Carroll Shelby spent time in Auburn Hills, too.
The Dodge Charger went through many reincarnations since it originally debuted back in 1966. It's best known for being part of the muscle car golden era of the late 1960s and early 70s. Today, its ancestor is the only American sedan (alongside its Chrysler 300 corporate cousin) to offer V8 power combined with rear-wheel-drive. But the Charger didn't even become a sedan until the 2006 introduction of the LX platform model, a choice that angered some brand enthusiasts.
The final era the Charger was sold as a coupe began in late 1981 when the L-body was launched. Offered as both a fastback and hatchback, this generation Charger was front-wheel-drive-only. It also lacked V8 power. A V6? Also absent. Instead, it had inline-four power only, though this engine was turbocharged later in the car's lifetime.
The L-body was the right platform for its time as automakers shifted away from gas-guzzling land yachts towards more fuel-efficient compacts and subcompacts. Chrysler made good use of this setup as it also underpinned the Dodge Omni. Along with the K-cars and minivans, these L-body-based models sold extremely well and brought Chrysler away from the brink of bankruptcy.
The one and only Lee Iacocca can be thanked for this. Following his departure from Ford in 1978, he was soon hired by Chrysler to become its next CEO and not long after he got settled in Auburn Hills, he rang up his old pal Carroll Shelby.
Shelby parted ways with Ford several years prior and he jumped at the chance to work with Iacocca once again. The results were several Shelby-branded models, including the Charger. Launched for 1983, this new Shelby Charger focused on handling and styling rather than speed. A new body kit immediately distinguished it from the base models.
But it didn't take long for Shelby to go back to his old familiar ways by adding a turbocharger to the Charger's 2.2-liter inline-four beginning in 1985. Output now reached 146 horsepower, 36 over the previous 110 hp. The Charger was dropped after 1987 and the Shelby variant was retired as well.
Less than 8,000 Shelby Chargers were made annually and surviving examples aren't always in the best condition, to say the least. This 1984 model year example currently up for auction on Bring a Trailer is the rare exception. It has only 31,000 miles on its naturally aspirated engine, which recently underwent a tune up. A five-speed manual sends power to the front wheels.
Aside from a sagging headliner, this is a wonderful 1980s time capsule. It even has an aftermarket CB radio in its center stack. The highest bid is $2,000 as of this writing and the auction ends on May 31.