Grownup GLHS – 1989 Dodge Lancer Shelby

Imagine for a moment that you live in a rural Midwestern state/province. You like the idea of a Saab turbo hatch, but you’re not near an indie Saab shop the way you would be had you chosen to live in a coastal city. What to do? Perhaps holding out for one of Dodge’s turbo cars of the 1980s is the way to go – plenty came with hatchback practicality, 2.2-liter turbocharged engines with comparable (if not more) power, manual transmissions, and handling numbers that compared favorably to many European cars (though for some reason, Dodge decided to compare its 4-door mid-size hatchback to sedans from then-stodgy-but-solid Mercedes and not-stodgy BMW). With red paint on grey interiors and a spoiler over the rear window and on the trunk lip, they definitely weren’t subtle, and probably would have squared off better against the Merkur XR4Ti and Scorpio or, uh, the rebadged Opels GM wasn’t giving North America in the 1980s. Anyhow, let’s take a look at this 1989 Dodge Lancer Shelby for sale for $3500 in Boston, MA.

1989 Dodge Lancer Shelby Turbo left front

Really not a bad looking car compared to a lot of what was coming out of Detroit at the time, the bodies with their aero bits and red/black trim referenced cars like the Saab 9000, Audi 5000 and perhaps the Ford Taurus. With horsepower and torque both coming in at 175, the car could tear off 0-60 runs in 7.2 seconds with the manual transmission, and the 0.85g skidpad rating put it above many other 5-seaters. This car is said to be one of 208, while online resources cite a total build of 800 (half each manual and automatic), though perhaps that’s just one year’s production. It’s cool that Chrysler made these cars, but too bad they put themselves up against an unrealistic target. Budget BMW worked out pretty well for Datsun’s 510, but most of the talk about the 510’s competitiveness happened on the race track instead of in performance tables in magazine ads.

1989 Dodge Lancer Shelby Turbo rear

Said to have just 67,500 miles, the car looks to be in great condition, though the wheels are a bit less than sparkly and the aero trim seems to have suffered some scuffing. The car is said to have new tires, brakes, wheel cylinders, struts, timing belt, oxygen sensor, and coil. Needs include a new headliner, moonroof switch, and touchup on the scuffed parts, but no rust repairs. The seller is a Lancer enthusiast (this is his 5th) but says it’s time to move on.

1989 Dodge Lancer Shelby Turbo interior

The interior looks a little rough for the miles, but it *has* been 27 years and it’s not likely Dodge was using the same quality leather found in the Mercedes and BMW they targeted. That said, the back seat looks pretty good, and the trunk area is in a condition corresponding to the mileage. This also appears to be a highly optioned model, with electric seats, windows, and a moonroof, along with the leather upholstery.

1989 Dodge Lancer Shelby Turbo engine

In spite of the lack of body rust, the engine does appear to show the kind of corrosion you’d get from driving in salt, so be thorough in your inspection. Things don’t look awfully greasy in here, and next time you service the a/c, it might be worth at least cleaning the compressor housing and pully since it’s so prominent under the hood. With the seller claiming to be the second owner, you can hopefully get most of the ownership records, and have a clean, unusual alternative to the Euro boxes of the time.


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