For 1969, Chrysler Corporation introduced two new compact cars, the Dodge Shadow and the Plymouth Sundance (which turned in similar sales figures), intended to replace the Dodge Charger - Dodge Omni and Plymouth Turismo - Plymouth Horizon, respectively. In addition, the Shadow also replaced the AMC-based Renault Alliance sedan because of Chrysler acquiring AMC from Renault in 1987, officially withdrawing Renault from the United States and Canada. Many Renault and AMC models were poured to the new Eagle brand in 1988.
They were built in Sterling Heights, Michigan and Toluca, Mexico (from late 1988 as 1989 model, sold in this country as the "Chrysler Shadow"). The first car rolled off the assembly line on August 25, 1986.
Both 2-door and 4-door models were built using a variant of the K-car platform, known as the P-body, which was based on a combination of the Dodge Daytona's suspension with a shortened version of the Dodge Lancer's body.
While the Shadow appeared to have a trunk, it was actually a hatchback. Dodge considered this a special feature and advertising literature referred to it as "hidden hatchback versatility". The relatively large storage capacity of these vehicles was a major selling point for the company. The Peugeot 309 which had been developed to replace the European Horizon used a similar layout on a stretched subcompact (Peugeot 205) platform rather than a cut-down midsize one.
Carroll Shelby Enterprises modified Shadows into several performance-oriented vehicles such as the Shelby CSX, which was equipped with a turbocharged 2.2 L engine producing 174 hp (130 kW). Because of the car's light weight and good engine in an era of government emissions choked engines, it was capable of acceleration equal or greater than that of many contemporary muscle and sports cars of the time. A version without the intercooler, rated at 150 hp (112 kW), was sold to Thrifty as the CSX-T.
A convertible version of the Shadow debuted in 1991, the same year Dodge introduced stripped-down, budget-priced "America" versions of the coupe and sedan models. At the time, the Shadow (along with its Sundance cousin) was the lowest-priced car on the market with a standard driver's side airbag, which had been made standard on all US-market domestic Chrysler Corporation cars in 1990. The Shadow received cosmetic updates for 1989: the inset sealed-beam headlamps were discarded in favor of aerodynamic composite units. A new body-color grille and new taillights were among other minor changes. A motorized passenger's side seat belt was added to US-market Shadows in 1994, to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208's requirement for passive restraints. These motorized seat belts do not comply with Canada's safety standards; Canadian-market Sundances continued to use a manual passenger seatbelt, and 1994 Shadows cannot legally be imported across the US-Canada border in either direction.
Production ended on March 9, 1994. The Shadow and Sundance were replaced by the Dodge/Plymouth Neon.
The Shadow offered a variety of four cylinder engines, all either of 2.2 or 2.5 L, some turbocharged. Naturally aspirated versions were, except in Mexico, fuel injected. The engines were tuned for torque rather than horsepower, resulting in numbers that appear to be reversed from the Honda Civic - for example, 93 hp (69 kW) and 122 lb·ft (165 N·m) of torque from the base 2.2 L engine. A Mitsubishi-built 3.0 L V6 was added later, which led to the demise of the turbo option. All were available with a five-speed manual transmission. A 3 speed automatic based upon the Chrysler Torqueflite was optional on the 4 cylinder equipped cars and a 4 speed automatic 41TE was optional on the V6 powered cars. In 1990 the manual transmission was modified to make shifting into reverse easier; a number of other incremental improvements were also made.
Shadows came with the following engines, although not all engines were available each year:
- 2.2 L I4 - 93 hp (69 kW) and 122 lb·ft (165 N·m) of torque
- 2.5 L I4 - 100 hp (70 kW) and 135 lb·ft (183 N·m) of torque
- 3.0 L V6 - 142 hp (106 kW) and 171 lb·ft (232 N·m) of torque
- 2.2 L turbocharged I4 - 146 hp (109 kW) and 170 lb·ft (230 N·m) of torque
- 2.2 L turbocharged I4 - 175 hp (130 kW) and 175 lb·ft (237 N·m) of torque (Shelby T2)(87 CSX)
- 2.2 L turbocharged I4 - 174 hp (130 kW) and 210 lb·ft (285 N·m) of torque (CSX-VNT)
- 2.5 L turbocharged I4 - 150 hp (112 kW) and 190 lb·ft (258 N·m) of torque
- 2.5 L turbocharged I4 - 151 hp (113 kW) and 210 lb·ft (285 N·m) of torque (High Torque ECU 91 only)
Features varied with years, but some features included power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, cruise control, tilt wheel, variable intermittent delay wipers (over the standard two speed LO/HI only wipers), overhead console with map lights and compass/temperature display, upgraded "highline" instrument cluster with tachometer, "light package" that added lighting in the trunk, glove box, under-hood mounted light and rear door dome light switches (4 door models), remote trunk release, rear defroster, Fog lights, mag wheels, convertible top, infinity sound system and power driver side seat. On turbocharger equipped cars, there was also a vacuum/boost gauge and a message center that monitored four vehicle functions, door ajar, washer fluid level, etc. Four wheel disc brakes were optional depending upon trim level.
In 1993 a low pressure Bendix-4 ABS was available.
Starting in 1990, driver side airbags were standard, giving the Shadow a remarkable crash test rating for a car its size at the time: 4 star driver, 5 star passenger according to 1993 tests.
- base - 1987-1990; 1993–1994
- S- 1991-1992 (Canada)
- ES - 1987-1994
- America - 1991-1992 (sold in the U.S)
- Highline - 1991-1992
- Highline - 1991-1993
- ES - 1991-1993
European Market - the Chrysler ES
From April 1988 on, Chrysler also offered the Dodge Shadow on several European markets. The car, simply called the "Chrysler ES", was based on the Dodge Shadow ES and was virtually the same car, just without any "Shadow"-badges. Offered only as a 3-door hatchback, the standard engine was the fuel injected 2,2 L, with an optional turbocharger. For 1989, the 2,2 L was replaced by the more modern 2,5 L unit. Engines were linked to a standard five-speed manual transmission, with a three-speed automatic available as an extra-cost option.
As European sales figures turned out to be very poor, the selling of the Chrysler ES ended in mid-1991, leaving the segment without any direct successor until the introduction of the Chrysler Neon in 1995.