Turbo Terrific: 1990 Dodge Daytona Shelby

For those who lived through them, the 1970s and 1980s were a pretty awful time if you were passionate about performance cars. Tightening emission regulations strangled any normally aspirated internal combustion engines, so manufacturers had to look further afield for inspiration. IndyCar and Formula One had graphically demonstrated that forced induction engines could produce startling power while still delivering acceptable emission levels. Buick hit the sweet spot with his iconic Grand National, while Dodge chose a slightly different route with its Daytona Shelby Turbo. Our feature car is a 1990 Daytona in excellent condition for its age. The owner has performed some recent mechanical work on the classic, making it a turnkey proposition for its next owner. If you find yourself sorely tempted, you will find the Daytona located in Lakeport, California, and listed for sale here on Craigslist. It can be yours by handing the owner $8,000 OBO. A big thank you has to go to Barn Finder Pat L for spotting this classic for us.

I have always found this styling of the 1990 Daytona to be interesting. While it is most definitely an American vehicle, its overall appearance carries strong hints of a Japanese influence. The car was based on the company’s G-Platform, making it a small to mid-sized model. This Daytona remains cosmetically unrestored, wearing its original Black paint. Considering that it has more than three decades under its belt, it presents exceptionally well. The paint holds an excellent depth of shine, with no significant flaws or blemishes. Black paint is ideal for showing any panel imperfections, but the ones on this car look good. It appears that it is spent its entire life in California, making its rust-free status no surprise. The plastic trim is excellent, while the original alloy wheels show no significant curb strike or other damage. Overall, this Daytona makes a positive first impression.

Lifting the hood reveals the source of the resentment felt by some Dodge enthusiasts. The concept of any Daytona featuring less than eight cylinders was unthinkable only a few years before, but that’s the case with this classic. Further rubbing salt into the wound, that it should be front-wheel drive just seemed to make matters worse. However, it is unwise to underestimate these Daytonas. This car’s turbocharged and intercooled 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine produces 174hp that finds its way to the road via a five-speed manual transmission. Admittedly, it is not a genuine muscle car. That makes the ¼ mile ET of 15.7 seconds look all the more impressive. There are plenty of positives to take away with this Dodge for potential buyers. The owner has recently replaced the turbocharger, suspension struts, clutch cable, throttle cable, and flywheel. He says that the car is in sound mechanical health and runs and drives exceptionally well. It seems that potential buyers will not be putting their hands into their pockets to fund any further mechanical work on this Daytona.

Who says that you can’t own a car with reasonable performance without a few creature comforts? Whoever that person was had never looked inside a 1990 Daytona. The next owner of this classic will find themselves with a driver’s airbag, air conditioning, power windows, power seats, power locks, and a CD stereo. That last item is a later addition but has been slotted into the spot vacated by the original stereo. The overall condition of the interior is excellent. There is an aftermarket slipcover on the driver’s seat, but we are assured that the leather upholstery beneath is in good order. There are no significant flaws or issues and nothing that would demand immediate attention. The owner has recently replaced the A/C compressor, so the system now blows ice cold.

There’s no denying that this 1990 Dodge Daytona Shelby Turbo will not appeal to all readers. Some will resent the fact that the iconic Daytona name should find its way onto a vehicle with less than eight cylinders under the hood. I understand that view, and I respect it. If you ignore the badge and just look at this as a driver’s car, it has much to offer potential buyers. It appears to be in sound mechanical health, and it presents well for its age. The asking price is in the ballpark for what you might expect to pay for a good example, and I won’t be surprised if somebody hands over the cash for this classic reasonably quickly.


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Owned one. Loved it. Tons of fun.

    Like 8
  2. JCA Member

    The late 80’s weren’t bad. A lot of RWD and AWD cars were great. They just didn’t have FWD high performance nailed down yet.

    Like 3
  3. Bick Banter

    Did these still tell you that your door was ajar?

    Like 2
  4. Stan

    Cool cars good stereos and interiors to boot.

    Like 4
  5. Greg

    Wrecked & most likely had the fire driven out of it.

  6. Mark

    You can buy an aftermarket conversion kit for these cars to convert to RWD and install a V8. The kit is about 5k.

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