This 1980 Dodge Omni is Actually a DeTomaso Sports Coupe

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Alejandro de Tomaso was a man of many talents—from racing cars to building them—and over the course of his life, the Argentinian produced monumental designs like the sleek Vallelunga, Mangusta, and crowd-favorite Pantera. 

By comparison, the late-‘70s/early-‘80s Dodge Omni isn’t exactly of the same pedigree as those Italian sports cars, though a few of these cars still bear the DeTomaso moniker. This 1980 Dodge Omni 024 is one of them, and although it’s a DeTomaso in name rather than performance, it’s still an interesting example of ‘80s automotive history.

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The front-wheel drive Dodge Omni made its North American landfall in 1978, based on the bones of the European Simca Horizon, and by 1979 it had spawned a sleeker, sportier three-door version…known as the Omni 024. This car would go on to form the ‘80s rebirth of the Dodge Charger, but before it did, Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca called on his friend, Alejandro de Tomaso, to give the car some added pizzaz.

The DeTomaso visual package followed in 1980, and it included a choice of colors—Graphic Red or Bright Yellow—along with a black front air dam, grille, wheel flares, rear window louvers, lip spoiler, a wraparound brushed-metal roof band, a set of genuinely eye-catching alloy wheels, and a festooning of “DeTomaso” badges.

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Inside, the DeTomaso Omni 24 netted black interior trim and fittings, bucket seats, a Rallye instrument cluster, dash plaque, and the user’s end of a four-speed manual gearbox. The powerplant? That was a 1.7-liter Volkswagen four-cylinder, which summoned all of 65 horsepower.

1,333 Dodge Omni 024 DeTomaso coupes were built for 1980, followed by a rarer-still 619 for 1981 (and offered the 2.2-liter Chrysler four-cylinder). This car recently popped up on eBay, and has admittedly had its fair share of bumps and bruises—a bash on the driver’s side front quarter panel, a replaced passenger’s side panel, and an ill-fitting hood. Nevertheless, there’s something strangely appealing about these cars and their shouty ‘80s decals.

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