The cars we loved.

1976 – 1980 Plymouth Arrow

1977 Plymouth Arrow GS

1977 Plymouth Arrow GS

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.

1977 Plymouth Arrow GT

1980 Plymouth Fire Arrow



6 comments on “1976 – 1980 Plymouth Arrow

  1. Ed Steffen
    February 22, 2016

    I purchased a 1977 Plymouth Arrow GT for my first car. It was equipped with the larger inline 4 cylinder engine and a 5 speed manual. I remember it being a 2.6 liter but you say the 2.6 was added as the Fire Arrow in 1980? I’m pretty sure I’m correct because I traded in the Arrow for a Dodge D50 pickup in 1980 with the same 2.6 liter. I loved my Arrow it was really fast for the time and is why I got the D50 with the same engine.

    • autopolis
      February 22, 2016

      I’m pretty certain the 2.6 was only offered for the last few years of the Arrow in the United States. Before the 1980 model year the largest engine was a 2.0. My father had a ’77 GT with a 5 speed transmission. I always thought it was fun to ride in.

      • MrFixit
        April 14, 2016

        The 2.6 litre engine was available in 1979 and maybe earlier. I owned a 79 fire arrow.

  2. Edward Steffen
    April 27, 2016

    I’m a little confused. No really. I purchased a new 1976 Plymouth Arrow GT in late ’76 or early ’77 it was equipped with a five speed and the Engine was the 2.6 liter but what I’ve read about the Arrow it all says that the optional engine for the GT was the 2.0 liter. I’m positive I’m correct as I sold it and purchased a 1979 Dodge D50 pickup with the same engine. And when Chrysler came out with the K-car I suggested to my father to forgo the Volkswagen engine and get the Mitsubishi 2.6 I remember when the refresh to the Arrow was done in ’79 and they brought out the Fire Arrow with the 2.6 but like I said mine was a 2.6. Can you TRY to unconfuse me? 😕😕

    • autopolis
      April 27, 2016

      I think you have me confused:) Much of my information came from my collection of car brochures and various sources on the internet. It’s quite possible that certain engines listed in sales material was available near the end of a run of the previous years model. However I don’t have information on production runs to confirm that. I always thought the Fire Arrow (from 1979 onward) was the one with the 2.6. It replaced the 2.0 sometime around 1979 as the largest engine.

  3. samjj64
    October 4, 2016

    I also had a 1976 Plymouth Arrow GT with a 2.6 liter. I know that’s what it was because at one point I rebuilt the engine myself.

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This entry was posted on October 7, 2009 by in 70's Cars, Mitsubishi, Plymouth and tagged , , .
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