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Turbo Project: 1986 Dodge Shelby Charger

Despite having a cracked head, there’s already one bid to $2,000 for this 1986 Dodge Shelby Charger, which is said to be a long-term project that never got started. The market for these genuine Shelby cars is pretty soft at the moment, which makes buying one like this as a project a bit of a gamble – is it worth the cost to repair versus buying one that’s in running condition? That’s a decision I’ve been on the wrong side of numerous times, so I’m not one to judge. This one at least comes with all the spare parts necessary to bring it back to good health, including a replacement head. Find it here on eBay with no reserve and located in Hermosa Beach, California.

The Shelby Chargers were offered in a few different flavors, with the earliest ones not getting the turbocharged mill right out of the box. Still, Shelby being Shelby didn’t allow the cars to leave the factory without any upgrades, as the suspension, brakes, and steering were all improved. The visuals were enhanced as well, with the stripes kit you see here and Shelby-specific wheels. The rear window louvers were a must have for the period and a hot hatch like this. As you can see, the factory paint is tired and it will likely need a respray if you’re looking to go all-in on this Shelby’s revival. The old-school California blue plates tell you a bit about how long it’s been idled.

The interior looks better than you’d expect looking at the outside, as the deeply contoured bucket seats show no obvious signs of wear and tear, other than perhaps needing a good cleaning. The dash doesn’t appear to be cracked and the door panels look to be intact with no signs of aftermarket stereo installations. The seller notes the “T”-handle shifter is the only deviation from stock, and was all the rage when the car was new. There’s no mention of air conditioning or radio equipment being functional, but that’s probably the least of the seller’s concerns given the engine issues.

The upside to the car’s mechanical state is that the seller has acquired all of the necessary parts to bring it back to good health. As mentioned, it will come with a good cylinder head, gasket set, “…and some other bits,” which the seller does not elaborate on. Obviously, there’s still a fair amount of work to be done here, but it’s nice to see someone including the needed spares as opposed to just listing it as DOA on the internet. Still, it will be a labor of love to restore this “T1” model, even with the Shelby heritage factored in. Would you bring it back to life or buy a running example?


  1. Mitchell Gildea Member

    I wonder how hard it can be to source and swap in a motor from a Spirit R/T

    Like 3
    • Slantasaurus

      The 16v DOHC Spirit R/T engine is hard to come by, but an SRT-4 isn’t as hard to find.

      Like 1
  2. Claudio

    Ohhh , that beautiful steering wheel always had my attention, what an engineering marvel , i dont know how they could have made it UGLIER
    Ahhhh, yes , the malaise era again …

    Like 2
  3. Lynn Member

    U needed fingers about 10” long to keep ur hand on the wheel and pull the stalk back for the hi beam headlights.

    Like 0
  4. bone

    I must be getting old – Charger ,Shelby or not, all I can see is a ratty old Dodge Omni 024

    Like 2
    • Bob C.

      That’s exactly what it is. A glorified and renamed Dodge Omni. That basic platform hung around for quite a while.

      Like 2
  5. Cal

    I once watched from a street corner as two cars revved engines at a red light. One of these and a 5.0 Mustang. It was no effort for the little Dodge to walk all over that stang. I have driven both, both have pluses and minuses, but that day, the little car prevailed—-a lot.

    Like 0

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