Rare Hot Hatch: 1984 Dodge Colt Turbo

This 1984 Dodge Colt is the elusive turbocharged version, an eighties hot hatch in the most perfect form. While many a Google search for such terminology will turn up GTIs, GLHs, and Escort GTs, the turbocharged Colt is seen and thought of far less frequently despite delivering considerable performance for its conservative size. The seller describes himself as a fan of these oddball performance cars, noting he’s owned more than one and is including a spare engine and transmission with the sale. Find it here on craigslist in Lancaster, PA for $6,000.

Ah, the 80s: when everything was turbocharged and it was completely acceptable to shout it from the roof tops. The Colt was otherwise one of the homelier fuel-sippers offered by Dodge as part of its ongoing agreement to rebadge Mitsubishi’s small cars as Mopar products. Similar the cars born in the U.S., Dodge was clearly committed to the use of turbocharging to increase performance. The Colt generates 102 b.h.p. from its frenzied and fuel injected four-cylinder, a very respectable amount considering the low curb weight.

The details are right with this one, with clean cosmetics and an unadulterated engine bay. The seller notes that the Colt runs extremely well, and has zero rust. The 1.6L engine was paired to an eight-speed “Twin Stick” manual transmission, which only added to the oddball factor. The seller notes that the Colt has 74,000 miles on it and doesn’t venture outside all that often. In addition to the spare engine and transmission, the seller is also including a turbo-back performance exhaust.

Other features of the turbocharged models included blacked out trim, a generous front air dam, and the big center panel between the taillights that reads Turbo. The suspension was also firmed up a bit, too, for this sportier offering, but the interior didn’t get jazzed up in any way. Fortunately, the cabin in this example is quite mint and a lovely place to spend time even if the bucket seats don’t look terribly supportive. This is likely one of the nicer examples of an impossible-to-find car that’s left; hopefully the next owner will appreciate it with the same regard as the current caretaker has.

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Comments

  1. Redwagon

    I had no idea these existed. Now I’m intrigued. Could be a hoot.

    Like 4
  2. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice one, Jeff! I owned one of these, same interior but silver paint. Leave it in low range and it’s the perfect city car for squirting through traffic. Ran like a Swiss watch, and nearly everything on the car is 10 mm. I still call my 10 mm combo wrench “The Mitsubishi Toolkit.” Unlike the ’70s GMs I was used to, this car is built to be worked on. Where the GMs would have parts blocking you from using a socket, the Colt would have a little curved opening to allow a wrench or extension to fit. Who does that today? I paid $750 for it, drove it about five years, and (this was in PA) took a crisp Fifty for it from a junk yard. The motor and interior were still perfect, but the body and transmission were gone. I must have taught at least five people to drive standard on that car… it was like a toy with great feeling on the clutch. With manual steering and brakes it had incredible road feel and you could always sense the edge of lockup. Lots of torque steer on boost, but who cares? On the test drive it smoked the PO’s cheap tires in low range all the way through first and second, and squealed into third. Sold! Nice write-up and thanks for the memories.

    Like 23
  3. CCFisher

    These were surprisingly entertaining cars to drive, even without the turbo. Mitsubishi used to care about such things.

    Like 8
  4. downforce

    Owned this exact car. What Todd said… put that Twin Stick forward, and it would easily spin the tires. Marginal brakes, though. The want is strong with this one. Ah, nostalgia!

    Like 4
  5. Miguel

    I wouldn’t call this car homely at all.

    If I had a way to get the car across the border I would be all over this.

    Like 1
  6. Mitchell Gildea Member

    When a Dodge Omni GLH is too mainstream

    Like 7
  7. Todd Zuercher

    Great find and writeup – Jeff! I had almost forgotten about these and I certainly haven’t seen one in many years.

