1989 Dodge Shelby CSX-VNT

When you hear the name “Shelby”, you probably think of either a Mustang or an AC Cobra (or a replica of one, anyways), but that’s because your brain is probably blocking out that bizarre time period in the 80’s when sporting a car with a Shelby logo on it meant driving a Chrysler product.

I’ll give you the short version. Basically, what happened was that Lee Iacocca was a persuasive son of a bitch and lured Carroll Shelby away from Ford for pretty much the entirety of the 80’s, where he helped create a bunch of interesting and fast cars (for the time period) as well as the Viper, before going to back to working on Fords and his own stuff.

Most of what they did together seems to have been long forgotten for some reason, but occasionally you will come across a neat example of the partnership between Shelby and Chrysler.

I’m not sure how much involvement Carroll Shelby himself had in the exterior design of this car, but whoever is responsible truly is a miracle worker. Have you ever seen a Dodge shadow? They look like what would happen if you handed a 6 year old a crayon and asked them to “draw a car” on the table at the Macaroni Grill.

But this looks nothing like that. It looks good. I guess it’s got something to do with extending the bottom of the car with the ground effects to make the body more proportionate to the size of the windows. Sort of the same way an Evo looks worlds better than the Richard Scarry-esque regular Lancer. Those big goofy windows just look, well, big and goofy. I think Chrysler is now trying to make up for that time period with the small windows on the 300 or something. Anyways, they did a good job making the car look nice.

The CSX was first sold in 1987, and was offered with the 2.2 Turbo II motor putting out 175 hp. It was reported to be able to hit low 15s in the quarter mile, which was certainly respectable for the time. The next year, Dodge and Shelby came out with the CSX-T which was sold to Thrifty rental cars and meant to be a nod to the old GT-H Mustangs of the 60s.

1989 was the last year of the CSX, as well as the partership between Shelby and Chrysler.  They decided to go all out with some neat additions for the final incarnation of the car. One of them was a new variable nozzle turbo that helped the low end torque output significantly, and another were a set of fiberglass composite wheels that people now call the fiberride wheel. Apparently, they weren’t really that much lighter than typical alloy wheels of the time but are said to have cut down on vibrations and harshness. They seem like a neat idea, but I wonder how long they would last in the harsh sun we have here before disintegrating?

With only 500 produced, the CSX-VNT is a rare enough car as it is, but this particular example is exceptionally rare. It is one of only 15 “#2” models ever produced. The #2 model was the code for a car optioned with Recaro seats and 225 tires. Not exactly a huge upgrade from the “base” CSX but still a worthwhile upgrade.

I wonder how rare the “Ford logo driver’s side floor mat” option was?

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About Mike Ross

I love anything you can drive. But I love it even more if it has a small block Chevy or Ford motor, a turbo, four wheel drive, is a hatchback, or was made in the 80s. My ideal car would be a combination of all of these things, and I'm working on building a time machine so I can go back to the 80's and convince Chevy and Ford to collaborate on a twin-engine, single turbo 4x4 XR4Ti/Fox Mustang/Third Gen F-body and hide one in a mineshaft for me to recover in brand new condition. Look for a blog post about it just as soon as it happens. Or maybe it already did, and I've already posted about it in the future and the internet just needs to catch up with it. Okay, my head hurts, never mind.