Before the Dodge Durango SRT and Hellcat, There Was the Shelby SP-360
The Durango Hellcat won’t be around for long, but it’ll still be the most powerful version of Dodge’s SUV. The SRT 392 trim, though, is sticking around. However, Dodge once offered another high-powered version of the Durango before the SRT or Hellcat models existed. And it came courtesy of a name that’s usually tied to Ford Mustangs: Shelby.
Shelby tuned more than just Mustangs
Shelby is typically associated with Ford, especially various Mustang models. Admittedly, the current GT350 and GT500 aren’t made directly by Shelby, but their forebears were. And of course, there’s the famous Ford-powered Cobra and Daytona racers.
The tuner tweaked the front-wheel-drive hatchback’s 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, getting it to 110 hp in 1984. It also tweaked the car’s suspension, fitted faster steering, and upgraded the brakes, Hemmings reports. Then in 1985, it became Chrysler’s first turbocharged car, with its engine boosted to 146 hp. That’s why it’s called ‘GLH,’ for ‘Goes Like Hell.’
But the real treasure, Road & Track reports, is the 1986 Dodge-Shelby Omni GLH-S, or ‘Goes Like Hell S’More.’ It has more boost, a revised intake manifold, and an air-to-air intercooler, Car and Driver reports. As a result, its 2.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder 175 hp and 175 lb-ft, Motor1 reports. With that, it can go 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, and run the ¼-mile in 14.8 seconds. That’s almost as fast as the contemporary Corvette. Plus, the Omni GLH-S rides on upgraded Koni shocks and stickier performance tires.
Shelby worked on several Dodges in the 80s besides the Omni, though, Hagerty and Autotrader report. The Mitsubishi Galant-based Charger, the mid-size Lancer sedan, the Shadow, and the Dakota pickup all received Shelby trims. There was even a tuned Ram pickup prototype, though a production version never appeared.
After that, the Shelby-Dodge partnership seemingly ended. At least, until 1999, when the Dodge Durango Shelby SP-360 debuted.
The Dodge Durango Shelby SP-360 specs and features
Today, with the Hellcat model, the concept of a Dodge Durango with a supercharged V8 doesn’t seem odd. That wasn’t the case in 1999 when the Durango Shelby SP-360 was unveiled, R&T reports. Technically, the Dodge Durango SP-360 wasn’t directly tuned by Shelby; as Ford does today, Dodge simply licensed the name. But it definitely fits in with the tuned models from the past.
At the time, the Dodge Durango’s standard 5.9-liter V8 made ‘just’ 250 hp and 350 lb-ft, Autotrader reports. But the 4WD SP-360, thanks to a supercharger, updated ECU, and freer-flowing intake and exhaust, has 360 hp and 412 lb-ft, Autoblog reports. That doesn’t seem like much today, but it’s just 40 hp less than the Ferrari 360 has. And at the time, TFLCar reports, the only other such SUV available was the optionally-supercharged Toyota 4Runner.
The Dodge Durango Shelby SP-360 had more than a tuned engine, though. It has a chin spoiler, upgraded bushings, Eibach springs, and Stillen 6-piston front brake calipers. And inside, the SUV has well-bolstered leather sport seats and faux carbon-fiber trim, Motor1 reports. Plus, besides the exterior body kit, it has the trademark Shelby stripes.
Getting one today
Originally, Dodge planned on selling 3000 Durango Shelby SP-360s. However, the automaker only ended up making 300 for the 1999 and 2000 model years.
As a result of this rarity, despite the problems associated with the 1999 model year, this Durango can be highly valued. In 2012, Barrett-Jackson auctioned one off for $16,500. And as of this writing, Viper Exchange has one listed at $24,995. That’s roughly the same price range as the Omni GLH-S, RM Sotheby’s and Bring a Trailer report.
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