  8. BOP_GUY Member

    I’ll always remember these! My Dad would buy a new or one year old car about every 2-3 years, which saw a wide range of vehicles. When I was 15 going on 16, we test drove one of these, and it was so much fun! My Dad said absolutely not, and I couldn’t understand why. Now all these years later, I can see why you wouldn’t want to hand one of these over to a newly licensed 16 year old! 🤣

    Like 3
    • ChrisC

      Your Dad was right. I owned the exact car in red when I was 17. Blast to drive and gave the Mustangs and Camaros of that era a run for their money. I ended up jamming it under an 18 wheeler and almost killed myself. Wish I could do it all over again though !

      Like 3
  9. chuck hume

    my first car out of college. taught my wife how to drive the stick! haven’t seen one in person in years!

    Like 3
  10. Rich Whiting

    Owned a 79 Plymouth Champ and a 81 Colt. Both 8 speed. Did quite well in local autocross with the Champ. 79 was first year for these, mine was black with black tinted windows all around. Great looking car. And got good mpg.

    Like 3
    • Russell C

      Bought my dad’s base-level Plymouth Champ, it put out all of 89 h.p. if I remember right. Had the speedometer pegged once at 85 going downhill with a tailwind. Loved the Power/Economy stick, and in one occasion of driving into a long dead end lane in a city park, instead of turning around at the end, I backed out and shifted into its second reverse gear just to mess with the minds of the picnickers watching me.

      Like 1
  11. Leslie Martin

    “Don’t step on the gas unless you mean it!”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVWYLPn6wlU

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      If my mind recalls correctly, that saying was plastered on the back of every one of these.

      Like 3
  12. Glen Witwicki

    Hi everyone I love the story’s! I had one in high school was not turbo but let me tell you it was one of the most reliable cars I’ve ever owned . I often think about all the cars I’ve owned and ( White lightning) my old Colt Always comes to my mind. This car was fast handled extremely well great on gas and you could smoke the tires for days if you wanted to. It wasn’t a looker but it was definitely a sleeper. I’ve often thought about getting another one but can never seem to find one on the road. Whoever gets this car will definitely enjoy it. I hope you enjoyed my story have a great day everyone..

    Like 4
  13. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I was considering one of these, until I saw, drive, and bought an ’86 GLH-T.

    Like 3
  14. Jerry K

    Great car! I had a red w/silver int for several years in the late 80’s. Loved it.
    Tried to buy one about 98 and the guy wanted 8 grand for it so maybe the market went up and came back down. Either way the price is right. Mone had air, don’t believe this is so equipped. They corner like a champ..

    Like 1
  15. Billy1

    I remember when these came out. Went to look at one and during the test drive the salesman told me he took one out on the local highway “to see what it can do”. He said a State Trooper pulled him over for speeding. He said the conversation went something like this
    ST: ” Do you know you were speeding! I clocked you going 122 mph!!”
    Salesman: “No sir, that is impossible. This is a little economy car. Let’s look at the engine”
    He shows the Trooper the engine.
    Salesman: “See, there’s no way that little engine could make this car go so fast. I believe it must be 50 or 60 hp. Your radar gun must be malfunctioning”
    ST: “Mmmmm….. ok,ok, just slow it down.”

    And the Trooper let’s him go!

    Like 4
  16. Rich Whiting

    Too bad this one is so far away. Would love to have another one. Can still remember embarrassing many VW Scirocco’s and TR6’s.

    Like 1
  17. davew833

    I picked up a black one of these at an auction for a couple hundred bucks about 25 years ago. It was a hoot to drive, but I sold it to a friend whose Lumina Eurosport had kicked the bucket. Come to think of it, he never paid me for it! Wish I’d held onto it.

    Like 1
  18. Dave

    Bought one of these in 1986. Dark gray with a black interior. Absolutely loved that car. I also remember surprising many malaise era Camaros and Mustangs with my humble looking Colt. I even got vanity plates for it that read JR MOPAR. When the turbo started hiccuping, I traded it in on the worst car I ever owned – an 89 Cavalier.

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