Half-Car Fever – 1983 Plymouth Scamp

In the early 1980s, half-cars were a popular way for manufacturers to offer the flexibility of a pickup truck with the fuel economy of a compact car. For competition, there were the VW Rabbit Sportruck and the Subaru Brat, as well as the slightly larger Chevrolet El Camino and Ford Durango. Like the Sportruck, the Rampage/Scamp twins were based on their hatchback sibling, the Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon. Although the half-car concept was a certain success in the gas crisis years of the 1970s and early 1980s, Chrysler was only able to sell about 30,000 Rampages from 1982-84. The Scamp was only sold in 1983, and of all Scamps, the GT is the rarest – of about 3600 built, only 1300 were the GT version. To see one example of this future Barrett Jackson success story, check out this 1983 Plymouth Scamp GT, with bidding currently at $2550 and 8 hours left to go in Louisville, KY. Buy it now and you’ll have Hawaiian-shirted, trophy-wife-toting Gen-Xers lined up around the block to buy yours in 2040!

1983 Plymouth Scamp right front

Who knows why the seller would call this a base version in the listing subtitle? This thing is loaded! Multi-color stripes, GT badges, bright red paint, wide chrome wheels, well-padded seats – this dry Western car is anything but base. While a wheel update is definitely an improvement on this car (maybe not chrome, but that’s your call once you buy it), you’ll want to make sure and ask if the seller still has the original wheels to please future originality freaks.

1983 Plymouth Scamp left rear

Often these are faded and beaten, but this one looks unexpectedly clean and sporting. The body is straight and shiny, and the seats are more luxurious than you’d expect in this class, although everything should be taken with a grain of salt due to the poor quality of the photos. The hideous (but original – who designed that thing?) steering wheel should be replaced, but the interior of this cruck (half-car? half-truck? car-truck? trar?) looks to be in excellent condition. It’s enough to make you believe the 74,000 indicated miles are accurate.

1983 Plymouth Scamp interior

The 2.2-liter engine, paired with a 5-speed transmission, should provide adequate power, and was able to haul slightly over half a ton. Of course, Chrysler also produced a turbocharged version of this engine – could one of those, perhaps from an Omni GLH, fit in here? The seller says it runs fine and drives well, although the picture makes it look like there might be some old fire damage. Either way, with the car parked in a storage complex, you should plan on doing some catch-up maintenance.

1983 Plymouth Scamp engine

All kidding aside, this looks like a fun little obscurity for which you can get parts in any local parts store. And with a turbo 2.2 upgrade, you might even surprise a new car or two!


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2 Responses to “Half-Car Fever – 1983 Plymouth Scamp”

  1. Dan D Says:

    Very cool but desperately needs some difference wheels….

  2. steve in podunk Says:

    and that Turbo motor out of a Daytona or some such would be pretty killer in this lil’ tomato can

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