Goes Like Hell S’more: 1986 Shelby Omni GLH-S

It’s rare that a car checks these three boxes: affordable; blessed by Caroll Shelby; an 80s hot hatch; and legitimately quick. That’s what we have, however, with this super clean 1986 Shelby Omni GLH-S which comes up for auction in July. The GLH-S was the hotted-up version of already hot car, and was actually branded a Shelby product that was sold at Dodge dealerships, rather than just an Omni GLH. They are fiercely quick, only 500 were made, and this one is claimed to have under 7,000 original miles! Find it here on the Vanderbrink Auctions website where it’s already attracted bids to over $10,000.

The icons of the 80s are storming the collector car market at the moment, from mint condition Volkswagen GTIs to well-preserved Ford Mustang SVOs. The Shelby-ized Mopar products are right up there, but there’s a thin line between being interesting and being valuable when it comes to these turbocharged econoboxes. The Chargers that were breathed on by Shelby’s skunkworks are readily available (relatively speaking) and don’t command much of the used car market. The same could be said for more garden-variety Omni GLHs in average condition.

The GLH-S derivatives of both cars, however, have always been collectable. The Charger also benefitted from having an extra letter sewn onto its name, and in the case of both the liftback and the hatchback, the addition performance tuning really did thrust these models into a threshold of performance cars that cost significantly more money. The Omni GLH-S could click off a run to 60 of just 6.5 seconds and eclipse the quarter mile in under 15. For something that otherwise looks just like one of the cheapest cars in Dodge’s lineup at the time, that is very respectable performance.

What’s truly mind-blowing is that flat-out, it could actually knock on the door of 140 m.p.h., which seems mildly terrifying to do in a car that would like rattle to pieces an any sustained speed in the triple digits. The GLH-S came with Shelby graphics that typically have faded away on most examples, but this one having the low mileage that it does, the graphics appear to be in mint condition. Door panels look tidy and the same goes for the thickly-bolstered bucket seats, and overall, there’s little reason to question the low mileage claim. As they say, find a better one – and buy it. Thanks to Barn Finds reader PRA4SNW for the find.

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  1. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    That steering wheel though…

    Like 1
  2. alphasud Member

    I think these cars invented the work torque steer. I was heavily into VW’s during that time and while the straight line performance was attractive the build quality and mechanicals the car was based on were not. Comparing one of these with a GTI was like comparing a blunt axe to a scalpel.

    Like 3
    • nlpnt

      It depends on what you’re comparing it to. With the GLH-S you were buying performance, not refinement. Comparing the Omni America to a strippo “Prices Starting At-” special Tercel or Civic it’s super plush and compared to an early Hyundai Accent it’s high-quality.

      Like 4
    • JCA

      I couldn’t agree more. Even though my 84 GTI took a lot longer to 60 mph than this, it still felt quick, light and more solid than these did. I guess that’s why a plain jane 84 GTI with the same miles and condition as this would likely sell for more than this limited edition will.

  3. Kenneth Carney

    I recall when these first came out in ’83 and always wanted one ever since. And
    as you say, they are quite rare and that’s
    the reason I don’t have one. These things were real screamers and the Mitsubishi
    MCA engines were high winders and good performers when fitted with the proper go-fast goodies. And yes, it may
    have been a fearsome experience flying
    down the interstate in one of these tin
    cans, but I think I’d try it just once

    Like 5
    • nlpnt

      These didn’t have Mitsubishi engines, the 2.2 was all-Chrysler and the Mitsu 2.6 went into the K-cars but not these.

      Like 8
  4. DrillnFill

    Someone who lives near my office has one that looks exactly like this. It definitely stands out even just parked in the driveway.

    Like 3
  5. Superdessucke

    Given the vehicle’s tiny size, relatively flimsy construction, and torque steer, that 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds is going to feel a lot more terrifying than it sounds. In other words, I love it! As a big fan of hot hatches, I really hope to add one of these to my stable one day.

  6. Bmac777 Member

    I always wanted to drive one of these. The base Omni’s were fun cars to drive so I could imagine what one of these could do.
    My dad had an 81 that I went to hell and back in, using it as an all terrain vehicle and pulling bootleg spins with the E-brake. I didn’t think anything could kill it until I slid sideways into a telephone pole in the rain, but that twisted ,bent wreck still drove away ,although then it was sideways

    Like 4
  7. Achman

    @alphasud these cars dominated SCCA events back in the day, so they were hardly a “blunt axe.” Build quality was on par with most 80’s cars. They were reliable and durable and cheap and fast, not easy to find that combo. And no, I don’t own one, but I have driven a few over the years, along with my friend’s Charger GLHS

    Like 4
  8. bikefixr

    $15K….Shelby’s personal car didn’t sell for this much. I like these cars. Still looking for a Charger GLHS.

  9. JMB#7

    If you are searching for what to do with an “old Dodge Omni GLH-S” search (
    James Reeves Drag Racing Omni GLH ). Yes, 9.99 seconds at 143 mph. Hey, like this is just one idea of what you could do with this car. He has been at it a long time, great guy.

    Like 2
  10. Robert Woodward

    I owned an 86 Omni GLHS. It was fun and as quick as a mid 80’s Mustang GT or Camaro Z28 in the real world. I think it was 174hp because it had an intercooler that the lower 146hp GLH cars didn’t possess.

  11. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    This is my “coulda-shoulda-woulda” car.
    I was in the market for one, but couldn’t convince myself that I could afford it.

    Instead, I opted for the “regular” GLH-T, and I won’t take anything away from that car – it was a blast to drive, total joy every time.

    The tourque steer comments are very accurate. I can’t imagine what it would have been like with 30 more HP. Not sure that Mr. Shelby did (or cared) much about that.

    Like 1

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