When drivers think of the term IROC, they often think of the Camaro IROC. But there was another sports car early in the 1990s that also had the IROC banner attached to the side. That car was the modest Dodge Daytona sports coupe, and the IROC package was the final hurrah for it. Chevrolet lost the naming rights to the IROC Championship around this period and Chrysler was quick to catch them up (via The Truth About Cars).
The Daytona IROC had a unique appearance for the time as well as a refreshed front fascia. The car was much more modern looking than it had been in previous years, and that made things alright. Performance was also a lot better than it had been in recent years, but the car was never a slouch in the performance department. For the most part, the Dodge Daytona IROC R/T was a comfortable and well-appointed sports car. You can find one of these for next to nothing, and they’re still a great ride.
Now, this is a rarity right here. You’ve probably never seen one of these little compacts on the road, but they exist. The Plymouth Sundance Duster wasn’t a highly marketed sports car or a sports car at all. But what it did have was a 3.0 L V6 engine that was crammed into a lightweight and compact package. Utilizing the tried and true method of the muscle car era by cramming a big engine into a little body (via All Par).
Few cars drove as well as the Sundance Duster, and the fact that it was relatively obscure made it the perfect sleeper car. The compact two-door design can still seat five passengers, and there were a few paint options to choose from. Duster badging can be seen in various points around the car, and the name has Plymouth heritage attached. The Sundance Duster can be had for less than $5,000 and it’s a great commuter car that packs a punch.
When Chrysler released the original Dodge Dakota, it changed the game when it came to the compact pickup truck segment. Not only was the Dakota the first “midsize” truck ever built, but it was also the first truck in this segment to have a V8 engine. The Dakota 5.9 R/T was a performance package added to the Dakota lineup. Available in a single cab or extended cab configuration, the truck also had a few appearance upgrades (via Motor Biscuit).
Even to this day, the Dakota 5.9 R/T is an under-the-radar type of truck. You’ll never see this truck coming until it passes you. The sound of the 5.9L V8 engine is unmistakable for a Dodge, and it’s one of Chrysler’s best engines. The resale values for this generation of the Dakota are fairly reasonable. You can find a decent 5.9 R/T that has been well cared for and will provide years of carefree driving.
The Crossfire was a great car that unfortunately suffered from some questionable styling choices. Mercedes-Benz innovated the engineering behind the car. Much of what’s under the hood is shared with the SLK sports car. But Chrysler went with an overtly oval design for the Crossfire, and this wasn’t a hit with consumers. The car had some interesting features such as a spoiler that would lift up after 40 MPH (via Motor Biscuit).
The car design was notably one of its first downfalls. The bubble back look and distinct front end weren’t enough to drive customers into the showroom. There was also a convertible version of the car that wasn’t popular. The car has become a classic among enthusiasts, but the resale value has depreciated quite a bit. You can find a decent ample of the Crossfire for under $5,000.
By the mid-2000s, the station wagon was a relic of the past. There were a few wagons on the market at the time, but they were generally a specialty car. Chrysler soon introduced the Dodge Magnum. The Magnum was a station wagon, but it was meant to reinvigorate the segment. With a tough-looking design and a powerful Hemi V8 engine, the Magnum was anything but the average station wagon (via Car & Driver).
The Magnum was a sales flop for Dodge, but the fact that you could get a Hemi V8 in a wagon made the car interesting. The depreciation of the Magnum was devastating for the seller anyway. You can find one of these in decent shape for far less than $5,000. For the price tag, you get a car that’s based on the same platform as the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300C. Coupled with Hemi power and moderately attractive looks, the Magnum is a muscle car bargain.
Now this is a truly unique car drivers aren’t bound to see often. The Rampage was a compact car/pickup truck sold in the 1980s. The compact design and fuel efficient engine made the Rampage ideal for customers who needed the versatility of a pickup truck with the gas mileage of a car. The design wasn’t exceptionally great looking, but it’s definitely in tune with this era. If you’ve always wanted a Subaru Brat without the high price tag, a Rampage can be had for much less (via Driving Line).
There was also a lesser-known Plymouth version of the Rampage that was known as the Plymouth Scamp. These trucks are relatively inexpensive to find and the parts are cheap to repair. The truck bed is actually quite long, which means you can haul lumber and other things fairly easily. The Rampage is a unique project car that’s enough to get a fair amount of looks and attention.
