By on June 19, 2015

1987 Shelby CSX

I grew up thinking – nay, knowing – that Mopars were crap. What can I say? I’m a child of the Eighties. A kid that grew up in an import household. All of the Chrysler products I ever saw were causing headaches for their hapless owners. Most were unremarkable, unmistakable derivations of the venerable K-car platform, seemingly built in endless minor variations to minimize the time spent on engineering.

For whatever reason, I didn’t “get” the hype around Carroll Shelby, either. Whatever his racing/engineering genius, he seemed to be a publicity-hungry blowhard who would put his name on anything for a massive pile of cash. Again, this was a time before televised classic-car auctions, where anything with Shelby’s name requires a massive pile of cash.

So, when I surreptitiously took my dad’s Car and Driver and Road & Track in my backpack to school, to read at lunch or on the toilet, the waves of Turbo Dodges spilling from the page made little impression. (Thanks to the excellent for the reprinted road test.) These cars were seriously quick for the time, putting out 175 hp or more with decent (if harsh) handling for the time. They actually threatened pony cars on the track!

This car for sale in South Dakota, #359 of 750, looks rather clean, save some needed detailing. Under seventy thousand on the odometer looks impressive, too, though I’d be concerned about deferred maintenance on a car that’s likely been sitting a good bit. I wonder if these will ever command big money like Carroll’s Ford-derived specials do. At $9,000, this doesn’t look like too much of a gamble.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

36 Comments on “Crapwagon Outtake: 1987 Shelby CSX...”

  • avatar

    Paging Thomas Kreutzer!

    • 0 avatar

      Here sir! But I am in the middle of an ugly move, compuers down, phasers exhausted and a Klingon boarding party just beamed in so excuse my typos as my fingers are too fat for my phone.

      The CSX has a good reputation. I think it is one of the lightest Shelby Dodges. the 2.2 turbo II makes, I think, about 175 horses,

      My regular 2.2 turbo made 148 and I actually broke the core support under the front motor mount. My guess is that the torque steer on this would make it almost impossible to get all that power to the ground and, unless they beefed up some other parts, it would be easy to break things.

      Also, I think the price here is way high. A one owner, garage kepy 87 Charger with only around 15K miles sold for similar money last year. That is a much more desireable car.

      This could be fun. but I have to pass.

      • 0 avatar

        When I saw the piece I immediately thought of you and wondered how the move went and how you had been.

        • 0 avatar

          Thanks. Almost done now. The movers couldnt get everything on the first truck so I am at the house again today. If we get it all done I will be Seattle bound tomorrow.

          I have some good stories to tell and have been talking with the new EIC about how to start submitting the occaisional story in the near future. They have some bright new stars here now so I’m not sure how we will work it.

          • 0 avatar

            Glad to hear from you, Thomas. Good luck completing your move and I hope to see some more of your contributions here!

          • 0 avatar

            Regular production Charger more valuable than Shelby built CSX huh? I wouldnt have guessed. The second gen CSX with whacky body work, VNT turbo and fiberride wheels would probably be the one to have though.

          • 0 avatar

            You can work it easily! By putting your original, thoughtful content in place of DD’s recycled, thoughtless crap.

  • avatar

    Having owned a GLH Turbo….
    I don’t know why they hired Shelby either. He took the biggest 4 cylinder in the garage, and the biggest brakes on the corporate shelf, and put them into the lightest (and stiffest) body, the Omni they’d gotten from Europe. I’m sure the intern-engineer could have done this, and they could have saved money by calling it a “Super-Bee”

    The seats weren’t up to “sport”, but they had a corduroy cloth so you would not slide much. They could have used bolsters, which I think showed up on the -S versions.

    The difference between the GLH versions and the -S were the addition of an intercooler. The non intercooled cars would be great out of the hole but boost would wilt promptly. That 944 you beat up in the twisties would then motor past in the straights when your boost went bye-bye.

    The cars had big brakes, which were good, and the suspension was tuned by someone who knew what they were doing…not just classic detroit “make it stiff”.

    Of course, it was all built to a low standard, and most of these were rode hard, put away wet, or in my case, wrecked stupidly.

