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Four Door Fun! 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T

Once again, we have another 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T to review, a true hot rod from a time when production rods weren’t that hot. This example has only experienced 40K miles of use and has been painstakingly maintained. While the Spirit was considered a disposable commodity car, the turbo-charged R/T model was definitely something special and it’s great to see one that has been preserved so well over a long span of 32 years. Our subject car is located in Harrisonburg, Virginia and is available, here on eBay for a BIN price of $12,399. There is a make-an-offer option too (though the seller claims that he has turned down an offer of over $11K).

Dodge’s Spirit was offered between 1989 and 1995 and was built on ChryCo’s “AA” platform. Offered in a single four-door sedan body style, trim levels included the base Spirit, Spirit LE, ES, and R/T. While total ’91 Spirit output reached 95K units, only 1,208, according to Hemmings, wore R/T badging. Another 191 R/T’s rolled off of ChryCo’s Mexican assembly line in ’92, and then it was over and out for this factory powerhouse.

This R/T’s magic comes about thanks to its 224 net HP, turbo-charged, 2.2 liter, inline four-cylinder engine working via a five-speed manual transaxle – the R/T’s only available cog setup. The seller lists maintenance items that have been effected over the year and notes that the radiator, fan, timing belt, and water pump, among other things, have been replaced. Also mentioned is that this Dodge isn’t driven very often, but when it is, the seller adds, “… I do drive it – I run it up to 90 mph and 5,000+ rpm with no issues“. Also noted is the installation of a lowering kit, with the appropriate struts and bushings, as well as high-performance brake components.

Two different finishes were R/T approved, red, such as our subject car, and white – silver was added in ’92. Red, known for fading with lots of sun exposure, is hardly the problem here as this Spirit presents beautifully. Nevertheless, the seller states, “The paint is 32+ years old. A few spots need attention (the rear spoiler, some door dings, and a corner of the hood has just a bit of rust). There is some potting on the horizontal surfaces that is from hail; I live with it – easy to fix prior to a repaint…which I kept thinking I would do“. Be that as it may, the images don’t illustrate any foibles.

I have always considered the dash and instrument panel from this vintage Chrysler product to look cheap, and at the same time, I really like them. They’re no-nonsense and easy to read – just the basics! They are also typical of the era with their blockiness – another facet that I like. As for the velour-like upholstery, also a bit on the budget-minded side, it has held up quite well in this case – a testament to limited use and enclosed parking. The listing states that the headliner has been replaced and I don’t find that surprising. The foam-backed ones used in this era just don’t hold up. Last but not least…there is a CD and a cassette player in place, oh boy!

Hemmings makes mention of Arthur St. Antoine’s Car & Driver write-up where he amusingly called the Spirit R/T, “A Sugar Ray Leonard engine trapped in a Homer Simpson physique.” I’d say that is an apt description! If you look back 32 years and see what was occurring in the domestic automotive biz, and at perenially cash-strapped Chrysler in particular, the Spirit R/T showed what can be done with some imagination, engineering skill, and making the most of what you have to work with. I’d say this version of the Spirit was a home run, wouldn’t you agree?


  1. Rw

    This is what the definition of surviver is, when the last time anybody seen one if ever?

    Like 12
  2. Batstow

    I dare say the time is right to make a decision about the issues at hand before it is to late to reverse the situation that is looming before us.

    Like 10
    • Garfield

      A very dramatic statement, suitable for these times.

      Like 7
  3. CarNutDan

    I have only seen 1 in person and go ahead and scoff. This could be a future collectible. The word sleeper comes to mind as well.
    I owned a 1990 Plymouth Acclaim cousin of this car with a V-6. Fast enough for a boxy car of its time.

    Like 10
    • Smokey Smokerson

      I will agree, I’ve only seen one of these in the “wild,” but it was white. When my wife and I started dating back in the 1900s, she had a 1990 Spirit with the 3.0l V6. It was a perfect commuter car. We eventually traded it in for a Grand Caravan with the same 3.0l engine…..I actually miss both those vehicles, adequate power, decent gas mileage

      Like 7
    • Mike

      My dad worked at the dodge dealer. I was in my 20’s it was the end 1992 and I had just orderd a new Daytona IROC R/T 93 model. Got the call Dodge canceled build on the Daytona. Sales guy says we have 1991 Sprit R/T that were about to lemon law but we can sell it to you for 9k lifetime warranty as long as you own it. Super fast and fun car I put over 140k miles on and beat a lot of people in races. Funny thing was how hard I beat on it I never had to use the lifetime warranty. I did end up finding a Daytona RT to add to the collection a year later.

