Junkyard Find: 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Most folks think of Cobras or Mustangs when they think of the late Carroll Shelby, but don’t forget the Shelby Chryslers of the 1980s! Shelby cranked out a run of turbocharged front-drive Dodges that delivered amazing-for-their-time bang-for-buck performance, and they’ve remained quite affordable. So affordable, in fact, that Shelby Dodges are not uncommon sights in self-service junkyards; just in the last couple of years, I’ve found this Daytona Shelby Z, this Omni GLH, and this Shelby Charger awaiting their appointments with The Crusher. Last week, I spotted another one in a Denver yard.

Yes, this car was based on a platform designed in France by Simca, and it’s true that the L-bodies were flimsy throwaway cars that tended to disintegrate in a hurry, but so what? 146 horsepower in a 2,350-pound car was ridiculous in 1985!

The Omni GLH and the Shelby Charger were more or less the same car beneath the skin, with the same 2.2 liter turbocharged engine under the hood.

This example is pretty much a thrashed-to-death basket case, though it doesn’t seem to be rusty. Will beat examples of Shelby Chargers ever be worth enough to be restorable?

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

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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  • And003 And003 on May 29, 2012

    If I had the resources, I'd buy this car, give it a custom chassis and new paint job, and install a Pentastar V-6 from the current Dodge Challenger in the engine bay. :-)

    • And003 And003 on Jun 12, 2012

      Better yet, since I recently came across information about a 1988 Dodge Daytona that was turned into an RWD car with a 6.1 Hemi in place of the original engine, I could do something similar with this Shelby Charger.

  • KindaFondaHonda KindaFondaHonda on May 30, 2012

    I looked at the Omni GLH and Shelby Charger back in 1986 when ready to buy a new car. I loved the Omni GLH (black with silver stripes) and wanted one bad. But it was on the showroom floor for over 9 grand and that was a lot for a small car back then. I looked at a Shelby Charger (Garnet Red with the silver stripes... super sharp) and while I thought it looked awesome, as a two door, I couldn't see making my friends squeeze in the back. Plus the price was even higher (over $10K, maybe). Too rich for my college boy earnings as a waiter. My favorite part of those cars were the machined aluminum wheels on the later versions (just the holes around the rim). 15 inchers and w- i- d- e. Too bad the steering wheel and dashboards were so outdated, even then. Neat cars, though.

  • Dave M. The Outback alternates between decent design and goofy design every generation. 2005 was attractive, 2010 goofy. 2015 decent. 2020 good, but the ‘23 refresh hideous.Looking forward to the Outback hybrid in ‘26…..
  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.