Welcome to TL;DR Reviews, where you can learn the best and worst parts about a car without wasting any time. It’s like being able to skip dialogue in video games. Sure, maybe you don’t get all the information, but you get the general idea.

This is a two part series. Read Part One here.

Is that a hood bulge or are you just happy to see me?

What is it? The 1993 Dodge Shadow ES. It has the right number of doors, the right number of pedals, and an engine from the right country - Japan. The 3.0L in this is a SOHC, n/a V6 that shares the same lineage as the DOHC twin-turbo in the Mitsubishi 3000GT. While it’s no fire-breathing dragon, the Chrysler version makes 141 HP and 171 ft.lbs and can be built for much more. In all, the engine and 5 speed transmission get the Shadow from 0 to 60 in just over 8 seconds; that’s over 5 seconds faster than the dismal base model from Part One.

My car lacks the red interior; this is its one shortfall from Shadow perfection. Photo from allpar.com

Pros: still cheap; styling is improved with ground effects and a subtle spoiler; torque-y and genuinely fun to drive; the hatchback; reliability; easy to work on; that weird little balance and fade joystick on the Infinity stereo package

A much nicer representation of my car. Photo from danisaacs.com

Cons: automatic, environmentally induced weight reduction still rusts like crazy; while there is relatively more of an aftermarket community than the 2.2L, there still isn’t much you can do without swapping the ECU; the paint is trash; obsolescence - some parts just aren’t available and junkyards have crushed most of them

There is definitely room to add a turbo somewhere in here... Photo from cardomain.com

Recommendation: The Shadow ES 3.0 is a rare blend of economy and thrills. It’s a fun daily driver and it’s so cheap that you don’t have to worry about what happens to it. The challenge is finding one that hasn’t rotted away. The panels are made of metal that is so thin it wouldn’t jam a paper shredder. But if you can get one, you will not regret it. It will change your perspective. This old car can do anything that a car really needs to do. So, why would anyone ever pay more?

Photo from consumerguide.com

For more information, including service experience and my adventures with the Shadow, check out TL;DR Uncut.


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