Charger, Turismo, O24, and TC3: Omni / Horizon Coupes

by Bryan T. Nicalek (with updates by the Allpar staff)

Chrysler launched two new hatchback coupes named Dodge O24 (later to become the Charger) and Plymouth TC3 (to become the Turismo) in 1979.

1985 dodge charger

These sporty cars, based on the well-known, internationally engineered Omni and Horizon, offered a new 2.2-liter overhead-cam engine, developing 84 horsepower, or the base (imported) 1.7-liter developing 70 bhp. The Plymouth TC3 2+2 offered Rallye and Sport Appearance packages with a rear spoiler. The base engine was the 1.6 "Peugeot" powerplant, actually designed for the Omni/Horizon - it became a Peugeot engine when Chrysler sold their European operations (which had designed it) to Peugeot. (history).

Burton Bouwkamp wrote, “Both vehicles were done at the instigation of Lee Iacocca. The Turismo/O24 was styled and engineered in-house. Lee approved it but he was never happy with the C-pillar and backlight appearance. Many C-pillar appliques - including one with an opera window - were tried to alleviate Lee’s concern but nothing met his expectations. Finally, the model went into production with a quarter window applique although Styling’s preference was an exposed fastback quarter window — no applique at all.”

Plymouth Turismo - TC3 interior

1981. The “1981 1/2” Dodge Charger 2.2, using the muscle car’s name but none of its parts, wasn’t difficult to spot. With hood scoop, special tape graphics, and two-toning body colors, the 84-horsepower (111 lb-ft) car showed a return to at least mild performance. It could hold its own against the day’s remnants of muscle cars. Likewise, a 2.2 liter version of the TC3 was dubbed the Turismo, though apparently the 2.2 was also available on both TC3 and O24.

The base engine used in the TC3 and O24 was rated at 63 hp and 83 lb-ft of torque; the 2.2 transformed both cars’ performance, boosting horsepower by nearly a third and torque by nearly half.

1983. Remaining Dodge O24s were re-dubbed Omni Charger, and the base Plymouth TC3 became the Turismo. The cars also switched to a linkless sway bar, altering the lower control arm and sway bar attachments, thereby reducing body roll and improving the ride (illustrations are on the Horizon/Omni page).

Dodge O24A $975 million profit greatly helped Chrysler Corporation. The new Shelby Charger was brought out, mid-year, with a considerably more powerful (107 hp) 2.2 engine; it also had closer gear ratios, quicker steering, a stiffer suspension, and better production. Despite the implications of the name, Shelby himself had little to do with the car’s modifications. Chrysler wrote, “The Shelby look includes air dam, ground effect skirts, quarter window plug, rear spoiler, logo, and skunk stripe.” It was available in combinations of blue and silver, with interiors of silver and darker blue; the Shelby logo was embroidered on the headrests.

The Turismo and Charger were joined by the Scamp and Rampage, respectively — pickup versions of the cars, based on designs by an outside shop and implemented by Chrysler’s own engineers and stylists. The Scamp name was moved forward from a two-door Valiant derivative (the Plymouth version of the Dodge Dart Swinger.)

Turismo and Plymouth Scamp

In 1984, both Turismo and Charger arrived with numerous changes, including new quad headlights. The Turismo/Charger finally gained an engine to match its looks. The 2.2 was a strong value due to its high level of standard equipment, affordable price, performance and gas mileage, and cornering, with a full independent suspension. In addition, cosmetic changes, including a new gauge cluster and optional Rallye full instrumentation, were made. The Shelby Charger offered 110 bhp, with wide stripes on the hood, ceiling, and back of the car.

turismo 1983

According to the Standard Catalog of Chrysler, the Shelby package also included a revised camshaft, chrome valve cover, stiffer suspension, 50-series Eagle GT tires on 15 inch wheels, and low-restriction exhaust for higher performance both in a straight line and around turns. The cost was about $2,000 more than a base Charger, but the Catalog quotes the NHRA as getting a 0-50 speed of 5.5 seconds, with a sub-16 second quarter mile - quite good for the time. (Engine upgrades were largely from Chrysler, rather than Shelby’s works.)

In 1985, a turbocharged version of the Dodge Charger Shelby developed a strong 146 bhp using multiple-point fuel injection, while the "standard" Shelby engine moved into the "standard" Charger as an option. The new Plymouth Turismo/Duster package was offered with rear spoiler, rallye wheels, and special striping. The Shelby Charger included a Garrett AiResearch T3 turbocharger, Chrysler/Bosch multiple-point fuel injection (which was never used on other domestic 2.2 engines), a close-ratio five-speed, 2.57:1 overall top gear ratio, better brakes, stiffer suspension, and pedals designed for heel/toe shifting. As always, Shelbys also had a graphics package, extending into the interior.

