By on April 29, 2011


174 horsepower in a 2,812-pound car was pretty good for 1987, and Carroll Shelby’s name on the decklid and doors ought to mean something… yet nobody seems to love the Daytona Shelby Z today. Witness this ’87, now moldering in a Denver self-service wrecking yard.

At $12,749 (about 25 grand in 2011 dollars), the Shelby Z wasn’t cheap; you could get the regular Daytona for $9,799… or head across the street to the Chevy dealer and get a new Z28 for $12,819.

I’m tempted to buy that hyper-80s boost gauge, just to frame on my wall.

Someday, the Shelby Chryslers might be the Next Big Thing in collectible classic automobiles. Not yet, though. If only that Lamborghini Jalpa-engined AWD Daytona had gone into production, Things Would Be Different Now.

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49 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1987 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z...”


  • avatar
    Travis

    A good friend of mine in HS had a white Turbo Z, which I think was the model below the Shelby. I wish I had the same appreciation for cars back then as I do now. I couldn’t understand any remote appeal of it at all. Sure, it had a turbo, but that didn’t mean much to me since it was just nopowernopowernopowerHEYJUSTALITTLEMORETHANNOPOWER! Best thing about her car was faux key. I say faux key because despite being the real key to the car, the only thing it really did right was lock the passenger door. The lock on the drivers door was broken and the ignition turned without a key. A couple times I stopped by her place of work and relocated the car to the opposite side of the parking lot just for kicks. Oh ye olde good times.

    I don’t follow lemons too much, but I’m surprised I haven’t heard about any Daytonas or Starion/Conquests in either lemons or chumpcar. The complete lack of value for both and performance potential should lead to more of them finding their way into budget racers hands. Oh well.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      I’ve been goading people on the “Cars for sale” section (basically, members use it throw up the most lemony finds rather than their own vehicles) on the Lemons forums into picking up one of these or other turbo K-variants from this era. Like the VW Corrado, Starion, and GLH, they are radioactive due to their tendency to self-destruct.

      They have all ran in Lemons before however.

    • 0 avatar

      We’ve had about a half-dozen apiece Daytonas (and siblings) and Starions/Conquests in LeMons. Both have been terribly unreliable, even by LeMons standards, but the Starion is orders of magnitude worse.

      In fact, I believe the Starion is the least reliable car in LeMons racing; even the very terrible Jaguar XJ6 and Merkur XR4Ti do better. The Starion blows engines, eats transmissions, suffers from electrical gremlins, and enjoys frequent brake failure. I believe the record number of laps for a LeMons Starion is 37. Mitsubishi may be the worst marque in LeMons, surpassing even British Leyland for unreliability.

      The Chrysler turbocharged 2.2 K-and-related-platform cars… well, they don’t do so well in the thrash-and-bash of an all-weekend endurance race. They’re not particularly quick around a road course— about on a par with the (non-SE-R) Sentras and GM F-bodies— but good/consistent drivers could still parlay their medium-slow lap times into a top-5 finish. The problem is that they suffer frequent mechanical failures, mostly engine-related (head gaskets, thrown rods, overheating) but I’ve also seen plenty of suspension/brake problems and maddening electrical nightmares.

    • 0 avatar

      I do hear of head gasket failures but most of this was lack of dealer training and mechanics trying to `cheat` the system to rush a job.I drove quite a few of these daytona`s over the years and while I wish chrysler had these RWD with V8`s these were still much better cars than the camaros and mustangs and would outrun most iroc`s and gt`s while getting 28mpg.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Not likely to be a classic. With “light switch” power delivery (on/off) typical of most turbos of the time, (including the totally scary Porsche 911 turbo) and wrong-wheel drive this car was not much more than a thrill ride with a high pucker factor.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      My father had a 1985 Dodge Lancer ES Turbo. It only worked right for the first seventeen thousand miles, but it was easy to drive quickly during that time. I vanquished all challengers on a road we called 21 curves with it, and I was still a year short of getting my driver’s license. It was basically a better handling Saab 900 with no greater mechanical dependability. The best thing about it was that it prompted my family to start buying German cars in 1986, which turned out to be the best time to do it. Fifteen years later, new German cars were consistently worse than the ones they replaced, but I’m glad I had access to a bunch of the ones from their peak years. Thanks Chrysler.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @CJ: I had a 87 Lancer ES Turbo 5 speed back in the day. A former co worker had a Saab SPG coupe he thought was really hot, bragged about it constantly. Finally one day, tired of hearing the BS, I challenged him to race me on the main road out of the office park. We did it on our lunch hour. A couple of other folks acted as flag man and off we went. I had him off the line and through four of the five gears, he only came close to me once, when I flubbed a shift. I smoked his Swedish fish. The old 2.2 Turbo could really build boost very quickly, got me out of many situations when I needed it. Of all of the cars that I’ve owned (24), that one is in the top three.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        I had an 85 Lebaron GTS, 5-speed, no turbo. I often wished I had the turbo, but I drove the car until it had 206k miles on it. The turbos never went that far. Rust eventually killed my car.

