Dodge Spirit

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Dodge Spirit
1991-1992 base-model Dodge Spirit
ManufacturerChrysler Corporation
Also calledChrysler Spirit
Plymouth Acclaim
Chrysler LeBaron
Chrysler Saratoga
AssemblyNewark, Delaware, USA
Toluca, Mexico
PredecessorDodge 600
Dodge Aries
Dodge Lancer
SuccessorDodge Stratus
Body style(s)4-door sedan
LayoutFF layout
Engine(s)2.2 L Turbo III I4
2.5 L K I4
2.5 L Turbo I4
3.0 L Mitsubishi 6G72 V6
Transmission(s)5-speed A523 manual
5-speed A568 manual
3-speed A413 automatic
3-speed A670 automatic
4-speed A604 automatic
Wheelbase1989-1990: 103.3 in (2624 mm)
1991-95: 103.5 in (2629 mm)
Length181.2 in (4602 mm)
Width1991-95: 68.1 in (1730 mm)
1989-1990: 67.3 in (1709 mm)
Height53.5 in (1359 mm)
Curb weight2,901 lb (1,316 kg)
RelatedChrysler LeBaron
Chrysler Saratoga
Plymouth Acclaim
ManualsService Manual

The Dodge Spirit was introduced in January 1989 as a mid-size 5/6 passenger sedan by Dodge. It immediately replaced the similarly sized 600.[1] Many automotive references also regard the Spirit as the de facto replacement for the somewhat smaller Aries and the hatchback Lancer.[2][3][4]

The "Spirit" model name was previously used by American Motors — which Chrysler bought in 1987 — for a subcompact car called the AMC Spirit from 1979 to 1983. The Dodge Spirit sold 60,000 cars in its first year[citation needed], strong enough that Aries production was stopped mid-season. Production ended on December 9, 1994 when the Spirit was replaced by the "cab-forward" Stratus.

The Spirit could seat six with an optional front split-bench seat. It had a relatively large trunk, a simple solid-beam rear axle, and a MacPherson strut front suspension. The Spirit differed from the other A-bodies primarily in the grille and rear lamp styling, and in the exclusive availability of a sportier, higher-performing version — the R/T.

While the Spirit could be compared in size to the Ford Tempo, the platform was also compared with the Ford Taurus, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry by Consumer Reports[citation needed] which found the similar but upscale Chrysler LeBaron to be "adequate", but not up to the other three cars. Nevertheless, they sold relatively well, but mainly on the basis of price and value. Though maligned in their later years by critics, the Spirit did outsell the critically acclaimed later Stratus.


The Spirit was Dodge's version of the Chrysler AA platform, a stretched variation of the Chrysler K platform. They were assembled in Newark, Delaware and Toluca, Mexico. They shared their basic design with the 1990 to 1994 Chrysler LeBaron sedan, the 1989 to 1995 Plymouth Acclaim, and the export-only Chrysler Saratoga.


  • 1989-95: Base
  • 1989-93: ES
  • 1991-92: R/T
  • 1995 Mastercraft X-Series Edition

The Spirit ES and R/T featured Dodge Eurocast (or "Snowflake") alloy wheels through 1991. For 1992, the "Pumper" or "Turbostar" wheel was introduced. Some of the alloy wheels were color-keyed to the vehicle body:

  • White body with white painted wheels (ES, R/T)
  • Black, silver, or dark red body with clear-coated wheels (ES only)
  • Bright Red body with bright red painted wheel inserts (R/T only, 1991)

Silver paint was available on the R/T for 1992 and featured R/T five blade wheels. It was also the rarest color on the spirit R/T, with only 31 produced.

The Dodge Spirit Mastercraft X-Series Edition, Was a limited edition model only available in the Midwest area. It consist of the same basic trim pieces as the 1995 Base. But added to the back is the Mastercraft logo and 50th anniversary Logo Symbol. Extras included Air Horn, Police siren, Old Horn, Propeller receiver hitch.

