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Shelby CSX

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Subject: Dodge Shadow, Chrysler 2.2 & 2.5 engine, CSX (disambiguation), Shelby vehicles, Variable-geometry turbocharger
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Shelby CSX

Shelby CSX
1988 Shelby CSX-T
Manufacturer Chrysler Corporation
Also called Shelby CSX-T
Shelby CSX-VNT
Production 1987–1989
Body and chassis
Class Sport compact
Body style 3-door hatchback
5-door hatchback
Layout Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
Platform P-body
Related Dodge Shadow
Plymouth Sundance
Engine 2.2 L Turbo I I4
2.2 L Turbo II I4
2.2 L Turbo IV I4
Transmission 5-speed A520 manual
5-speed A555 manual

The Shelby CSX (Carroll Shelby experimental) was a limited-production high performance automobile based on the turbocharged intercooled Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance. These cars were offered by Shelby Automobiles Inc. from 1987 through 1989.


  • CSX 1
  • CSX-T 2
  • CSX-VNT 3
  • References 4


The first Shelby CSX appeared in 1987. Power came from Shelby's intercooled Turbo II 2.2 L I4, with 175 hp (130 kW) and 175 ft·lbf (237 Nm). Performance was good with a 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time of 6.8 s.

Shock absorbers and springs were replaced, and Daytona Shelby Z rear discs were added. Once again, Shelby used his own wheels. Outside badging was more restrained than other Shelby offerings. Black was the only color available.

750 1987 CSXes were sold, priced at $13,495. There was no optional equipment.


In 1966, Shelby created a special line of Shelby Mustangs for the Hertz car rental company. Shelby repeated this method in 1988 with the creation of the CSX-T for the Thrifty rental company. The CSX-T was only sold to Thrifty. All 1,001 units produced were white with grey and blue trim.

The CSX-T was mechanically similar to the 1987 CSX, except the non-intercooled Turbo I engine was used. Two variations were made, an intercooled version given to the president of Thrifty and a version with a factory sunroof given to the president's daughter.


The final CSX was 1989's CSX-VNT. This would also be the final Shelby Dodge, and marked two notable technological advances: the introduction of a Garrett variable-nozzle turbo and the application of composite wheels. Designed by Shelby and produced by Motor Wheel Corporation, known as "Fiberrides" lighter than contemporary wheels.

The engine was Chrysler's new intercooled Turbo IV equipped with a Getrag A555 5-speed transmission. The variable geometry turbo vanes were computer controlled and needed no wastegate. Instead, they adjusted the flow of exhaust gases to spool up instantly and provide strong power. Chrysler kept the horsepower rating at 175 hp (130 kW), but upped the torque rating to 205 ft·lbs (278 Nm) at an unheard of 2100 rpm. Full torque was available from this low rpm to well past redline. Turbo lag was eliminated, with full boost (15 psi spike) available at 2100 rpm. The intense powerband, coupled with the car's low weight, made the CSX-VNT very fast on the street. Car and Driver magazine called it "a high tech hot rod" and "a technological showcase" and were impressed with the engine's flexibility and top-gear acceleration. (They tested it to 156 mph (251 km/h).) Synthetic oil and premium fuel were specified for use with this car, and those who neglected this would regret it as they are needed to prevent turbo overheating and prolong engine life. Mechanics, often overwhelmed by such a complex turbo setup began rumors of carbon deposits and sticking vanes in the turbos. Rather than a proper tune-up (the VNT's control systems were far advanced for the time), replacing the VNT with the simple but lag-prone turbo II was common. Examples with the VNT system intact are today considered more valuable to collectors. Time has proven them to be quite reliable, unlike the later 16 valve as used in the Spirit R/T. Shelby installed emblems in the engine compartment specifying Mobil 1 synthetic oil only, as he did on other Shelby Dodges. These are often missing on long running examples. A ground effects package produced by Kaminari Aerodynamics gave the CSX-VNT a ground hugging appearance. The suspension was also modified, as the alignment specs are radically different from the other Shelby Dodges. Drivers praised the quick yet neutral handling. Shelby chose Exotic Red, a mix of bright red and maroon, with gold wheels and trim to finish this car. The MSRP price was $15,995.[1]

Production was limited to 500 vehicles (including two prototypes) and with the completion of cars, Carroll Shelby's direct involvement with Dodge was complete (although he continued to work on projects with Chrysler, often taking advisory roles, which included the development of the Dodge Viper and Viper GTS). The 89 Shelby CSX production figures can be broken down into the following: 15 were equipped as 'two option', coming factory with 225 wide tire option as well as RECARO bucket seats; 2 were used as prototypes; 2 were equipped with non-RECARO and wide optioned tires. The remaining were either RECARO or non-RECARO equipped cars with regular size tires. The 1989 Shelby CSX-VNT proved to be a true domestic exotic, showcasing technologies not seen in a gasoline application until 2006 when Porsche utilized variable vane turbos for their 997. The front air dams and rear wing can still be purchased from Kaminari Aerodynamics. The wing is now equipped with an LED brake light built into it. The front air dams are slightly different than the original factory piece.


  1. ^ "1989 Shelby CSX-VNT Value". NADA Guides. 
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