The cars we loved.
The Plymouth Arrow was the early fruit of a what would become a decades long collaboration with Mitsubishi. The Arrow was more or less an extension of the Mitsubishi Lancer and Dodge Colt (another car produced by Mitsubishi for Chrysler). Introduced in
1975, it was intended to bolster Chrysler’s small car offerings during the post fuel crisis era. A time when Americans were abandoning their big domestics and considering smaller imports. On the lower end of the line but above the Colt/Cricket, the Arrow was an efficient 2 door fastback coupe with a sporty hatchback design. It was offered in 160, GS and GT forms with a choice of four or five speed manual or three speed automatic transmissions. Mitsubishi did not sell its own version of the car, but a similar car called the Celeste was sold in Japan.
The Arrow’s overall shape was a response to the wedge craze that swept through automotive design during the 70’s (see Triumph TR7 and Alfa GTV). The Arrow layout was a rather conventional rear wheel drive layout with leaf springs in the rear and MacPherson struts in front. It was initially powered by a choice of two inline 4 cylinder engines (1.6 or 2.0) with up to 89hp.
The cars great gas milage, sporty shape and light weight made it a favorite for the public, which during that time did not have much to be excited about at Chrysler dealerships. The five speed manual 160 model was advertised as getting 39 mpg on the highway and 24 in the city – at just under $4,000. For a small car, it had a well appointed interior with a console, tachometer and soft trim steering wheel. The seats were often a two color design with a pattern in the middle.
Plymouth,in an attempt to capture the spirit of its muscle car heyday, made some versions of the Arrow GT available with a paint package that was vaguely reminiscent of the 71 Barracuda, with its large solid black decal option covering the bottom half of the car. Flashy graphics aside, the Arrow had already established itself as a sporting machine by the time the Fire Arrow was introduced in 1979. It had four wheel disc brakes and featured the best horsepower to weight ratio of any U.S. production car at the time. It was not uncommon to see Arrows in rallying, SCCA and drag racing events.
Small styling changes continued while a rather large 2.6 L 4 was added to 1980’s Fire Arrow giving it 108hp! Just before its end, a pickup truck version of the Arrow was available, although it shared little mechanically with the coupe. The pickup later became the D-50 and Mighty Max twins. By 1981, the Arrow was replaced by the Plymouth Sapporo/Dodge Challenger, another Mitsubishi produced car. Eventually the DNA of the Sapporo/Challenger would go on to inspire the Mitsubishi Starion.