The Dodge 600 is a relatively unknown luxury sedan sold for a short period in America. This was the sedan drivers got before the Dynasty hit the market in the late 1980s. The interesting thing about the 600 was its long wheelbase and roomy interior. The fairly plush ride was another excellent advantage of this car. The performance was adequate for the time period, although the 600 wasn’t a V8-powered sedan (via Bring a Trailer).
Only about 300,000 of these were built during a short period. If you can find one in decent condition, you won’t have to spend a lot on it. These cars are moderately reliable and the parts are cheap. Chrysler cars from this period were often reliable and easy to work on. Plus, the fact that it is a Dodge 600 will make the car a novelty item wherever you go.
The Monaco is one of the first cars that blossomed from Chrysler purchasing AMC. Originally based on a Renault model, the Monaco was only sold for a short period. The sedan was quite large, and the French engineering that went into made for a great ride. The performance was also not lacking either. The problem is that this car was not that popular, and thus there weren’t many of them sold (via Autoweek).
Finding a Monaco from this period can be a difficult task. They weren’t the most reliable cars and that caused a lot of them to disappear. But you can find them for a cheap price, and they make for a great ride. The interior is incredibly roomy and styling wasn’t bad. Chrysler used the same technology from this model in their own cars later down the line.
The Neon was one of the most popular compact cars of the 1990s. Its forward-thinking design was ahead of its time. The base Neon had better performance and road manners than the competing Civics and Corollas of the time. The interior was a lot roomier than the same cars in this class. The ACR was a special stripped-down performance version of the Neon sold to SCCA members in 1994 (via Motor 1).
Because the Neon in general has depreciated so badly, you can find one of these for low prices. Parts for the Neon are easy to come by and there is a great community of enthusiasts online for this car. While you might think a performance-oriented Neon will set you back, that isn’t the case.
Another variation of the compact Neon popular in the late 1990s was the R/T. The two-door coupe wore Dodge Viper racing stripes and came in two distinct paint jobs. The DOHC engine propelled the tiny car with authority. Because it was a Neon, the reliability was actually decent on this car. The interior was also specially designed for the Neon R/T with specific seats and instrument panel (via Road & Track).
Although it’s a two-door car, you can fit four people in the Neon R/T. The styling of the Neon R/T has made it a timeless classic. The car still looks good today, and there are plenty of aftermarket mods drivers can get for it. With a little work, you can have a compact car that will become a classic. The resale value for these has depreciated significantly and you can still find them with low mileage.
Lee Iacocca was instrumental in turning the Chrysler Corporation around in the 1980s and ’90s. But he had a problem with the Chrysler brand in particular. He felt the brand didn’t have a firm focus or consumer base. He wanted to rid Chrysler of its “blue collar” image to compete with Cadillac and Buick. The plan was to partner with Maserati and create a type of sports car (via Motor Trend).
The Chrysler TC was based on the LeBaron and shortened quite a bit. Instead of having a usable backseat, the car is a two-seater. The engine was a traditional Chrysler power plant and much of what the car had to offer wasn’t unique. There were also many recalls that affected the earlier models. All this combined to create a luxury car that no one wanted. Thus, the TC went to the garbage bin pretty quickly after launch.
Dodge was deep into the NASCAR circuit in the mid-2000s and the Intrepid sedan was the body that the company chose. To commemorate this and the fact that Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove a Dodge car sponsored by Budweiser, the company commissioned the Intrepid R/T. In addition to a much larger motor, the Intrepid R/T also got the exterior treatment. This included a ground effects kit and larger wheels (via Car & Driver).
The performance of the Intrepid wasn’t breathtaking but wasn’t bad either. The sedan was still reasonably sized and competitively priced. These R/T models haven’t held their value at all, but drivers still see them from time to time. The R/T model was sold until 2004, when the Dodge Magnum replaced the car. If you’re a Mopar fan, the Intrepid R/T can still be a steal.
Once again, we’re back to the Mitsubishi partnership. Here we have the Stealth based on the Mitsubishi 3000GT. The Dodge variant was far less well known, which means the prices on these come down all the time. The Stealth R/T had the twin-turbo engine and a luxurious interior. When you compare the Stealth to the Toyota Supra of the same time period, their performance was comparable (via Car & Driver).
