By on December 15, 2012

We often forget about the P-body version of Chrysler’s mainstay-for-15-years K platform, though Shadows and Sundances once roamed North American highways in huge numbers. I still see plenty of completely trashed Ps in self-service wrecking yards— for example, this ’91 Shadow, this ’92 Sundance, and this super-rare Sundance America— but it takes something special to make me willing to do a Junkyard Find on a P. Early-90s factory tape graphics on a crypto-sporty Shadow sold just before the advent of the Neon? Yes, there’s some historical significance here.
The El Cheapo Plymouth Sundance America was Chrysler’s attempt to follow up the even more El Cheapo Horizon America (Jack Baruth explores the fate of the Horizon America and similar attempts at the creation of super-affordable compacts in this piece), but meanwhile the slightly more upscale Dodge Division was aiming for a few more bucks with cars like this optioned-up Shadow ES.
I believe ES is supposed to stand for “Executive Sedan.”
222,592 miles on the clock, which is quite respectable.
That mileage figure is even more impressive when you consider that this car has a Mitsubishi heart: the 3-liter 6G72 V6 engine, the naturally-aspirated version of the engine that powered the 3000GT/Stealth and countless minivans.
With 142 horsepower hauling just 2,690 pounds, this ’93 Shadow ES was quick enough to deserve its decklid wing.

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60 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1993 Dodge Shadow ES...”


  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’m pretty sure ES stood for euro sport or euro sedan.

  • avatar
    and003

    This car could serve as a candidate for an engine swap involving the Pentastar V6 and an RWD conversion. :)

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    For 1993, 142hp was nothing to sneeze at in a compact.

  • avatar
    greaseyknight

    I actually saw one of these going down the freeway this week, I mistook it for its competitor the Nissan Sentra. Judging from the listings on Craigslist, most of the Shadows have been junked, only 3 listed in the Seattle area. One of these with the 174 horse Turbo 4 would be the hot ticket to compete against the Sentra SE-R.

    • 0 avatar
      MannyPacquiao

      Funny that you mentioned that car. My wife bought one of these in Denver in 1998, actually it was the Plymouth Sundance “Duster” version. One day were were driving down the street and a kid in a 1991-1994 Nissan Sentra SE-R decided to try to give us a run. From a roll we pulled on the little Sentra. He was visibly upset. The four speed auto sapped a lot of the fun but the 3.0 SOHC dolled out the torque. Some deadbeat lady totalled it as it sat parked in front of her moms house a few months later. I fantasized about dropping the twin turbo stealth/3000gt motor in one of these and making a super sleeper. They came in 4 doors and some with a five speed. We made a trip up to Denver to look at a 4 door 5 speed one two years later. It was sold by the time we made it up there. We stopped in the Springs and test drove a 1996 Talon TSi AWD at a Saturn dealership. Bought it even though we shouldn’t have and drove the piss out of it and ran through clutches.

  • avatar
    89lt19c1

    I actually worked at a Dodge dealer back when these were new. I did the Pre-delivery inspections, and beat the snot out of these. They were very quick. This car invented torque steer.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    222x Miles is pretty impressive for something like this, I congratulate its owners for keeping it going for as long as they did.

    Though the paint is typical Chrysler of the era, why is it that almost no 90′s Chryslers had decent paint jobs?

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      My minivan is the same shade of Burgundy/plumb/something. And in about as bad shape.
      In the mid 80s the EPA required a new, less polluting paint formula. Some formulas didn’t adhere to the primer base very well, chipping. Others were very prone to sun fade. At first everyone got it wrong. But some took longer than others to get it right. Chrysler and GM seemed to take the longest. Clear coating helped a lot, but that wasn’t an option usually chosen by economy car buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      The GM H-Body and W-Body were some of the worst from this era. They kept building them just like that, too. I’ve even seen 2000+ Buick Park Avenues with paint peeling. Seems to have been worst on white cars, least offensive on silver.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        Also, what was Chrysler Corp’s fascination with this color, paired with gold pinstriping and gold-trimmed wheels and badging? Seems like almost everything they made fromi ’90-99 was available this way, and people inexplicably bought them. Town and Countries, Shadows, Cirruses, LHSs, Concordes, everything. And if you didn’t spring for the upper-buck nameplate and mandatory plum paint with gold trim, you got the “Nike windbreaker” aqua color.

