Today 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.