Junkyard Find: 1985 Dodge Daytona Turbo

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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junkyard find 1985 dodge daytona turbo

After the near-miraculous success of the K platform dug Chrysler out of the pit of its near-bankruptcy and controversial government bailout (no, not that bailout, the earlier one), Lee Iacocca led the company to produce a bewildering number of vehicles based on the K. Chrysler had some sporty machinery based on the Simca-derived Omnirizon (not to mention some hot rebadged Mitsubishis), but the Dodge Daytona and its Chrysler Laser sibling were the bread-and-butter factory hot rods of the 1980s and a bit beyond.

Here’s an ’85 I spotted at a now-defunct Los Angeles-area yard a while back.

So far in this series, we have admired this ’87 Daytona Shelby Z, this ’88 Daytona Turbo, this ’90 Daytona Turbo, this ’90 Daytona ES Turbo, this ’92 Daytona IROC R/T (yes, there was a Daytona IROC, trivia fans), plus this optioned-up ’85 Chrysler Laser XE.

Turbocharging was a magical thing in the middle 1980s, one of the major factors that enabled the American automotive landscape to emerge from the Malaise Era. Yes, this engine made fewer than 150 turbo-laggy horses, torque steer was horrendous (by current standards), and K-Car build quality made for iffy long-term reliability at best … but the Daytona/Laser Turbo felt pretty quick at the time.

Well, maybe it wasn’t so quick with the slushbox, but the TURBO badging gave the car’s owner bragging rights.

In the car business, product comes first!

This rugged-looking 1980s fella knew that it was Morning In America when he witnessed that new Daytona drive off the billboard.

If you bought the Shelby Turbo Z version, the attractive big-haired 1980s babes would be lured right out of roadside cafes and into your car. Proven scientific fact. You can’t see her pastel-colored leg warmers in this ad, but you know she owned many pairs.

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Apr 12, 2016

    From the same platform. An 1988 Dodge Shadow Shelby CSX for a mere $2900. Not a bad deal. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dodge-Shadow-Sport-/222079713412?forcerrptr=true&hash=item33b4fb8084:g:xXMAAOSw8RJXCAAx&item=222079713412

  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Apr 12, 2016

    Test drove a new one with my dad in '84, though I think it was the Laser turbo version. I remember how new it smelled and how futuristic some of its features were. It was a pretty cool car, though I liked the Monte Carlo SS, which we also drove, much better. At the time, didn't seem course, probably because our standards back then were much, much lower. And yes, 150 HP in 1984 was badass! It looks like a pile of dated crusty trash now but back then, these were well-liked and popular. Anyway, he didn't buy the Laser, or the Monte SS, instead deciding to cheap out and buy a used crappy Nova in the end. But I remember these cars fondly. FWIW, those "turbine" wheels are factory but pretty rare on the Daytona Turbos. They were offered in '85-86 and were also standard on the Lancer and Lebaron GTS turbo models, where they were much more commonly seen. Most Daytona Turbos had the upgraded "bowling ball" wheels or the "Turbo Z" package with its special wheels.

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  • Ted Lulis The Exodus from California is mind-boggling. No surprise from the rectum of the country
  • Mr Imperial Seeing the adjusted-for-inflation amount always makes me sick, I can't believe how much it has gone up in my 40-some-odd trips around the sun. Still fondly remember seeing these and Ford Explorers everywhere.
  • Kyl65759578 👋
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