    In 1985, I ran a 16.1 at 85 mph at a strip, to applause. Today, my TDI does 16.6 at 83 mph, per R&T, and it still gets dissed as “slow”. 0-60 was 7.5 for the Omni, and a big deal as it cracked the 8 second barrier. Now, moms in minvans…..

    How things have changed…..

    • 0 avatar

      This car was a product of its age and of the condition Chrysler was not too long after its first bailout. With few exceptions everything was K-car derived and they did the best with what they had and could afford to do.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d bet the intern-engineer did do this, but then they decided that the Intern name wouldn’t sell as well as Shelby, so they hired Shelby.

      • 0 avatar

        Most of the Shelby Dodges that were sold as Shelbys had final assembly done at a Shelby facility and they were more than just off-the-shelf-parts specials, with a fair amount of engineering done (see below) As a matter of fact it wasn’t until the ’89 CSX that Chrysler would build something for Shelby with the Turbo II engine and the Getrag A555 transaxle. Earlier cars had engine torque electronically limited to protect the gearboxes.

        For the ’87 cars, because Chrysler wouldn’t give them the Turbo II, they came up with their own solution:

        “The Shelby engineers took the Chrysler 2.2-liter Turbo I “long block” engine and substituted Turbo II components for its induction and exhaust tracts, modified the election fuel injection system, and larger turbocharger. The modifications also included a Shelby-programmed logic module, a special manifold-pressure sensor, and an air-to-air intercooler. “

  • avatar

    As someone who’s owned Dodge Neon in the past, and was awakened in the morning many times, by neighbor warming up his supercrap Plymouth Reliant with seemingly nonexistent exhaust, i wholeheartedly agree with everything this author said.

  • avatar

    Never owned a Shelby but I did own a 1986 Dodge Lancer ES (with the 2.2 turbo). For a kid in college, I thought the car was pretty cool. Loved the gun metal blue/gray and the deep (for the time) sport seats. I dropped about $2000 into a stereo and drove it for several years. Yes, the clutch and transmission were industrial/tractor grade (especially whenever I’d drive my sister’s brand new CRX Si), but the little kick of the turbo made it worth it. My best friend and a Shelby Charger that while seriously quick, wound up being a rather steaming pile of poo. Too many issues to mention. He sold it eventually and about two months later, it caught fire for the new owner and burned to the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      Curt in WPG

      My Dad had an 86 LaBaron GT so basically the same car. The torque steer was something awesome/horrible for 16-17 year old me when I got to drive it: rev her up, dump the clutch and hold on for dear life as a stop light warrior. It went pretty good for its day. Good memories of that car, although he dumped it in 1990 when the digital dash was starting to glitch and bought a 90 Probe GT with even more power and torque steer.

  • avatar

    It looks like a Shadow with the nose from the Shelby Charger grafted on the front.

    I had what I think was the step below this. A shadow sedan with the 2.2L turbo and 5-speed manual. Same horsepower though. Great sleeper car, no indication it had the turbo engine except for the bulge in the hood. My friends used to love watching the giant boost gauge in the centre of the console.

  • avatar

    A performance car named after a cargo railroad. – That’s the 80s for you.

  • avatar

    This is a good, insightful comment. You were there and remember the way the cars really were and in – and this is the important part – the context of their time.

    These cars get little love today but I remember a time when the classic muscle cars of the 60s were just craptastic gas guzzlers.

    The K car saved Chrysler, It kept Americans on wheels in an inexpensive way in an austere time. They have to be considered in their context or the logic of the designers and the consumer is lost, Compared to a modern car, the Model T sucks ass too. Just sayin’…

  • avatar

    Sorry, that earlier comment was intended to be a reply to Speedlaw,

  • avatar

    For that kind of money I’d want the plastic wheeled model.

  • avatar

    One of my nephews had one of these in the early ’90s – pretty hot car for an 18-year old. He torque-steered it into a fire hydrant. I was amused when one of my brothers-in-law asked me to help him with an alternator problem on another 4-banger version Charger (an ’85?) – opened the hood and I saw that the inner sheetmetal behind the grill was pure Dodge Omni with the headlight cutouts etc. IIRC I needed an 18″ extension with two universals to reach some bolts through all that Omni metalwork.

  • avatar

    Wow a 2.2L turbo belting out 140HP. My little 1.8 Civic puts that down now with ease lol. Progress.

