focus ZX5's to become (more) available.

    I've got to tell you that as simple and direct as those cars of the eighties were, that the new Elantra is much, much better. Including (as far as I can tell at this point) build quality.

    One troubling point in car quality in the last twenty years. During the eighties, Japanese cars were far ahead of American in build quality and creativity. Koreans (as witness the Hyundai Excel) generally stunk, although one of my favorite cars of all time was an 88 Ford Festiva.

    In purchasing the Elantra, I was struck by the fact that during the late nineties, both the quality and creativity of Japanese cars was actually decreasing. IMHO the last generation of Corolla/Prizm was far better than the present one. I test drove a Corolla S model before buying the Elantra and it wasn't even close. Same with a last generation Sentra that I drove for a week while my Elantra was having slight hail damage corrected--a competent but boring car. The newest generation Civic is also a step backward from the previous.

    Hopefully the new ties between Nissan and Renault will foster some really interesting Japanese cars, the new Altima certainly looks nice as does the new Mitsubishi Lancer. Europe also gets cars that we don't including interesting looking Corollas. Maybe an increased interest in hatchbacks will open the market a bit.
  • perry40perry40 Posts: 94
    The 88 Colt DL I once owned was light-years ahead of a very similar 94 Hyundai Excel that I also owned ... esp overall build-quality and reliability. The Excel was even supposed to have been based on a Mitsubishi design similar to the Colt ... but it couldn't compare, eventhough on the surface the 2 cars were nearly identical (different sheet metal ... I know!). The Excel was a dog, while the Colt was a gem!
    As for the Festiva previously mentioned ... as far as I know, they were manufactured by Kia, based on Mazda engineering and sold by Ford. Small and basic they may be, but I've heard they're very reliable (and inexpensive to own and operate).
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    In the late 80's the Festiva was highly reliable, the Excel bad, but not as bad as the Pontiac (Daewoo) LeMans. Mitsubishi also sold the Excel as the Precis. Remember that dog?

    Now things have flipped with the Koreans. Daewoo's quality was actually a bit above Hyundai until the last year or two. What's going on at this point I couldn't tell you because at least in the St. Louis area Daewoo's selling so poorly that they have damn few '01's in stock. I drove a Leganza and could have probably purchased one for less than the cost of my Elantra but who wants an orphan car?

    Hyundai's getting better and better, and Kia (with the exception of the Optima) has been bad as to quality. Hopefully Hyundai will continue to increase quality of the existing lines--I think the brake problems on the Sephia have lessened in the last year or so. My assumption is that the next generation will share platforms like the Optima/Sonata with the Kia taking the low cost end of the spectrum.

    Why the Festiva remained so good is a mystery. Perhaps it's the Mazda 121 engineering, perhaps Ford just insisted on a certain amount of quality. I doubt the latter because I owned an 86 Tempo and an 87 Mustang which essentially stunk. Unlike the Festiva, the Nova and the Colt, those are two cars that I DON'T feel any nostalgia for.
  • honushonus Posts: 17
    Hey, guys! - sorry for the self-imposed radio silence. I recently relocated from MI to OK, and am currently staying in a Ramada Inn, so I have not had access to the internet.

    I am totally regretting the lack of a/c in my '89 Colt (back then, a/c was an optional feature offered by American auto manufacturers). The temps here have been in the 100s.

    Csandste - that is interesting to hear that you believe the build quality of the Hyundai Elantra is better than the Colt and Nova. I have never test-driven Hyundai vehicles, so I cannot dispute of confirm your opinion. My one dissatisfaction with the Elantra GT (hatchback) is that it is a bit pricey for what I expect in an economical vehicle. Personally, I have no need for leather seats for a car in this category, but I must be in the minority.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    Selling a base 5 door hatch without all of the GT add-ons and selling it for the same price as the GLS would make a lot of sense IMHO. At first I didn't like the base upholstery in the GLS, but I've gotten used to it, especially in the gray.

