There was a time in the 1980s when the future of performance was not a sure thing. Rear-wheel-drive and big, thirsty V8s were not necessarily the way forward and when Chrysler teamed up with Shelby to create some front-wheel-drive turbocharged 4-cylinder performance cars, the future was very much up for grabs. If you're a Mopar fan who grew up in the '80s, you know this 1987 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z is a cool car, and the performance will still impress you, even today.
Someone has cherished this car for the past 30 years and it shows. With only 71,264 original miles, this car has obviously never been a daily driver and its condition suggest it's never even seen winter weather. The white paint is in excellent condition and with the facelifted nose that features folding headlights, it looks very forward-thinking for 1987. It's also remarkably bereft of stripes and decals, with only a modest chin spoiler, a slight hood bulge to clear the air intake, and an attractive spoiler out back to set it apart from garden-variety Daytonas. It fits together quite well for an '80s Chrysler product and it has never been wrecked or rusty, as you can tell. Correct Shelby emblems are in their places, again, pretty subtle, but that might be part of this car's appeal. The glass is in excellent shape and I think you'll find that there are more fans of these cars than you might expect.
The Daytona's handsome tan leather interior is a lot more upscale and, dare I say it, European than its American counterparts. Sculpted leather seats look great and adjust in enough directions that just about anyone should be able to get comfortable, and there's great visibility all around. The fat three-spoke steering wheel is a little dated, as is the rectilinear dashboard, but that's why old cars are fun; they take us back to our youth. That said, the dash is full of useful gauges, the A/C system is easy to understand and use, and there's a more recent Chrysler AM/FM/CD stereo that still sounds good (the original radio is included). A 5-speed manual transmission attached to the turbo motor makes this car a lot of fun to drive and even the back seats have a sculpted look and almost zero wear. In the hatch there's good storage space along with a pair of cool sun visors for back seat passengers and a mint condition cargo cover.
In 1987, it was a mistake to under-estimate the 2.2 liter inline-4, which was directly related to the one in the notorious Dodge Omni Shelby GLH-S. A Garret T3 turbocharger boosts the 4-cylinder to Mustang GT levels of horsepower and with a set of fresh injectors from a 2.5 liter engine, a new radiator, a fresh timing belt, plugs and wires, and a 255 LPH fuel pump, it's ready to rock. It starts easily with that familiar Chrysler buzz and while there's some turbo lag, you'd better be prepared when it comes on line because this Daytona rockets forward all out of proportion to your expectations. The 5-speed shifts cleanly and thanks to fresh KYB struts, handling is at least as good as it was back in the day. There's also a new left front axle shaft, newer muffler, and have you seen how clean this sucker is underneath? Wow! Factory alloys are virtually unmarked and carry right-sized Kumho performance radials.
Seldom seen today, this is an inexpensive way to grab a piece of the '80s, and it's a ton of fun to drive. Maybe Chrysler saw the future, they were just a few decades too early. Call today!