Embodying the whole spirit of “Dependable Dodge,” the Diplomat was highly reliable, a real workhouse that endeared itself to police forces and taxi companies across the US. Its immediate design predecessor was probably the Dodge Aspen, but it is also shared design characteristics with many other vehicle of the time, it shared its production line too, with its “M” body twins,’ the Chrysler LeBaron and the Plymouth Caravelle. The Diplomat was a immediate hit, and after six months it was Dodge’s second selling car. Originally provided as a sedan, coupe and wagon versions were available for a brief spell, from 78 until 81. Somehow, the sedan body captured the spirit of the model in a way that other shapes did not. During the energy conscious early 80s, it was marketed as economical, if you had a slant six 225 engine and manual transmission, you could get an efficient 28 MPG on the highways. The 318 V8 engine was more commonly found on the road, alongside a Torquefilte 3 speed automatic transmission. Like the most Dodge products of the time, the “M” body exterior was distinguished from its twins only through the trim and nameplates, although the up market LeBaron and several distinguished features bolted on. Throughout the later 80s, the Diplomat was sold as Chrysler’s baseline “large car”, although really, it was closer to midsize.
Performance was reliable rather than stunning, but it was the machine’s ability to soak up punishment that really made it stand out. It is sheer hardness was the deciding factor for many fleet buyers. Although the police fleet models featured several performance enhancements, the true core of the Diplomat remained unchanged, it’s stubborn unrelenting endurance.