      Like 4
  4. Stan

    Turbo Rockets 🚀 worthy of a Mopar designation. Std trans only. 🙌

    Like 7
  5. Big C

    One thing is certain. The Chrysler Corporation set the standard for ugly cars, when the tax payers funded the K cars. Woof!

    Like 1
  6. flynndawg

    a true babe magnet… ;)

    Like 2
  7. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    In the “spirit” of performance Mopars of this period, I would designate this a “GLH-A” – Goes Like Hell – Again.

    Like 5
  8. AnthonyD

    I have a feeling the seller is gonna regret turning down that $11k+ offer!

    Like 1
  9. John Jasper

    Too many doors for me.

    Like 1
  10. Rallye Member

    Did these come in other colors?
    These were special. If I remember right it had a cylinder head or more by Lotus. Years ago I had a customer student had one of these also red. I did some mods and then it was to Road America for me to instruct from the right seat. A lot more than I was expecting from a Kcar.
    The student wanted me to drive it and the school didn’t, I didn’t see what it could really do.

    Like 1
    • SubGothius

      Correct, these Turbo III engines had a 16v cylinder head made by Lotus, also equipped in the ’92-93 Dodge Daytona IROC R/T.

      Like 2

    I vividly remember when these came out, they had similar horsepower to the 5.0 Mustangs and Camaros of the day and would keep up with them, no problem. They also got decent gas mileage and were cheaper to insure. I personally love a fast 4 door and wouldn’t mind having one of these, but for way less money. I’m sure the owner will get close to his asking price, considering the state of the car market these days. I’d rather have the Omni GLH-S, but the Spirit R/T was known for its performance and handling and was a great car for the time it was built. I don’t know about reliability, but if you take care of it and replace parts when they should be replaced according to the maintenance schedule I’m sure you’ll get plenty more years of enjoyment out of it. Who knows, maybe the younger generations will start buying them for nostalgia’s sake and they become sought after like the foxbody mustang that I never thought would sell for what they’re going for now.

    Like 1
    • Kris

      There was a fellow who has one of these for sale for the longest time, and it was about in this condition. I wonder if it’s the same car. He certainly priced it at the absolute top of the market, convinced it would soon be BJ or Mecum bait.

      Of the two years available domestically, 92 is the one to have. 91s use steel expansion plugs in their aluminum heads and have a propensity for cracking them. 92s don’t. The colour palette was expanded for 92, bringing silver into the mix, but it also included wood grain dash trim from the AA body Lebaron sedan and an optional Infinity CD player.

      Like 2
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      GIJOOOE: The reasons you mention are EXACTLY why I bought the GLH-T in 1986. Fast, Cheap, and Fun! Surprised many a Mustang GT and IROC back in the day.

      Like 1
      • GIJOOOE

        Heck yeah, they were bada** cars for the day! I test drove a non-turbo GLH IN 1990 when I needed to replace the diplomat that I hated so much. It was pretty fast considering it was naturally aspirated, but what stopped me from buying it was the fact that it “dieseled” for 5 full seconds after I shut it off, which told me the previous owner didn’t use high octane gas and didn’t maintain it properly. If that weren’t the case I would have bought it immediately. I still keep an eye out for a good condition GLH-S and if I ever find one with low miles and a good price, I might buy it.

        Like 2
  12. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Oh yeah – great choice to get a GLH-S. That’s what I really wanted, and they had an official dealership not too far away here in NH. Problem was that they were more money than I wanted to spend. And then, perfect timing, a GLH-T showed up at a local dealership. I took a bath on the less than year old Cavalier I had, but I hated that car, so didn’t care.

    Like 0
  13. Michael Berkemeier

    Aaaaaaaand…it’s SOLD!

    Like 1

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