1988 Dodge Shadow CSX-T: Ready to Rent

1988 Dodge Shadow CSX-T

Although I write for Barn Finds and Credit Card Classics in my spare time, I am a marketing and PR consultant by day (ask me which role I enjoy more). I’ve always found Carroll Shelby’s collaboration with rental car agencies to be an interesting gimmick: put a muscle car on the menu for mere dollars per day and watch enthusiasts flock to the rental counter. It worked for the Mustang in the ‘60s, so Shelby tried it again with Thrifty in the late ‘80s with a slightly different formula: a turbocharged Dodge Shadow CSX-T. There were only 1,000 produced, one of which is up for grabs here on craigslist in Florida for $3,800.

1988 Dodge Shadow CSX-T Interior

Nowadays, you can walk up to any number of car rental businesses and choose from pools of high-end luxury or sport models like the Corvette. But the Shelby approach was different: he was making unique cars that the public couldn’t buy (at least until when they were cycled out of the fleet and sold at auction). While the Dodge Shadow wasn’t anything to write home about, the CSX featured a firmer suspension with anti-roll bars, 4-wheel disc brakes, special aero trim pieces, a boost gauge and Shelby steering wheel, among other features. The turbocharged and intercooled engine pumped out 175 bhp and would clear 130 mph!

Photo courtesy of dempseybowling.com
Photo courtesy of dempseybowling.com

The CSX-T, however, differed ever so slightly. The engine wasn’t intercooled, but the wheels were a touch wider at 6.5 inches (versus the 15×6 sizing found on the run-of-the-mill CSX). Obviously, special badges and plaques were in order, and the Thrifty cars were only available in white. Other than that, it was largely identical to the one you could buy at a local Dodge dealer. While there is much written about how the original Shelby Hertz Mustangs (and the reincarnation of those cars in 2007), it doesn’t appear the Shadow CSX-Ts generated much hype. It’s not surprising considering the car itself didn’t have the allure of a Shelby Mustang, nor did it have any sort of track credentials that drove so many enthusiasts to rent-and-race the original Hertz edition.

1988 Shelby Shadow CSX-T

So, what’s the value of this car? Well, it’s a neat conversation piece and likely isn’t too costly to run. The miles are high but the condition looks surprisingly good for a car that was used for some of its life as a rental. Personally, I think it’s one of the more attractive Mopar products of the last 25 years, especially with the slicer-style wheels and body-color matched grill. Sure, it’s not exactly luxurious, but it might be a cheap project car to mess with the boost and swap in a 5-speed – all with the exclusivity only a CSX-T can bring! Would you want to rent or own this original Thrifty Shelby?


  1. MountianMan

    Well, here’s another one thatI didn’t know existed. It’s actually kinda cool and would likely make a fun little driver especially with a 5 speed swap. Wouldn’t see yourself coming down the road in another one and for me that’s always a plus. BTW, enjoying the new site. I have been checking it daily to see what’s been found. I love the “cheap stuff” and am always looking for cool or uncommon cars that are affordable. Keep up the good work guys, you’ve created another great place to be on the web

  2. jim s

    the car has been shown a lot of love over the years to be in this shape with that many miles on it.

  3. rjc

    Yeah, in great shape. I love the steering wheel.
    I bet it’s fun to drive.

  4. Jeff Lavery

    One thing I’ve never noticed until now is it has a German-style rear filler plate between the tail lights, also known as a heckblende. Pretty cool!

  5. Brian

    My first car.. Except the engine had been replaced with the intercooled csx one. It was real nasty little thing in the mid 90’s 🙂 Of course I traded it like a fool but I believe that the vnt turbo was very hard on the engine and it was practically impossible to replace that turbo then anyway.

  6. Bobby D

    I’ve got one of these in the garage, (my son’s car) neat little car. Sprited driver, no one knows what it is

  7. Jeff Lavery

    Amazing to hear more than one of you had a personal connection with a CSX! Bobby D., got any pictures?

  8. Tom

    So many American cars from the 1980s have a decent look but suffer from being FWD. However, at least one guy has made a Sundance RWD:


    I think one of these with the tuned factory engine with RWD would make for a sweet ride.

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