Turbo 5-Speed: 1987 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z

On the surface, this 1987 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z looks too good to be true: great body, stock condition, and the preferred manual transmission for just $1,800. But if you dig a bit deeper in the ad, you’ll see there’s a reason for the discounted price. The seller acknowledges that shortly after a new head was installed, the bottom end developed a knock. The next owner will have to sort through a rebuild to get to the bottom of it, but could it still be worth it given the clean condition on display and the general rise in value for cool, 80s cars? You can judge for yourself by checking the listing out here on craigslist in Owensboro, Kentucky.

The later Daytonas always were lookers with their slightly more aerodynamic shape and refreshed front fascia featuring pop-up headlights. The Shelbys also looked even more sporting with their trim-level specific wheels, a common upgrade on other Mopar products from the era like the Turbo Caravan and the Spirit R/T. The four cylinder engine was turbocharged and intercooled and responded well to modifications, which is why it’s encouraging to see this one appearing to remain in stock condition. The bodywork looks quite straight as well with no obvious dents or dings, and certainly not any rust. The tinted windows are right for the period, but hopefully some time with a steamer will get rid of it.

The engine is a desirable mill among turbo Dodge enthusiasts, as it was potent right out of the box but could easily be dialed up a notch if desired. The work the seller mentions in terms of a new head being installed and then developing deeper issues is concerning, and usually points to either the initial fault being erroneously diagnosed or the repair not performed correctly. The seller speculates it can be traced back to a bad rod or wrist pin, and the unfortunate aspect of all of this is there’s a boatload of other parts that were replaced at the same time as the head work, which would have made this Daytona damn near turn-key once it was all done. The seller mentions a new fuel pump, water pump, gas tank, and distributor among the parts previously replaced.

Mileage is indicated as being 121,054, which isn’t time-warp grade mileage but also isn’t terrible for the year. The interior presents well with no signs of major dirt or damage, and as mentioned, this is a desirable five-speed manual car. The seller notes the interior needs a new headliner and some other pieces of trim but that several parts have been recently powdercoated. Overall, there’s a lot to work with in terms of this rare Shelby Z being a project worth bringing back to life, and if the seller has reached the end of his rope with it, there’s could be a chance of nabbing it for a lower price than what’s currently listed.

Like This? Get Our Daily Email


  1. MitchRoss Member

    Throw a 2.5 crankshaft with some new bearings into it and you have a seriously nice car for not much money

    Like 11
  2. Al_Bundy Member

    Agree with Mitch on the value. May need a little more as it seems someone just tossed parts at her without a real diagnosis. At the price, you won’t lose. Heck, it looks good enough you could put in a stock non turbo 2.2/2.5 and cruise in a great looking car. The car is probably sold already…

    Like 1
    • Blake Green

      I remember driving a drunk home freind her ‘z’ as she called like this but red. My memories, A torque sreer,B im 6′ & the dash came up to my chin C comfy seat D rowing though the gearbox was akin to playing a game of whack-a- mole @ the arcade! She got 120k out of that daytona & didnt know what the phrase ‘oil change’ meant

  3. Don Page Jr.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, I believe the Mitsubishi Starion was the fraternal twin to the Daytona. Hemmings has an 87 Starion, in better condition, for $9,000 firm. I like the styling of it better than the Daytona.

    Like 1
    • DON

      That would have been the twin to the Dodge Conquest

      Like 10
      • Kevin

        Actually Chrysler conquest,and Mitsubishi was in bed with them a long time, the mid-seventies turd challenger was a mitsu.under the name,and the early caravan 4cylinder engines were Mitsubishi also.

        Like 1
    • 8thNote 8thNote

      Starii (?? Plural of Starion ??, i dont know??) Were rear wheel drive. The captive import version of which was sold as a Chrysler Conquest. The Starion/Conquest were a step above these in performance, price, and amenities.

    • WH

      The twin of the Daytona was the Chrysler Laser which eventually was discontinued in 1986 I believe.
      The Laser name returned in 1990 on the Plymouth Laser (Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon)

      Like 5
  4. Bob C.

    I haven’t seen one of these in ages. They were quite ubiquitous back in their day.

    Like 2
  5. DON

    I know Chrysler was in major financial trouble back in the early 80s and it seemed everything was K car based , but I always thought this could have been a 5.0 Mustang killer if the Daytona was built with a rear drive platform and had a V8 option . The Daytona may have had a lot longer run and been as popular as the Fox bodies if it had been done right.

