The cars we loved.
The Dodge Mirada was a mid-sized personal luxury coupe in the mode of the Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The Mirada was built from the same rear wheel drive platform that the Chrysler Cordoba came from. Unlike the Cordoba, the Mirada had a shortened wheel base and was a 800 pounds lighter, making it a much more lively car to drive. The Mirada’s sleek, almost graceful design made it one of the more attractive cars in the segment, but Chrysler, deep in financial trouble at the time, seemed unable to capitalize on it. The Mirada was marketed as the sporty side of the J platform while the Cordoba with its Corinthian leather was the obvious choice for luxury.
The 1980 model year featured a downsized platform for the Cordoba and marked the first year the Mirada was introduced. It replaced the crude by sporty Dodge Magnum. The personal sport-luxury coupe was a very popular segment and was dominated by domestic
auto makers. The Mirada was offered with a range of engines from a 3.7 L Slant 6 to a 5.9 L V8. The V6 was the base engine for the Mirada with a 5.2 L V8 being optional. The Larger 5.9 was only offered in 1980 in a limited run CMX model. Although sporty in nature, the Mirada could be ordered with a long list of luxury options including leather bucket seats, sunroof, T-bar roof and a stereo featuring a cassette. There was even an option for a sport steering wheel that was similar to those on classic Mopar muscle cars of the 60’s.
The suspension of this car was typical of domestics of the time: transverse torsion bars, leaf springs and sway bars. If you were daring, you might choose the Sport handling Package with its heavy-duty shock absorbers and front and rear anti-sway bars. All Mirada’s came with 15” wheels (large for the time) with optional aluminum polish ten spoke rims.
For a short time to increase exposure and boost sales, the Mirada was raced in NASCAR. It was largely unsuccessful. Dispite its sleek angular look, its aerodynamics were poor on the track and there was a lack of race ready parts. The Mirada was produced in small numbers and was a rare sight even in its heyday. It probably did not help sales that Chrysler changed the Mirada so little in its production run. While not as refined as the Monte Carlo or the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, the Mirada was still somewhat more fun to drive. It’s shorter wheel base may have contributed to an unstable ride under less than ideal road conditions, but the press was kind (if not forgiving) and buyers were there when dealers had them in stock.
The Mirada was replaced by the lackluster Dodge 600 in 1984. The 600 was supposed to be Chrysler’s answer to European imports, but looked more like a smaller version of the Mirada, but without it’s big V8 and rear wheel drive.