The words performance cars and 1980s aren’t usually heard in the same sentence. The 1980s were a dark time for sports cars with most models being choked by emissions standards. That said, there were some cars that didn’t let these regulations get them down. One of the most interesting was the 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger GLHS.

The Charger of the 1980s wasn’t much of a sports car, but the higher-ups at Dodge had no plans on letting the model languish. They found a way to make it fun and interesting by bringing in Carroll Shelby, a man who had made Ford’s high-performance Mustang a thing of legend.

Why Was the Dodge Shelby Charger GLHS Special?

1987 dodge shelby charger GLHS profile

The Dodge Shelby Charger GLHS took what was a bad sports car and made it great. The old rear-drive Dodge Chargers of the 1960s and 70s were fantastic muscle cars, but in the 1980s Dodge turned the Charger into a compact front-wheel-drive coupe. It was a dark time for the nameplate until Lee Iacocca called up Shelby and tasked him and his team with making the car into a real performance car.

Shelby tuned the somewhat sporty compact and made it quick and nimble. This car, the Dodge Shelby Charger, ran for a few years. When the model was discontinued in 1987, Shelby purchased the last 1,000 Dodge Chargers and created a special model known as the Charger GLHS. It featured a 2.2-liter turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder engine that made 175 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. It came with a five-speed manual transmission.

1987 Dodge Shelby Charger GLHS rear

In the small car, the engine and transmission combo was more than enough to make things interesting. The 87 Charger GLHS could sprint from 0-60 mph in just 6.95 seconds. The Charger GLHS wasn’t just good in a straight line, though. It also came with KONI adjustable struts and shocks. This meant that it was genuinely good in the curves.

Why It Deserves More Respect

1987 dodge shelby charger

Part of the reason the Charger GLHS deserves some more respect than it gets is just because of its oddness. It’s a weird car from an interesting part of the automotive industry’s history. It was put together by two men who had serious impacts on the shape of the American automotive landscape. While most of Lee Iacocca and Carroll Shelby’s other cars get more attention, the Charger GLHS is still an important car.

If people remember the Dodge-Shelby collaboration, they usually recall the Omni GLH and GLHS, which was just a little quicker and weirder, due to the fact that Shelby took a simple subcompact car and made it Go Like Hell. The Charger GLHS (Goes Like Hell, Some more) takes a backs seat to its even smaller sibling, but it shouldn’t. The rarity of this car alone means it’s important. There were only 1,000 built, and because they weren’t built particularly well, few have survived over the decades. The 1980s Dodge Charger wasn’t all that special but the last 1,000 cars that were crafted by Shelby to be true performance cars sure were.