Choices – Shelby Dodges

Welcome back to Choices. An evolution of a series I wrote years ago where seemingly similar cars are pit against one another in a battle for your affection. It’s like trying to choose your favourite pizza (which is anything without pineapple, really). Your task, if you agree to accept it, is to determine which of the four cars below belongs in each category:

  • One would be your daily driver.
  • One would become a motorsport special (and maybe enlighten us as to what motorsport).
  • One would be locked away in storage for years to come.
  • One would be tossed aside like the owner’s manual for a shovel. 

It’s as simple as that. Have fun with the quartet below.

The Contestants

  • 1986 Dodge Omni GLH-S
  • 1987 Dodge Charger GLH-S
  • 1987 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z
  • 1989 Dodge Shadow CSX-VNT

In the 1980s Carroll Shelby teamed up with Dodge to produce some high-performance cars. But unlike the rear-wheel drive muscle machines Shelby was known for, this batch of hot mopars were different. They were all front-wheel drive and many featured turbocharged four-cylinder engines.

Four of the hottest vehicles to come out during that era have been gathered here for your consideration. First, there is the OMNI GLH-S, with the GLH-S standing for Goes Like Hell S’more. The subcompact hatchback had a 2.2-liter engine making 175hp, 175 lb-ft of torque that put its acceleration on par with many Camaros, Firebirds and Mustangs of the era.

For 1987, a pair of hot Shelby’s arrived, the Charger GLH-S and the Daytona Shelby Z. The Charger essentially had the same engine as the 1986 Omni as well as upgrades to its transmission, suspension and tires. The Charger featured similar chassis upgrades to the Charger and also had a 2.2-liter turbocharged engine. But despite looking similar to the GHL-S engine on paper, this was a Chrysler designed unit making 174 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque.

Finally, there is the 1989 Dodge Shadow CSX-VNT. Debuting in 1987, the Shadow CSX had, you guessed it, the 2.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 175 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. But for 1989, the VNT model had a torque increase to 205 lb-ft thanks to changes to the turbocharger and new lightweight wheels were added. It was also possible to order this car with Recaro seats and wider tires.

My Choices

Well, for a track day weapon, I am taking the CSX-VNT. It is the most powerful of all the cars and who would ever see a Shadow coming on a racetrack? It would be a fun sleeper. For my daily driver I have to go with the hatchback OMIN GLH-S as it is the most practical of all of the selections here. I am always a sucker for a hatchback.

That leaves the Charger and Daytona. It is a battle of G-body vs L-body. As much as I am advocate for pop-up headlights, there is something about the Charger’s GLH-S body kit that is just so ‘80s. I think I need to select that car. Sorry Daytona.

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