28,600 Original Miles: 1983 Dodge Shelby Charger

While it’s not terribly uncommon to see the Dodge Shelby Charger still pop up for sale in decent condition, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that numerous collectors socked these cars away in the hopes of a second coming of the Shelby Cobra. This 1983 model had just 28,600 original miles on the clock, and may even wear the best colors, depending on your view of what colors a Mopar performance car blessed by Caroll Shelby should be clad in. The Charger is a two-owner example that comes with the original of sale and doesn’t appear to show any deviations from stock. It’s listed here on craigslist for $7,800 near Rochester, New York.

This is a first year example of the Charger that was massaged by Shelby, with just over 8,000 cars made for 1983. These models didn’t have the more powerful turbocharged engines the later ones did, and most of the enhancements focused on improving handling abilities. Shelby and his team did bump the compression ratio of the stock mill, in addition to firming up the suspension, revising the manual transmission gear ratios, and upgrading the power steering rack for faster response. The improvements were certainly not window dressing, but the scale of the changes may have left some enthusiasts wondering if Carroll Shelby had indeed left the building. This example’s paint and stripe kit still looks quite nice, and the louvers are perfect for a hatchback from this era.

Inside, the Shelby-specific bucket seats present quite well with no signs of deterioration or untamed filth. These seats made a regular appearance in the Shelby-ized Chargers, and always struck me as looking like the kind of sport seats that even a driver on the portly side could enjoy. I’m not sure how that translates to support on twistier roads, but they look good nonetheless. The paint, door panels, and rear seat all appear to be in excellent condition, and the seller doesn’t report any major cosmetic flaws. One would hope with such low mileage that the air conditioning and any other comfort/convenience features still work as designed, but you’ll need to call the seller to confirm.

There’s some level of additional detailing under the hood with that chromed valve cover, as I don’t believe it left the factory with that bling under the hood. However, if you Google whether the Charger Shelby had that feature from the factory, it’s surprising how many images pop up of owners who have made this cosmetic upgrade. Regardless, the engine bay is in mint condition with surprisingly vibrant paint still on the firewall and shock towers, reminding us that truly low mileage cars are simply cleaner in places where most cars aren’t. This Dodge Shelby Charger is far from the most desirable Shelby ever made, but you could do worse for a fun, rare, project car on the cheap with time-warp mileage. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Gransedan for the find.

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  1. Howard A Member

    These and the GLH-S, are to Shelby freaks, like the Mustang ll to Mustang freaks, are the cars they’d like to forget. I think Shelby had a good relationship with Lee Iacocca, and he asked Shelby to make something out of his K-cars. I don’t think Shelby was too enthused, but realized, his Cobra monsters had been put out to pasture. These cars had an iffy reputation, I liked them, but many did not. Great find, I think a more valuable car would be the “ONE OFF, one year only” Shelby Rampage.

    • Ken Jennings

      I have read that he loved his Chrysler cars, thought they provided good bang for the buck, and he drove them himself on the street.

  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    We bought a new ’86 Daytona Turbo Z, black on black on black, fully loaded, 5 speed, etc. Well put together, very fast and fun to drive. The Shelby suspension was a good balance between race car and street car. Fun those days was smoking the Fords and embarrassing the Porsches at the PCA autocrosses.

    • Poppapork

      How did it compare to the dame era IROC, Mustang and the first gen nissan 300zx (z31) ?

  3. Tony

    I had an 83 like this with 17k miles back in the 80s. It was a blast to drive and handled really well. Top speed was around 117. Dodge’s efforts to make fun cars during this time bridged the gap between the 70s, the Viper, to the current hemi cars and trucks. Don’t hate. Appreciate.

  4. Bill

    I think this was my mother’s car. She lived just outside of Rochester, loved it but drove it very little. Traded it for a Dodge Interpid at Dodge dealer in Rochester in 2001

  5. Dave

    When these were new and would see someone driving it, I would think to myself….”He couldn’t afford the extra $$$ and settled for a front wheel “Muscle” car.

  6. Ohio Rick

    Drove one of these in SCCA competition (SSB and later ITA). Held its own against GTIs and gave me lots of podium finishes. Only weakness with these were the four-lug hubs which were changed to five-lug in (I think) 85. Practically indestructible on track. In fact it’s still sitting in my shop. Going to get around to getting it running again…some day!

