Daily Driver Shelby: 1983 Dodge Charger

When we write about Shelbys, it’s often in hushed tones or excited yammering about how much money it will bring at auction. However, you don’t often hear the words “daily driver” and “Shelby” in the same sentence. But then again, we’re not talking about a Mustang or a Cobra; no, we’re discussing the less-loved 1983 Dodge Shelby Charger here on eBay!  Sure, it’s not worth a small fortune but some respect is definitely due to the individual that has kept one of these chugging along as a reliable steed with a connection to one of the biggest names in the industry. 

Now, that connection to Shelby took a variety of forms in terms of what the famous nameplate got you. This is an early car, a 1983 model, so this is part of the initial production run of Shelby-branded Chargers (technically, I believe it’s a 1983.5) that lacked a turbocharged powerplant. Instead, this iteration made do with special ground effects, striping, wheels and a more performance-oriented suspension. The nose was also re-styled and the manual gearbox – which this car has – was revised with different gear ratios. This car retains those Shelby-sourced bits but it is fairly tired cosmetically.

Inside, the unique Shelby bucket seats and upholstery have survived, but the driver’s seat will need recovering. The seller also notes the steering wheel is in rough shape, too, but these detriments seem more in line with a car that was driven daily for years rather than one that suffered from outright neglect. Other issues include a working speedometer that doesn’t report accurate speed and missing speakers in the doors. The seller takes a, “Check out the pictures to see what you’re getting” approach, so be sure to review carefully if a cheap, running Shelby is on your bucket list.

The engine bay is surprisingly clean for a car that has served as someone’s plain-jane daily driver. However, I’m conflicted here: I do appreciate this era of Mopars where Carroll attempted to inject some life into their boring economy cars, and he absolutely succeeded. But if it were me, I’d hold out for a later example with the beefier turbocharged components under the hood, as the last run of the Chargers shared drivertrains with the Omni GLHS. Still, for the $1,550 Buy-It-Now, this could be the cheapest way into Shelby ownership. Would you go for this example or wait for a later car?

Fast Finds


  1. JW

    I would think if you were looking for cheap transportation for your kid’s first car and a little Dad / Son / Daughter time in the garage this isn’t such a bad deal.

  2. Don

    The body looks to be in good shape . The inside not to much .Would be a cool car fixed up for your kid to show up to highschool in 😎

    • DrinkinGasoline

      My older brother had a Chrysler Laser Turbo. My younger brother borrowed it for prom weekend and put 87 octane fuel in it because he’s such a cheapskate. DOH !
      Back to the dealer it went, on a hook…..lol.
      Luckily it was still under warranty.

  3. Chris

    I had a ’86 Shelby Charger given to me by my step mom after she blew it up….. Wish I had it today

  4. John K

    I had one of these. Lest reliable car I ever owned. The only way I’d trust this as my “daily” is if I lived within walking distance of work.

  5. glenn merithew

    my dad had one dalliance away from ford and in 1973 he bought a dodge charger. he was looking at a dart but grafton dodge had sold it out from him so they offered him the charger for the same price as the dart, you might think what a deal but the car spent more time at the dealer than in my dads driveway, the radiator was replaced three times, it had those new door handles and both of them would break and you couldn’t get into the car so a year later and my dad was a new ford owner and he vowed to never own another Chrysler product and he never did

    Like 1
    • Cooter Davenport

      …which has absolutely nothing to do with the featured car.

  6. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    This one has the “Shelby” name so someone will snatch it up, but it sure looks to have had a rough 76K miles.

    • Don

      had a rough 46 but still going strong 😁

  7. Jeffro

    Shelby in name only.

  8. B

    I think Shelby ended up regretting this connection.

    • glhs0075

      I think you are wrong.

  9. SFM5S

    About the only nice thing I can say about this “Shelby” is that it’s slightly nicer than the Dodge Omni “Shelby” of the same era. Guess old Shelby needed something to hang his name on to keep the cash flowing in during the malaise era! I pay more each year to insure my ’65 Shelby that the BIN price on this example LOL!

    • Rob S

      Shelby didn’t need any cash as he was having the time of his life ( again) in africa. He was leaving the automotive world behind after working his tail off with the ford program and after ford began competing with him on high performance cars. He hung his performance hat up and left the industry. His ol friend, Lee, coaxed him back to help give Chrysler a performance name. After all Shelby owed him a favor. I am glad he came back to put his name on something. Some of those 80’s shelby were he high standard of the time. OL Shel’ even had a dodge omni GLHS in his personal collection! I would like to have this in my garage but I won’t part with my 67 GT 500 for the space! Rare car here.

      • SFM5S

        Agreed for the most part, but Ol Shel’ was licensing anything and everything back then to capitalize on his name (today we would call it his “brand”). Remember Pit Stop deodorant, Shelby salad dressing, Shelby chili, just to name a few. To his credit though a lot of the proceeds went to his children’s charity, particularly the fee’s he collected for signing glove box doors & other Shelby stuff! Cheers.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      You can think whatever you want about these cars. Yes, some of them (like the featured car) just had a name and some extra trim options, but there were some models (GLHS Omni & Charger) that were true Shelby Performance specials that had real performance for the day and could smoke any of its contemporaries.

      Shelby himself stated that he was proud of what he did with these cars.

      Heck I had the “normal” non-Shelby Omni GLH-T that could eat up anything new in ’86.

  10. Michael thomas

    no ac????

  11. Andy

    I had an 84 Turismo, which was the same body as the charger. 2.2 engine with a 3 speed auto. 8 grand brand new, but no fm radio or AC.

    However, I shocked many people with how it handled and acceleration.

    Had mine close to 20 years before I sent it to the junk yard. Floor pans rotted out, both front and back, and don’t even ask how I kept the spare tire in the trunk. (Ok, I strapped a 2×4 across so it wouldn’t fall out!). Once the unibody started rotting, it was time to go. I would seriously check out the underside very carefully before even considering…

  12. Joe M

    The 80’s had some fun inexpensive turbo micro rockets. Shame the car company’s can’t come up with a similar marketing formula. Cheap, fast fun cars… Everything that even shows a little bit of street cool seems overpriced and is being driven by someone over 60+. No wonder the millennial’s aren’t interested in getting bogged down with a car payment.

  13. nessy

    Here is a great and true story about Carroll Shelby. I remember reading a funny interview from Car and parts Magazine in 84 on Carroll Shelby when he was promoting this car, he said, in his own words, “I decided to emphasize the four since the V8 is a Dinosaur” also, “the turbo is turning things around and we now have 16 valve heads that bolt right up to 1.2 liter engines”. Ha. A few years later, as hot V8s were making a big come back, another interviewer asked Shelby if he still felt the same about the little fours being the new wave of the future, he just looked at the guy and said he must have had an overdose of “stupid” during that day during the 84 interview and laughed it off. He also talked about slowing down in that 84 interview and more into cruising and not racing anymore. He was 61 at the time. Years later, there is a film of him ripping around the track in a 700 hp Mustang when he was 88 years old….

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