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Dodge Diplomat

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Dodge Diplomat
Dodge
Production 1977 - 1989
Class Intermediate
Body Style 2-Door Coupe
4-Door Sedan
5-Door Wagon
Length 204.6"
Width 72.4"
Height 55.1"
Wheelbase: 108.7 in
112.7 in
Weight 3200 - 3500 lb
Transmissions 4-Speed Manual, RWD
3-Speed Automatic, RWD
Engines 3.7L (225 cid) I6 (1977-1983)
5.2L (318 cid) V8 (1977-1989)
5.9L (360 cid) V8 (1977-1980)
Power 90-155 hp
Similar Chrysler LeBaron
Chrysler Fifth Avenue
Plymouth Gran Fury
Platform M

The Dodge Diplomat was introduced in 1977 alongside the Chrysler LeBaron as more upscale twins to the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare, no doubt spurred by the success of the Cadillac Seville that was introduced a year earlier. The Diplomat shared the same drivetrain and chassis of the Aspen, as well as exterior and interior dimensions. The "Dip" was initially available as a 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan and a 5-door wagon, but after 1981 only the sedan would survive. Throughout 80s, the Diplomat would eventually become the darling of the police and taxi fleets throughout the U.S.

An interesting fact about the Diplomat (and LeBaron) is that they were known as M-bodies, whereas the Aspen and Volare were F-bodies, even though they shared the exact same platform. Perhaps this was done to differentiate the differences between the Diplomat and Aspen, but it's not really known why Chrysler chose to do this. The Diplomat would be offered all the way through the 1989 model year to be supplanted by the K-car based Dynasty.

Here's a quick rundown:

1977-1989

The Diplomat's inaugural year, it differed from its lesser Aspen twin mainly in its exterior styling and fancier interior appointments. Engine choices also mirrored the Aspen, the 110 hp 225 Slant-6 was standard, but the 140 hp 318 2bbl V8 was a more popular option, and more suited to the Diplomat's upscale image. The 155 hp 360 2bbl V8 was also an option. A 3-speed manual was standard on the Slant-6, and a 4-speed was available on the Slant-6 and 318, but the automatic was only available on the 360. Most Dips were equipped with the automatic transmission, as a manual transmission surely seemed a bit out of character for such a car. T-bar roof (T-tops) were available on the coupes. The Diplomat became Dodge's second-best selling car for 1977 behind the Aspen.

Not many changes at all for the Dip's second year, other than new colors. Automatic transmissions gained lockup torque converters on non-heavy duty applications. Sales remained high but the Dip got knocked down to third place this year with the introduction of the new subcompact Omni. In 1979 the largest visual change was on the coupes, they sported a new, smaller and more formal rear quarter window. The 318 and 360 V8s gained a 4-barrel carburetor option, but all other drivetrain choices remained the same.

The Diplomat received its first (and only) restyling in 1980, becoming more squared off and a little less glitzy from previous versions, and would remain the quintessential Diplomat style until the end of 1989. Just like the Aspen, the coupes this year rode a smaller 108.7" wheelbase, while the sedan and wagon still rode the same 112.7" wheelbase. The Slant-6 lost its 2bbl carburetor this year and reverted back to a 1bbl, resulting in a horsepower drop to 90. The 318s and 360 continued as before, but all Dips would come with an automatic transmission this year - no more manuals (which were rarely ordered anyway). 1981 would hold no visual changes, but the 360 V8 was now available only on police and taxi fleet models. Due to the Aspen's departure this year, the Diplomat would now become Dodge's lone intermediate model, which meant it was now (and would remain) a popular choice among police and taxi fleets.

The largest visual change for 1982 was the addition of the Chrysler pentastar badge over the exterior trunklid key lock. Also the Diplomat line was greatly simplified this year, as the coupe and wagon are discontinued - only the 4-door sedan remained. Now that the full-size St. Regis was gone, the Diplomat was now Dodge's largest car. Plymouth now grafted the Gran Fury nameplate on a Diplomat clone, which was indistinguishable from the Dip at more than 10 paces distance. In 1983, the 318 V8 lost its 4bbl carb option on the "civilian" (non-fleet) models. Everything else remained the same. For 1984, all radios went digital with an integrated clock. The Slant-6 was discontinued that year, the sole engine option for all models (including the fleet models) was the 140 hp 318 2bbl V8 and 3-speed automatic transmission. Dodge introduced an SE package this year, which included the Chrysler Fifth Avenue's front end, but had a crossbar in the grille (actually a sign of things to come for Dodge, as most Dodge models today use that same crossbar grille design in some shape or form). Other models remained the same.

1985 saw virtually no changes, and for 1986, other than the required Center High Mounted Stop Lamp, there were no changes that year either. 1987s had a new steering wheel, but that was pretty much it. 1988 models would have a driver's side air bag that would be phased in mid-year, becoming one of the first cars made in the U.S. that would have an air bag as standard equipment. Civilian sales were barely a blip on the sales radar by now, but the Diplomat would still remain a popular choice among police and taxi fleets, due to its inexpensive and proven sturdy design.

1989s had no changes at all as the Diplomat finally reached the end of the line. The K-car based Dynasty (introduced in 1988) would become the Diplomat's successor as Dodge's largest passenger car in 1990, although Dodge would not offer a police package on the Dynasty. The Diplomat would become the last rear-drive Dodge passenger sedan until the 2006 Dodge Charger, which itself offered a police package in 2007.

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