  7. Lynn Dockey Member

    i owned the 83 model, maybe I got a bad one but boy was it ever junk.

  8. Arthur

    It’s almost too bad this car isn’t a rusted out piece of junk. If it was, it would provide the perfect opportunity for someone to build a custom chassis for it. Such a chassis would make it easy to install a Hellcat engine and a rear-mounted transaxle, even though body modifications would be required.

  9. Jim

    I worked at a dealership and some did come from the factory with chrome valve covers

    • Dave

      All 1983 Shelby Chargers came with the chrome valve cover. It was part of the package.

      • ShelbyShadowCSX-T0671

        Dang it u beat me to it. Was scrolling down thru and didn’t see it posted , didn’t see it posted then,BAM, u posted it. Good catch all 83 Shelby Chargers had a chrome valve cover

      • Lynn Member

        Good for at least 5hp

  10. bobhess bobhess Member

    Ohio Rick… Our ’86 had the 5 lugwheels with the 50 series tires on it. Hadn’t thought of it until you mentioned you race one but box stock our car consistently won the classes we autocrossed in at both SCCA and PCA events. the 5.0 liter Mustang drivers really didn’t like getting beat by a Dodge. Would loved to have had the chance to get it on Hallett as we were living in OKC at the time.

  11. bikefixr

    I had an ’84 with 5 lugs wheels and 50 series rubber. I loved that damn car. I had a ton of fun in it. I might buy this. I really want a GLHS but don’t want more than 25k on the ODO. I missed Shelby’s personal car at auction because of s stalled internet connection. Been looking ever since.

  12. Ohio Rick

    Wasn’t certain what year they went to 5. Hub failure could liven up a race!

    • Dave

      They went 5-lug in 1985 with the debut of the Turbo I engine.

  13. CharlesS

    Some friends of ours had one these Shelby K-cars. They hated it. I had a Dodge Ramcharger AW-150 with a 360 V8. It was the family cruiser and made many multistate trips full of kids, luggage, and towing our boat. The friends wanted to trade thier silly Shelby K-car for our truck based-SUV. My first wife thought it was a great idea! My reaction was WTF? We had a big fuss over it. I kept my truck and still owned it several years later when we finally divorced. I owned two Shelby GT 350’s back in the day, and these K-cars made Carroll Shelby appear as a corporate sell-out.

    • Dave

      These are L-Bodies, not K-cars. They pre-date the K platform by several years.

      The Daytona and Lancer Shelbys were K-based however.

    • Superdessucke

      I always liked these though I would probably hold out for a 1985-86 Turbo. Great early hot hatches.

  14. JoeNYWF64

    Can’t any modern 4 door front drive v6 accord or camry smoke this car?

    • Jim

      Yes, but that’s irrelevant really.

      That same V6 Camry will smoke most 60s/70s musclecars too.

    • Ohio Rick

      Yes, and probably the IROC Zs and Mustangs from this era. Might even add Corvettes. They were wheezing in the dearly 80s. Would certainly smoke an 83 Vette.

      • Phil

        Anything could smoke an ’83 Corvette since none were made for that model year. 😉

    • Superdessucke

      And probably many standard muscle cars from the late 60s and early 70s too. Camry V6s are pretty fast. They run the 1/4 in the low 14s.

  15. Lynn Member

    All of em.

  16. Dave

    Looks like there has been some paintwork completed under-hood on the front slam panel. There is blue overspray on the hood bumper rubber in photo #10 from the Craigslist ad.


    Not a showstopper by any means, possibly just a touch up from flaking paint, rust, etc. Or it could have sustained a front end impact at some point. Just making an observation.

  17. ChrisC

    I owned a 1984 my senior year of school back in 1987. Same color with factory removable sunroof. Yes it did come stock with the chrome valve cover. Quick little car and it handled like it was on rails. Wish I was 17 again. Haven’t seen one in years.

  18. downforce

    Very nice, and still available. Are those louvers aluminum or plastic? Are they hinged and liftable for cleaning? Couldn’t find details via allpar

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