Between about 1974 and 1985, American cars were almost universally awful. Indeed, that decade or so is now called the ‘malaise era’.
The Dodge Mirada, launched in 1980, is a classic case in point. Dodge’s version of Chrysler’s J-body coupe, it was sold as a sporty, mid-size personal luxury coupe. Now, let’s break down everything that’s wrong with that last sentence.
Was it sporty? No. Sure, you could have a 5.9-litre V8 engine, but thanks to choking emissions regulations and fuel like Fairy Liquid, it produced all of 185bhp. Most were sold with a straight-six engine that put out 90. In a car that weighed 1,500kg.
Mid-size? Again, no. I mean, maybe in an American context, but it was 17 and-a-half feet long. And yet despite being so huge the interior was tiny. Which brings us to…
Personal luxury coupe, a hugely popular sector at the time but cringe-worthy now. Essentially, such cars had three miles of bonnet at the front, enough boot space for the entire world’s golf clubs, and barely enough interior space for four. At least they sat in comfort on buttoned, fake leather armchairs that offered precisely no support at all in corners, surrounded by Formica ‘wood’ trim.
Like every other American car at the time, the Mirada was over-sized, underpowered, under-developed and badly made. Worse, Dodge indulged in out-right fakery with it. Rather than go to all the hassle of building an actual convertible version, they instead came up with the ‘cabriolet roof’ model pictured here. This translates exactly as ‘vinyl roof’.
Fortunately, not many people were fooled. Only 53,000 Miradas were sold in four years and it’s now almost completely forgotten. As are most malaise era cars.
By Only Motors