Carroll Approved: 1987 Dodge Shelby Z Survivor

In the 1980s the domestic compact market was occupied with the first generation of front wheel drive cars. Although serving the role as a basic commuter car, these tended to be a learning curve for the later generation of front drivers. With the exception of a few models, very little emphasis was placed on performance. Here is an example of one of those exceptions, a super clean 1987 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z. Located in Hiram, Georgia and listed here on eBay with a buy it now price of $9,000 or make an offer option.

Carroll Shelby had an affiliation with Chrysler Corporation for a couple of years previously, and by 1987 Chrysler had managed to produce a turbo inter-cooled version of it’s proven 2.2L engine. It generated some impressive numbers for the time, 175 horsepower with 12 pounds of boost. Chrysler even strengthened the bottom end to handle the extra pressure. The Z package gave further suspension, brake and wheel size upgrades. All this combined with the relatively low weight of the car put the straight line performance in the same league as classic muscle cars.

This car is a well-preserved example. A three owner car, it is said to have been garaged all its life. There is no reason to dispute this claim, the interior looks perfect with no sign of sun damage. The exterior of the car is nice and straight, no dents, rust or clear coat peeling. The underside looks just as good. The engine compartment shows another example of a perfect Georgia car. The seller has performed a lot of maintenance, including fluid changes, and a timing belt change. This saves a future buyer from guesswork, without knowing maintenance history a driver would have to baseline a lot of these tasks. Although the 2.2L is not an interference engine, these early timing belts were not known for their durability and replacement interval is a relatively short 60,000 miles. There is no mention of the turbo, but we can assume everything is functioning properly by the seller’s description.

The shape and performance of the car would make it blend into modern traffic but with the colored body trim, it definitely screams the mid to late ’80s. Average commuters probably would not take notice of it, but enthusiast will instantly recognize it as something special. Although not the original owners intended purpose, this car would be fun to use as a regular driver. The respect and subsequent resale value of these hasn’t reached the level of traditional muscle cars, but they seem to be gaining traction. These cars are fuel injected, giving good driveability, and in some ways represent an era where automotive technology and serviceability were at their peak for the home mechanic or enthusiast. The owner of this Shelby gets to enjoy the benefits of fuel injection and the ability to diagnose and fix issues with readily available tools. The price on this car is at the absolute high end, but it would be difficult to find another at this level.

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Comments

  1. Rosko

    Liked it then. Like it now :)

    Like 18
    • 39 Zephyr

      Our RED 89 automatic with no dents or rust made it to 254,000 before we gifted it to a niece as her first car…..

      Like 2
  2. Bakyrdhero

    Seems like a timeless design. I reckon Lot of these were basket cases, my aunts 88 was a frequent flier at the garage. I’d take one on as an extra car to scoot around in. I prefer the other rims these came with though

    Like 2
    • The Walrus

      The 87-88 Shelby Z’s were the fastest depreciating vehicles in their respective years. Off the lot at $14k, a year later $8k. This means most were annihilated by the second or 3rd owner. I have an ’87 with 19K miles. The second owner was a Ford dealer who took it in on trade but was a Shelby guy. My guess is mine is the best one out there. This one, to me, is very very good. I’m super impressed.

      Like 5
    • The Walrus

      Curious which other rims you refer to. ’86 Turbo Z’s and ’87-’88 Shelby Z’s only came with these ‘crab’ wheels. ’89-90 Shelby Daytona’s had ‘Pumpers’. But in all cases there were no optional rims to my knowledge.

      • Bakyrdhero

        For some reason I’m unable to post a picture, but my aunts 88 Silver Shelby Z had the “sun dial” rims for lack of knowing the actual terminology. They were the rims from the Omni based Chargers. It never occurred to me that they weren’t stock, but as I just did a search on Shelby Z wheels I’m thinking they must have been swapped on.

      • The Walrus

        The ’85 and early ’86 Turbo Z’s had ‘pizza’ wheels, which have holes on the outer diameter. A non-shelby turbo would have had these through ’88. Pre-’87 may also have had ‘Swiss cheese’ wheels with dozens of holes of various diameters. I’ll post pics below.

  3. Jeffrey Knight

    I loved mine. Pushed it hard and it seemed to love it. The adjustable racing seats were a tad small for average Americans but still kept you in place.

    Torque steer was harsh from standing stop. Getrag 5 speed shifted great.