        God, the ’90s…

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    First time I got laid was in an ’89 Sundance…

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Had a friend in high school, her dad was the ceo of the biggest steel company in town, his house was 7500square feet and all sorts of awesome. But in the garage were 4 mint condition Plymouth Sundance sedans one for him and his wife and one each for the daughters. The man was swimming in money and could have bought anything he wanted. Though these cars were as reliable as an anvil, I could never quite wrap my head around it.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      Some people just see cars as tools for a job, and buy the cheapest one that will get the job done. Look at Mitt Romney – a guy with his cash could easily have a garage full of Bentleys, but he’s got a Fox Mustang and an older F-150. Granted, his wife drives a couple Cadillacs, but you get the idea that cars aren’t a huge priority next to, say, housing and vacations.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        I understand the sentiment, and understand that the #1 car among millionaires is the f150, because of function over form. But if I was in a meeting with captains of industry and one of them rolls up in a Plymouth Sundance, I. can’t take that man seriously.

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        A son of a friend of mine is preparing a life in politics, and he’s taken special care in carefully selecting his car purchases since he turned 18.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        A lot of people who want to go into politics will only buy ‘Merican cars. That’s why he doesn’t have Bentleys. I know someone who bought multiple Sebrings.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      Often the more expensive sports or luxury cars are marketed for those who want to prove that they have money or “have arrived”.

      When you already have the money, you might not care unless cars are your hobby. Your friend’s father may have had a hobby in a big boat or golf trips around the world or something else that didn’t hit your radar as a teen.

  • avatar
    BlueEr03

    I’ve driven in 2 of these regularly; the owner deserves a ton of praise. Not for keeping the engine going, but for keeping the headliner from coming completely off.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    In V6, manual transmission form, the Shadow/Duster twins were actually quite fun.

  • avatar
    tmkreutzer

    In November of 87 I factory ordered my first brand new car. It was delivered on Valentines day 1988 and it was a graphic red 2 door Shadow with a 2.2 turbo backed by a 5 speed. I think it was rated at 148 horsepower. I passed on the ES option with its extra graphics, spoiler, color matched grill and special wheels but got all the performance bits.

    It was a kicking little car and its bright red color got a lot of looks (and not just from the police.) It also won more than a few contests on the highway.

    The V6 in this junkyard find makes just about as much power and loses the turbo lag so I suppose its a good thing, but mated to an automatic transmission I bet it had as much personality at a mix-master.

    Still, you made my day posting this up.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    The days of 2,600 lbs cars with torque, ah!

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “That mileage figure is even more impressive when you consider that this car has a Mitsubishi heart: the 3-liter 6G72 V6 engine”

    That may be the understatement of the year. Every 3.0 Mitsubishi I ever saw was smoking by 50k miles. This one must have been rebuilt, or replaced – perhaps several times.

    My H-body 85 Lebaron GTS managed to go 206k miles, but it had a normally-aspirated 2.2.

  • avatar
    leonidas

    I’m always blown away by how well these interiors, especially the seats, hold up. It seems the same in the all the K variants… Not just the Imperials like we saw the other day. Here’s a cheap little Dodge 20 years old with 200k and the seats look great! I suppose they were made by Lear? If only everybody had done such durable work on the components of this car!

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    I keep picturing a stripped shadow as a perfect Le’mons car. It is kind of heavy but arguably reliable. It won’t win races against the more exotic stuff but it may actually survive long enough to make it through. Now that I know it has the 3000GT/Stealth engine it’s even more tempted to source a used turbo and sneak under regs with 200-220 HP.

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    These cars were as reliable as anything else in the day if not more so. Being that they shared much with mitsubishi the required maintenance is just that. Slap a turbo on that 2.2 and go forth and hooned my wayward son!

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    * hoon

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    This would have been a winner w/the 222 HP version of this engine from the Stealth

    Or not. Prob would have just ripped the front end off the car.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I find it amazing that these were actually hatchbacks. It definitely does not look like one. I didn’t know it was a hatchback until I saw one with its rear hatch open. Are they all hatchbacks or was there a conventional trunked one?

  • avatar
    dtremit

    Those tape stripes were reflected in the advertising — at least in Quebec. Behold, Celine Dion for the Shadow ES: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ulqp765pFIE

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Never seen in these reports or found online anywhere an early 1980′s Olds Cutlass “fastback” sedan the one that looked like a hatch, but it actually had a trunk. Much maligned vehicle which I happened to like a lot

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The Cutlass Salon fastback sedans were only made in ’78 and ’79. They were dropped in 1980 because of slow sales relative to the notchback Cutlass Supreme, at which point they introduced a base notchback sedan that was just called a Cutlass.

    • 0 avatar
      chicagoland

      There were barely any 1980 aeroback coupes sold, they died on the vine.

      But, many former GM big car owners traded in for notchback Cutlass four doors, a comeback within the recession. There was an uplevel Cutlass LS sedan also for 1980, until the sedans also got Cutlass Supreme name in 83[?]

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Thanks for the info, no wonder that it’s almost impossible to find one anywhere, there is one featured in a YouTube video but it’s a 2 door.

  • avatar
    Banger

    This looks just like my wife’s first car, which she got while we were in high school. Hers lacked the Mitsubishi V6 or the turbo, and it had the God-awful three-speed slushbox.

