By on March 11, 2014

09 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo many Chrysler P bodies in American wrecking yards today, so many that Shadows and Sundances generally make up a good quarter of your typical self-serve wrecking yard’s Chrysler section. You still see some of these cars on the street these days, though hit-bottom-years-ago resale values mean that a running Chrysler P is becoming semi-rare sight. I think the low-buck Shadow America and Sundance America are interesting enough to photograph, as is the Sundance Duster, but most of the time I just tune out the Ps when I see them during junkyard expeditions. The Shadow ES, with its goofy 80s-hangover tape graphics, manages to attract my attention, so let’s admire the exquisitely of-its-timeness of this ’94 that I spotted in Denver a couple months ago.
10 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars were pretty cheap, and they weren’t slow (by mid-90s standards).
08 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThat is, they weren’t slow when equipped with the Mitsubishi 6G72 V6, as this car is. Though, as we’ve seen, this engine doesn’t guarantee reliability.
05 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe early 90s are notable for having introduced the world to fake wood trim that was much more realistic than the Tormented Souls In Hell Simu-Wood™ of the 1970s and 1980s. Look, 20 years old and not faded or cracked!
04 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere oughta be a law.
14 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe snow is obscuring the mean-looking hood bulge with V6 emblems, but it’s there.
07 - 1994 Dodge Shadow ES Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith manual transmission, this sort of car wouldn’t be a bad first car for a teenager interested in making a cheap machine to take to test-n-tune night. Grab the turbo hardware off a wrecked Stealth, experience the joys of Xtreem Torque Steer®.

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46 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1994 Dodge Shadow ES...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That car is almost certainly there because of the terrible Mitsubishi 3.0, which probably ate its valve guides and piston rings before 50k miles, and the owner milked it out another year or so until the repair cost became half the car’s depreciated value.

    The 2.5 (and former 2.2) were much better engines, which would have delivered that Shadow to the junkyard in more worn condition.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m going to have to disagree there, since my first car had that motor and I put well over 100K on that 3.0L V6 before swapping it to a turbo 4. Because turbocharger.

      • 0 avatar

        The 3.0s leaked oil past the valves and they smoked, but they still ran and ran.

        I agree that the workhorse 2.2 and 2.5 were, in hindsight, better choices for most buyers.

        • 0 avatar

          My first new car was a 1990, red 2.5 liter Shadow. Had the ES graphics/wing without the motor. Just short or 20,000 miles, Dodge gave me a new engine becuase one of those giant valve covers bent at a 90 degree angle, like it was trying to peep out of the valve cover & see what the exhaust manifold was up to. LOL At around 35,000 it got stuck in reverse (manual tranny) SIX FREAKIN TIMES. Finally killed it on Autobahn 8 at about 135 (going downhill) in the spring of ’94. One of the main bearings broke & Chrysler would have fixed it if I had had the temerity to take it to the Jeep dealer in Kaiserslautern instead of the crooks at the PX. I had some damn good times in that thing, even with a bad tach, intermittant dash lights & no arm rest. :)

          • 0 avatar

            You were in Germany and you had your first new car, a 1990 Dodge Shadow. Really? I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around this one, and I don’t know if I should feel bad for you or be jealous.

          • 0 avatar

            hmm It won’t let me reply to joe directly:

            Yes, I bought it at Arena Dodge in Dayton Ohio in June of 1990. The Army shipped it out of Bayonne, NJ that September. I had a bunch of CD’s that got stolen out of the trunk LOL I was a young E4 with no credit. Payment was like 205 a month & the insurance, in Germany, was like 230. LOL

  • avatar

    That thing would have been a hot rod for the guy or gal who drove it off the lot in ’94. It would have been a formidable opponent for the Vulcan V6 MTX Topaz I had for a few months long ago.

  • avatar

    My dad bought a red one of these off a used car lot back in the late 1990’s. He brought it home and my brother asked to take it for a spin, my dad said yes, but be careful!

    About 1km down the road the moron punched it around a corner, lost traction and plowed it into the curb. He whacked something important (transmission?) because from then on it always made noises…

    I don’t even think it lasted a year after that.