plymouth turismo

1986 Turismo engines Compression
Horsepower Torque Manual MPG Auto MPG
1.6 liter (97.1 CID) 2-barrel (Peugeot) 8.8 64@4800 87@2800 31/39  
2.2 liter, 2-barrel carburetor 9.0 96@5200 119@3200 26/36 24/30
2.2 liter, turbocharged (Shelby Charger) 8.1 146@5200 170@3600    
2.2 liter, high output (“2.2” models) 9.6 110@5600 129@3600 22/30  

1986 brought few changes for both the Charger and Turismo, except for the required center-stop lights in the rear. A 2.2 liter, 96 horsepower engine was available on base models first the first time. As in years past, a premium set of gauges was fitted, with full instrumentation. (To quote from another page:)

For 1986, there were three Turismos: base, Duster, and 2.2, and all of them were three-door hatchback versions of the Omni. The Duster added special bucket seats, wheels, and trim; and Turismo 2.2 added an air dam, side sill spoilers, sport suspension, close-ratio five-speed manual, performance exhaust, decals, and high-performance version of the 2.2 liter engine. Only the 2.2 came with fourteen inch wheels; the others came with 13 inch wheels (though 14 inch wheels with P195/60R14 tires were optional on non-2.2 models). The main change for 1986 appears to have been anti-rattle pads added between the jack and spare, and between the lug wrench and floor of the spare tire.

inside the 1987 dodge charger

All Turismos got a standard Rallye instrument cluster with a large tachometer and speedometer, and smaller gas, temperature, voltage, and oil pressure gauges, as well as odometer and trip odometer. The glove box was designed to hold cassettes and maps. Unlike most imported cars, the Turismo (and Horizon) used a conventional American-style steering column, with the hazard flashers on top of the column rather than on the dash.

The under-nose air dam of the Turismo provided a 3.5% drag reduction, while increasing the radiator airflow; the standard rear spoiler cut drag by 9%.

Overall top gear ratios on the automatic were 3.02 or 2.78; on the manuals, 2.69 (4-speed), 2.20 (five-speed), or 2.78 (Turismo 2.2 only).

turismo gauges

1987 was the last year for these cars. Perhaps the most rare was the Shelby Charger Turbo; only 2,011 were built. The Duster package continued, joining up with the America program that also involved the Horizon; this provided a standard option package with steep discounts.

dodge charger shelby glhs

The last 1,000 Chargers built were purchased by Shelby and converted into the Shelby Charger GLHS, similar to the 1986 Dodge Omni GLHS both internally and in the graphics schemes. With a 0-60 time of under 7 seconds, it was a surprisingly good runner, especially given the era. It was also well appointed, with sunroofs, cassette decks, air conditioning, and other options standard. The price was just under $13,000. (Information source for this paragraph: Bill Yohman, See our GLHS page.

1987 dodge chargers


Michael Ridler wrote:

    Plymouth TurismoI currently own a 87 Charger with 180,000 and a 82 Rampage with 220,000. I find them both quite reliable and very good on gas, I’ve used them both as delivery vehicles. Plus parts are easy to find because things are relatively unchanged over the years. As far as performance goes definitely get the 5 speed, auto is very sluggish. With the optional turbo it will go like hell (GLH).

archone wrote:

    Realistically, we’ve gotten from 15.5 to 16.3 secs in the quarter mile between five turbo Shelby chargers. The turbos are quite fun, but with so many years since they were made, unless you find one that was serviced often, expect to eventually change the turbo.

    Trouble spots in the Shelby Charger are the shift linkages (cheap to fix, but bothersome. The bushings wear out around the seven year mark and the linkage slips out), the passenger side motor mount which makes a grinding sound when you make left turns, and the strut tower bushings.... All relatively minor things to watch for. We’ve also seen a few of the external fuel pumps go bad.

1986 Specs Turismo

turbine wheels

Wheelbase 96.5 99.1
Length 174.8 163.2
Width 66.1 66.8
Height 50.7 53.0
Track (max) 56.1 56.1
36.4, left
38.2, right
37.2, left
39.1, right
Headroom, F/R 37.2 / 34.4 38.1 / 36.9
Legroom, F/R 42.5 / 28.7 42.1 / 33.3
Hiproom, F/R   52.6/46.4
Cargo space 10.7 cu.ft. 10.5 cu. ft.
Cargo, rear
seat down
32.4-34.3 36.6 cu.ft.

1987 Plymouth Turismo Duster Compared with Ford EXP and Mustang

 Plymouth Turismo DusterFord EXPFord Mustang LXChevrolet Cavalier
Legroom F/R42.5 / 28.7 41.7 / 0 41.7 / 30.7 42.2 / 31.8
Cargo (c.f.):
normal, rear seat down
18.6 / 34.331.5?? / 30.014.8 / 38.3
Engine96-hp 2.2, 25/35 mpg90-hp 1.9,
25/34 mpg
90-hp 2.3, 25/3490-hp 2.0, 25/33
Optional enginenonenone225-hp V8, 18/27none
Standard tiresP165/80R13P185/70R14P195/75R14P175/80R13

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