Was The 80’s the Death of the American Petrol Head? (Part 2)
The GLHS was the fastest with 175 horsepower and 175 lb-ft. This wasn’t a tool for the track, it was a weapon of mass destruction. It had a modified Garrett Turbo I engine, a long runner tuned intake (2 pieces) manifold, and an intercooler. The engine had a compression ratio of 8.5:1, a maximum boost of 12 psi. Because of all this, it could do the 060 mph in an incredible 6.70 seconds and the quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 94 mph. It also pulled.88 g on the skid pad.
Rather than continuing to produce Shelby inspired Dodges, Carroll began to build actual Shelbys at his new facility in Whittier, California. These were cars he purchased from Dodge, modified, and then sold himself through select Dodge dealerships. These vehicles were produced in limited numbers. Each model was a one year run and all were given a numbered dash plaque.
The suspension was reworked with adjustable low-pressure gas charged Koni front struts and rear shocks. The standard 1in. front and 5/8in. rear swaybars were retained, as well as the factory brakes and steering. Shelby Centurion 15×6 in cast aluminum wheels were surrounded by 205/50VR15 Goodyear Gatorbacks.
With the additional power, it now had a top speed of 130 mph. All of this bundle of brilliance for what cost? At the time, it was only 11 grand. It wasn’t just Shelby tuning Dodges though, as Dodge themselves got into the game with products of their own. Products like the 1984 Dodge Colt Turbo. Sure, it may have been a Mitsubishi, but that didn’t deter this vehicle from being fast. Sure, it only had a 060mph in 8.9 Seconds and only 103 horsepower. That wasn’t the point of the Colt. It was a handling machine meant to be more of Lotus Elise, then Chevrolet Camaro.
It was lighter than Alfa Romeo 4C light. It may have had only 103 horsepower, but it only weighed 1,896 pounds (or 860 kg). It also had a top speed of 112 mph. Not much, but like the Miata… It doesn’t need to be.
“Now, in this corner, we have the Dodge Omni GLH Packing 110 horsepower (82 kw).
In the other corner we have… Where did they go? Were they scared off?
Apparently so… “
The Omni GLH was a great hot hatch. It was fast, fun, light, nimble, cheap and frivolous. This is a classic. It’s not as much of a classic as the GNX; yet still a classic in its own right.
This car is a fast little bugger stock, it’s a jammy bugger when you modify it. This is also a very light car, weighing in at less than 2,400 pounds. While we don’t see many of these, they still prove that Dodge can make a proper small car… A proper hot hatch, but the GLH wasn’t the only “GLH” in the series.
You then had the GLHT. It was basically a GLH with a turbocharged engine. Though it was much more powerful, power was now raised to 146 horsepower (108 kw) and 170 lb-ft. Making it one of the faster cars in the trio, this car went from 0-60mph in 8.1 seconds and a quarter mile in 16.2 seconds at 85.5. It could reach a top speed of 119.
The GLH turbo was upgraded to equal length half shafts. Even though it was just (pretty much) an engine upgrade, that didn’t take away from anything. It was still an amazing hot hatch.
Then we have the car that nobody remembers. The Dodge Shadow ES, while the ’87 looks better than the ‘ 89, they are good cars either way. These are very fun cars to drive too. Like many of the cars on this list, the Shadow was (and still is) a very light car. Weighing in at 2,535 pounds (or 1150 kg) it had 146 horsepower and 170 lb-ft.
This car was less powerful than some of the cars on this list, and a bit heavier. But this wasn’t a Shelby tuned Shadow. So it wasn’t going to be as racing focused, despite that they were still very good fun to drive.
This is the canvas Shelby used to craft the CSX from his very hands. And it’s a good little packet from the factory. He essentially turned the Shadow into an Evo except without the AWD. Much like almost all of the cars on this list, it is turbocharged. It uses the same engine in the following cars:
Dodge Shelby Charger
That’s a lot of cars to have the same engine. But once 1989 came around, the power was increased to 150 horsepower and 180 lbft. While it wasn’t as good looking as the previous year, he did a little surprise with the refreshed model.
That’s right! We got a convertible. In 1991, Dodge introduced the convertible Shadow. It was a pretty good convertible at that! You could get an ES trim level, meaning you could get a convertible with 150 horsepower and 180 lbft. Since it was light, it was pretty quick.
But wait, there is more!!!
