By on May 14, 2012

Remember the rear-window louver craze? Thanks to the large numbers of Daytonas and Lasers that clung to life long enough to enter junkyards in this second decade of the 21st century, we can relive the Louver Era!
If I ever turbocharge my A100 van (I’m considering it; there’s plenty of room for turbo plumbing beneath the engine), I’m going to use this genuine Chrysler boost gauge.
These cars weren’t known for reliability, but plenty of them are still around. I saw this ’90 last month, and the Chrysler G-body isn’t particularly rare on the street even after a quarter-century.
Should we refer to the late 1980s as the Louver Era or the Turbo Era?

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29 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1988 Dodge Daytona Turbo...”

  • avatar

    The fact that my 85 LeBaron GTS wasn’t a turbo probably contributed to its 206k mile life (while I owned it, at least). But this Daytona went 140k miles – not bad for an early turbo.

    I see the engine is still spinning at 3000 rpm after all these years.

  • avatar

    I seriously considered the Laser/Daytona as a new car purchase in late 1983. They looked great on paper and in the brochures. However, a test drive convinced me that the Mopar twins were not the way to go. Particularly annoying was the synthesized voice alert. The salesman who accompanied me on the drive said that it could be turned off but I told him that I would still be paying for it. It was off to the Honda dealer after that little adventure and I eventually ended up buying a CRX.

  • avatar

    The louver era started circa 1969, which is when my old Mach 1 had them. (Did larry Shinoda invent them or just copy them from the Italians, I don’t know). I can’t remember seeing them before then, but I do remember seeing them on various pony cars through the early 80’s. GM 2nd and early 3rd gen F body cars had them in spades.I think the Daytona was just a straggler.

    I’d call the 80’s the Turbo 1.0 era (Turbo Two Tone era sounds better). Lots of cars had them, most of them kinda sucked, the others spat out the impeller bearings after they’d been gunked with burnt oil. I’d say we’re in Turbo 2.0 era right now, which was pretty much an offically mainstream thing when you could get a turbo ford pick-up truck, but I think people realized its permanence when BMW retired the last N/A option in the bread-n-butter 3 series and left us nothing but forced induction options on the table. (Boosted Bimmer era?)

    • 0 avatar

      The Lamborghini Marzal showcar had louvers in 1967 with the added twist of the louver elements being hexagons.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Back in the day,BMW used to advertise its non-use of turbos as a selling point (of course, BMW did not export the turbocharged 745 to the U.S., so it was a truthful statement).

      Considering the non-linear “light switch” behavior of early turbos and their reliability issues (the head of Volvo once announced that turbos should be considered a “wear item” like brake pads, and owner should expect to have to replace them at 80,000 miles) they were truly a mixed blessing. My recollection is that these early MoPar versions had some vicious torque steer as well.

      Even the vaunted Porsche 911 turbo was considered something of a widowmaker, since controlling the boost in a corner was pretty tricky, with unexpected and possibly disastrous consequences.

      • 0 avatar

        Chrysler made a big deal of the fact that the turbo bearings for the 2.2 were water-cooled for durability – they claimed to be the first with that idea. I’m not sure how well it worked, though.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, the turbocharger /is/ a weak point compared to the rest of an old 240 or 740. (You, in the peanut gallery, shut up about wiring.) When they go, though, Al Gore has nightmares for weeks.


        Most Volvos – later 240 Turbos and all 740/760/940 Turbos – had water-cooled turbochargers; I can’t say how much it helped, not having owned an original 240 Turbo, but it can’t have hurt.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        I found it worked superbly. While there were some problems in Chryco’s turbo 2.2s, it wasn’t the turbochargers which occasionally gave drivers grief. The thermosiphon feature eliminated the problems associated with hot engine shutoff, when a rapidly spinning turbine shaft suddenly found its bearings devoid of a flow of cooling oil. The heated housing would rapidly coke the oil, which would score the turbine bearings and result in premature turbo failure. Porsche 924 owners were particularly vulnerable to this malady, and the recommended replacement interval for their turbos was right around 30,000 miles. With the new Garrett unit in place in Chrysler’s engines, the housing would heat the water upon shutdown, which flashed into steam and drew cooler fluid from below, ensuring the oil would never get hot enough to coke. If there were any problems, they usually happened as a result of frequent and repeated abuse of the vehicle, which includes putting anything less than the highest octane gasoline in the tank.