    Like 4
  6. Ed

    That’s not the original turbo engine, that’s out of a Spirit R/T or an Iroc R/T…

  7. Ed

    Update!!! I should’ve looked closer…..could be the correct engine!!

    Like 2
  8. David Ulrey

    Jeff….if the window tint it in bad condition I can see doing something about it but it seems like there is a general bias towards window tint. Why?

    Like 1
  9. Bunky

    I bought a visual twin to this car for my son years ago. Ironically, it was naturally aspirated, but the previous owner had added “SHELBY” lettering to the sides. It is possible to replace the rod and main bearings without removing the engine in spite of “what the book says”. It’s a challenge to remove the counter-rotating assembly and keep everything “in time”. But- been there- done that. Problem is when you do a valve job you increase the compression- which often leads to bottom end failure. If you sneak in and replace the bearings you still have the rings to deal with. Bottom line- a total rebuild is in order- the only good news is the head’s already done.

    Like 2
  10. Kevin

    I never owned a charger sub-compact,was always a purist to the b-body,derived from the coronet, however prices are ridiculous for the best looking years,68-70 in my opinion, so I settled on a modern charger even though it’s a 4-door from the factory only the top dog models would run with my 2014 r/t AWD which is good for 14.4 at 97.29 mph in the quarter,drives daily and year round and gets 27 + highway mpg!

    Like 3
  11. Ed Hardt

    120K mile on a 2019 Toyota just getting broken in, the same miles on a ’80s era Dodge record setting.

    Like 1
  12. Philip Lepel

    I have such a sweet spot for the Shelby Daytona,Charger and GLHS. Love to have one but my GTCruiser is it’s grandson. And the wife says no more projects.

    Like 1
  13. cmarv

    Can you say torque steer ? I bought a couple of these when I was getting all the trades from a local Dodge dealer in the 90’s . They were a blast to drive . E-brake J turns were awesome . I agree with @Bunky , the new head killed the bottom end but it’s an easy fix . The car appears to be in great shape otherwise . If I were 15 years younger I would be heading to Kentucky in my rollback now .

  14. Jcs

    This has been a fun day for perusing BarnFinds.

    Like 1
  15. Ten50boy

    I have owned about 30 cars….. from a 65 A code Mustang, to a 66 k code, fox bodies, 2nd and 3rd gen T/A’s, Firebirds, Camaros, numerous foreign rides including an 86 300zx that I still have….. but freshman year of college, I had an 86 Turbo Daytona C/S. It was super rare…..i bought it on Long Island from a nephew of a former owner of a Chrysler dealership. Was allegedly used at the Auto Show in the Dodge area for 86. The dealer acquired it after. It was Gunmetal Blue Metallic, it had a 5spd, the black leather Mark Cross interior, ttops and analog (sooooo much better) gauges. Try finding one with that combo….. it won’t happen. But if you do……. let me know!!!!! I loved that car. Great memories. Lost my scholarship being a stupid kid chasing girls…. came home to attend Community College and get my grades up before moving on again to another college. Folks had me sell the car. Some guy who worked for Chrysler showed up, checked the codes with a few flips of the key in the ignition and waved $$$ ……. driving off into the sunset (literally) with my pride and joy. Yeah, all those other cars came later…… but….. even though they are worth more, are faster, by most people’s standards…. cooler……I would trade any car I once owned to have that car back. Being this link is so old, no one will most likely read this……. but just in case……… if anyone knows that guy from Port Jefferson Long Island that bought my car in 94……… let me know if you have any idea where it is or where it went. I last saw it in 95 on the 4th of July headed away from Jones Beach……I was unfortunately traveling the opposite way…… damn divided parkway with no turn around!!!!!! Anyhow, great car, better memories. Seriously though….. if anyone ever reads this or knows anything about my lost pride and joy…… let me know

    • Blake Green

      I did read your link and empathize with you. The car that got away! I was young, dumb, and full of c@# at that age, too! Those mark cross interiors were wonderful. One of my cousins has a thing for Daytona’s and lasers. He’s had like 10 of them now. He hated the 2 that had the leaky t-tops but loved the MC buckets!

      Like 1
      • Ten50boy

        Thanks brother! I try to post about it every so often! I’ll keep looking. Great car. Gave my some headaches, but like I said, great memories.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.


Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.