Rare Rides: This Dodge Charger From 1987 Is Also a Shelby (and Intercooled, Too)

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

In the long and varied history of the Dodge Charger name, the model has had many different forms — often completely unrelated to one another. For a short while in the 1980s, Chrysler Corporation added a little Shelby badge to the Charger name.

Let’s check out some glossy L-body goodness.

The Charger had been on a hiatus since the 1978 model year, when the folks in charge at Dodge determined it was time for a new sporty two-door in the lineup. While the previous version was a semi-luxury rear-drive coupe which shared a body with the very brougham Chrysler Cordoba, times had changed. America had moved from rear-drive malaise to front-drive malaise. And Chrysler was short on funds.

In came a new Horizon, sort of.

For the 1983 through 1987 model years, the Charger was based on the compact L-body platform used by the Plymouth Horizon and Dodge Omni. Accompanying the regular Charger on dealer lots was the Shelby version, a sportier alternative. When Dodge announced the Charger was dropped for 1988, the Shelby Corporation purchased the last 1,000 Shelby Charger examples and created a special model. The result is the Rare Ride you see here — the Shelby GLHS.

Not to be confused with the 1986 Shelby GLH-S (based on a modified Omni), the Charger GLHS was available only in 1987. Shelby used the same basic idea from the Omni in transforming the Charger.

Only available in black, all cars carried the same options: leather-wrapped wheel, air conditioning, sunroof, and a center console. There were KONI shocks and struts on every wheel.

The interior featured a numbered Shelby plaque and a sticker on the speedometer which extended the top indicated speed from 85 to 125 miles per hour. The needle could continue to navigate the dial and, on the second time around, 5 miles per hour would indicate 135.

The blade wheel design for the Charger GLHS was new, in that it was the exact same as on the Shelby GLH-S. But the blades faced the opposite direction.

Under the hood is the 2.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that powered so many Chrysler vehicles of the era. This version is known as the Turbo I, providing the front wheels with 146 raging horsepower (though the Shelby variant bumped power to 175 hp). The Shelby Charger GLHS is the fastest and rarest version of the only front-drive generation of the Charger.

This one was on offer recently via Craigslist (listing expired) for $4,500. An affordable collectible — but is it worth collecting?

[Images via seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • DenverMike DenverMike on Oct 28, 2017

    Any time you beat a 5.0/5-speed LX with a FWD turbo, that was something to brag about. But there's not much difference between a 2.73 and 3.08 rear end. Both suck. Back then turbo-4 cars had lots of lag, so not much "power" off the line. But they were little monsters if you were willing to abuse the clutch. Meaning slip-it, sidestep it and power shift.

  • Cognoscenti Cognoscenti on Oct 30, 2017

    I had an '87 Shadow Turbo 5-Speed, in that Dodge maroon color. A Mopar Performance computer, K&N filter and minor exhaust mod (mostly only sound benefits) later, and it ran consistent 15.5 - 15.6 second 1/4 miles. I could beat stock-ish automatic LX 5.0 cars at the track, but even the 2.73-geared ones with 5 MT would usually pass me just before the trap. The big thing to do was pack the intake with ice between runs and avoid the bleach trap. Traction in 1st gear off the line was atrocious on street rubber (usually Eagle GTs). That little car was so much fun! Unfortunately, shortly after giving it to my sister she totaled it on a two-lane blacktop in a risky passing maneuver. At least she walked away. RIP little Shadow...

  • Pau65792686 I think there is a need for more sedans. Some people would rather drive a car over SUV’s or CUV’s. If Honda and Toyota can do it why not American brands. We need more affordable sedans.
  • Tassos Obsolete relic is NOT a used car.It might have attracted some buyers in ITS DAY, 1985, 40 years ago, but NOT today, unless you are a damned fool.
  • Stan Reither Jr. Part throttle efficiency was mentioned earlier in a postThis type of reciprocating engine opens the door to achieve(slightly) variable stroke which would provide variable mechanical compression ratio adjustments for high vacuum (light load) or boost(power) conditions IMO
  • Joe65688619 Keep in mind some of these suppliers are not just supplying parts, but assembled components (easy example is transmissions). But there are far more, and the more they are electronically connected and integrated with rest of the platform the more complex to design, engineer, and manufacture. Most contract manufacturers don't make a lot of money in the design and engineering space because their customers to that. Commodity components can be sourced anywhere, but there are only a handful of contract manufacturers (usually diversified companies that build all kinds of stuff for other brands) can engineer and build the more complex components, especially with electronics. Every single new car I've purchased in the last few years has had some sort of electronic component issue: Infinti (battery drain caused by software bug and poorly grounded wires), Acura (radio hiss, pops, burps, dash and infotainment screens occasionally throw errors and the ignition must be killed to reboot them, voice nav, whether using the car's system or CarPlay can't seem to make up its mind as to which speakers to use and how loud, even using the same app on the same trip - I almost jumped in my seat once), GMC drivetrain EMF causing a whine in the speakers that even when "off" that phased with engine RPM), Nissan (didn't have issues until 120K miles, but occassionally blew fuses for interior components - likely not a manufacturing defect other than a short developed somewhere, but on a high-mileage car that was mechanically sound was too expensive to fix (a lot of trial and error and tracing connections = labor costs). What I suspect will happen is that only the largest commodity suppliers that can really leverage their supply chain will remain, and for the more complex components (think bumper assemblies or the electronics for them supporting all kinds of sensors) will likley consolidate to a handful of manufacturers who may eventually specialize in what they produce. This is part of the reason why seemingly minor crashes cost so much - an auto brand does nst have the parts on hand to replace an integrated sensor , nor the expertice as they never built them, but bought them). And their suppliers, in attempt to cut costs, build them in way that is cheap to manufacture (not necessarily poorly bulit) but difficult to replace without swapping entire assemblies or units).I've love to see an article on repair costs and how those are impacting insurance rates. You almost need gap insurance now because of how quickly cars depreciate yet remain expensive to fix (orders more to originally build, in some cases). No way I would buy a CyberTruck - don't want one, but if I did, this would stop me. And it's not just EVs.
  • Joe65688619 I agree there should be more sedans, but recognize the trend. There's still a market for performance oriented-drivers. IMHO a low budget sedan will always be outsold by a low budget SUV. But a sports sedan, or a well executed mid-level sedan (the Accord and Camry) work. Smaller market for large sedans except I think for an older population. What I'm hoping to see is some consolidation across brands - the TLX for example is not selling well, but if it was offered only in the up-level configurations it would not be competing with it's Honda sibling. I know that makes the market smaller and niche, but that was the original purpose of the "luxury" brands - badge-engineering an existing platform at a relatively lower cost than a different car and sell it with a higher margin for buyers willing and able to pay for them. Also creates some "brand cachet." But smart buyers know that simple badging and slightly better interiors are usually not worth the cost. Put the innovative tech in the higher-end brands first, differentiate they drivetrain so it's "better" (the RDX sells well for Acura, same motor and tranmission, added turbo which makes a notable difference compared to the CRV). The sedan in many Western European countries is the "family car" as opposed to micro and compact crossovers (which still sell big, but can usually seat no more than a compact sedan).