Rare Rides: The 1987 Shelby CSX, Not a Dodge

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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]

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.

More by Corey Lewis

Join the conversation
2 of 24 comments
  • 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.

  • SCE to AUX My B5.5 was terrible, but maybe the bugs have been worked out of this one.
  • Zerofoo 5-valve 1.8T - and OK engine if you aren't in a hurry. These turbocharged engines had lots of lag - and the automatic transmission didn't help.Count on putting a timing belt on this immediately. The timing belt service interval, officially, was 100,000 miles and many didn't make it to that.
  • Daniel J 19 inch wheels on an Elantra? Jeebus. I have 19s on my Mazda 6 and honestly wish they were 18s. I mean, I just picked up 4 tires at over 1000 bucks. The point of an Elantra is for it to be cheap. Put some 17s on it.
  • ToolGuy 9 miles a day for 20 years. You didn't drive it, why should I? 😉
  • Brian Uchida Laguna Seca, corkscrew, (drying track off in rental car prior to Superbike test session), at speed - turn 9 big Willow Springs racing a motorcycle,- at greater speed (but riding shotgun) - The Carrousel at Sears Point in a 1981 PA9 Osella 2 litre FIA racer with Eddie Lawson at the wheel! (apologies for not being brief!)