Riding on the success of its hot-selling K-car platform, Dodge brought back the popular Lancer nameplate used in the 1950s and 60s for a new midsized 5-door hatchback in 1985. The vehicle was more or less a rebadged version of the Chrysler LeBaron GTS and was based on the H-car platform, a stretched version of the K-car architecture. Built at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) in Michigan, the Lancer was intended to gain back some of the performance appeal that the Dodge brand had lost in the late-1970s.
In the mid-1980s, Lee Iacocca tapped long-time friend and racer Carroll Shelby to come over to the Chrysler Corporation and help revamp the automaker’s performance image as he did before for Iacocca at Ford in the 60s. Shelby got his hands on several vehicles in the automaker’s lineup, placing high-performance turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood of many, creating a whole new era of performance vehicles for the Dodge brand.
In 1987, Shelby and his team released a performance version of the Dodge Lancer dubbed the Shelby Lancer. Painted in a striking Graphic Red exterior color, the Shelby Lancer was intended to be an American counterpart to European performance sedans like the BMW 3-Series.
Only 800 units would be produced for the 1987 model year. Each one was powered by a Chrysler-supplied, Shelby-tuned 2.2-liter Turbo II intercooled SOHC inline-four-cylinder engine producing 175 horsepower (130 kW) and 175 lb.-ft. (237 Nm) of torque. Half of the 800 units were equipped with a 3-speed A413 automatic transmission, while the other half were produced with a 5-speed A520 manual transmission.
Coming in just a tad over 3,000 lbs. with the weight of an average driver behind the wheel, the Shelby Lancer could run a 0 to 60 mph time in 7.2 seconds and a 1/4-mile time in the mid-to-high 15-second range on 12 lbs. of boost.
The car was pretty well equipped for the time, featuring amenities like a 10-speaker Pioneer CD audio system (making it one of the first CD players ever offered on an American vehicle). A number of Shelby-branded pieces were fitted to the car, like a serialized dash plaque, Shelby-styled 15-inch wheels, a Shelby steering wheel, and even a Shelby-branded valve cover for the 2.2-liter Turbo II engine.
The car rode on Goodyear Gatorback rubber, Monore Formula GP struts, and larger sway bars to provide the car with a firmer ride and better grip. The car would pull 0.85 g on the skidpad, not bad numbers for a front-wheel-drive car in the 1980s.
All of the 1987 Shelby Lancers were modified at the Shelby Automobiles facility in Whittier, California. That means that the cars featured unique manufacturing decals with the Shelby Automobiles branding, instead of the typical Dodge ones found on the standard Lancer SHAP-built models.
The Shelby Lancer would continue on for 1988 and 1989, however, they weren’t true Shelby models are they were produced at the SHAP facility instead of being modified in California. This means that the 1987 models are more sought after.
This particular 1987 model is going up for auction at the Mecum Kissimmee auction in January. The car is serialized as No. 236 of the 800 units built. It also is equipped with the more desirable A520 5-speed transmission.
According to the docket, the car’s odometer reads that it has 92,572 miles on it.
Over the past couple of years, Shelby turbocharged Dodges from the 1980s, have been gaining popularity among collectors. Mecum suggests that the car could go somewhere between $14,000 and $18,000, making it affordable for those looking to get in on collecting such models. When new the car had a price tag of $16,995 (or about $44,600 in today’s money).
We will be eagerly watching the auction, when this car crosses on Wednesday, January 11th.
1987 Shelby Lancer Turbo Image Gallery: