Sunday, February 22, 2015

5k: Shelby Style: 1985 Dodge Omni GLH

 The Dodge Omni GLH (Goes Like Hell) was a peppy little hatchback from the 1980s (1984-1986 to be precise) that was the lovechild of Carroll Shelby and an econobox Dodge.  The combination was magical, with the lightweight and practical 4-door hatch getting a turbocharged engine, upgraded suspension and the speed to embarrass all but the fastest machinery of the day.  Few were built and even fewer remain, but I like my hot hatches like my steak, rare but black on the outside.  Find this 1985 Dodge Omni GLH offered for $5,900 near Atlanta, GA via craigslist.  Tip from FuelTruck.

The GLH was the original Shelby designed hot hatch, and the basis for his in-house GLH-S (Goes Like Hell, S'More) special that was sold directly from Shelby.  The Omni GLH, on the other hand, was sold directly from Dodge dealers and probably purchased by accident a few times by old folks looking for the nicest Omni on the lot. 

Power in the Omni GLH comes from a hopped up version of the Chrylser K-car 2.2 liter inline-4 the Turbo I.  In GLH spec it is boosted to 146 horsepower, which should push the 2200 lb Omni around with some gusto. 

Don't expect the interior of the Omni to impress anyone, but this one could use a new set of seats.  Skip trying to find a re-upholstery shop to recover those stock seats (it'll cost a fortune) and instead look for something used on your local craigslist.  Maybe Recaros from a 320i?

See a more practical and ridiculous car in one package?


  1. Awesome find. This is a GLH - TURBO to be exact. They did make a non-turbo GLH. This was one of my first cars. I loved it, although it was flimsy. Very fast and fun to drive. Reliable, believe it or not.

  2. I'm too lazy to do a search. Has the fact that this is/was a French car been discussed here on DT?

    It's interesting to compare the turbo and naturally aspirated GLH (and the Shelby special) numbers to our recent XR4Ti. Build and interior quality aside, from a performance for the buck angle this get interesting. The na GLH was only $7,620, add the turbo for only $250 (an amazing bargain). Most of my reference materials state that the na GLH went 0-60 in the high 8s, the turbo around 8 flat. Both seemed realistic to me when I got a chance to drive them. Weight was around 2200-2300 pounds, if I recall correctly. The XR4Ti split the difference at over twice the cost. Interesting stuff. And then there was the GLH-S, which I'm sure has been discussed to death here on DT. Again, I'm too lazy to look it up.

    1. It's front-wheel drive.

      It was how Detroit used to build performance cars in that era, make good numbers and don't worry about how it feels.

      Build quality made the US-built Rabbit GTI feel like a Mercedes 600. Control efforts and throws a little mismatched. The best that can be said about the seats is that they were better than the later Neon SRT4. The Chrysler 2.2 wasn't a particularly smooth motor, but it made pretty good power and in turbo form more than that. But it was open-diff FWD so it wasn't all that great about getting that power to the ground.

      Compare and contrast with the late turbo Cobalt SS, another fast car built off a POS but the most carefully-polished turd you'll ever drive in your life, all the control efforts are perfect, they got everything right from the suspension to the engine sound, materials aren't anything special but they got the seat shape right, etc.

      Can't really stand to look at the two-door but the sedan is attractive enough particularly in the deep red.

    2. Now, all that said, these are worth preserving if that's your thing. Me, I'd rather save a Cobalt SS.

  3. They DID make a non -turbo GLH, they did not make a non-turbo GLHS. I had a non turbo GLH in Sante Fe blue with every option except the turbo. I had the light group that turned on the lights when the key went into the door. I even had the factory tow option complete with Mopar hitch. The 1985 and 1986 Omni GLHs were available with either the 110-bhp high-output engine or a 146-bhp turbo 2.2-liter engine.


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