        The Shelby-Z was a descendant of that car, and these pics sort of brought a tear to my eye.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        geozinger,

        The Lancer/Lebaron GTS was an attractive and useful design, but the quality let it down. There were fit issues that made every subsequent car seem like a jewel, and the most mileage we ever got out of a headgasket was 17K. At this point, I expect defenders to blame the three different mechanics who replaced headgaskets on the car at various times. The first one was done at the selling dealer under ’5/50 protection!!’ and lasted 7,000 miles, so I don’t see how it wasn’t representative of the ownership experience. Ours was an automatice, and the transmission was excellent. It gave no trouble and shifted better than pretty much any automatic I ever experienced until the one in our TSX.

        gslippy,

        A friend of mine’s mom bought a Lebaron GTS with the naturally aspirated 2.2 liter and an automatic. It wasn’t as fast, and it didn’t have the gas shocks or H rated Eagle GTs, but he had it as a hand me down all through 4.5 years of college, and it kept on running. Not without work, but he had over 140K miles on it while our turbo car was parts with less than 35K miles. That’s just an estimate though, as the digital dash went black for good at 24K miles.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @CJ: My experience with the Dodge dealers administering the warranty was the determining factor in how well the car was repaired. Once the car was out of warranty, I was able to do most of the repairs myself or with help from friends. I had the car for 11 years and 167K miles, while it did have a couple of issues, it was a well designed car overall. I miss the mid sized hatchback body style, (which is why I want a Chevy Malibu Maxx) a incredibly handy all around car.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        254,000 miles on a 2.2 before the head gasket went. Key: Never let the car overheat. I changed the hoses/belts on a 6 year schedule. Almost overheated when the heater diverter valve split, it being made of the same crap plastic that found its way into BMW cooling systems. Dumb luck saved me.

        “Cheated” head repairs?…removing the timing belt and hoisting the head just enough to swap the gasket…reusing the TTY head bolts…dishonest dealers could change the gasket this way in an hour, all while billing the factory/owner for a real repair…However, that does not ameliorate the factory from the first failure…

  • avatar
    gessvt

    I get a jones once in a while for 80′s performance cars (curse you, Wheeler Dealers), and the GLHS is usually what I search for on eBay and CL. Not the Shelby Z though.

  • avatar
    autobahner44

    Oh yeah, someday that will be as desirable as a Chrysler TC by Maserati, which is to say, not at all…

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I remember a friend of mine bought one of these at Camp Lejeune. What surprised me was he planned to get something different ( I can’t remember what) but ended up with the Shelby.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I see nothing memorable about these, even if it does have the Shelby name on it. My son got a 1988 Daytona he traded even for our 1983 Ranger he drove. I think he (we) got the short end of the stick! It cost us lots of money down the drain fixing it up and it never did run quite right – always overheating in spite of head gaskets and all. I believe those old Chrysler engine blocks used to crack on the inside and you couldn’t fix them. I was glad to see that one go! Sayonara!

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    IIRC ole Shel was pretty hard up back then, putting his name on stuff like this. At least he’s elevated back up to Mustangs these days.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Whenever I see these I simply think of all the “old man’s” K-cars that the engine and transmission could be swapped into to create a sleeper.

  • avatar
    econobiker

    I see your Dodge Daytona and raise you a Plymouth Laser.

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    30psi of vacuum? Wow!

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Inches of mercury column.

