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Before There Was The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, There Was…

The 360 Horsepower 1999 Dodge Durango Shelby SP 360...

When people hear the words “Performance SUV” most think of the 707 horsepower Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. But if you were in 1999, you would more than likely be saying a Shelby Durango SP 360. That’s right… a Shelby Durango. In the late 1990s, the aftermarket conversion company Performance West Group created an amazing machine in partnership with the legendary Carroll Shelby for a limited run of 3,000 units.

1999 Dodge Durango Shelby SP 360. (MoparInsiders).

It was much to my surprise when I ran into one of the blue SUVs at our local shopping center. The Durango SP 360 has that blend of aftermarket looks from the 1990s, but that isn’t a bad thing. With RaceTruck Trends front and rear fascias, ram-air hood, as well as aftermarket side sills, the exterior looks, tell you this isn’t your average first-generation Dodge Durango. A set of 18-inch chrome aluminum wheels were standard on the package. The Durango SP 360 features signature white stripes familiar with another Dodge that Shelby inspired, the 1996 Dodge Viper GTS Coupe. 

At the heart of the Durango SP 360 is it’s supercharged 5.9-liter Magnum V8. In its stock form, the 5.9-liter came with a rating of 245 horsepower. But that wasn’t good enough to hold the Shelby nameplate, so Performance West Group bolted on a Keene Bell Blowzilla twin-screw supercharger atop of the 5.9-liter. Running about 6 pounds of boost, headers, ram-air intake system, Optimizer CPU, and equipped with a 2.5-inch Kenne Bell stainless steel cat-back exhaust, the SP 360 got an official rating of 360 horsepower @ 4,000 RPM and 414 lb.-ft of torque @ 3,200 RPM. These propelled the SP 360 to a 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds (In Motor Trend test, the SP 360 did it in 6.7 seconds). That was two seconds off, the standard Durango SLT 4×4.

1999 Dodge Durango Shelby SP 360. (MoparInsiders).

In the handling department, the Durango SP 360 starts out with the suspension being lowered 3-inches. Performance West re-engineered the suspension from DJM with modified casters, camber, recalibrated springs, shocks, and steering. There was an optional braking system that was also upgraded with 6-piston calipers and cross-drilled and ventilated rotors from Stillen.

Inside the Durango SP 360, the SUV gets racing bucket seats in first two rows and a third-row that has a color combination matching the buckets up front. Dash and center console bezels feature carbon fiber trim, while the driver side A-pillar features pod gauges showing boost pressure and fuel pressure. A special badge was placed on the center console telling you which of the serialized units you are in. 

1999 Dodge Durango Shelby SP 360. (MoparInsiders).

When it made its debut, the supercharged Durango SP 360 had a price tag of $56,000 US (which is about $85,000 with the 2019 inflation rate). For comparison, a 1999 Dodge Viper R/T10 Roadster had an original MSRP of $65,725, less than a $10,000 difference. This Shelby SUV helped propel the performance SUV market into the 21st century and actually showed the Dodge brand a segment that they would enter into the following year with its 250 horsepower 2000 Dodge Durango 5.9L R/T model.  

This particular model was a little rough, but for being a 20-year-old vehicle, it still wasn’t in terrible shape. But it was still pretty awesome seeing a historical piece as the Shelby SP 360 being used as a daily driver.

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Mike Volkmann

Michael Volkmann, a mechanical engineer in the steel industry, autocrossed and road-raced Neons. Michael has drag raced his 1971 Duster 340, 2015 Dodge Charger SRT392, 2009 Challenger R/T, and Neons, of which he’s owned seven — one SRT4, three ACRs, and three Sport Coupes.

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