By on September 10, 2019

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.

1987 Shelby CSX (P), Image: Shelby Automobiles

[Images: seller, Shelby Automobiles]

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24 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1987 Shelby CSX, Not a Dodge...”


  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    That is an extremely well-preserved example if it has 104,000 miles

  • avatar
    threeer

    Oh, that straight-edged interior! Looks just like my old ’85 Lancer…right down to the industrial tractor grade shifter!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Too bad this didn’t stick around long enough to get the engine from the Spirit R/T.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      That woulda been all torque steer, no forward motion!

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Speaking of the Spirit R/T, I spotted one in the wild the other day- well worn paint but current registration and it appears to be driven regularly. I did a double take and snapped a picture just so I’d believe myself later.

      For my fellow Mopar fans and car spotters, it was in somebody’s driveway a few blocks from the University of Notre Dame.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I had a Turbo Shadow, which I had modified with the Mopar Performance computer for more boost – IIRC it was 10psi, up from the stock 7.5 – among other mild mods that may or may not have added much such as a K&N filter and a catback exhaust. I loved that car. All the the Turbo II, intercooled Shadows really needed was a better suspension, and the chassis was the limitation in that regard. Best to just drive ’em as-is, fast.

    I think I would entertain this Rare Ride at $5K, if only the car was not from the Snow Belt.

  • avatar

    I had a new GLH Turbo, and watched all these cars closely. I always wondered why they paid Shelby for what an intern could have done….gone through all the parts bin stuff and just bolt on “the biggest” – brakes, engine, etc, in the parts bin. Goodyear Eagle GT tires were a revolution at the time, though….

    The Shelbys did have better seating…while it looked “same as” a lot of time, the support and cushions were different. Suspension Tuning was also pretty good…I recall beating up on 911-s in traffic with the GLH, which worked till the moment the non intercooler version got too hot and the 911 saw blue sky. The GLH-S had the intercooler….

    Dodge could just as easily come up with the name, oh, “Super Bee” maybe, and saved some money….

    • 0 avatar
      bluegoose

      It was largely a marketing deal that worked both ways. Shelby got publicity for building his own cars again. The GLH, GLHS, and the CSX were all built in his Whittier CA factory. It was a similar to what he did with the Mustang. Lido and Shelby were longtime friends and spotted an opportunity to help each other out. The GLH was a giant killer.

  • avatar

    Cool ! I had no idea it came from Shel’s factory…I have to apoligize.

    That explains the build was way better than non GLH cars…

    Ran a 16.1 / 85 mph quarter when it was new.

  • avatar

    The front seats look a lot like the ones in my 84 Shelby Charger – just missing the embroidered CS logo. Those were comfortable for the 400k+ miles I was in them. My brother had a GLHS which was fun to drive also. I would assume this one would be the same.

    Dang it, Corey, tempting me with this one. If I wasn’t close to acquiring a newer Charger for my DD, this CSX looks like a fun vehicle to drive. Thanks for the article, Corey!

  • avatar
    Sundance

    OMG how deep did Shelby sink in those years…

  • avatar
    macmcmacmac

    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.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    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.

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