Drivers won’t get an exotic riding experience but the Stealth can definitely hold its own. The later model Stealths were much better looking with a modern exterior. Dodge never marketed the Stealth all that much, so the owners usually took care of them. The Stealth might be one of the most unique sports cars to carry a Dodge badge.
The original Avenger – not the new model that failed in the late 2000s – was a great car. With a two-door design, it boasted a seemingly modern exterior and a lot of performance. The large V6 engine propelled the car with authority. The styling was quintessential Dodge from this time period, and it still holds up (via Edmunds).
Although the first generation of the Avenger did not sell well, the car has a loyal following. Many of the parts under the hood come from Mitsubishi. The performance won’t knock you off your feet, but it’s no slouch either. The best part is that a used Dodge Avenger can generally be found for extremely low prices. These cars were fairly reliable and required little maintenance to stay on the road.
The original Sebring coupe was a unique car when it hit the market. Utilizing the same platform and body as the Dodge Avenger, the car had a more upscale look. The luxury continued inside with wood trim and leather seating and there was an optional sunroof. The V6 engine in this car also drove amazing, considering what else was on the market. Chrysler made sure to incorporate a large trunk that can hold just about anything (via Car & Driver).
The original Sebring won’t win any style debates, but the car is handsome. Coupled with the decent list of standard features, you can’t go wrong. The Sebring was one of the more underrated cars in the 1990s. Its strong styling and excellent performance make the Sebring a one-of-a-kind bargain.
Believe it or not – and you might not – the Chrysler 300M was a great car. At a time when the market for sedans was heating up, the 300M was welcomed relief. It was a luxurious sedan with a chiseled exterior appearance and a reasonable price tag. This was also before cars cost an arm and a leg and the 300M was reasonably equipped. There was even a performance model with a few unique features (via Car & Driver).
Because the 300M shared its body with the Dodge Intrepid, the interior was spacious. This 300M can comfortably seat four people on a trip. The interior was some of Chrysler’s best work from this time period. The quality of the materials was top-notch and still holds up today.
Chrysler knows how to release a car at the wrong time and the Aspen was released at the wrong time. The luxurious SUV hit the market during one of the worst economic recessions in history. Gas prices were sky high. Also, this SUV was based on the Durango, which itself was quite aged by this point. Consumers weren’t blind to the fact that this was just another Durango (via Motor Trend).
The Hemi V8 engine was a nice touch, and the interior was very upscale compared to the Dodge. Depreciation has been harsh to the Aspen, and you can snag one of these for nothing nowadays. Many luxury features in the Aspen were later adapted to other Chrysler vehicles.
Chrysler built many cars during the ’90s, but one of the most unique was the LHS. The large luxury sedan boasted one of the best interiors around. The high-quality leather was stitched throughout the car. The LHS is one of the last full-size American sedans made. With that came the fact that you could seat six people in this. The performance wasn’t bad and gas mileage was decent (via The Truth About Cars).
You won’t win a race in the LHS, but it drives like a dream. Especially when you take the big beast on the road or on the highway. The LHS was built for a while before being discontinued. You can find these for very low prices, and you’ll have a great car that’s comfortable to drive and enjoy.
Much like the Dodge Dakota 5.9 R/T, there was also a Durango version of the truck. The Durango had some advantages, one of which was the seven-passenger seating. The performance of the 5.9 R/T is seldom matched to this day. The interior was roomier than it looked, and the cargo space wasn’t bad either. Because the Durango is an actual truck based SUV, it handles off-road conditions perfectly (via Auto Trader).
The 5.9 R/T is much easier to come by than the Dakota version. These were available in a few cars, and it won’t take much to get it on the road. The Durango was always a handsome SUV model, and the 5.9 R/T makes it even better. You won’t find a seven-passenger SUV like the Durango even nowadays.
Finally, the rarity that was the PT Cruiser GT. What was once one of the most popular cars on the market, the PT Cruiser quickly became outdated. The car was an attempt at Chrysler to catch in on the popularity of the VW New Beetle. Buyers immediately responded to the car, and initial feedback was positive. The PT Cruiser Turbo came out a few years later and it did the job right (via Hagerty).
The styling of the PT Cruiser turbo was also fairly easy to figure out. The interior was roomy, and there’s a huge aftermarket community dedicated to the car. Chrysler did a great job with the original PT Cruiser, and the car can be a lot of fun. The PT Cruiser was a cultural phenomenon in many ways, and the car is still popular today.