Thursday, June 30, 2011

1984 Dodge Colt Turbo - Don't Step On The Gas Unless You Really Mean It!

When I was much younger, I had the Sports Car bug really bad. I was on a very tight budget and wanted to drive something fast but kind of stealthy. I wanted to trade up from my pokey 6 cylinder Plymouth Duster and the 1984 Dodge Colt Turbo came up on my radar screen. Yeah, I was a speed junkie and the hormones and muscle car commercials and advertisements didn't help.

I think seeing Kevin Junkin's turbocharged Ford Pinto in action lit a fire inside me to acquire a stealthy ride that could kick ass. Kevin had taken a junkyard Ford Pinto three door and installed a turbocharger with about 10 pounds of boost. He blew out 3 transmissions but he beat virtually every sports car that lined up to challenge him. I think that I was an early adopter of this iron fist in a velvet glove method of driving cars that were every day Clark Kents but when challenged became super cars. Paul Newman had an new Volvo 760 station wagon that was completely stock but he had a Ford 302 V-8 dyno tested engine with a Kenne Bell Supercharger installed by a specialty engine builder in Maine. From the outside, it looked like a perfectly stock silver  Volvo station wagon but there was a 400 hp souped up Ford V-8 engine driving the rear wheels with the Camaro 4 speed manual transmission and racing clutch. Paul would go cruising up and down the Merritt Parkway blowing Porshes and BMWs into the weeds. He gave his pal David Letterman a test drive and he also bought one. More details about the cars and their builder, Ross Converse can be read here:

My Dodge Colt Turbo was made in Japan by Mitsubishi, and was configured as a 3 door hatchback but it had a turbocharged and intercooled 1.6 litre engine with the 8 speed twin stick Manual Transmission. Zero to 60 acceleration time was 6.9 seconds as the car only weighed about 1600 pounds and 40 miles per gallon could be had if you kept it under 65 and in 8th gear. The car was so outrageous, the Dodge Marketing department come up with a decal that was affixed to the rear hatch that said (and I 'm not kidding!) "Don't Step On The Gas Unless You Really Mean It!"

I blacked out the windows with dark window tint. The car was charcoal grey with grey cloth bucket seats. I had an Escort Radar detector hard wired to the battery and it was as stealthy and fast as a tomahawk cruise missile. It was like driving a motorcycle or go cart. It has so much power it would accelerate up steep long grades and I would easily pass Porsches and BMWs. The big problem for me was that the car was so tinny, that it was a matter of time before I killed myself (in a high speed James Dean like auto wreck) so I sold it after owning it for about a year. I was young but not stupid and the desire for self preservation prevailed. The torque steer was bad too but I was able to smoke those 13 inch Uniroyal Rallye tires in the first 4 gears.

This car was freaking fast. You could spin the tires in the first 4 gears!

I have to admit though, this was one of the best cars I ever owned and the look on the face of a Porsche or BMW owner driver as you pass them on the highway is priceless. This was a really stealthy sleeper of an automobile and it just whetted my appetite for faster sports cars. Boy was I ever crazy to have owned that car at a young age but man, it was a blast to drive. Can't really say that about most cars today that are priced under $20,000.00.


  1. Sometimes there is no substitute for simplicity. Simple car with a purpose of putting a disproportionate amount of power to the wheels considering a light car. No added motors, gadgets, etc. to add comfort and weight. Reminds me of the old Datsun 2000 2 seater. Simple yet effective. Great article

  2. I had one, Silver with the rims painted red (by the previous joke, a "little old man" lol. Man I still, to this day, have people I haven't seen in 20 yrs ask me if I still had that was that much a legend in my circles.
    My mods were an Intercooler and Jacobs ignition and other minor mods, but it was enough to push her into the 12's.
    I'd kill to have her back... best car ever.

  3. I owned one as well!! Bought it in Cuero,Tx. It actually had the "Don't step on the gas unless you really mean it" sticker on the back window> It had a Turbo Colt sticker on the windshiels as well. Miss that car to this day! It was white with black Turbo stripes. Used to wax Camaros and Mustangs on a daily basis!!