1995 Dodge Spirit

Starting in 1993, the Spirit was offered with a "Gold package" (similar to the package Chrysler also offered on its 1993-94 Plymouth Acclaim and Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager minivans). This upgrade included gold trimmed alloy wheels and gold pin stripes. The Gold package was available with both 4- and 6-cylinder models, and was available in select colors. As with other trim levels, equipment was tailored to customer preference.


The base engine for Spirit and Spirit LE models was a 2.5 L (≈153 cu in) TBI 4-cylinder engine producing 100 hp (75 kW). Optional on all models except the Spirit R/T was a 141 hp (105 kW), 3.0 L (≈183 cu in) L V6 made by Mitsubishi. Also available in 1989 through 1992—and standard equipment on the Spirit ES—was a 150 hp (110 kW) turbocharged version of the 2.5 L engine. In 1993, 1994, and 1995, a flexible-fuel Spirit was offered, powered by a 107 hp (80 kW) multipoint fuel injected version of the 2.5 L engine specially modified to run on fuel containing up to 85% methanol. The R/T version came with a powerful 2.2 L (≈134 cu in) DOHC turbo III with cylinder head engineered and made by Lotus. This engine was rated at 224 hp (167 kW) and 217 lb·ft (294 N·m).


Several five-speed manual transmissions were available with the naturally-aspirated and turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, but relatively few Spirits were equipped with manual transmissions. All the Spirit R/T's came with the A-568 heavy-duty 5-speed manual transmission. From 1989 to 1991, all V6 Spirits came with the electronic four-speed A604 overdrive automatic, which became optional equipment in 1992 and remained optional until 1995. The three-speed Torqueflite automatic was the most popular installation on 4-cylinder Spirits, and was also standard equipment with the V6 engine from 1992 through 1995. Although a 5-speed manual was offered with the V6 engine in the smaller Shadow, this combination was not offered in the Spirit.

Changes through the years

Dodge Spirit R/T interior

The Spirit was given a minor facelift — indeed, the only facelift the car would ever receive — for the 1993 model year. A body-color grille with characteristic Dodge crosshair theme and new full-width taillamps with amber pseudo-lenses (which, oddly enough, were not used for the turn signals) were the most notable changes.

A motorized passenger's side seat belt was added to U.S.-market Spirits in 1994, to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208's requirement for passive restraints. These motorized belts do not comply with Canada's safety standards; Canadian-market Spirits continued to use a manual passenger seatbelt, and 1994-1995 Spirits therefore cannot legally be imported across the US/Canada border in either direction.[5],[6]

For 1995, the Spirit's final year, the 2.5 L engine got a slightly revised cylinder head and both the 4-speed A604 automatic transmission and anti-lock brakes were dropped from the option list. Otherwise, the Spirit remained mostly unchanged, much as it had throughout its six-year run.


1991 Dodge Spirit R/T at Road America racetrack, Wisconsin, USA

In 1991, Chrysler introduced the Spirit R/T, the centerpiece of which was a version of the 2.2 L engine with a 16-valve DOHC head designed by Lotus, who won a design competition against Maserati and Hans Hermann. Fed by a Garrett Systems intercooled turbocharger, this Turbo III engine produced 224 hp (167 kW) and 217 lb·ft (294 N·m). The R/T also featured unique interior and exterior trim to set itself apart from other Spirits. The only available transmission in the R/T was a heavy-duty A568 5-speed manual transmission built by Chrysler's New Process Gear division (located in Syracuse, New York) with a gearset supplied by Getrag. Heavy-duty vented four wheel disc brakes were standard equipment, with optional anti-lock brakes. Color-keyed 15-inch alloy wheels were standard, with P205/60R15 tires.