        The bitching about turbo lag during that era comes from those who drove offerings from competing manufacturers, all of whom forgot to keep the intake and exhaust lengths short. Chrysher’s 2.2 and 2.5 featured a turbine housing situated a couple of inches from the exhaust ports, and the throttle body was parked right atop the impeller housing, which made for snappy performance as long as you weren’t trying to lug the engine in a taller gear. Compare that to the multiple feet of intake and exhaust manifold Nissan used for its turbocharged Pulsar, the long pipes found in GM’s “Brazil” 1.8 and 2.0 turbomotors and the excessive plumbing Toyota used for its turbocharged pickup truck. That’s a significant advantage enjoyed by a reverse flow head when it comes to forced induction via waste heat capture.

        I don’t recall precisely when my first Chrysler turbocar gave up the ghost, but it was on its third owner and third trip around the odometer when he finally grew tired of the annual fuel pump replacement ritual (see? problems w/Chrysler turbocars were NOT with the turbocharging system itself).

        Chrysler fixed the torque steer issues quickly with their equal length half shaft idler plus block mounted bearing in the mid-80s, but the turbo 2.2 program was all done with by the time helical bias differentials actually became available to the general public.

    • 0 avatar

      Louvers on the back window date back to at least the 1954 Oldsmobile Cutlass show car from that year’s Motorama.

  • avatar

    I had rear louvers on a 79 scirocco. They actually worked pretty well. Kept out most of the sun and during light snows it kept the back window clean. I miss them and that car.

  • avatar

    I had an ’84 Pontiac Sunbird Turbo with louvers on the rear hatch. The turbo never failed but various other engine parts did. The louvers never failed to block the sun.

    Switch to 2012: I recently spotted a bright green new Camaro with louvers on the rear window. Maybe louvers are coming back?

  • avatar

    In an era where window tint is frowned upon by the authorities, I wonder how they would feel about louvers?

  • avatar

    I had rear louvers on my 2008 Mustang GT. They were great. In Houston rain, they kept my back window dry. I also think they look fantastic. Considering them again for my 2012.

  • avatar

    Pickups came with these too. Also great for the Houston sun. They should never have gone away. Authorities could see in at the right angle so, for them better than drug dealer tint.

    The other thing we should not have lost is the old car “eye brow” outside window shades for windshield and side windows.

  • avatar

    I like the radio, especially the speaker balance joy stick. Bring that back.

  • avatar

    Looks like it could have been driven to the boneyard.

  • avatar

    I had a 1987 Dodge Lancer ES Turbo that went 10 years & 160K miles with me, I generally got excellent service out of it. One problem I did have was with the coolant return line from the turbo, it had a pinhole leak in it, causing the eventual need for a head gasket. But the turbo itself was never an issue. Out of all of the cars I’ve owned, that one is STILL in the top three, the other two being V8 muscle or pony cars…

    The featured car is something of an odd duck. I don’t recall ever seeing what appears to be such a low line model sporting a turbo engine; it doesn’t appear to have any of the normal turbo ‘gingerbread’ from Mopars of that era. It appears to be a standard Daytona, all the way down to the steel wheels taken right off of a contemporary Shadow.

    I bet that was a fun little sleeper, if it was used that way…

  • avatar

    Chrysler was the largest manufacturer of turbocharged cars in the 80s. The 2.2 Turbo was a good motor. The guts were fairly robust and the turbos themselves were much improved from other manufacturer’s smoke machines. Some good info here including some stuff on the super wild 224 HP Turbo III
    I had a 1986 Chrysler Laser with the Turbo and a very cool Mark Cross leather interior. In many respects, a much better vehicle than the Mustangs and Camaros of the era.

    • 0 avatar

      I can attest to that, as my Turbo Mercury Capri was a total pile. Between the carburetor and the head gaskets that failed repeatedly, I swore off turbo motors. Or so I thought, until driving a friend’s turbo Shadow changed my mind.

      My turbo Lancer wasn’t flawless, but there were very few 80’s cars that were. There are times I wish I still had the old beast…

  • avatar

    Louvers were really big in the 80’s. John “Cougar” Mellencamp even did a song about it. “I need a louver that won’t drive me crazy.”

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    That window-B pillar-C pillar section looks very 928y.

    (and the eventual 2-door Panamera should be called 928.)

    (I always liked the look of the 928.)

  • avatar

    I have a soft spot for all Chrysler K platform variants. Most were relatively solid and reliable, and the turbo cars added a bit of spice to the mix.
    I’ve got your next project lines up Murilee. Take an early Dodge Caravan, slap in a turbo motor, and bingo – you have yourself the ultimate sleeper. The turbo minivan.

    • 0 avatar

      I normally hate any minivan- save for the Turbo Caravan, I’ve seen youtube videos of those absolutely humiliating Mustangs and Camaros…. or I could swing a 5.0 Aerostar (yes I know I’m a sick person!)

  • avatar

    If you look at the shit Chrysler was making just a few years earlier these cars were a quantum leap. Sure, the Japanese cars were better in many regards but Mopar was written off as dead in 1980.

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