Turbocharged Minivans and Lasers

turbo-dodge-leadToday marks recognition of the unsung yet pioneering heroes of the four-cylinder turbocharged production automobile universe. These are the Eighties turbocharged Mopar four-cylinders. Long before you could buy a universal turbocharger kit of questionable origin and functionality off eBay for a few hundred bucks, you could step up to your local Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth dealer and drive off the lot in a factory-equipped turbocharged K-car, Omni, Voyager minivan, and even Laser variants. Near 200 horsepower doesn’t seem like much today, but these cars were quick for their time. Carroll Shelby jumped into the mix and produced the Dodge Omni GLHS, which the Eighties turbo faithful soon figured out stood for goes like hell.

We found this SoCal gathering of the turbo 2.2-liter crowd at their monthly drive-and-dine meet in La Habra, and spoke with Budget Butch, the proud owner and driver of a white and blue 1986 Chrysler Laser – aka Dodge Daytona. The Plymouth Laser came later, and was mostly a Mitsubishi. Butch drives his unstock Laser daily, pushing 14 pounds of boost into a Toyota Supra intercooler on its way through the ported Chrysler intake and cylinder head. Fat injectors and exhaust make for proper breathing. Piston and crankshaft mojo bump the 2.2-liter engine to a full 2500 cubic centimeters of turbocharged fury and over 200 horsepower on the dyno. The rare Mopar Direct Connection cast aluminum valve cover and turbocharged minivans make everything right in the turbo world.

More: Turbo Dodges or Turbo Mopars


  1. LTDScott says

    Wow, I didn’t think there were enough Turbo Dodge fans in California to have a meet. I owned an Omni GLH several years ago (with GLHS running gear) and all of the Turbo Dodge guys were on the east coast. Hardly anyone out here, which sucked for me because I was not so knowledgeable back then and sure could have used the help.

  2. says

    Those cars are so sweet. I think I’ve got a picture of the satin black one parked around the corner from Cars & Coffee a year or two back. I learned to drive in an 80 Audi 80, but my first set of regular wheels was a 90 Plymouth Sundance. Man, I wished that thing was a CSX.

    There’s a guy in Prescott, AZ with a clean, white Pacifica Turbo. The original owner, he and I compared limited edition key chains at the cheap gas station on the AZ/CA border back in May this year.

    Sharp cars. Keep ’em on the road, gents.

  3. Polat Guney says

    Wonderful to see these interesting cars. Searched the photos in vain for my favorite–Spirit R/T. Are there any left on the road? Turbo III — dohc, 16v, intercooler, 5spd 14.5 sec 1/4 miles and 140 mph top. All in a package that looked like the car Granma drove to the firehouse on bingo night. Now that is a sleeper.

  4. says

    Yeah, but I wonder how many of you noticed that 1981 Plymouth Reliant 2.6 Sedan, member of the worldwide Chrysler K-Car Club? That car is still a living daily driver and one of a mere 125 left out of 152,000 made. Among the rarest in the world and should be given some attention. The club, Shelby Dodge Auto Club So. Cal Chapter, sponsors this unique dinner & car meet at Applebees in LaHabra, Ca every 1st Thursday evening of the month. We have a wonderful dinner and chit chat in the parking lot until midnight. Sometimes, we turn wrenches after dinner. You really should come for the experience. It is so rewarding to be able to talk to local enthusiasts with their passion for these autos. This club is a friend of the Chrysler K-Car Club and sometimes 80s K-cars show up here as well. That 81 was the rarest spotting at this event ever. So, keep looking.