      So 30 inches of mercury column = 14.73 psi, and 15 inches of boost pressure = 7.37 psi boost. Not bad, really.

      You’ll get maximum vacuum under deceleration conditions with a closed throttle.

  • avatar
    Birddog

    I wouldn’t say nobody loves them today. The guys involved in http://www.sdac.org have everything from stone stock show cars to 8 second track terrors. All using some form of the 2.2/2.5 turbo mill.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Did this car have the infamous “Electronic Voice Alert”?

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Friend of mine with the epic lyrical name Bradley J. Strange had one of these in the late 1980′s….my only memory is, being 5’11″ whilst sitting in the back seat, hitting my head on the hatchback glass every time he hit a road imperfection, or shifted.

  • avatar
    relton

    Many years ago, during my brief stint at Chrysler, we had a bunch of turbo Daytonas as office cars. They were going to be used as crash vehicles, so no one worried about abusing them.

    I discovered that a combination of brake and accelerator manipulation would cause the turbo to drastically overboost the engine. The needle went an inch past “15″, briefly. It was enough to not only smoke the frotn tires, but cause a tremendous amount of wheel hop, causing the engine to hit the hood and firewall, and eventually break the motor mounts.

    There were a nyumber of young guys in the office who thouight they were “hot shoes”, and tht old guys in their 40s didn’t know much about driving fast. We all got a bonus check one week, and I challenged these young guys to a drag race in Daytionas, check for check. I cleaned up, took home 4 bonus checks instead of 1 that week. Those young guys could never understand it. We even changed cars, and I still beat them.

    A month later all of the Daytonas had done their job as crash vehciles, and no one worried about their engines ever again.

    Bob

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I said I would stop reading these posts from the junkyard, and I really wanted one of these back in the day, but had other priorities. I had been in regular(!) Daytona Turbos and owned a Lancer ES Turbo for 11 years. I thought the the overboost and the extra 25 horses would have been great to have in one of these cars. This was a particularly nice one with t-tops and all.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    After this stinker of a car, I think EVERY Chrysler product should be used as a crash test vehicle. I mean every one that comes off the line.

    Phewwwwie!

    • 0 avatar
      and003

      I think that Exline Custom Auto might see things differently, since they worked on a project to convert a car just like this to RWD … with a 6.1 Hemi thrown in for good measure.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    This car brought two questions to my mind: How much did the original dealer have to discount the car to move it off the lot and what was the original buyer driving that he felt this was a step up for him?

  • avatar
    Ion

    These would be a great sleeper to buy and hook up/de-cat in a state that doesn’t do emission testing on pre-obd II cars………….well if the Thunderbird Turbo didn’t exist they would.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Chrysler’s 2.2 was the last engine of the engineer who helped develop the legendary Slant 6 and after the head gasket issue was fixed, was a very reliable engine for the day (and much more reliable than the Mitsubishi 2.6 it replaced.

    In turbo form the engine created between 142 and 224 hp depending on the particular model and surprised many rwd V8 powered contemporaries (this is the 80′s we are talking about). Modified turbo engines produce much more power (go to you tube and search for k-car vs turbo Supra drag race and watch the Supra get it’s doors blown off. While your there search for the drag racing turbo minivan). Later engines were punched out to 2.5 liters and also fitted with Turbos. The last Turbo application was in the Daytona IROC with a 16v head and 224 hp. There are fans of these cars who have kept them, fixed them up, and modified them. There are even fans of the Mitsu 3.0 V6 Daytonas.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      In the interest of historical accuracy, the 2.2 didn’t replace the Mitsubishi 2.6 liter. While the Mitsubishi engine had been around in various applications prior to being used in the K-cars, it served in the K-cars as the upgrade engine over the 2.2 until the 2.5 liter balance shaft version of the 2.2 became available in 1986.

    • 0 avatar
      MusicMachine

      Yes. There were similar design philosophies between the “slant 6″ and the 2.2. Of that time, I recall either engine surviving longer with a low-end knock (or even after throwing a rod!) than most engines could last at all. It seems to me both engines ran/performed well despite their abusive relationship with their owner.

