Rare Rides: The 1987 Shelby CSX, Not a Dodge

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1987 shelby csx not a dodge

Rare Rides previously featured two vehicles that resulted from racing legend Carroll Shelby’s association with Chrysler in the Eighties. The first was a rakish and special Charger GLHS liftback, followed a few months later by the Shelby Dakota. Both of those examples wore their Dodge badges proudly, front and center amongst the additional Shelby tinsel. But the 1987 CSX took a more independent approach to branding.

In appropriately Eighties fashion, CSX stood for Carroll Shelby eXperimental. The good people at Shelby Automobiles took turbocharged examples of the Dodge Shadow and shipped them from Michigan (Sterling Heights Assembly) to Whittier, California, Shelby’s headquarters.

Revised shock absorbers and springs swapped with the factory units. Disc brakes were also added, sourced straight from the Daytona Shelby Z. Dodge alloy wheels were tossed in favor of a unique wheel design reserved solely for the CSX. A single color scheme was available: black over silver, with a blue stripe. The standard Shadow’s grille was replaced by a single-slot Shelby design that featured a CSX decal. Dodge badges were removed entirely, and Shelby or CSX badging took its place. Interior changes were minimal, and seemingly limited to the four-spoke sports wheel.

Shelby did not alter the stock engine for use in the CSX. Powering all examples was the 2.2-liter Turbo II engine found in other sporty Dodge products of the period. It produced 175 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque, routed through a five-speed manual. The CSX was produced only in 1987, and limited to 750 examples. With zero available options, CSX asked $13,495 ($30,000 inflation adjusted). In 1987 context, the CSX was a performance car for people on a budget.

Thrifty got wind of the offering and liked the concept, so they hired Shelby to create the CSX-T (Thrifty) in 1988. Less powerful, the Thrifty cars used a Turbo I engine for 142 horsepower. All those examples were white and grey, and sold to Thrifty locations. One final run of CSX cars were made in 1989, called VNT. With a variable-nozzle Turbo IV engine and special lightweight wheels, the special run of 500 VNTs signaled the end of Shelby’s branding relationship with Dodge.

Today’s Rare Ride is in excellent condition, and presently for sale in the booming city of Toledo, Ohio. With 104,000 miles, it asks $5,000.

[Images: seller, Shelby Automobiles]

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  • Macmcmacmac Macmcmacmac on Sep 11, 2019

    The thing I remember most about these is that it seemed like the subcontractor who made the roof liner got the wrong revision of blueprints and made them just a size too small.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Sep 11, 2019

    I had a non-CSX Shadow in 1998/99, outside of the cars we had that caught fire or completely failed on the highway on the way back, it was the worst car I have ever owned. Respectable speed aside, the platform was garbage.