By on January 20, 2021

Rare Rides has featured a few sports coupes of the Dodge variety previously, but those Eighties cars were not as modern, refined, and sophisticated as today’s seldom seen two-door.

Presenting the Dodge Daytona IROC R/T, from 1992.

The Daytona was a new name at Dodge as the company reorganized its sporty car lineup in the early Eighties. Daytona was the cheaper part of a two-model replacement plan for the discontinued Mitsubishi Galant Lambda, which presented itself as the Dodge Challenger from 1978 to 1983. In 1984, Dodge fielded the Conquest (a different rear-drive Mitsubishi) and the new K-platform derived Daytona.

Daytona rode on the new G platform, a 97-inch wheelbase about three inches shorter than the standard K. When Daytona debuted in ’84, a new Chrysler branded Laser also appeared. Available only in upscale trim, Chrysler advertised the Laser as its first sports car. Customers shied away from the “executive personal luxury coupe,” and Laser lasted only through 1986. The Daytona was much more successful and remained on sale throughout the early Nineties. And when the luxury Laser was canceled, Dodge added what was basically the Laser as a new trim to the Daytona: Pacifica.

Available engines were a range of naturally aspirated and turbocharged mills from 2.2- to 3.0-liters in displacement. Most engines were Chrysler-developed inline-fours, but later there was also a 3.0-liter Mitsubishi 6G72 V6. Early on a three-speed automatic accompanied the preferred five-speed manual in the Daytona. The automatic added another forward speed later on.

New exterior looks arrived in 1987 via a refresh, and the inset headlamps became flip-ups instead. Dodge continued to make small visual and trim changes almost annually as Daytona continued its reasonable sales success.

1992 saw a second, larger refresh for Daytona that coincided with a change of production venue from St. Louis to Sterling Heights, Michigan. Pop-ups went away and were replaced with flush lamps in a more rounded, integrated fascia. The rear end was reworked as well, and its lighted heckblende gained a more modern look. Gone was the Chrysler Pentastar, replaced by a ram’s head – Dodge’s new identity.

Also new for ’92 was the 3.0-liter V6 engine option, which was standard on IROC trim and optional on lesser versions. IROC buyers could also opt for a more expensive 2.5-liter turbo engine, though few did. The new R/T performance package was optional only on IROC, and offered a third engine choice: a direct-injected Turbo III 2.2-liter, which generated 224 horsepower via dual-overhead cams designed by Lotus. Visual IROC R/T goodies included color-key directional alloys, body cladding, R/T badges, and a rear spoiler.

But as the Nineties hit their stride, the derivatives of K were not long for the world. 1993 was the last year for the Daytona, and the following year it was replaced in the lineup by the DSM-built Dodge Avenger.

Today’s excellent condition Rare Ride is one of 341 white IROC R/Ts produced in 1992. It sold via a dealer recently for an undisclosed sum.

[Images: Dodge]

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18 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Intensely Sporty 1992 Dodge Daytona IROC R/T...”

  • avatar

    I had forgotten about this later generation facelift.

  • avatar

    If you took all the “IROC” production vehicles ever made and lined them up end-to-end, they would need a lot of maintenance.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    My buddy bought a new Daytona in ’87 or ’88.
    Me: Dude, it’s a K-car.
    Him: Dude, flip headlights.
    Me: (sighing) Dude, it’s a K-car.

  • avatar

    I just can’t get past the ludicrous front/rear overhangs and fender gaps on this era of domestic cars. They all look like they’re walking on tiptoes.

    • 0 avatar


    • 0 avatar

      It’s kind of like twist beam rear axels vs. IRS, rear drum brakes, and the demise of manual transmissions. Nobody except car blogs and their commenters cares or notices.

      • 0 avatar

        I mean, yeah, to some extent. But I think subconsciously people know when designs are right or wrong, even if they can’t articulate that it’s the fender gap or the overhang. People know that S-Classes and 7-series look like money even if they don’t know it’s because of the dash-to-axle and the width-to-height ratio.

    • 0 avatar

      Being a front-wheel drive car, you could expect that kind of front overhang. The Mitsubishi 3000GT of the same year(s) was similar (and nobody seemed to know they were front-wheel drive at the time, either)

  • avatar

    That turbocharged 2.2 liter became known to some as the “Maserati engine” because when used in the marketing coup known as the “Chrysler TC by Maserati” Dodge bolted on a valve cover that was painted red and said Maserati on it.

    And people wonder why Maserati still isn’t taken seriously as a performance brand.

    • 0 avatar
      C5 is Alive

      The 2.2L Chrysler/Maserati 16-valve turbo initially offered in the TC was a markedly different engine than the Turbo III seen two years later in the Dodge Daytona IROC R/T and Spirit R/T. One difference was that the latter used a Lotus-designed head.

      Another example of Iacocca’s largesse precluding common sense, IMO.

  • avatar

    Ahhh the 80s and 90s when cheap, sporty hatchbacks and coupes were common place. I always thought these Daytonas were decent looking, but I smartly chose a Prelude Si instead. Then moved into the DSM Mitsubishi Eclipse GS-T which was a blast to drive due to the turbo.

  • avatar

    Any IROC vehicles in production today?

    As for the Daytona, it was relatively affordable performance. I’m a fan of performance vehicles within reach of the everyday driver’s budget.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The factory boy-racer look has been available for some time.

  • avatar

    I bought my first new car, 89 Shelby, fully loaded. Very nice car. Had the regular 80s car reliability issues, but nothing big. $18,000 sticker price. Mine had 125 mph limiter; would cut fuel; but got there fairly quickly and had a “super turbo” overboost mode I never ready ANYTHING about

  • avatar
    C5 is Alive

    “The Daytona was a new name at Dodge…”

    Not quite. The 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona preceded the (arguably better known) 1970 Plymouth Superbird. Six years later, Dodge reused the name for a stripe-enhanced variant of its Cordoba clone.

    “Also new for ’92 was the 3.0-liter V6 engine option…”

    Not quite. The Mitsu V6 was introduced for the 1990 model year as an alternative to the standard 2.5L Turbo on the Daytona ES.

  • avatar

    In 2006, you could buy a Hyundai Sonata capable of about 140 mph, depending on who’s measuring.

  • avatar

    I never realized that the Daytona (’84-’93) and Stealth (’91-’96) were sold side by side. I don’t recall ever seeing any of the ’92/’93 facelift cars in the wild.

  • avatar

    I liked the looks of these cars inside and out. I was always worried about reliability though. These days 0-60 in 6.7 seconds is Honda Accord territory, and that Honda has room for 5, airbags all around, is quiet, reliable 15-cuft trunk, and gets 30 mpg overall and close to 40 on the highway.

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