    That said, it was one tough little car. The hatchback was all kinds of practical, although it needed new struts (don’t they all?) and we were using a cut-off broom handle to prop it open (don’t act like you haven’t.)

    The night after her senior prom, she drove it to my house and we rode to town in my pickup truck to get dinner and cavort about town. When we returned late that night, she fell asleep driving the Shadow between my house and hers, drifting off the road in a long straight section of two-lane before clearing out most of a ditchline and finally cutting down a telephone pole. The Shadow came to a rest on top of the stub of a telephone pole that was still sticking up out of the ground. Its radiator was toast, and I’m sure the engine was knocked loose. But it was still running when she came to.

    Of course it was totaled. She used the money to get a 2002 Kia Spectra. Not a great car, now that we look back on it, but certainly seemed lightyears ahead of the Shadow in comparison. Ergonomics, for one thing, were way better in the Kia. The Shadow’s tall, square dash panel and low bucket seats made it feel like you were trying to peep over a wall to drive.

    The other day I saw a 2002 Spectra in the same color as hers at a gas station. Its paint looked just about as bad as the Shadow’s did in 2002.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      Had to laugh at the broom handle reference. I grew up in the era of Nova/Duster/Pacer/ect hatchbacks. After a while I wondered why companies didn’t offer a secondary hatch stabilizer (wooden pole) with their cars. You’d be hard pressed to find a car that didn’t need one after 3-4 years. Most owners didn’t seem to believe the replacement cost was worth it, and just invested in a stick.

  • avatar
    tmkreutzer

    I’m probably a good deal taller than hour wife so seeing out was never a problem for me. I always thought the upright greenhouse gave me a good view all around. I will say that the sloping hoodline, however blew me away at the time. Coming out of a 74 Nova with an acre of hood in front of me, the Shadow made me feel like I was sitting in the front row of an Imax movie.

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    Here comes the strangest post of the day…

    For reasons that even I can’t comprehend, I um, kinda like Chrysler products from this era!

    If I still lived in Florida where rust isn’t an issue, I would consider a mid 80′s-early 90′s Chrysler for a “toy” to tinker with.

    BTW, I don’t suppose you could grab a shot of that 1987 Sundance in the background could you? Those are rare these days! My best friend’s sister drove one for a while, it was a rather nice little car.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    This was the first car I ever bought by myself (less than two years old from a dealer with some powertrain warranty left). Turbo 5-speed in that maroon color. I had SO much fun with that car! Back then, on the 2.2 stock boost was limited to 10lb-ft peak, 7 1/2 lb-ft sustained. However, Mopar Performance sold an inexpensive computer module upgrade (which you installed in the right passenger floor kick panel) that was good for 15lb-ft peak, 10lb-ft. sustained. Just plug & play of that, a minor exhaust tweak and a K&N filter is all I did. I took it to the drag strip just for kicks. Packing the intercooler down with ice between runs, and avoiding the bleach pits altogether netted consistent low 15-second 1/4 miles on street tires, surprising a couple of Fox-bodied Mustang GTs when they didn’t get a good launch! The behavior of the car reminded me of the Starion/Conquest of the era: tentative 1st gear, 2nd on fire, 3rd hitting its stride. The real limitation was aerodynamics, not gearing. Sadly, after selling it to my sister for a song when she needed a car, she promptly wrecked it. It had a good run though.

  • avatar
    Sky_Render

    My very first car was a ’93 Plymouth Sundance Duster V6. I miss that little car.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Has an 87 coupe stripper edition.

    Kill it with fire.

  • avatar
    blppt

    I had a 94 Shadow for a couple of years. Had the base 2.2, which was no barnstormer with the 3 speed auto, but what I remember most about that car was how smooth it was at idle for a 4 banger, and it was pretty frisky in the curves too. Always wondered what the car would’ve felt like with either the 2.5 or 3.0 in it. Or one of the earlier models that had the 2.5/2.2 turbos.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back over the summer I saw a Shadow convertible. Basically a shorter LeBaron convertible. I think they were done by ASC. Nice shape but you could see the door fit at the latch area was a bit off. Maybe it was old age. Future collectable? Who knows? Maybe there is a market out there for AMC Alliance convertibles as well.

    • 0 avatar
      blppt

      I have an old C&D issue with the Shadow Convertible tested. 0-60 in 7.7 with the 2.5 turbo (152hp) and 3 speed auto. Not bad at all if you ask me. And yes, it was ASC that did the conversion.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Chicago dealers had alot of Sundance Dusters and Shadow ES’s in green with gold trim. They called them ‘Dusters’ for short. Were a popular buy for entry level customers, until the Neon came.

    But, as with most cheap ‘cool’ cars, they disappear as fast as they flood the market.


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