Going Digital: 1986 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z CS

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Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

When I first spotted this 1986 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z CS here on eBay, I thought it was going to be another climate-controlled garage specimen with an odometer stuck in the four-digit range. However, it actually has close to 200,000 miles on the clock and remains in excellent condition. The seller sounds like he’s pretty fanatical about these Daytona coupes, also known as the G-body in Mopar land. There is a reserve but bidding is already quite active with plenty of time left in the auction. 

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I was expecting to see the cloth buckets with the familiar “CS” logo stitched into the seat, but this Daytona was outfitted with leather seats from the factory. In fact, the list of features is basically what sets this car apart from other Daytonas, as it was loaded up with gadgets like the digital dash, electronic navigation system and a power driver’s seat. Frankly, I have never seen a Daytona with seats like these and they appear downright racy with those thick bolsters. They’re not in perfect condition but remain presentable when you consider the mileage.

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Ah, yes – the digital dashboard. It’s amazing how many car manufacturers went this way only to return to traditional gauges up until just recently. There are even some Audi models from the 1980’s that are considered particularly desirable by enthusiasts because they were spec’d out with the digital cluster. Of course, they can be prone to failure as well but this Daytona’s futuristic read-out appear to be working as intended, along with the 12-button navigation system that the seller has replaced all the push buttons on. To say he’s a committed Daytona enthusiast is an understatement.

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From this view, I have to admit: this cheap coupe had some nice lines. Sadly, the Daytona harkens back to an era when the automotive landscape was a pretty dim place, and lots of these cars ended up in junkyards even if they were equipped with the turbocharged engine. If it were my car, I’d swap in a bigger turbo, add an intercooler and mess with the computer to allow for higher boost levels – all while keeping the exterior appearance stock (well, maybe a slight lowering kit). As they become harder to find, I suspect children of the 80’s will begin to appreciate the era in which Chrysler Corp. went full turbo (and digital) on its lineup. Which one would you choose?

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Comments

  1. BillB

    Looks like some patchwork in the trunk that’s been painted over. Could be seam sealer material. But, it is very well cared for.

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  2. The Walrus

    I think the author is confusing the Charger with the Daytona. These were entirely different platforms/cars. The seats in this are mid level for ’86. The high end seats would have have been power and also had lumbar/thigh controls with a hand held balloon on the side. In this case, the CS on the side looks like a Shelby Logo, but stood for ‘Competition Series handling package’ inspired by Carroll Shelby. The Shelby name was not officially attached to Daytona’s until Chrysler licensed the name for 1987 and the Daytona Shelby Z debuted.

    The Daytona was more of a GT than sports car. It weighed a bunch more too. Although by todays standards you wouldn’t know it, but everything about the Daytonas is significantly more robust than a Charger.

    Also, the 1986 Turbo I engine and this particular transmission do not do well with performance mods. Better to start with an ’87 or newer (and the newer the better) Turbo II block and Getrag transmission…

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  3. The Chucker

    A butched-out K car! I had one in the 80’s, two words: “torque steer”.

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  4. Charles H.

    The bottom line is, unfortunately, no matter how you slice it, they are still a variation of the lowly K-Car…..but it is one of the nicer ones, for sure!

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  5. Paul

    One word….DROOL!!

    T-tops, turbo, digital dash, 5 speed and leather, how can it not get any better???

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  6. Bob Hess

    Bought one of these new. The “CS”stands for Carol Shelby. That edition came with the leather seats, upgraded springs/shocks, and enough electronic goodies to keep anyone happy. The Computer was full capable of anything having to do with the performance of the car… speed, mileage, distance, time etc. We had the 5 speed manual with a limited slip out back. The car was fast, handled well on street and track, and was a blast to drive. Registered a 144 mph once and still had rpm to go. Too bad Chrysler didn’t have the sense or money to continue a program for it. The next generation would have been a hoot. Bob

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    • The Chucker

      A limited slip out back?

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    • Roger

      It is my understanding; as The Walrus stated, Chrysler used the ” CS ” logo BEFORE they had the licensing from Shelby and to avoid lawsuits they did in fact make up something for the ” CS ” that meant something other than Carol Shelby. I believe the designation The Walrus used is correct. AFTER the licensing agreement was in place with Shelby they started advertising it as such. I am not 100% on the exact date of all this but I do believe it was right around 87-88. I am not a big Mopar fan but I am a huge Shelby fan ( his Mopars too lol! ) and this is the reason I know this.

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      • The Walrus

        It was definitely 1987 for the Shelby Z… this was my ‘barn find’ last October just after I loaded it in MA for the trip back to VT. It’s an ’87 Shelby Z with 19016 miles. It’s a total time capsule!

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    • DA

      CS stands for Competition Series and sold as an option package for the Turbo Z in 86. The CS was not sold in 87 and brought back in 88 as its own model and over-shadowed the Shelby models.

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      • Paul

        Nothing over shadows the Shelby editions…..Chrysler made economy fwd cars in the 80s that were cheap toys, the Shelby add ons were the only reason to ever buy one in my opinion. Just my own .02

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  7. Gary

    I had an automatic 84 turbo Z as my first car. I loved it except for the turbo lag. Then I bought a 92 IROC R/T for my second car. I love this platform and wish I still had one.

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  8. Joe Howell

    Looks like Porsche 944 from the back.

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  9. Steven C

    I love 80’s digital dashboards! Had an 84 Chrysler Lazer turbo with this same dash for a short time in the 90’s, feels like an 80’s video game. I currently have one of the Audi one’s you mentioned in my Coupe GT, works perfectly and looks awesome at night.

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  10. ToniM

    Seriously impressed they got 200K on this! I had an 85–it was 13 years old and had 115K on it when it committed suicide. Fuel line got a hole and it caught on fire. I had a love/hate relationship with it at the time but these days I sort of miss that car. I didn’t think it was anything special at the time–just an old car that was in my limited budget but at least looked and ran a little sportier than an Omni or a Chevette, but now I am watching interest in them build and I sort of miss that thing.

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  11. Stephen W

    My ’86, while a fun, affordable ride, also “committed suicide” with a cracked/warped head in ’99 or 2000. I have no data to back it up but being a daily driver on the Autobahn from 94 to 97 may have been too much for it. Nearly all my co-workers reported US-built cars just not holding up after Autobahn use. US motors were not designed for sustained high RPM. FYI – Floored the thing topped out between 105 and 110 mph, as I recall.

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