Junkyard Find: 1986 Dodge Omni GLH
You’d think that the Shelby-ized Dodges of the 1980s would be sought-after collector’s items nowadays… but you’d be wrong. The Omni GLH/GLHS had to be the best performance-per-dollar deal of any new car you could buy during the mid-to-late 1980s, but its humble Simca origins and disposable nature mean that surviving examples aren’t worth fixing up once they get in rough condition.
The ’86 GLH had 146 horsepower, weighed 2,295 pounds, and listed at $7,918 (or just over 16 grand in 2011 bucks).
Compare that to the ’86 Honda Civic Si, which had 91 horsepower, weighed 2,033 pounds, and sold for $7,999. OK, fine, we’ll admit that the Civic had build quality a couple of orders of magnitude better than the Omni and it handled better, but: 55 more horsepower for $81 less! Spend about 11 grand, and you’d get the ridiculously overpowered GLHS, which came with 175 horsepower and ran 14.7-second quarter miles right off the showroom floor. That blew away the Mustang GT and IROC-Z Camaro, and came very close to beating the ’86 Corvette.
Check out that screamin’ red interior. What’s not to love about a Rootes Group four-door hatch with Dodge badging, Carroll Shelby influence, and lots of boost? Apparently, this car’s last owner didn’t feel that way. Right now it’s in a Denver self-service yard, but the next stop will likely be a Chinese steel factory.
Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.
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