More than any other American car company, Chrysler had committed itself to cars built on a compact, front-wheel drive platform – even in its sports cars and luxury cruisers. Whatever Chrysler dreamed up in the 1980s had the humble K-cars – the Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant – somewhere in their bloodstreams.
That included the Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance, which were the upscale hatchback Chrysler hoped would lure import buyers from their Hondas and Toyotas. They were originally planned to replace the crusty Omni and Horizon, but the Shadow/Sundance debut coincided with a cheap-car assault from Yugo and Hyundai, so the Omni/Horizon twins were kept in play while the newer cars were kicked upmarket.
ES was the Shadow’s sporty variant. The jagged stripe is SO early-’90s.
The only two years the Shadow ES convertible had the option of a 3.0-liter V6 were 1993-94. All Shadow convertibles had a 2.5-liter four-cylinder as standard.
A peek inside shows that this Shadow has a manual transmission, which is odd, as contemporary literature lists automatic transmissions (your choice three or four speeds) with the V6.
Also interesting that this old Dodge was at some point re-sold by one of SF’s premier luxury-car dealers.
You’d expect a plastic rear window instead of glass in a budget convertible, and in the case of the Shadow, you’d be right.
The width of the K-car was one of the structure’s hard points, so the luxury cars it spawned felt narrow while the Shadow and Sundance looked squat and wide.
From a rear overhead angle, the Shadow convertible looks a bit like a duck.
The ES package added these aluminum wheels.
Inside, the Shadow is straightforward. The instrument panel is bland and boxy, and the materials look thin and shiny. It got the job done.
One nice feature was the driver’s side airbag, which many cars of its time still did not have – Honda and Toyota were solving the safety issue with annoying motorized belts.
The Shadow was a little dated when it debuted for 1987, and it was positively elderly by the time the Neon usurped its place in the mid-’90s.
Model year 1993 was the Shadow convertible’s last, and Dodge moved just 6,313 units – no wonder it was killed for 1994. Few remain today, particularly in this example’s well-kept state.