    • 0 avatar

      146/179 for hp and torque. How much torque does your Civic have?

      I had a 1988 Shadow ES and it didn’t have an issue with torque steer. It did have an issue with the Goodyear Eagle Gatorbacks in the wet though. Horrible tires.

  • avatar


    Yes, but this Shelby is a quirky 80s retro ride that you can bring to shows, meet car other car buffs with and have a hoot.

    A modern Civic on the other hand is great transportation but otherwise brutally depressing (even if it, like any modern car including mom’s mini-van, is faster than classic stuff)

  • avatar

    good choice for an article btw…I could have easily read more on this little 80s demi-icon.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    I can already tell prior owners have committed the cheapskate error of putting 60 series tires on the wheels; Chrysler’s high performance FWD vehicles were always shod with 50 series rubber, which was unique for the category in the 80s as Japan and Europe wouldn’t figure it out until the early 90s. Get some proper 205/50s on there.

    • 0 avatar

      Here’s an oddity from the linked R&T review: the rear brake discs (10.6″) are larger than the fronts (10.1″). The rears were Kelsey-Hayes units adapted from other Shelbys; I’m guessing the fronts were straight from the Shadow ES. Or else it’s a typo.

      And not that we doubted you, but the review confirms 205/50s were the original tire size.

  • avatar

    I had Omni GLH-T. One of few 80’s cars I have good memories about. The Citation X-11? I cried as many tears as it lost drops of oil. Sad, sad story.

  • avatar

    In my freshman year of college at Okla State in Feb ’86, the Dodge Shelby semi-truck showed up at the campus car club skid pad / racing lot. It was a promotional thing where anyone could drive one of the “new” Dodge Shelbys on a small coned course. I thought it was odd since college students could barely afford a beater car, let alone a new car.

    The weird thing is that the gear shift was physically chained in third gear. You had to rev the crap out of it and slip the clutch to get it going. Since I was just a kid and it wasn’t my car, I showed off for my buddies and collected as many cones with the front of the car as I possibly could. My friends and I were falling down laughing so hard.

    At the time, I drove an ’84 Mustang 5.0 (leaking t-tops and all) and thought that Dodge was a cheap piece of junk that handled terribly with all that torque steer and told the Dodge guys that’s why I hit all the cones.

    I was promptly told to leave.

    Thanks for the article. Good times!

  • avatar

    “For whatever reason, I didn’t “get” the hype around Carroll Shelby”

    He makes a good Chili Mix, for people too lazy or un-foodie to make their own seasoning blend.

    So there’s that.

  • avatar

    The national Shelby Dodge club had their meet here a couple of years ago and put on a show in front of the Walter P. Chrysler museum. I took lots of pics:

    1987-88 CSX :

    1989 CSX (that’s the one with the plastic wheels):

    My personal favorite, the Shelby Dodge Rent-a-racer CSX-T (the T stands for Thrifty car rental):

  • avatar

    One thing not mentioned here is that this car was the first with a VNT(variable nozzle turbocharger) turbo. Correct me if i am wrong.

  • avatar

    I was the opposite – I grew up in a family that only owned AMC’s and Mopars, so I read about this as a kid and always wanted one.

  • avatar

    Price has been reduced to $7350.

  • avatar

    I think it’s a CP, all the way.

    Even 20 years from now, it will still be a little econobox with “performance trims” from a very dark time in the (probably disbanded by then) ChryCo history. It’s not big enough to be an elegant barge like ye olde 70’s, and it’s not wacko enough to be interesting like a hydro-suspended Citroen DS.

    It sits in the sagging middle of rare car history. A lime Jell-O in a sea of raspberry cheesecakes.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Ol Shel: What does it gain anyone for this to be classified as a motorcycle? There must be a reason why it...
  • 28-Cars-Later: @Freed I understood what you meant, what I was saying in reply was I have worked with 500 bed single...
  • Lou_BC: Have you asked JD Power for a sample survey?
  • jkross22: Lou, Yet another example of how Canada somehow has avoided the pitfalls of Americans digging in and...
  • Greg Hamilton: Lou, Here is the ultimate endgame. I don’t understand why someone would cheer it on....

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber