By on March 4, 2019

1991 Dodge Shadow convertible in North Carolina wrecking yard, LH side view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Dodge Shadow and its Plymouth Sundance sibling were among the last members of the extended Chrysler K-car family to be built, sold from the 1987 through 1994 model years and replaced by the Neon after that. Millions were sold, but these cars are all but forgotten today. Chrysler built a handful of convertible Shadows, perhaps inspired by GM’s feat of selling some Geo Metro convertibles, and I’ve found this ’91 in a North Carolina self-service yard.

1991 Dodge Shadow convertible in North Carolina wrecking yard, decklid emblem - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI visited a big Charlotte yard on my way to the airport after working at the 24 Hours of Lemons South Fall race last year, and it had some great stuff. How about an Audi S8, a Chrysler 300C, a 330k-mile Toyota MasterAce van, and a Route 66 Edition PT Cruiser, for starters? On one of my typical U-Wrench-It junkyard walk-throughs, I’ll find one or two vehicles I think are worth shooting, so this was a very productive visit.

1991 Dodge Shadow convertible in North Carolina wrecking yard, convertible top - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis car lived outdoors with a deteriorating convertible top for quite a few years before coming to this place, so the interior was in an olfactory state that would have benefited from a Charlotte Stack of Little Tree air fresheners.

1991 Dodge Shadow convertible in North Carolina wrecking yard, 2.5 engine - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe convertible Shadow was sold for just the 1991 through 1993 model years, and the base engine in the soft-top was this 100-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (you could get the 93-horse 2.2L version in ordinary Shadows).

1991 Dodge Shadow convertible in North Carolina wrecking yard, door speaker - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis one has door speaker grilles that look like something from an apartment door intercom of the 1950s.

1991 Dodge Shadow convertible in North Carolina wrecking yard, speedometer - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe resale value of the Shadow and Sundance plummeted quickly during the 1990s, but this one provided better than 150,000 miles of (potential) top-down driving enjoyment and outlasted most of its allegedly more valuable competition.

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25 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1991 Dodge Shadow Convertible...”

  • avatar

    I seem to remember the V6 also being offered in the convertible – and I wrong?

    • 0 avatar

      For the last 1-2 years of the Shadow’s life, I believe so – one of the Mitsubishi engines.

      To this day, I still point to models like this on why the Japanese took the Americans (especially with smaller cars) behind the shed and went “Old Yeller” on them. I spent many of miles in friends’ Shadows and Sundances and always wondered how Chrysler could think they were competitive. It always felt like you were sitting in the bottom of a bucket with that plastic slab/wall dashboard staring at you, the rattling plastics and vibrating engines and the ancient 3-speed automatic always reminding you that costs were cut everywhere. Meanwhile, the Civic, Corolla, and recently redesigned Sentra just ran laps around this with modern multi-cam/valve engines, 4-speed automatics, and would last 200,000+ miles on oil changes and new tires.
      Yes, the Chryslers had an airbag when the Japanese still installed the wretched robo-belts, but honestly, that’s about all they had going for them and that vanished after 1992 when the smaller Japanese cars finally got around to installing airbags.

      Thank you Neon for removing this ancient K-car relic from our roads and minds! You had a good run until Chrysler lost the plot…again…

      • 0 avatar

        The 3.0 Mitsu V6 was available with the 4 speed Ultradrive or the 5 speed manual. I believe the manual was only available in the hardtop version of the Shadow and the Plymouth Sundance.

        • 0 avatar

          True, but the 604 didn’t exactly have the trouble-free reputation that the old torqueflites did. That didn’t help Chrysler, which is what @theflyersfan is getting at.

          Out of the “Big 3,” Ford was the first to get it right when the market started demanding four-speed overdrive automatics in the 1980s. GM and Chrysler’s first tries weren’t didn’t turn out very reliable, and that’s why you could still get the old tried and true 3 speed hydramatics and torqueflites when this car was made.

  • avatar

    I honestly completely forgot this car existed, shows you how long it’s been since I actually saw one on the road

  • avatar

    My dad bought one of these back in the early 90’s, he brought it home from the dealership and let my brother take it out. First thing bro did was go too fast around a corner and pile the passenger side front wheel into a curb. He took it home grinding and howling away – nice way to treat the new car. Not sure what happened to that thing….

    Memory lane aside, wasn’t it ASC that did the convertible conversions on these? I seem to remember something about that.

    • 0 avatar

      ASC did the show cars for sure but I don’t recall if they did the production ones as well. I think so.

      Hydro, I am pretty sure these were the predecessor to the Neon.

      • 0 avatar

        Just found this

        “From 1990 to 1993 ASC produced the Dodge Shadow convertible using Shadow 2-door sedans. Only available in the Highline and ES trim, the inexpensive car was popular, in 1991 alone almost 45,000 were produced. The car could also be ordered in ES trim with a turbocharged 2.5 liter engine although few were sold.”

        I worked for ASC as a welder in the early 2000’s for about a week before quitting, the place was a sweat shop. One of the worst jobs I’ve ever had.

  • avatar

    I’m pretty sure these lasted a lot longer than its predecessor, the Neon.

  • avatar

    I’m always embarrassed to admit to people that I owned a 1991 Dodge Shadow Convertible, same color as this one including a hard-to-keep clean white top. I bought it used about 6 months old, and found later that it had been “rode hard and put way wet”. The top leaked on the passenger side window and in the car wash, I had to hold up a towel to the top of the window so the seat didn’t get wet.
    It had the awful speakers on the doors and the power window switches were on the console IIRC, but only the left one worked on a regular basis. It wasn’t bad to drive and my wife at the time loved to take it to work and leave me to drive her Explorer (which is another story). I traded it for a 1994 Nissan Sentra which was a much better car, at least in reliability. I drove that until 1998 when I moved to Las Vegas, post divorce and bought 1998 Chrysler Sebring CONVERTIBLE. Yes, I didn’t learn. It was a better car that hadn’t been wrecked. I moved to Las Vegas (post-divorce) and found that I could only have the top down about 2 hours a day from midnight on. The rest of the time, it was too hot. Haven’t had any convertibles since. I have a picture of the Shadow in my files but don’t see a way to attach it.

  • avatar

    Someone thought enough of it to replace the cam cover gasket.

    Also, is that tailgate left over from the GMC commercial? NA NA NA NA, NA NA NA NA…

  • avatar

    Is that grass growing in the passenger footwell? Lol

  • avatar

    I actually still have my 91 convertible going on almost 20 years now…its probably the most babied shadow ever. It runs great and with some modern upgrades looks pretty good too… It was my first car I ever owned and the car I learned to wrench on.. Easy cars to work on and maintain and the 2.5 and 2.2 engines are absolutely bulletproof.. I do wish they had more power and the 3 speed auto is horrid by today’s standards but in the early 90’s that’s what it was… in order to appreciate what you have you have to remember what you had.

  • avatar

    One of my exes, and also my husband, both had a Shadow. They (and the Sundance) were thick on the ground in Metro Detroit, during the 90s. You don’t see them any more because they all rotted away.

    The V6 option was the Mitsubishi 6G71 12v SOHC, which went in everything including the minivans. Famous for leaking valve covers. They put it in the Shadow ES and Sundance Duster trims. Made for a pretty quick ride for it’s time, and the rumble of that V6 was un-mistakeable.

    Otherwise… the interiors, as you can see, were terrible, and the chassis themselves like a limp noodle.

  • avatar

    You shouldn’t be embarrassed to have owned one. Plymouth/Chrysler/Dodge fwd cars of the era were like eye candy. Sleek, sexy, sharp, modern, etc. Even minivans. Perfect names too. LeBaron? Caliber? Prowler? That’s one area they were totally smashin’ it. And priced right.

    Except “Lipstick on a Pig” comes to mind. They completely burned their bridges, owners refused to repeat-buy and told (warned) a friend.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    My father-in-law was a staunch GM guy. Always bought used. Usually had at least 2 in the driveway so that he ‘mostly’ had one that would start and get him to work on any given day.

    However once all the kids were gone he bought a new Shadow. Don’t know why? He quickly (1 or 2 years?) traded it for an LH which was not bad and miles better than the Shadow.

    Then he reverted (wised up) and upon retirement went out and only bought new Buicks. The correct ride for someone retired on a good government pension.

    The Neon was far superior to its predecessor. Ironically I saw a Neon, in remarkably good condition just yesterday. Been a while since I have seen one in the wild.

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldnt hate having a Plymouth Neon coupe with a manual, and I dont hate the two door Sundance. I’d take it over a Cavalier anyday. Same with Breeze vs Malibu.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    These were fairly popular where I live in the NYC area. The P-car platform is essentially a shortened LeBaron convertible and coupe. Many came with the optional 3.0 Mitsubishi V6 which had its issues. Though if I had to choose between this and a comparable Cavalier or Sunbird droptop with the 2.8 MPI I’d go with the GM product.
    Hmm Buy, drive, burn: Early 90’s compact convertibles

  • avatar

    A little time machine here .


  • avatar

    Still see a surprising amount of these in Ontario every summer. Only convertibles though, been years since I’ve seen a hard top Shadow. Shadows seem like they outnumber 1st-gen Neons on the road now.

    My aunt had a white one when I was a kid, I can still smell the cigarette smoke and feel the way it rode…ugh. My mom’s pink Contour was a massive improvement from that, and then her ‘98 Corolla was almost a real car after those.

  • avatar

    The body is pretty straight – a new top, thorough scrubbing, a simonize, and it would look pretty good on the outside. More scrubbing and some plastic paint would make the interior tolerable. It’s just not worth the work, if it can’t handle a LS swap. I wonder if a Honda 2.2 would fit?

  • avatar

    I knew a girl in college that had one of these. She used to take it to the beach every weekend, and within a year it was rusted out. We live in the South where there is no snow or ice, but the beach totally ravaged this car. After 2 years, the convertible top was getting pretty ragged as well.

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