  • avatar

    I know Thomas K is enamored with Shadows in general, but the one I had was in the top three worst vehicles I’ve ever seen and I’m glad to see them dead in this condition. (worst being the incredibly dangerous welded together 91 Pathfinder, in addition we painted much of the visible rust black in order to dump it at a public auction in 2005. Honorable mention to the 88ish Cavalier coupe body welded onto an early 90s S-10 frame with either the 4.3 or 350 “upgrade”. Yes this really happened).

    • 0 avatar

      Those Pathfinders were just rust magnets. They looked nice in the right trim with some aero wheels, and the eventual gold/mirror tints.

      • 0 avatar

        You would have loved this one. From what I was told it broke in two pieces around the center (either on one or both sides) on the drive back from the auction where it was purchased and it was welded back together. We dumped it to what looked like a single mother and her very tall teenage son for what I assume was the latter’s first car for I think $1200 in 2005. Ironically it was gold with the factory mirror tint you describe. I think mileage on it was in the 150s, but it did have a sunroof and all of the lux features.

        Yeah the public auction brings back memories, not only of the junk we dumped there but of all the nice late 80s/early 90s cars. I used to paw all the Cadillacs every time we went.

    • 0 avatar

      A Cava S-10? I wish I knew how that drove, I bet that the body had to be re-tweaked a bit to fit on the frame.

      What made the Shadow so bad? They certainly don’t look very spacious, nothing on par with Chryslers L-bodies from before.

  • avatar

    Remember how the sister Plymouth Sundance lettering on the trunklid looked like “SuNDaNcE”, I mean the letters themselves were actually dancing!!!

    • 0 avatar

      UGGGGHHHHH. I was always so annoyed at that font. Even as a child I had OCD tendencies such as this.

      Also became annoyed at the not-upright nature of fonts on things like the Plymouth EXPRESSO. The Neon 90s font was rounded perfectly, and better suited me.

      Oh the Tracker had all kind of goofy fonts too. Annoy.

      • 0 avatar

        Glad to see I’m not the only person who notices fonts used on cars and judges the cars based on them!

        Current-model peeves:

        – The script used on Focus and Fiesta. “Fiesta” is almost unreadable. Also reminds me of the awful handwritten script Ford used back in the late ’90s, introduced with the ’96 Taurus.

        – The puffy, slightly italic font used on the Passat. Looks cheap, just like the car it’s on.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve noticed the Fiesta one as well. I never notice Passats, but now I will have a look.

          Example of old, good font: pre-95 Audi!

  • avatar

    My first car was a ’93 Plymouth Sundance Duster with that same V6. Peppy little car, and it was actually very reliable for the many years I drove it to High School and then college.

    Then I got into modifying cars, dropped a built turbo 4 in it, and the reliability went to poop. I learned my lesson about engine swaps then.

  • avatar

    That whole center stack is so familiar, as I grew up riding around in variants of Dodge products, produced between 1986 and 1996. That particular stereo design I always found easy to use, with nice button feel. The resistance on the treble/bass sliders always felt nice as well. It seems silly to devote such prominent and large spots for the rear defrost and front fog lights.

    Wasn’t this on the same platform as the same age LeBaron sedans? And the Acclaim, or whatever. Seems like the LeBarons had a more corporate (and more modern) looking front end on them.

    I feel this would have looked hella-outdated by 1994. Gimme a Paseo!

    • 0 avatar

      My favorite Chrysler radio design was this:

      The Joystick Audio Control Seemed So Practical! We had one in an 89 New Yorker that we transplanted into a 1992 Dakota. The radio is a breeze to operate.

      I always thought that Chrysler produced the best radios, except for one problem: On ours, you could manually tune to a station, but if the radio thought the signal was too weak, you got silence. No static or anything. What a pain out here in Wyoming!

  • avatar

    I always found the Shadow CS-X to be an intriguing machine. With 170 horses, I would imagine that it was decent off the line (for the early 90’s, that is).

    As fun as they look, I can’t see ponying up 8k+ (give or take) for a well-preserved, low mileaged Shadow. Rip-snortin’ CS-X or not.

