By on October 27, 2011

The Reatta we saw in the junkyard yesterday was a pretty rare car (though not so rare as its Hyundai Scoupe neighbor), but California self-service junkyards tend to be full of such jewels. Here’s a long-forgotten, one-of-250-built Mopar that makes those two seem commonplace.
B League Film Society team captain Brandon was in Northern California for the 24 Hours of LeMons race at Sears Point, so I decided to show him one of my favorite Oakland junkyards. First stop: the excellent taco truck that parks in this yard’s parking lot.
From a distance, I thought this thing was a Starion/Conquest. I was right on the Mitsubishi connection, but it’s limited to the engine in this car.
The Mitsubishi 3.0 liter V6 was standard on the Daytona IROC (according to the always-trustworthy Allpar), but the R/T was supposed to have the 224-horse Chrysler Turbo III 2.2 liter engine.
So, either this is a regular IROC with R/T fender emblems, or it’s a real R/T with an engine swap. Either way, there are probably more ’69 Hemi Daytonas extant today than there are ’92 IROC Daytonas.
With a list price of $18,532, the IROC R/T Daytona sold for $2,500 more than the ’92 Camaro Z/28. The Dodge scaled in at 500 fewer pounds and had 21 fewer horsepower. They aren’t particularly expensive today (this example for $4,900 was the most expensive one I could find), and they’ll be worth that much more once The Crusher eats this one.

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40 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1992 Dodge Daytona IROC R/T...”


  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’ve always liked the Daytona and would have loved to have sprung for one of these. At the time, my kids were infants, so extra dollars for playthings for me…

    This one is truly a chimera, having the V6 in the engine bay of the Turbo III’s home. I’d rather have the Turbo III, it was pretty tricked out.

    Oddly enough, the only person I knew with one of these cars was my wife’s (estranged) mother. What was stranger yet, she was in her 50′s when she bought the car. It just didn’t seem to fit her personality. I guess the hills in and around Pittsburgh required a lot of boost to scale them, or so it would seem. We rarely communicated with her, so I have no idea what became of the Daytona.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Whoops! that should say NO extra dollars for playthings for me…

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      “Oddly enough, the only person I knew with one of these cars was my wife’s (estranged) mother. What was stranger yet, she was in her 50′s when she bought the car. It just didn’t seem to fit her personality.”

      Maybe she was an early “cougar” ?!?!?

      Or maybe she just got a deal on it. Sometimes dealers dump out of fashion or leftover cars because they have a customer who needs a car asap and has the money or credit to afford it.

      Examples about this type of thing happening can be found in reading about the 1970s Dodge/Plymouth Wing race cars. When the gas crunch hit in early 1970s dealers couldn’t give those cars away. Some dealers even de-winged and de-nosed the cars to move them off the lots.

      One example from NY (Long Island?/from the Musclecarinbarns website) had the story of a line green ‘Bird that was in front of some older lady’s house in the 1990s. She had bought it at a steal level price in the mid-70s because she needed a car for her and her children as a single mother. Once it finally broke down, she left it in the house front driveway but would not sell it. When she apparently passed away,the estate was settled, and parts of the car later showed in swap meets. So sometimes cars find owners out of synch with the original target market for the brand/model/trim line…

    • 0 avatar
      randyrandy

      I have one of these now.I bought it running for 300 last summer.I thought Id clean it up and sell it that’s when I realized although rare it has no value.Its now almost immaculate and the highest bid was 1000.So I decided to keep it.I use it to commute everyday to keep miles off my truck and almost get 30mpg from the v6/5-speed.Its pretty quick and very quiet inside.It handles great but try to u turn or park it and you remember your in a k car.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’ll admit having a weird longing for an ’84 Daytona when I was in college. Loved the seats.

    I was also once about THIS CLOSE to buying an Omni GLH Turbo, which would have qualified Epic Life Mistake #1 if I hadn’t met my soon-to-be ex a few years later…

    • 0 avatar

      Hey ! don’t be ragging on the GLH. The “big” motor, with the “big” brakes, in the tightest body of the era, was a great combo. How Shelby got paid for dragging this through the parts bin is beyond me.

      back in the day, we used to go beat up 944s. If you had the intercooler GLH-S version, you could go beat up 911s below 100 mph. Cheap Chrysler speed. Yum.