1991 Dodge Spirit R/T engine bay

At the time, the R/T was advertised as "the fastest sedan made in America", and one of the quickest performance sedans under $40,000, with Chrysler placing its performance above the BMW M5. It could hit 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.8 seconds, according to Car and Driver, making it one of the quickest front wheel drive cars ever offered in the American market. It was chosen as Motor Trend magazine's "Domestic Sport Sedan of the Year", beating the Ford Taurus SHO for 1991 and 1992. Just 1,208 Spirit R/Ts, all built in Mexico, were produced in 1991 — 774 in red and 434 in white. An additional 191 were built in 1992 — 92 red, 68 white, and 31 silver. The only significant change for 1992 was a lower first gear ratio for reduced turbo lag, woodgrain dashboard trim as used on the Chrysler LeBaron sedan, blacked out upper and lower grille inserts, clear lenses for the front parking and turn signal lights, and a speedometer calibrated to 150 mph (240 km/h) rather than 120 mph (190 km/h).

Mexican and South American markets

Carbureted 2.5 L engine installed in 1990 Mexican Chrysler Spirit

Spirits were very popular in Mexico. They were badged as Chryslers rather than Dodges, since the Dodge brand at the time was used only on trucks. The Spirit was introduced in the Mexican market for 1990, one year after its début in the U.S. and Canada. The initial 1990-model Spirits used a version of the 2.5 L engine operating on leaded gasoline, equipped with a carburetor, a tubular exhaust header, and electronic control of ignition timing[7]. This induction and ignition system used technology and components very similar to those employed in Chrysler's U.S.-market Lean Burn emission control systems of the late 1970s.

For the 1991 model year, Mexico enacted new-vehicle emission regulations similar to those in the US and Canada. The carbureted leaded-fuel engine was very much too dirty to comply with the new regulations, so a fully-integrated engine management system with fuel injection was added to the Spirit. This was not the TBI system used in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Rather, the Mexican-market Spirits got a more advanced MPFI setup[7]. This MPFI 2.5 gave superior performance and driveability and cleaner emissions than its TBI counterpart, but was not used in the U.S., Canadian, or rest-of-world export markets except on turbocharged and FFV models. The Chrysler Spirit with MPFI 2.5 L engine was sold in Mexico from 1991 through 1995, and was exported in small numbers to Argentina and Brazil from 1993 through 1995.

MPFI 2.5 L engine installed in 1994 Mexican Chrysler Spirit

Chrysler de Mexico sold two versions of the Spirit R/T. The base R/T, sold from 1991 through 1995, used a Mexico-only 168 hp intercooled Turbo II version of the 8-valve SOHC 2.5 L engine and either the 3-speed A413 automatic or 5-speed manual transmission. These R/Ts were very popular with Mexican police departments.

Mexican 1994 Chrysler Spirit R/T

The top-line R/T, available from 1991 through 1994, used the same 2.2 L 16-valve DOHC engine as was used in the U.S. Spirit R/Ts. More options and higher equipment levels were available in the Mexican R/Ts, including leather upholstery, digital instrument cluster, sunroof, and 16-inch alloy wheels, none of which were available in the U.S. In addition, Mexican-market R/Ts could be ordered in a variety of different colors, not just the red, white, and silver offered in the U.S. All Mexican-market Spirit R/Ts were badged as Chryslers. An interesting member of the R/T family, the Chrysler Phantom R/T, was a Mexico-only premium version of the LeBaron coupe equipped with the 2.2 L 16-valve DOHC engine and A568 5-speed manual transmission.


  1. Chrysler Corporation Master Technician Service Conference book "New Model Service Highlights '89" page 4: "Spirit and Acclaim are the new midsize sedans, replacing 600 and Caravelle." Available at Detroit Public Library
  2. Standard Catalog of Chrysler 1924-1990 by John Lee First Edition, MCMXC Krause Publications, Iola, WI. ISBN 0-87341-142-0 page 338
  3. [1]
  4. Consumer Guide
  5. Canadian vehicle importation regulations
  6. US vehicle importation regulations
  7. 7.0 7.1 Mexican Chrysler Spirit information

THere were only three Dodge Spirit Mastercraft editions ever made in 1995, One is only known to be in existents .

External links