By on January 15, 2015

06 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinWho would have thought, in the late 1960s, that the future held front-wheel-drive Chargers, based on a French platform? Or that Carroll Shelby’s name would be on some of those cars? The Shelby Chryslers aren’t worth a whole bunch today, which means that non-perfect ones show up in cheap self-serve wrecking yards all the time; we’ve seen this ’87 Daytona Shelby Z, this ’86 Omni GLH, this ’85 Shelby Charger, and this ’84 Shelby Charger so far, and now I’ve spotted a very rough but still recognizable ’87 Shelby Charger in the San Francisco Bay Area.
13 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe 146-horse 2.2 liter turbocharged engine is long gone, but the genuine Shelby bucket seats are still there.
01 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinYes, it’s a genuine Shelby.
11 - 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinAir conditioning, maybe some Georgia Satellites on the cassette, some Iran-Contra on the news… yeah, a very 1980s car.


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34 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger...”


  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    What has happened to all of the articles from 01 Dec 14 to 13 Jan 15?

    They have disappeared now for a day or so.

    Has anyone else encountered this missing window?

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Clearly the unique Shelby wheels are gone too…

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Indeed: a swap-friendly 5x100mm bolt pattern; a 15″x6″ dimension ideal for 195-205/50 series rubber; a 16 hole perimeter pattern which has aged better than any other 80s alloy make those old Shelbys junkyard treasure for whoever gets to the wheels first. The biggest and most common faux pas I see on surviving turbo K- and L-vehicles these days is running 60 series rubber on those stylish rims.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        195/50-15 isn’t an easy size to find in performance-oriented rubber these days, and what would you put the wheels on that’s not a Subaru?

        • 0 avatar
          Felis Concolor

          Besides Chrysler’s vehicles, it’s found on several popular VAG models from the past 2 decades, Subarus as you mentioned and it’s compatible with a bunch of Toyotas from the late 80s to present.

          A quick check from TR shows almost nothing but high performance patterns are found in 195/50-15 sizes. Shifting to 205/50 pulls up many more choices, but only a couple of additional street legal casings.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The poor Charger looked hideous next to the Swashbuckling Daytona, designed by Zorro himself. I hadn’t realized the were sold s!debys!de for 4 years. Why? I had thought the Daytona/Laser took over for Charger/Turismo, with sharp ’80s styling.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      What most people forget about the L-body turbocars compared to their K-based counterparts was the 500 lb weight loss when moving to the older, stiffer L platform. The difference between the Daytona/Laser vehicles and the quicker, faster, and significantly better handling Omni/Charger pair was the difference between looking good and feeling good.

      For those people who knew the difference, they could have a significantly higher performance vehicle for thousands less just by moving from the flagship to the tender. Chrysler was the only automaker who wasn’t afraid of making their highest performance model their least expensive one.

  • avatar
    blueflame6

    I knew a guy who had one of these Chargers and it wasn’t bad. It felt reasonably quick (for the era) and looked decent in blue. The interior wasn’t particularly ornate, but it was tasteful. You could have done a lot worse picking a car.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    My GOD, this is a Shelby Charger?? Oh how they’ve sullied it. The humanity! Ugggh!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Beemernator

      Everyone has his price. Chrysler paid Carroll Shelby what he asked for.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        No, I love the Shelby Charger! It’s what the Neanderthals who owned this poor thing did that got me. She was once resplendent in Mopar’s pretty Garnet Red/silver, her homely L Body features almost sensual, her edgy side hinted at through tasteful accessories like air dams and a hood bulge, her soft grey interior sporty and inviting. Then they shoved her face down into the mud and dragged her around like a ragdoll. Bah!!

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        IMO The Shelby Omni is a greater travesty?

  • avatar
    kovakp

    I salute the under-appreciated engineering that went into making that enormous liftback a safe and practical feature for millions of cars in the ’80s.

  • avatar
    jgcaulder

    Man, I love these cars! I’ve wanted one since I was a kid growing up in the eighties.

  • avatar

    At least people bought American cars in great numbers in those days. Chrysler’s sales back then are close to what GM sales are today!!

    Detroit offered some pretty good technology in the 80s, and best of all it was actually developed in the States.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      Interesting comment re sales. Chrysler’s market share in 2014 (12.7%, per Edmunds), is a titch higher than it was in 1987 (12.3%, per WardsAuto).

      From the same sources, Ford has gone from 23.1% to 15.0%, and GM from 34.7% to 17.8%.

      So, if Chrysler and GM sales are converging, it’s because GM is moving down to Chrysler’s level.

      During the same period, each of Honda, Toyota and VW more than doubled their market share. Nissan grew, but by less than double.

      Times have changed!

      • 0 avatar

        Also gone from Detroit is the era of the “big launch”. During the 70s and 80s it was assumed GM’s top newly introduced sedan would sell in the range of 350,000 to 500,000+ units a year. Anything below 300,000 was considered a disaster. I remember reading that in the early 80s GM sold close 500,000 Oldsmobile Cutlass’s a year. The days of the big launch were coming to an end about the time the Chevrolet Beretta and Corsica were introduced. We all assumed that GM would sell at least 400,000 Corsica’s in the first year. However, sales fell far short of this goal. GM counted on these big launches to pad their market share. The only big launch GM has today is in pickup trucks.

        At one time Americans bought 400,000 Cavaliers a year. Obviously, GM was at its strongest selling mediocre products. The fact is many did not realize that the cars like the Cavalier and Citation were distinct mediocrities. John Doloran was over twenty years ahead of the American public in realizing the deficiencies of GM’s products. After that it took after decade or so for GM market share to reflect this fact. Still there are probably many former GM marketing employees that believe these were the good old days for GM.