      I’ve happy memories of mine, and regret stuffing it into a divider to this day.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      When they held together, the turbocharged L-bodies turned any contest between hot hatchbacks into a battle for 2nd place: when your closest competition had 25 fewer ponies under the hood and was still running on 60 series rubber (Chrysler pioneered the use of 15″ wheels among the minisports: the rest of the crowd would take another 5 years to catch up) there was never any doubt as to who was the underdog in the encounter. Adding the well engineered go-fast goodies from the Mopar catalogs would ensure an even greater mismatch should anyone be so foolish as to ignore that offset hood vent and the warning bells it was intended to activate.

      Their weakest link was the fuel system. A run of faulty in-tank fuel pumps would rapidly fail, thus starving the high pressure external pump and shutting down the party. As they shared no common fuel system parts with their K-chassis cousins, the L-body fans spent a lot of time replacing faulty pumps until one of the rarely sourced Bosch units was installed. The endemic fuel system fault was eventually traced to a bad RF filter used in the Mikuni units. It was always cause for celebration when you turned the ignition key and heard the “tack-tack-tack” of a Bosch pump instead of the barely audible whine the Mikunis made.

      The origins of the Iacocca/Shelby partnership in the L-body turbocar project were no mystery when you consider the original purpose of their earlier collaboration on the Mustang; they both wanted to make performance affordable again, and stuffing the biggest engine in the lightest chassis available was a great way to build speed on the cheap.

      Trying to keep an older turbocharged L-body alive is one of the nastier love/hate relationships in the automobile world, but it is glorious when all the parts work together. Downshift and mash the throttle and the steering wheel seems to pull away from you while simultaneously attempting to tighten whatever arc your path was taking. Keeping the L-bodies planted required a deft touch coupled with great strength: a velvet glove in a mailed fist, if you will.

      And I’m definitely going to call bullshit on this one, as a V6 and auto trans swap would be far more trouble than it was worth at any time during the vehicle’s life (see below). Perhaps someone obtained a set of replacement badges and had some fun fitting them to the body.

  • avatar
    windswords

    I had one of these when I was younger (85 Turbo Z 5 speed). Fun car. Not refined but this 92 was much more so. I had a ’90 LeBaron with the 3.0 v6 (it’s the exact same interior as this one, even the color). Good ergonomics and comfortable seats. Look at the grain on that E brake handle (click on the thumbnail to see it full size). The crappy Playskool interiors were a product of the Daimler era. Chrysler interiors weren’t the best at this time but they weren’t bottom of rung either.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      As I recall, Chrysler wooed away Ford’s interior design chief around this time – no accident that instrument panel looks like it came from a European Ford.

      But, as you say, their interior plastics WERE awful. My neighbor has an old LH sedan and the sun has totally warped his dashboard.

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        That would be Trevor Creed who designed the interior of the Ford Probe. He was pretty good with interiors, but after design chief Tom Gail left after the “merger of equals”, he became the design chief. Exterior styling suffered as a result. Now he’s gone and the new direction of styling is the result.

        The plastics in mine were ok. And my cars spent some of their time in Florida.

    • 0 avatar
      Almost Jake

      I had an 85 Turbo Z (Garnet Red with Silver). It handled well, was fun to drive and hit 40 MPG on the hwy once. The fun stopped around 85K miles when the transmission had to be replaced.

      • 0 avatar
        SilverCoupe

        I had the 84 Turbo (Chrylser Laser, actually). I kept it for seven years, until my transmission went after only about 65K. On the bright side, it stranded me at my then girlfriend’s house, and she eventually became my wife, so I’m not complaining!

        I suppose I did not exactly baby the transmission; I took a Mustang with the Laser once, though another time a Maserati Biturbo left me in its dust.

        It may not have been a great car (what in ’84 was?), but I liked it. It was faster than my previous car, got decent milage, and had lots of room to throw a bicycle or other stuff in the rear hatch.

    • 0 avatar
      mjal

      Not really – the Chrysler/Daimler merger didn’t happen until 1998, and the basic car came out in the early ’80s.

  • avatar
    Marko

    This is one car that I NEVER see anymore – at all. I don’t know why. Granted, I live in New England, but I still see LeBarons, New Yorkers, Spirits, etc. at least once in a while – not Daytonas, though.