Could it be? Yes, Another sedan! The Dodge Spirit R/T with 224 horsepower and 218 lb-ft. This was the Charger Hellcat of its time. Because it has the most power of all the vehicles on this list, it has the highest top speed. It has a top speed of 141 mph. That’s 190 E territory. It could do the quarter mile in 14.5 seconds, at 97 mph. This was tubular in its day. (Yes I had to look that up). Its heads were also designed by Lotus. At the time, it was the fastest four door sedan in America. It was also fuel efficient, reaching 26 mpg on the highway.
It was very, very cheap. Making it one of the fastest cars you could get for less than 20 grand. As great as this was, it’s not as memorable as the other cars on this list. (Aside from the Shadow and Colt)… Though, they are still fairly popular within a certain group of people. **Cough**
TurboDodge guys **Cough**
The Dodge Daytona is one of the coolest vehicles on this list. It produced 146 horsepower (109 kw) and 170 lb-ft. It is a bit heavier than some of the other vehicles on this list. It weighs 2,701 pounds (or 1225 kg). It handled so well, it beat the Porsche 924.
Don’t believe me? Here you go:
Read it and weep or admire. It had a Garret T3 Turbo. With 2 valves per cylinder. A lot of people love this car to this day, someone even swapped the 2.2 Liter turbo for a 5.7 Liter Hemi in theirs and converted it to RWD. But that is beside the point. It also got a T-top option for ’86. Later on in its life, it gained popup headlights and a new variant. It was called the Shelby Z. It gained more horsepower from 146 to 174 horsepower (130 kw), and 200 lb-ft, as well as a heavy duty A555 transaxle with Getrag gears. (If you want more info, I’ll provide links at the end of the article).
The Dodge Caravan ES Turbo, the total sleeper. Much like some of the vehicles on this list, it makes 150 horsepower and 170 lb-ft. Not the lightest vehicle on this list, it weighs in at 3,086 pounds. It’s lighter and faster than some of the vehicles to come. It has a top speed of 110 mph, not very high. But for a van in the 1980’s, that’s pretty brisk. Combine that with a 060mph in 9.4 seconds, and you have the makings of a sleeper for sleepers.
Ford came along for the ride. They showed that the 80’s weren’t the end with the Foxbody Mustang. Foxbodies are very popular now, they’re known as a good platform for pretty much anything. They are the lightest of all the Mustangs. Once upgraded to a Dart block, can easily handle 900 HP. But these go beyond just drag racing. Because they are light and small, they make good budget track cars.
You could get a whole armada of engines. Here is the list:
2.3 L (140 cu in) 86 hp I4
2.3 L (140 cu in) turbocharged I4
3.3 L (201 cu in) I6 85 hp
2.8 L (171 cu in) V6
3.8 L (232 cu in) Essex V6
4.2 L (256 cu in) V8
302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8
Quite a lot, isn’t it? It was also chosen as the pace for the Indy 500, they also made a special edition celebrating this. Over 10,000 were made. Unlike the Daytona, you could get a convertible or just a standard Coupe. The Fastback was the option if you wanted a sportier Mustang. The Daytona was just a fastback/ hatch from the factory.
There was also a variety of transmissions. From a 4 or 5 speed manual or a 3 or 4 speed automatic. But who could forget the Mustang SVO? This is the Foxbody we all remember. It had 200 horsepower, 240 lb-ft. and the new (for the time) “aero” headlights. The Mustang wasn’t the only car on the “Foxbody” platform though, we also had the Thunderbird. Think of it as a Chrysler 300 Coupe. It was bigger than the Mustang and more luxurious. In a weird way, it reminds me of the Bentley Continental.
The Turbo Coupe had a 2.3 Liter OHC (Over Head Cam) engine with EFI, an Air to Air Intercooler and a 5Speed Manual transmission with overdrive. This was a luxury coupe with a dark side. At first, the engine produced 142 horsepower, but was then later increased to 155 horsepower. As expected, this was heavier than the Mustang. It was also bigger. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While the Mustang was more of a sports car, the Thunderbird was more of a cruiser. A GT car if you will.
Sadly, this is a much underrated car. Not getting as much love as the Foxbody which is ironic really, given that it’s based on the same platform. It’s just a cast away, losing the glory it once had to the merciless mistress of time. Destined to a life of misery… it’s a great shame, because had people seen the potential in this car…
We may have seen more cruisers from this forgotten beast.