    My jailbird brother has a ’91 Shadow. Convertible (or what’s left of it). Green with the weird gold accents (wheels, decals), tan cloth. It’s fully loaded with the exception of leather, which I am not sure if leather was even offered.

    His is a slushbox and I can’t for the life of me remember whether it was a six or four.

    Last time I saw it, the ragtop was in tatters, absolute sh*t. It had something north of 130k on it. Runs okay but it’s starting to get smokey out of that tailpipe. Paint still fairly clean with the exception of 130k miles worth of normal scratches, slight dents, road grime, et cetera. It’s in his garage as we speak. He seems to be preserving it or something.

    Why preserve a Shadow that’s already had it? Don’t know. Beats the hell outta me.

  • avatar

    Paging Thomas Kreutzer.

    Being a Mopar guy, I almost pulled the trigger on one of these in ’93. The Escort GT (with Mazda powertrain) won out, though. The Escort was fun until I traded it for a ’96 Probe GT. Chrysler wasn’t really making anything that remotely appealed to me in those days and didn’t until the LX was released. Finally got my Mopar in 2012 in the form of a Charger R/T.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry I’m so late to the party. Best. Car. Ever.

      Or not. The ES was the top of the line and this one looks like it is loaded, but I’m a turbo Dodge guy, not a Mitsubishi V6 guy. I think the HP numbers are a little stronger with the V6 than they are with the turbo, but I doubt it has as much personality. There was some skill involved when you drove one of the turbo cars, you had to watch your revs and know what you were doing to get the most out of it. I think you just mashed the gas with the V6.

      Also, I think the cars softened a little as time wore on. The graphics packages, the fake wood and the gold highlighted rims don’t exactly scream muscle car.

  • avatar


    OTR fan… couldn’t resist.

  • avatar

    I know a polka dot hat wearing guy who had a lightly modded shadow V6/5spd that ran 15.0 in the 1/4 mile very consistently. A lot of that was the guy who raced it – like a robot when it came to racing

    anyhow he ran it at an imports vs domestics event at MIR a looong time ago and was stuck in with all the NA rotaries and the VR6 vw’s, etc. He steadily moved up the ladder because he cut crazy lights and hit his dial in every damn time. His consistency was trumping everyone else in the class. In the final round it was him vs a faster VR6 vw. Well our polka dot hat wearing Shadow driver scrubbed his tires and did a courtesy stage. The VR6 did a burnout, started to stage and when the 2nd set of staging lights lit the VR6 driver dumped the clutch and charged down the track.

    What a way to lose a race

  • avatar

    Hey now, I bought a ’92 Shadow ES 4-banger. Had the white one with red interior and a POP UP sunroof FTW!

    Bought it brand spanking new on a close out deal with the 93’s coming in. I paid a whopping $10.5K for it at age 18. I then proceeded to put 115K on hi in 6 years only ever replacing the battery. Towards the end, the entire car would shake when I hit 85MPH on the highway.

    The stereo I put in this thing (all PPI Art Series gear) was worth well more than the ride itself when I let it go. The memories!

  • avatar

    Is it bad I want one of these as a beater?

    • 0 avatar

      Not really. I could think of much worse. Just make sure to find one that’s been well cared for, but that’s true with any cheap car.

      The best beaters are the undesired models that carry a lower price. This should fit right in!

  • avatar

    For some reason, my parents bought a new 1994 Dodge Shadow base model, no AC. After six months and about 5,000 miles, the transmission blew. My mom, being light footed, drove this car normally. The dealership accused her otherwise and tried to tell her she blew the transmission somehow. After two weeks back and forth with the dealer, they finally replaced the transmission. In 2000, I was the lucky one that had to drive the car from Seattle to Long Island, NY- so that my sister had a college car. It barely made it there.. the hot weather took a toll on the vehicle, it was the middle of a very hot July afterall- without AC. Amazingly enough, the car lasted another seven years, 140,000 miles before it was given to a relative. Not sure what happened after that.

  • avatar

    Came close to pulling the trigger on one of these right after I got married in ’93. Had it down to this car, a Cavalier coupe with the V-6 and manual, or a Mazda Protege. Ended up with the Protege, and it died in 2005. I have a feeling that was the right call.