    Why? Was it owner demographics?

    I do have to say, the later Daytona and ’87-’95 LeBaron convertible were probably the best-looking of the K-Cars. That’s not really saying much, but at least the styling flowed somewhat.

    My best memory of the Daytona was a golf driving range in Bellingham, MA, that had an early Daytona as a target! I always wondered if you would win something if you got it in the car!

    Unfortunately, the driving range closed at least a decade ago, and was replaced by a housing development. Ugh.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I test drove a Chrysler Laser (twin to the Daytona) in late ’83 when shopping for my first new car. It looked really impressive in the brochures but the actual drive was somewhat less inspiring. The 2.2 engine wasn’t much, the interior seemed cheap, and the stickshift was notchy and imprecise. The deal-killer was the voice that chided me with “Check oil pressure! Check oil pressure” when I accidentally stalled the car. I expressed my dislike of it to the salesman riding along, and he said that I could turn the voice off. I told him “Yeah, but I’d still be paying for it!” as I headed back to the dealership. I ended up buying a CRX with no regret of passing on the Laser.

  • avatar
    Birddog

    I’m willing to bet that someone swapped the R/T badges onto this one.
    As much as I’d love to have any T-3 car I would prefer to have the Spirit R/T.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      The Spirit R/T was a much better sleeper.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      +1 Spirit R/T FTW! But then again I’ve always had a thing for sleeper sedans, regardless of whose badges are on the fenders or the country of origin.

    • 0 avatar
      car_guy2010

      The regular Spirit was no slouch either. I owned a beautiful baby blue ’94 with a V6, Cruise Control, etc. It served me well until the transmission went.

    • 0 avatar

      Gotta be a badge swap. The IROC R/T didn’t come with Ultradrive… and who in their right mind would swap both the engine and transmission on one of those?!?!

      For that matter, who in their right mind would ever own one of these in the first place? (Answer – me, a 1994 Lebaron convertible. It had a slew of problems, but oddly enough the Mitsu V6 wasn’t really one of them. It leaked oil prodigiously, but never burned it, even at close to 90K.)

  • avatar
    JCraig

    Only 95k miles? What is more likely, that the car died before reaching 100k or that the odometer broke?

  • avatar

    Awesome. The dash and console look identical to what was in my 1990 LeBaron coupe, except that the LeBaron had a digital gauge cluster. I definitely remember that terrible turn signal stalk and the buttons for lights, etc. in the top of the cluster. I’m guessing that’s the same V6 that was in my LeBaron, too.

    This find brings back fond memories of my old red Chrsysler, and makes me wonder if the crusher has gotten its jaws on it yet.

  • avatar
    Birddog

    I just caught this line and I had to laugh!

    “Either way, there are probably more ’69 Hemi Daytonas extant today than there are ’92 IROC Daytonas.”

    There are probably more 69 Hemi Daytonas today than there were in 69!

  • avatar
    AlienProbe

    One of my college roomates had a vanilla version of this car. The back seat was laughable. There was no hope of sitting upright if you were taller than 5 feet. At 6 feet tall, I had to travel horizontally if I got the short straw on road trips… No fun.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The dashboard brings home something I noticed about a 1990ish Mustang the other day. The Japanese were setting the pace so dramatically in the ’80s that US companies started emulating crummy Japanese dashboards in cars that originally had perfectly good, euro inspired dasboards. Ever notice that the facelift version of the Fox Mustang went from faux-BMW to faux Toyota Corolla? Looks like the Daytona did it too, although this one almost looks Nissanish. Leave it to Detroit to think that what sold Japanese cars in the ’80s was style.

  • avatar
    mattdaddy

    Our ’92 Dodge Shadow ES had the same Mitsu V6 SOHC engine. It had some good punch to it, 141 HP I believe. We recently just junked it after sitting idle for a couple of years.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    It doesn’t look like anyone has been bothering that car for parts.

    My only experience with a Daytona was when I inherited a champagne pink 1982 or so New Yorker sedan; was looking for a sportier ride and test-drove a Daytona of similar vintage. I couldn’t tell any difference from the New Yorker in the way it drove.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    There are few engines worse than the Mitsubishi 3.0 V6, which saw service in the Dodge Caravan for several years. They became smokers at about 50k miles, and head gasket patients around 70k miles.

