The Dodge Daytona was a front-wheel drive hatchback based on the Chrysler G platform, which was derived from the Chrysler K platform. The Daytona was produced from 1984 to 1993. The Chrysler Laser was an upscale near twin version of the Daytona. The Daytona was restyled for 1987, and again for 1992. It replaced the Mitsubishi-based Challenger, and slotted between the Charger and the Conquest. The Daytona was replaced by the 1995 Dodge Avenger, which was built by Mitsubishi Motors. The Daytona derives its name mainly from the Dodge Charger Daytona, which itself was named after the Daytona 500 race in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Daytona originally used the 2.2 L Chrysler K engine in normally aspirated (93 hp) or turbocharged (142 hp) form. The 96 hp 2.5 L K engine was added for 1986. In 1985, the 2.2 L Turbo I engine's horsepower was increased to 146 hp (109 kW). The 1984 Daytona was available in three trim lines: standard, Turbo and Turbo Z. Total production was 49,347. The Daytona Turbo was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1984. Both the Daytona and Chrysler Laser were available with the Chrysler Electronic Voice Alert system through 1987. A performance oriented "Shelby" version of the Daytona was introduced in 1987.
The Chrysler Laser was billed as the Chrysler brand's first sports car. The Laser was a virtual clone of the Dodge Daytona, but came only in the upscale trim version. It was produced from 1984 to 1986. The Laser emphasized European luxury, and was intended to be an "executive personal luxury coupe." The Laser was sleek, low-slung, and aerodynamic, with a drag coefficient of only .35. The car had a large rear hatchback, with a rear deck-lid spoiler. The 1984 Laser was available in two trim lines: standard and XE. In mid-1985, the XT trim was added as the top-of-the-line version. The standard, XE and XT trim lines would continue until the Laser’s demise in mid-1986. After 1986, the Daytona was exported to Canada as the Chrysler Daytona, officially ending Canadian Daytona sales under the Dodge marque. The turbo version of the Laser could be recognized by its use of black hood louvers. The 2.2 L Turbo I engine was available as standard equipment in the XE and XT trim lines and optional on the standard model. The Laser was intended to replace the Chrysler Conquest, a rear-wheel-drive vehicle which competed directly against the Toyota Celica Supra. The Laser name was silently terminated after the first half of 1986 model year, then resurrected for the 1989/1990 model year with as the Plymouth Laser, built by Diamond Star Motors, a joint venture between Chrysler and Mitsubishi. The rebranded Laser shared its chassis with the Eagle Talon and Mitsubishi Eclipse.
In 1987, the Chrysler LeBaron was restyled as a more proper sports car, removing Chrysler's need for the Laser. However, the Laser’s luxury performance image would be carried over into the 1987 Dodge Daytona Pacifica as well as the Lancer Pacifica and other Dodge vehicles styled by Chrysler's Pacifica Studios.
e Laser was specified to have an estimated 22 mpg-US (11 L/100 km; 26 mpg-imp) city/35 mpg-US (6.7 L/100 km; 42 mpg-imp) highway fuel mileage. Chrysler offered a 5 year or 50,000-mile (80,000 km) warranty, or a Protection Plan with outer body rust-through protection, based on United States Automobile Club tests. Mark Cross leather seats and a six-way power options were available as options.
Notable features of the Chrysler Laser XE:
- A dashboard with digital readouts for the speedometer, tachometer, odometer, temperature, oil pressure, voltage, and fuel.
- An electronic monitoring system, situated near the top of the center console. This monitoring system checked 22 separate functions on the car, such as an open door, low fuel, or a blown taillight, and would give a digital readout of the situation, along with an audio message made by a synthesized voice.
- An electronic navigator, which would give information on mileage, miles traveled, distance to destination, and elapsed driving time.
- 1984 - 59,858 (Laser- 33,976/Laser XE- 25,882)
- 1985 - 50,866 (Laser- 29,221/Laser XE- 18,193/Laser XT- 3,452)
- 1986 - 36,672 (Laser- 14,134/Laser XE- 15,549/Laser XT- 6,989)
The Daytona debuted with a 142 hp Turbo I motor. Many Turbo Z models were produced and more luxurious than other years because of the Mark Cross leather interiors, light up speakers, and rear amp switches. These options were dropped after 1984.
Changes were minimal for the Daytona's second year of production. The Turbo Z model was no longer listed as a package but was now a model in its own right. The wrap-around spoiler, formerly exclusive to the Turbo Z model, was now offered on all three models. But the biggest change was under the hood: the 2.2 Turbo was given 4 more hp to 146 hp (109 kW), and a new shift linkage was added. Optional "Swiss cheese" wheels were replaced with new optional "Pizza" wheels. All wheels now had five lug nuts (instead of four) Total production was 47,519.
There were changes for the 1986 Daytona. The middle "Turbo" model was dropped, leaving just two models: Base and Turbo Z. Engine changes were also made: A new 2.5 L 100 hp (75 kW) 4-cylinder engine was added for the base model. A new t-roof package was added to the option list, but just 5,984 Daytona owners chose this option. The biggest addition was the optional C/S (Competition Series). This consisted of 32 mm (1.3 in) front and 28 mm (1.1 in) rear anti-sway bars, performance tuned struts, and speed rated tires. This package would foreshadow the Daytona Shelbys of 1987 and beyond. Only 7,704 owners added this handling package to their Daytonas. Total production this year would be 44,366.
In 1987, the Daytona was restyled externally, and featured pop-up headlights. New in 1987 was a Shelby Z trim level with an available Turbo II (174 hp (130 kW) - 200 lb·ft (271 N·m)) intercooled version of the 2.2 L Chrysler K engine, as well as a heavy-duty A555 transaxle with Getrag gears. The Shelby Z also featured numerous suspension upgrades, including a larger diameter front sway bar and rear disc brakes. This version was sold in Europe under the name Chrysler GS Turbo II. A more luxury-oriented Pacifica trim line was also added to replace the Chrysler Laser, which was dropped by mid-year 1986. Among the standard and optional equipment: leather interior, an 8 way power enthusiast drivers seat (with mechanical Thigh/Lumbar controls), digital dash, 12 button navigator (with instant fuel ratings as well as trip averages and estimated travel times), among several other features. In 1988, the C/S package was revived. However, this time the C/S was available only on the base model Daytona. In order to cut weight and make a lighter Daytona, the C/S came without the ground effects and other elegant features that were featured on the Shelby. The AGB model C/S featured a turbo I 2.2-liter engine, which was available in both automatic and manual transmissions.
Following the Chrysler takeover of Lamborghini, product programs general manager Jack Stavana introduced a program to fit a Lamborghini Jalpa V8 into a Daytona. The motor was linked to an all-wheel drive (AWD) system designed by Carroll Shelby, and the car was called the Decepzione. Despite its performance and media buzz generated by articles in Car and Driver magazine, the project was discontinued due to the engine's oil pan having just 1.5 inches (38.1 mm) of ground clearance, necessitated by the comparatively tall engine block.