Turbo Hot Hatch: 1988 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z

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Like most car enthusiasts, I have a short list of vehicles that reside in the “If I ever found one, I’d buy one” category. While early 90s domestics aren’t a big target of mine, the Dodge Daytona is an exception. The turbocharged Daytona is one of my favorites, and I’ve always felt like these were under-appreciated as a hot hatch alternative to the standard-bearer Volkswagen GTI and Toyota Celica. The car shown here benefits from lots of recent maintenance and is the preferred 5-speed, turbocharged combination. Find the 1988 Daytona Shelby Turbo Z here on craigslist for $5,000.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. for sending this find in. The base model Daytonas weren’t anything to write home about, but when Carroll Shelby got involved, these turned into surprisingly competent machines. And let’s not forget these were actually very pretty cars, with a design that still looks surprisingly modern today. The seller’s car obviously needs a paint job but it still looks good with factory side skirts, a deep front air dam, and aftermarket wheels that compliment the car nicely – but it absolutely needs the Shelby-specific “slicer” wheels thrown on to give it even more eyeball appeal.

The turbocharged 2.2L four-cylinder engine is a familiar site in Chrylser compacts from the late 80s and early 90s. The engine responds well to tuning and there’s a variety of ways to modify it for easy horsepower. The seller has recently replaced the headgasket, timing belt, water pump, starter, fuel tank, and fuel pump, which is pretty much the firing up a long-dormant car starter pack if I’ve ever seen one. The engine bay isn’t particularly well-detailed and I suspect some time spent addressing the tired cosmetics would make this turbocharged Daytona even more appealing to potential buyers. The Daytona is located in Las Vegas and the benefits of the desert’s dry climate is obvious in the photos, failed clearcoat aside.

The interior features nicely bolstered bucket seats and the accordion-style surround of the shifter is a classic 90s econobox cue. Overall, despite the tired exterior, the interior looks serviceable for the time being . The high-performance Daytona models were adjusted slightly year-to-year, and my preferred spec would be the later IROC R/T with the Lotus-designed head, which was purported to be a surprisingly sleepy performance car. No matter which era of the turbocharged Dodge Daytona you choose, I’d wager you’re getting a car that will someday have its moment in the sun.

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  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    One of our favorite cars was an ’86 black over black leather Shelby Daytona Turbo Z. Good looking, fast, and comfortable. Once we got used to the turbo lag it was a good autocross car too. My first tight turn at an autocross provided entertainment for everyone there.

    Like 9
  2. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    If everything is working well it’s a great price. This will be sold quickly. Drove one when it was new. It’s fast and handles very well. Just be ready for the tork steering!😂 Good luck to the next owner. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 5
  3. Yblocker

    Carroll Shelby went astray for a little while.

    Like 6
  4. Josh

    Nice car but I would rather have the Rampage pickup.

    Like 6
  5. Richard c arra

    IDK what it is about these cars, but I really learned to live them. From the 80’s Shelby Charger, to these, and even the IROC, they drive , and look good, and are still affordable.

    Like 3
  6. Ed H

    These were fast little cars but by todays standards they would not impress.

    Like 4
  7. Motorcityman

    Lotta wear on that drivers seat edge for only 81,000 miles…….

    Like 0
  8. Mark

    Swap kits are available now to convert to RWD and a small block Mopar. Saw one this past summer at a local car show.

    Like 2
  9. BrettK

    These were fun cars and they ran and handled great as well as being fairly comfortable. Quick for it’s time from the starting if you learned how to launch it to get traction. 5 Speed Transmissions for these any more are very hard to come by and if it was run hard they can suffer badly. Nice to see one of these this nice for sale. GLWTS to the seller and enjoy to the buyer.

    Like 1
  10. Vance

    These were fun cars to drive, but as mentioned, the torque steer would rip the steering wheel right out of your hands. Hopefully there was no one announcing, ” Your door is a jar “, fun at first, but after you heard it for a week you wanted to blow the car up. Nice car and reasonably priced.

    Like 3
  11. Matthew Dyer

    I once owned a black on black ’84 Turbo Z. A real love hate relationship. More than 1 mustang GT owner thought I wasn’t trying until the Turbo spooled up.
    I haven’t owned a dodge product since. Window regulators, front wheel bearings and much more had to be replaced. But when the manual transmission went out so did I.

    Like 3
    • Mark

      I had an 84 Daytona Turbo Z too. The differential exploded inside the transaxle from pulling holeshots in it. I think it had about 1300 miles on it. I traded it for a Corvette when it had 7100 miles on it.

      Like 2
  12. RacinRob4

    Jeff I think u meant to say Pizza wheels not Slicer wheels. Slicers are known to be on the 92-95 Taurus SHO. Owned several 80’s Dodge turbo cars 85 Shelby Charger,85 Daytona Turbo Z with Mark Cross leather interior, 87 Shelby Charger, 88 Shadow CSX-T #671,Sprint ES Turbo. Miss all of them.

    Like 2
  13. Geo 1277

    And the Turbo and head gasket just blew, again…..

    Like 3
  14. JBD

    I remember driving these when they were new. Shelby left his mark on these K car derived drivetrains. These were a ray of hope during a dismal time in American cars. Smokey Yunnick was beating v8 equipped cars with these. Shelby could have done better and eventually found his way back to Ford. A decent priced Shelby vehicle for sure!

    Like 1
  15. Ethan Wade

    No way!!! I bought this car in April of this year from a towing company. I was wanting to show my buddy pictures of my 1988 Daytona but I didn’t have any good pictures of it so I googled 1988 dodge Daytona Shelby z and this came up. That’s so crazy. Same license plate and everything. Not sure if anybody is really interested in the update on it. But it sat for a couple years in the back yard of a rental property the property owner had it towed after he evicted the tenants. I bought it off Facebook marketplace for 1400 it was kind of running. Lots of turbo line problems. I’ve been working on it when I can but I have know idea how the turbo lines run and there is not a lot of info on Daytona turbo lines. If anyone knows anything about them I’d love to hear from you. Ill take pictures and post them when I get the chance. But this is so crazy. I love it. Even with messed up turbo lines it still ripped. This is so crazy that I found this

    Like 0

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