    The 2.2 – in any variety – was a much better engine.

    My 85 LeBaron GTS 2.2 non-turbo went 161k miles before needing work, and I traded it at 206k miles. Chrysler really had the styling thing going well at that time.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Slippy, you ain’t kidding, the mitsubishi engine was a mosquito fogger. All mopes that came with bad engines were mitsu powered. The only chrysler engine that was a bad design was the sludge prone 2.7.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Actually the 3.0 has a long history with Mitsubishi and Chrysler. The early ones smoked – something about the valve seats in the heads. This was corrected sometime in the early 90′s. The engine went from 12 to 24 valves, from normally aspirated to twin turbo’d. From 141 hp to 320. It may be still made today. I know I could buy a 24 valve DOHC 3.0 in 2005. The bottom end of this motor is the same in the 320 hp version as it is in the mild 141 hp model.

  • avatar
    mopar4wd

    Back in the day I really wanted a turbo Mopar (still kind of do as mentioned above I would take a spirit RT)Looking at this one it appears it’s an auto so I’m assuming someone slapped the RT badges on a regular IROC. Also I believe the RT had slightly different body kit. Interesting comments on the 3.0 my family owned a few and had good luck with them, For the time the were screamers. I used to take moms caravan strip out the seats an burn the tires off with the 3.0. Had a friend with 3.0 shadow awesome car quick and his with a 5 speed made it to 180,000 miles with no issues (may still be going for all I know) I almost bought a Iroc in the late nineties but ended up with an XJ instead, at the time I was actually looking for a the ultimate pentabishi a Raider but never found one in good shape.

  • avatar

    Oh thank the gods you posted a pic of that crappy Mitsu engine in there!!! I was two seconds away form running down there, with my tow dolly, to save that car until I realized it wasn’t a real R/T.

    Thanks for saving my marriage ;)

  • avatar
    kokomokid

    Are there any turbo III cars still around? I had a Spirit R/T from about ’93 to ’95. It was about the ultimate “sleeper,” but it sure had issues. In only about 40K miles, it blew two head gaskets and broke a timing belt. My head didn’t crack, but I heard at the time that cracked heads were a problem.

    It’s too bad that engine was so “underdeveloped” in some ways, because it was a great runner. The transmission even shifted pretty slickly for a non-Honda front driver.

    I currently have an ’89 Caravan with a 2.5 turbo and 5-speed manual. I’d love to have the Spirit R/T power train in that van, if it were reliable.

  • avatar
    Alex the guy with the Accord Coupe

    My uncle had one of these with the Turbo III. That sucker could cruise. I was passing through Chi-town, and stayed one night at my grandparents’ home. My uncle picked me up in his Daytona to go see Tomorrow Never Dies at the dollar theatre. We hit 106 mph on some city street in Chicago. In the rain. It was OSSUM.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I saw what is probably the world’s finest remaining IROC R/T at a show in Canton a couple of weeks ago. It has 6,200 miles on the odometer, and still has all of the original paperwork, including window sticker. It has every available option, including leather, cd player and alarm system.
    Chrysler planned on building 800 of them, but ended up only building 250 due to a supply shortage of lotus heads. 4 cylinder fwd cars were never my cup of tea, but this R/T was so nice that I couldn’t help but look it over.

  • avatar
    and003

    I wonder if this car can be restored.

  • avatar

    that is not an original r/t. someone swapped the badges on. the r/t twin cam 2.2 only ever got the Getrag A568 5spd and you can tell by the interior shot that car has an automatic. only other way you could get the bad boy trans is if you ordered the regular iroc 2.5 8v turbo with a stick instead of an automatic. the mitsu v6 iroc with a stick shift was also rather rare. and it only came with the standard A523 w/ a v6 bell housing (aka the A543).

    the v6/5spd combo could also be had on a Shadow but again it is extremely rare as the Shadow was billed as basic transportation and most people paying for 6 banger power also wanted the convenience of an automatic. the only other cars to get the R/T twin cam / getrag 5spd other than the 92-93 Iroc R/T was the US market 91-92 Spirit R/T (Mexico also got 2.5 T2 cars badged as R/T’s) and the Phantom R/T – a J body Lebaron coupe that was only sold in Mexico.


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