    BTW-- I saw the new Mitsu. Lancer on the lot, but didn't drive it. Very nice car. Japanese regressed during the late nineties as they tried to meet price points. Maybe things are turning around and more interesting cars are on the way.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    By build quality I meant that the car was more substantial and less boring. Although Hyundai is closing the gap, I think the Corolla/Prizm will still score above the Elantra in things like J.D. Power ratings for problems per car. From memory, I think that the Elantra and the Civic were fairly close this year in J.D. Power initial quality ratings. This was more because of the Civic's deterioration than the Elantras progress, however.
  • honushonus Posts: 17
    Oh, I agree with you about that. The Prizm and Nova are indeed boring compared to today's economy class - especially their Spartan interiors. The guys at Edmunds apparently hold this against the Prizm, while conversely, praising the Elantra (sedan) for its many offerings. I, for one, do no require anything more than what I already have in my '89 Colt, which is not much. It has vinyl seats, no air, no cig. lighter, no tachometer, no cruise control, no power steering, no CD/cassette player, etc. If I had my druthers, I would prefer that it came with a/c and cloth seats, but other than that, I am very pleased with the car and hope that it lasts me several more years (not likely given its age). When it does die on me, I will have a difficult time finding a good hatchback replacement. Hopefully the Rio wagon will be as reliable as my Colt. Better yet - hopefully the Toyota echo will be offered as a hatch. Even though I have GM discounts, I am convinced that the Pontiac Vibe will be priced over 15K. Who knows, I may end up with the Elantra GT given the rave reviews for this vehicle. I reckon I could get use to those leather seats!
  • mykem1mykem1 Posts: 29
    Got one with 77K miles. Love it, but just upgraded due to a new baby on the way. Have had it since 94 (second owner), and it has been great. Some repairs, but it never stranded me. Still gets great gas mileage.

    I was reading through the posts here, and completely agree with all of you. I went out and looked for a replacement in the Protege5, Elantra GT, and drooled over the Vibe. The Golf is hardly a replacement and the Forrester and similar models are way too overpriced for the value. If they still made these in the States, I would have bought another.

    So what did I get? Couldn't wait for the Vibe (but I still want one), so I gave up the gas mileage and got an Aztek. They are practically giving them away and I got a loaded one for less than a Forrester (really like the Forrester BTW, just didn't see paying that much). Aztek has same config as the Vista (hatch, removeable back seat, etc), just a bigger scale and, ahem, "bolder" styling. And, it will pull a boat where my Vista will not.

    Mine is the 1.8L, with auto and air. Has rear defog, rear wiper, power mirrors, and CD. Live in Columbus, OH and am asking $3,000.

    Best of luck to the rest of you owners, may yours bring you the same reliability and utility mine has.
  • I recently purchased a "decent" '88 Nova on E-Bay for a "commuter" car and noticed a few mentions of Novas in this town hall.

    Can anyone give me some info on this vehicle as far as reliability and economy. How is the ease of maintenance, etc..?

    I did have a 1986 Colt E sedan about two years ago until the tranny froze-up and now regret junking it (cheap transportation). are the two similar?
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    I bought my mother-in-law's for $1000, stuck a few hundred for repainting and brakes and had the transmission blow within 5K. However, I really, really liked that car! Like the Colts of that era a basically straight ahead vehicle, although I would guess it to be more reliable given its Toyota roots. I generally hate automatic transmissions (especially on a car with 150K)-- if it had a 5-speed I'd still be driving it. Always liked Novas/Prizms better than their Corolla counterpoints except for the most recent platform which is essentially the same. I think the 93-97 Prizm was the best of all Corollas.
  • vsheavshea Posts: 3
    Just found this board and am taking the opportunity to reminisce... My very first car was a 1980 Dodge Colt, the one with the 2x4 transmission. That was a peppy little car! Really fun to drive. Sadly, it was rear-ended by a Beetle and totaled. Does anyone else remember that 2x4 transmission? It was really good for squeezing a lot of performance out of a tiny little engine. Was it just too strange to catch on, or was there some other reason why it disappeared?

    After the Colt, I got an '83 Escort (blechhhh, worst car I ever drove), then finally an '88 Corolla FX hatchback, a GREAT car. I drove it for 9 years. If I weren't looking for a carpooler car now (probably a minivan, sigh), I might be looking at one of the Saab or Subaru 4-door hatchbacks.
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