        In the context of the aforementioned era the 87 Charger looks pretty good.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Ahh, I can just picture it’s last owner now, shouting “I’m gonna restore this thing! (gung ho gesture)”

    He strips it all down, puts straight body panels on it, and then throws it away.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I’m perplexed that someone basically took apart the entire interior, yet left the Shelby-specific seats in it. Sure, they’re dirty, but it doesn’t look like anything Tuff Stuff couldn’t handle. They don’t look torn. Weird…

  • avatar
    cmus

    First car. 1985. Manual. Maroon. louvers. Not a shelby.

    Loved that car. Definitely wouldn’t be opposed to driving/owning one again, but not with a 50-mile-a-day commute to work, not as my primary car.

    Even the base steel wheels looked good on these.

    Of course, this car did permanent damage to me. I think about the things I look for in a car. 2 doors. 3 pedals. Hatch. Yep. The problem is me! :)

  • avatar

    I owned an ’84 silver on “Garnet Red” one which I bought used in ’85. My sister-in-law had an ’83 in the same colors with my brother owning an ’86 GLH in black. I very much enjoyed my 84. Drove it everyday to work, eventually racking up 406,000 before I decided it was so overcome with rust as to be unsafe to drive. The clutch, at that point, was starting to slip a bit under heavy acceleration. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the cost of new tires. I originally bought Goodyears, but later switched to Kelleys as they were less expensive and spec’d the same.

    It started on the second try after sitting 2-3 months when the gentleman from IL came to pick it up. Kind of a sad day for me and my oldest son. He quickly shot a short video clip of it as it drove away. It was the only car he knew that I drove as we had it from before he was born in ’86 until it was sold in ’04. I’d enjoy having a “new” one to drive again actually. Fun car!

    • 0 avatar

      Had a GLH Turbo. The differences were the GLH, in the four door trim, were lighter and stiffer…mostly stiffer. The Charger wins though because it had an intercooler, which was clearly missing, or cost cut, from the base GLH. A long run on a highway in hot weather saw boost fade fast.

      Why anyone gave Shelby $ to go down the parts aisles and put the biggest engine and brakes in the lightest bodies is beyond me. Chryco could have saved money and called them “super bees” or such.

      I took mine to a dragstrip when new. Ran a 16.1 at 85 mph, which are minivan numbers now, but got applause from the malaise audience there.

      The build quality was 80’s Chryco…that and the fact that most were rode hard, put away wet, and/or wrecked (like mine), is why they are sorta rare now. One bright spot was the suspension, which was very well done, at least in the Omni body, and not just hard with big sway bars, the standard of the day.

    • 0 avatar
      AJ

      Good story, and that was some amazing miles!

  • avatar
    hawox

    here in europe the omni was called horizon, a very practical, sensible car.
    it sold quite well even if dealers-shops were badly organized in the complicated switch to peuegot.
    it was a bargain, much more reliable and better built than most of the other european mid-sized cars (look a fiat ritmo). but it was slow, i couldn’t imagine the GLH 146 bhp, i mean, in those days that was serious power.

    it’s a shame peugeot dropped the horizon to sell the 309, that was a rubbish car.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Here’s a story for Murilee. $75 dollar truck driven for 38 years. http://www.kare11.com/story/news/local/land-of-10000-stories/2015/01/01/prinsburg-pickup-chevy-bob-sportel-75/21169665/

  • avatar
    Steve S.

    It was 1989 and I made the mistake of getting out of the Navy and returning to Pittsburgh when everyone else was leaving in a mass exodus to find work. The only thing I could find was a sales trainee position at McCrackin Ford in the North Hills. They would hire about 30 people to find one or two sales people who were good at it. Needless to say I wasn’t there for very long.

    It was the end of a long fruitless day when a couple of kids came in and asked to test drive the black Shelby Charger on the used car lot. “My mom said she’ll buy it for me if I like it.”

    Sure kid, I thought. Joyriders. But I was bored and frustrated because I couldn’t sell a hamburger to a starving man, so I said, alright let me grab the keys.

    I waited for a break in traffic then pulled out onto McKnight Road and floored it. Not much happened at first, and I thought, “This car is a do-” then the turbo kicked in and I was grabbing gears and slaloming through the evening commuter traffic at high speed.

    Turning right onto Evergreen Road, a narrow winding two-lane which was our test drive loop, I continued to take out my frustrations on the little car. Banging gears, running it up to redline, throwing it into the curves, squealing the tires; and then I heard a voice say,”uh dude, could you, like, slow down a little?” I had completely forgotten about the kids. “Don’t worry, I have a competition license”, I lied.

    I pulled over and let the kid drive back to the dealer which he did very slowly, then I gave him my card before he left.

    Next morning a woman asked for me by name and told me that she wanted to look at the car her son drove last night. Well I’ll be damned, thought I, as I escorted her out onto the lot. I had trouble finding the car until I finally discovered it in the back, with a big F150 print on the side, left by the lot monkey after closing time.

    No sale.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Never thought about the tailgate, but previous poster is quite correct that it was big, heavy and managed to always stay open even on a cold day. Good thing, because there was a bit of a guillotine edge on it.

    I had the non-turbo version though. It had the 2.2HO engine, meaning it put out something like 110HP instead of the 97 in a K car (at least it wasn’t the 1.7L version). “Charger 2.2”, according to the big sticker on the hood. It handled well, but was hampered by a pretty bad 3-speed automatic, though (which could be shifted without having a key in the ignition).

    I shared it with my mom and it did get me back and forth to work every day. She kept it after I bought my own car (Dodge Shadow Turbo with a 5-speed, woo!), but that’s another story.

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