The Dodge Shadow was an affordable front-wheel drive 3-door hatchback produced for a relatively short run from 1987 to 1994. Most Dodge Shadows were equipped with a 2.2L or 2.5L inline-4 engine with the option of adding a turbocharger, but some V-6s were produced in the later model years.
Dodge Shadow P-Body Platform with Hatchback Features
Produced on a shortened version of the K-car platform, the P-body served as the basis for the Dodge Shadow. This was a bit heavier than the competition, but Dodge had decided against wading directly into the economy market and tried to make the Shadow fulfill needs of those who wanted more space. Adding to this, the 3-door hatchback looked like a traditional 2-door sedan, leading Dodge to market the Shadow as having “hidden hatchback versatility” with additional storage space. While the Dodge Shadow was primarily an economy-focused vehicle that pushed the price tag to incredible lows, it had a wide array of options available and could be fitted to be a fairly high-quality machine. In fact, the esteemed Carol Shelby used a Dodge Shadow to create the CSX version as a competitor to some of the small, fast Japanese imports from the era.
The Engine and Transmission
Dodge equipped the Shadows with turbocharged or naturally-aspirated 2.2L or 2.5L inline-4 engines, while a Mitsubishi-built 3.0L V-6 replaced the turbo options from 1992 to 1994. The naturally aspirated 4-cylinders were fuel injected (with the exception of those sold in Mexico). All Shadows were available as a 5-speed manual, while options for automatic included a 3-speed for the 4-cylinder engines and a 5-speed automatic for the short 6-cylinder run.
Options and Equipment
With economy in mind, the base model Dodge Shadow could be lightly equipped. However, options were available for those who desired them. Power windows/locks/mirrors/driver’s seat, cruise control, upgraded instrument panel, overhead console with temperature and compass, and four-wheel disc brakes could be fitted. Safety features included a standard driver’s airbag by 1990 and a motorized passenger side seat belt in 1994. While the motorized belts were specifically designed to meet the US safety regulations, they failed to meet the Canadian ones. The Dodge Shadow did quite well for a car of its size in 1993 safety tests, receiving a 4-star driver’s side and 5-star passenger ratings. In 1991, a 2-door convertible option of the Dodge Shadow was produced, giving a taste of luxury to this otherwise economical vehicle. From 1988 to 19b91, the Dodge Shadow was available in parts of Europe as a Chrysler ES. Engine (2.2L and 2.5L with option turbocharger) and transmission (5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic) offerings were similar as the US markets, but sales were poor and the ES was stopped after a three-year European run.
The Shelby CSX
Carroll Shelby, synonymous with high-performance vehicles, modified some Dodge Shadows into what became the CSX (Carroll Shelby Experimental). In an era with strict government emissions and choked engines, Shelby turned to the Dodge Shadow to produce a lightning-fast undersized sports car. The 2.2L turbocharged engine was tuned to generate 174 horsepower, while upgrades were made to the shocks, springs, and disc brakes. It came as black over silver with a blue stripe. All Dodge badging was removed and the front grille replaced with a single-slot design featuring the CSX logo. This light, zippy version of the Dodge Shadow proved to be performance first, quicker than many muscle and sports cars of the day.
The End of the Dodge Shadow
Production of the Dodge Shadow ended in 1994, when it was replaced by the Neon at the affordable end of the Dodge offerings.