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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hot Wheels 1982 Dodge Rampage and Omni O24

In the 1980's Chrysler was looking for any way to survive, even if it means using platforms from other manufacturers, and one of them is Volkswagen who supplied the VW Rabbit for the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon.  Two other spin-offs from VW include the Rampage pickup and O24 hatchback.

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The sporty side of German

First introduced in 1979, the Omni O24 was based on the VW Scirocco and also offered a Plymouth version called the Horizon.  The O24 featured a sharper snout for aerodynamics and a sportier look with square headlights.  The back featured rectangular taillights and triangular corner windows.  The interior was simple with two-spoke wheels, comprehensive gauges, and center stack with radio and HVAC controls.  The four-seater has rear seats that fold down, expanding the roomy cargo area accessed by the rear hatchback.  Powertrains include the VW-sourced 1.7L I-4, or the Chrysler 2.2L I-4 producing 84 hp. (Weee!!!) through a 4-speed manual.  Fast it might not seem, but at least it was fun to drive!  Unfortunately sales were weak, so Dodge renamed the O24 the Charger starting in 1983.

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Just before the 1983 makeover, the Dodge Rampage (Plymouth Scamp) made it's appearance based on, no kidding, the VW Rabbit Pickup!  It uses the same front-end as the O24, but starts to look different after the B-pillar with a contemporary fleetside look (part of the unibody) with teardrop taillights and tailgate with plate holder.  The rear axle is also a sturdier beam axle with leaf springs to handle the extra weight over the independent rear of the O24.  Powetrains are similar, but mostly the 2.2L I-4 is the way to go.  However, this was a pickup and after all the 84 hp. struggle to find power to haul heavy loads, even with the four-speed manual!  After a redesign following the new Charger look in 1983 the Rampage was cancelled for poor sales.

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Hot Wheels versions

The Omni O24 was introduced in 1982 Hot Wheels lineup.  There were a few variations that exist, but all of them resemble closely to the first release, shown here in gray with a metal black base and stripes on the side with O24.  This version has seen better days, but still looks good and very sporty.  The headlights are part of the window and the taillights are part of the interior.  Speaking of interior it is nicely done in red and the back cargo area features tennis rackets and duffel bags.  The base shows the simple driveline components.

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As for the Rampage, it followed a year later in only red with black and yellow stripes on hood and sides.  To add some aggressive affair, it wears RealRider tires on multi-spoke wheels that look like they came off the A-Team GMC van and top it off with a three-wheel ATV in the back.  The base is metal and incorporates the modified rear axle and spare tire, while the headlights share the metal base instead of the windows as in the O24.  The interior has the same controls as the O24, but only seats two and I guarantee would be small for tall people today.  This version I picked up at a Flea Market last year for $1 despite missing the right-rear tire.  So I found more Hot Wheels with Real Riders at another booth and got a Shelby Cobra as a donor.  However, I later realized the Shelby tires are larger than the Rampage, so I decided to take the other rear wheel off the Rampage and make it a Hi-Rakers, even though the Rampage was never a part of that Hot Wheels 1980's line.  It looks cool, though it doesn't roll as smooth, requiring help from the Speed Dozer of last year!

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In 2012 the Rampage returned in the Hot ones series in purple with black and gold graphics, gold interior, and gold Ultra Hot Wheels, the latter two really not needed (yuck!).  Metal base still continues.  However, distribution was small, so only a handful got the new Rampage.  Luckily another opportunity awaits in the form of the 2014 Wal-Mart Only Road Trippin Series.  Sharing the same purple, this time it has clear windows, orange interior, 5-spoke wheels, and better graphics of Death Valley.  It looks much better than the Hot Ones version, and now at least this one should be a bit more easier to find than the 2012 H.O. version.

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