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Hot Hatch: 1986 Shelby GLHS

1986 Shelby GLHS

It’s amazing what slapping a name like Shelby onto a car can do! When we talk about the creations of Carroll Shelby, we all tend to think of Cobras and GT350s, but Shelby wasn’t just a Ford guy. He made all kinds of cars go fast and during the ’80s, some of those cars were Dodge econoboxes. In this case, it was the lowly Dodge Omni. Only 500 of these Shelby GHLS were built and this example is listed here on eBay in Pekin, Illinois.

Shelby GLHS

Shelby actually didn’t have to do much with these cars, as the examples sent to Shelby were the already hopped up GLH. The major improvement was the addition of an intercooler, but there were other tweaks made to squeeze 175 hp out of the 4 cylinder. This example has been parked for at least 16 years. Sadly, both mice and rust took up residence. It’s going to need work done to the floors and I’m sure there will be wiring issues. Given that it does bear the name of Shelby and was one hot hatch, I’m sure someone will save it! At least I hope someone does!


  1. Birdman

    What is that contraption it’s on?

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  2. Dan

    That is so you can tip it on it’s side to work on the underside of the car

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    • Birdman

      Ahhh…Cool….Thanks for that.. :)

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    • skloon

      I still want one to work on my TR6

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  3. John K

    I owned a GLH. Don’t let the mice and rust issues you fool you, they didn’t hurt the car: they were junk right off the showroom floor. Damn things made MG look like Lexus when it came to build quality and dependability.

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    • Fnord

      I used to rally race an Ommi, they were fairly solid for the era.

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      • Jason Houston

        I think the car you want is an Omni…?

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  4. dj

    There’s one near me. I’ve seen it parked for a few years so I stopped and asked about it. He would sell it for $3500. He’s done work on the engine and changed the turbo. If it was original, I’d buy it but as it is I won’t.

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  5. jimbosidecar

    I always thought these were cool little toys, but I’ve seen quite a few of them at track days, and it was a regular occurance that at least one would go home on a trailer as they were very prone to oil starvation and a blown engine as a result.

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  6. The Walrus

    Shelby had EVERYTHING to do with these cars. Not ‘not much’ as indicated in the write up. These started as GLH-T’s, but the changes were more significant than indicated above. These cars were sold as Shelby’s not Dodges, and their origin stickers on the doors say so.

    The intercooler conversion changed the air intake, computer, some wiring, added the intercooler components, etc. If you look at the engine of a stock ’86 Turbo I and a GLHS, the GLHS looks like an ’87 not an ’86 because of the intake that was a pre-production unit.

    GLHS’s also had different wheels (Shelby Centurion I) and wider tires in addition to Koni adjustable suspension. There were the Shelby plaques and the speedometer overlay, shifter. The Koni suspension changed the dynamics from a stock GLH significantly.

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    • PRA4SNW

      Well said. Carroll said that he was always proud of this car.

      Back in ’86 I wanted one of these badly, but couldn’t afford it. I ended up with the standard GLH-T (Turbo) and was very happy with it.

      Build quality was bad, yes, but what a joy it was to be 20 and surpising the s**t out of IROCs and GTs

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      • Glhs736

        I own.a 87 Charger GLHS which is identical to the Omni under the skin. And yes it was fun to sneak up on GT Mustangs and Cameron IROCs. Left many of them scratching their head. BTW, bought it in April 1990 and still have. Signed in 3 places by ‘ol Shelby himself.

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    The GLH gave American Car buyers something new in the days of low /no performance V8 engines. If you were a die hard Chrysler guy stalking the dealer all you would have had at this point was a Dodge Aspen with a R/T appearance package. Have to give Chrysler credit for taking a different direction in the days of the K car, They had to rework and make horsepower with what they had

    What we have is the first American Tuner.

    Comparing it to an MG in quality and dependability is harsh. MG did not have a performance varient. Comparing stock There are more Dodge Omni’s still on the road that have had only basic maintenance then any MG’s

    Yes, the build quality left alot to be desired on the GLH/GLHS given the fact that most all have had the guts ran out of them and still do. Many Youtube videos showing they are still doing their job

    This car is interesting however I think the seller is way off on price considering you have no idea on what is there and what he threw away when he took it apart. Besides he needs a little time to round things up even after you win the bid. He should have put more time in preparing the car to sell. Also would be more legit by replacing the Mopar banner hanging on the wall with a Mitsubishi one.

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  8. Dylan Morgan

    Hi all
    Omni was based on the Chrysler Horizon from Europe and Horizon’s were pretty dreadful in every aspect

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  9. MikeG

    I’d rather have a MK I or MK II VW rabbit GTI.

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  10. Chris

    When I was at the Shelby plant in Las Vegas a couple of years ago, they had one of these in their Museum area up front. They said Shelby actually worked hard to make this a good car, and my sense is he did pretty well considering what he had to work with.

    The best car from that time was probably the Grand National or the Trans Am. Only a hard core Shelby or Mopar guy would want to mess with this.

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  11. Wayne Thomas

    Since the car is apart and not perfect, why not restomod and make this an AWD? Its not like this is an investment car to flip. So many cars on BarnFinds are great for a long term personal project rather than flipping and for me personally, this is a big reason I like this site.

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  12. Mark S

    I worked on plenty of these early k’s back in the day what a piece of $hit they were, from bumper to bumper. I say squeeze it flat with some hydrolics.

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  13. Steve

    Get it cheap would kick ass at Lemons

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  14. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    I remember Carrol saying that he liked taking a little shitbox of a car and making it go fast as hell, or something like that.

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  15. Jason Houston

    Only 500 were built? Thank god it wasn’t 5,000! That’s like attributing the Yugo to Raymond Loewy.

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  16. Shannon Doherty

    I can’t believe the hateful comments that these 80s Shelby Dodges get these were some cool little cars

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  17. jeffrey angelli

    My mom had an omni . I used it to teach my girlfriend to drive and to um reach her potential. Was it built like my 85 vw .No. It did run just fine , needed no repairs ,got good mpg ,handled decent on crappy tires ,held a fair amount of stuff .only the bumper rubber ends ever fell off …… The radio was horrible though and no turbo .A good little commuter car .She traded it in on a 600 turbo … more power ,more back seat ….

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