    • 0 avatar
      blppt

      I had three cars with the 2.2/2.5 and not one of them ever developed the infamous HG failure. 87 Horizon, 88 Reliant (2.5), 94 Shadow. All went 100K+. My dad had an 87 Omni, and although the car was a lemon in just about every other way, the 2.2 in it never had a HG failure.

      The Neon he bought though, with the SOHC 2.0, had the HG go in less than 20K miles, LOL. Somewhat ironically, nothing else ever went wrong with it.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        What you do get in high mileage 2.2s and 2.5 is piston slap (sorry SM)…my developed the slap at idle at about 150K (’87 K)…by the time 240K or so, the idle had taken on a diesel-like sound quality…

  • avatar
    MusicMachine

    Hey! And what about that ’87-ish Doge Colt in the background?! I want that!

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      The Dodge Colt Vista made by Mitubishi. Ahead of it’s time seats 6-7. Like a people mover of today the new Ford C-Max or Madza 5.

      Click and Clack apparently still own one. One of them always mentions it on the show.

  • avatar

    The only people collecting these are the type where you found this one

  • avatar
    Commando

    You can perfume this pig all you want and it’s still a K-car. I’m sick of hearing about ‘yah, but it saved Chysler’. Bull. The world would be a far better place now if the K-car had never disgraced our roads. Imagine if GM (everone’s favorite whipping boy, hadd revamped all their divisions, makes, and models one ONE equally evil crapbox: the X-bodies! Or worse, Ford and the Mustang II.

    • 0 avatar
      blppt

      While the K car was far from a sports or luxury car, the 88 Reliant that my Dad and then I owned exceeded 200K miles with only the A/C failing (never bothered to fix it) and replacing the axle ONCE. Not one other thing went wrong with it for as long as we had it. I dont think I’ve ever been around another car that accomplished that—sure, relatives have pushed Hondas, Toyotas past 200K, but none with that little problems.

    • 0 avatar
      and003

      K-Car or not, this Daytona would be a good tuner car project with the right parts and equipment.

    • 0 avatar
      and003

      Since my previous reply to your post, I’ve thought about what you said, Commando, and … well, considering that Chrysler managed to survive after the K-Car was introduced, I would suggest that the higher-ups at Chrysler were on to something.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    I had a couple of Turbo Zs when I was an undergrad and my dad was a Chrysler-Dodge dealer. These were the earlier 142HP 2.2s and, although they seemed quick at the time, I can’t dredge up even a hint of nostalgia for them.

  • avatar
    19 Pinkslips

    Upon hearing of Ol’ Carroll Shelbys passing I felt the need to comment on one of his creations. I had a ’88 Shelby Z almost identical to this one. It handled terrible due to the super flexy body(t-tops were not it’s friend), everything inside and out fell apart, the paint fell off, but for what it was the four wheel discs felt great, the cable op clutch was surprisingly good and with a $15 valve in the boost control line it had tremendous power for 2.2 liters of 80′s tech. It was not hard to get 32-34 mpg on the highway either. A friend had one with the VNT turbo which fixed most of the lag issues. One late night in upstate NY I had a Porsche 944 roll up on me, we creeped up until we were both doing 125, then I floored it. I just walked away from him. Those intercooled Shelby Zs could do 147mph(Some say 135) from the factory. Not too shabby for a K-Car. Thanks Carroll

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve owned an 86 Daytona Turbo Z C/S for 22 almost 23 years. Bought it in high school and have had it ever since. Mine is a fully optioned out car with t-tops, leather, digital dash, and is the one year only black with gold pinstripe and gold wheels. Over the years I’ve made a few additions; it’s got a killer stereo, performance computer and injectors, and a manual boost controller. I’ve had it north of 140 MPH a couple times.

      Mine still has under 120k miles on it and it’s traversed the country several times. Honestly, I love road trips in this car. With the C/S sway bars front & rear and decent tires on there it handles well though some might find it too rough.

      In case anyone wants to see one in fairly unmolested shape you can find it here : http://i1.wp.com/jeremylawson.com/wp-content/gallery/86-daytona/Daytonaonbeach.jpg

      Even though the Shelby Dodges are unloved by most there is a small crowd of us who appreciate them. I’ve owned a few other turbo Dodges and someday I want to add a GLHS and an 89 CSX-VNT to my stable. Thanks for the memories, Mr Shelby.


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