    Like 2
  4. Derek

    I have a few turbo 2.2’s in several Lebaron Convs I’ve had love the engine good performance and decent mileage never had any of the timing belt problems or any other for that matter with any of them

    Like 1
  5. CanuckCarGuy

    From a design standpoint, it’s still one of my favourite cars from the ’80s. Very much a “want to own” car for me, but tough to find in decent condition…a few stalled projects available near me, but I’d rather a clean original.

    Like 2
  6. Steve S

    I had a blue 88 Dodge datona when I was in high school but mine had an automatic transmission with the 2.2 turbocharged engine and the car was in the shop getting worked on more than it was on the road

    Like 1
  7. dirtyharry

    Looks good today, aged very well. One of my friends owned one and took me to lunch in it. I was very impressed how well it pulled (it was virtually new). I think it may have been just as fast as my 87 Camaro with a 305. If you wanted one this is really a bargain. I doubt many had this kind of pampered life.

    Like 2
  8. James Martin

    Supped upcarvan motor and a sported out dog onme. Why did shelby do it? Why?

    • The Walrus

      Why? Aside from a long time working relationship with Iacocca, Shelby was interested in technology. The GM and Ford performance offerings in the ’80’s were dinosaurs. The Chrysler stuff was modern for the time. The ’89 CSX-VNT, for example, was 20 years ahead of its time. Everyone now praises the 2009 Porsche variable turbo as ‘revolutionary’. Shelby did it via Chrysler in 1989. It’s sad that supposed fans of Shelly’s work don’t recognize this time period of his career. Things they did advanced performance in the long run way more than anything he did in the ’60’s.

      Like 6
  9. Bakyrdhero

    @Walrus I’m going to go with the Pizza wheels. They were common back then on Omni Glh and some other Shelby cars. This car in particular was a loaded 5 speed Shelby Daytona Z turbo. I was just a kid, but I remember the boost gauge and I also remember the turbo needing to be replaced. It was a sliver car with a deep burgundy, almost purple interior. Sport seat with a pin striping as I remember. Awesome looking car for the day. I’m thinking someone added the wheels rather than the Shelby badging. I’m not sure why I’m unable to post pictures

    • The Walrus

      My best guess, based on the burgundy interior, would be a late ’85 or early ’86 Daytona C/S with ‘Shelby Inspired’ suspension. It would be a regular TI and before Chrysler licensed the ‘Shelby’ name for the Daytona. Many people thought the C/S with flag emblem stood for Shelby, and nobody from either Chrysler or Shelby readily denied that… but technically it stood for ‘Competition Suspension’ as stated earlier ‘Inspired by Shelby’. The logo had a C and S connected through a flag in the middle rather than the official Shelby insignia with the S and C intertwined with a flag on the upper right. Many people call the late ’85’s and ’86’s Shelbys, even back then, based on sales pitches and perceptions, even though they were not.

      Agreed… apparently pics can’t be posted any more.

      • Bakyrdhero

        Well, you clearly know more about these cars than I do. What I know for sure is that it was an 88 with the flip up lights. Solid silver color with ground effects. I remember the Shelby Z badging. I feel like the wheels were swapped somewhere along the way. The car was purchased 3 years old. It doesn’t really matter, that car went to the junk yard well over 20 years ago unfourtunatley.

  10. garry connors

    loved the 2.2 turbo

    Like 1
  11. 71Boss351

    I had a 86 new. I had to constantly fuel up with the tiny gas tank. My round trip commute was over 50 miles each day so it seemed that I was at a gas station every other day. I sold it real quick back in the day. It was pretty quick if you stepped on the pedal. I remember the sales ads showed the Camaro and Mustang as the direct competition. I think the Shelby Z weighed 2700 lbs so it was relatively light compared to a 5.0 L Mustang that was new at the time.

  12. 88C/S

    C/S stood for “Competition Series”, beefier anti-roll bars, shocks, struts and springs, plus 15 x 6.5″ cast aluminum wheels and 225/50R15 Goodyear Gatorback tires.

    • The Walrus

      It stood for that in 89-90. In 86 it stood for ‘Competition Suspension’ which was stated in advertising for the 86 CS Daytona as ‘Competition Suspension Inspired by Carroll Shelby’.

    • The Walrus

      CS stood for ‘Competition Series’ in 89-92 on VNT cars and used the same badge as 85-86 cars. A ‘Competition Series’ Shadow was also offered. However in 85-86 it stood for ‘Competition Suspension’ on Daytona Turbo Z’s only.

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