The Shelby Lancer: One of Carroll Shelby’s Forgotten Children

You know about the Cobra, Daytona, and the Mustangs… But what about the Dodge Lancer?

byJames Gilboy|
The Shelby Lancer: One of Carroll Shelby’s Forgotten Children

Ask any car enthusiast what vehicles were the work of famed car designer Carroll Shelby, and they can tell you about the Cobra and the Ford Mustangs that wore his name. A smaller number will know about the Daytona and his involvement with the Ford GT40, and fewer still remember his involvement with Chrysler in the 1980s and 1990s. One of the most well-known of Shelby's Chrysler-derived creations was the Dodge Omni GLH-S, which supposedly stands for "goes like hell s'more." A fitting name for a car found by Road & Track in 1986 to be capable of a 6.7 second zero-to-60 time, or 0.4 seconds faster than Motor Trend's tested time for the fastest Ferrari 308 variant.

One sibling of the Omni, the Lancer, got the same treatment, but never the same respect from the car world, despite rivaling the Omni GLH-S' performance. And before you ask, no, the Dodge Lancer is unrelated to the Mitsubishi sedan of the same name, even though Chrysler had an intimate relationship with Mitsubishi at the time, involving stake in the company, captured imports, and even the use of Mitsubishi V6 engines in Chrysler minivans through May of 1989.

Back to the Dodge Lancer. Carroll Shelby's magic was cast upon the Lancer in two forms: The 1987-only Shelby Lancer, and the 1988-89 Dodge Lancer Shelby. Yes, the two are easy to confuse. The latter was an appearance and handling package, with reworked springs, sway bars, and steering, as well as an improved interior, whereas the former was limited to 800 units, sold under the Shelby name, and featured a CD player—an ahead-of-its-time luxury in 1987. Funny enough, the Dodge version is rarer, selling a total of 487 units during its two years of production.

What of the Shelby Lancer's performance, then? Allpar cites similar (sometimes superior) paper performance to its German contemporaries, with a 7.2-second zero-to-60 time reported by some sources, and a skidpad G-forces peaking at 0.85. That's higher than the 0.82 figure of the Porsche 928, recorded by Car and Driver back in 1983. Not at all bad for a 175 horsepower, front wheel drive sedan from the 1980s.

If you want your hands on one of these rarities, you're in luck, as 1987 Shelby Lancer #282 has just surfaced on Bring A Trailer. Its approximate 158,000 miles on the odometer don't show themselves outside or in, as the car was kept in a climate-controlled garage for more than two decades. If you fancy yourself a Carroll Shelby enthusiast or collector, this car will get you more cred among collectors than any replica Cobra ever will. $2,000 is the offer to beat by auction's end on Tuesday, Oct. 17.