The Dodge Years
During the 1960s, Carroll Shelby and Lee Iacocca became very good friends as Shelby, through his Cobra, Ford GT and Shelby Mustang programs, put some teeth and credibility into the Ford Total Performance marketing program.
In late 1978, Iacocca was hired by Chrysler Corporation to basically save the corporation from bankruptcy and oblivion. He succeeded mightily and by 1982 wanted to re-establish Dodge as the performance division of Chrysler Corporation. To accomplish this objective, Lee Iacocca called on Carroll Shelby to see if they could build a performance image for Dodge.
The collaboration began with the 1983 Dodge Shelby Charger. Designed and engineered at the Chrysler Shelby Performance Center in California, these were built on the factory Charger assembly lines. With enhanced styling and modified suspensions, the 1983-87 Shelby Chargers were quick, economical performance cars, especially when the turbocharged 2.2L engines became available in 1985. Shelby was also the driving force behind the Dodge Omni GLH (for “Goes Like Hell!), a standout in the “pocket rocket” class of performance cars. The Dodge Daytona “later also received the Shelby treatment
In 1986, Shelby brought limited production models in-house to Shelby Automobiles in Whittier, California. Here, Shelby launched the GLHS series, first with the Omni GLHS, followed by the GLHS Charger in 1987. With the addition of an intercooler, Shelby manifold, and a bump to 12 psi of boost, these lightweight four-cylinder Shelby’s performed like the V-8s of two decades earlier. Other Dodges built at Shelby Automobiles include the Shadow CSX, CSX-T for the Thrifty rental car company, the Shelby Lancer, and the Shelby Dakota.
Always the racer, Shelby created an SCCA spec series, the Shelby Can-Am, later renamed the Dodge/Shelby Pro Series. The cars were powered by a Dodge 3.3L V-6 engine that put out 255 horsepower. The Pro Series cars were successful not only in the USA, but in South Africa, and introduced many enthusiasts to road racing.