    But this little Dodge was a nice car.

  • avatar

    Idk but in cny caravans EASILY take up 30% of the chrysler section in the junkyard, with trucks at an easy 20% and rotted jeeps at an easy 15%. There’s almost nothing there besides those vehicles.

  • avatar

    Back in 1997, when I was a senior in high school, my dad’s ’95 Neon got totalled by a woman driving what I assume was the last functioning Renault Encore on the east coast. He wanted to replace it with something that didn’t cost any more than his insurance check, so his favorite Chrysler/Plymouth dealer offered him three choices to test drive: a “normal” Sundance, a Sundance Duster (the Plymouth twin to this car), and an Acclaim. I was really hoping that he’d get the Duster and pass it down to me in a couple years, but he said it was too loud and instead got the Acclaim – which was beige on beige and possibly the most boring car ever.

  • avatar

    Aren’t last gen Neons now starting to hit pick n pull lots? They are cheap enough, and most I see are beat up, multi-colored body parts, and just plain dirty.

  • avatar

    I never had a problem with these little cars. Sure they were cheap, but not as horribly cheap as Cavaliers of the era. Seven/eight years with a basic design and “freshen it up” with body cladding and lots of graphics was pretty typical then. I’ve had a few friends who have had Sundance/Shadows and from what I see, they held up as well as you treated them. Beat the piss out of it, it’ll fall apart just like a cheap car should. Take care of it, show some pride in ownership and it’ll last. I looked at a ’93? Sundance/Duster in 2000/ish. Normally that wasn’t exactly my cup of tea but it was at a lot near my house and it was CLEAN! Bright red two-door with white alloy rims, sharp. 3.0 Mitsu V6 and 5speed. I think it had cruise, had ac and a tape deck. Lil spoiler on the back and the “power bulge” hood. With the 188k miles on the clock, that little car was still a screamer! Fun to drive with the stick, not as notchy as the ’87-’89s I’d driven. Handled well, rather decent actually. The nice tires the previous owner had on the custom rims really helped her stick to the road. Like I said, it had 188K on it and was gleaming clean. That was pride in ownership. The mileage kinda scared me though, so I passed. I don’t get the hater-ade attitude toward the Mitsu 3.0 in older Chrysler vehicles..okay they get higher mileage and they start to smoke. So, change the valve seals! Boom, fixed. Cheaply! Are folks just lazy or what? I’ve seen those engines rack up tons of miles if just maintained and if they achieve the “crop duster status” you do the v-s replacement and there ya go, no more smoker! It’s easy to pick out a whole bunch of flaws from pretty much any vehicle from this era, especially if you don’t happen to be a fan of the particular make, model, whatever. I mean it’s a machine. Stuff breaks. You fix, it works again. Redeeming qualities are often found in the eye of the beholder, right?

    • 0 avatar

      We had the Mitsubishi 3.0 in an 89 New Yorker. We bought the car with 242k miles, and drove it until the transmission went out at 268k. The engine didn’t smoke or miss a beat. It was a smooth, comfortable car, and the engine never let us down.

  • avatar

    I owned three of these cars. An 87 Sundance auto, a white 92 Sundance Duster manual V6, and a red 93 v6 Duster manual. The cars were pretty good cars. The Mitsu V6 had the nicest note I have ever heard coming from a V6. The car was simple, sturdy, and cheap to fix…unless you lost the gear box. You could stuff the car with a massive amount of cargo because it wide. The 92 I owned was a heavily modified V6 and could do the quarter in about 15 seconds. It was dinoed at 186hp at the crank. It was a true beast with a bullet muffler and an exhaust side pipe. It had Koni shocks/struts and custom sway bars. I embarrassed a lot of drivers with it.

    These cars get killed by automotive glitterati but if you a are bare bones car enthusiast these cars could be tons of fun in either turbo four or V6 configurations. If you wanted a car in the 12s you could get it with the 2.2 Turbo setup with the right mods.

  • avatar

    Had a ’94 with the 2.2 and 3 speed auto. Dreadfully slow, and I always wondered what the Shadow would have been like with the V6 or the high-torque 2.5 Turbo. Good handling though.

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