The Dodge Stealth offers tech galore for a bargain price
Come with us back to the halcyon days of the early 1990s, when Chrysler and Mitsubishi were full speed ahead in their Diamond-Star Motors alliance. The partnership had already given us captive imports like the economical Colt and the rear-wheel-drive Starion/Conquest sports car before joint production of the Mitsubishi Eclipse/Plymouth Laser/Eagle Talon trio of compact sporty cars began. If there was a poster child for the collaboration, however, it was Mitsubishi’s tech-laden 3000GT and its Dodge Stealth twin.
[This article originally ran in Hagerty magazine, the exclusive publication of the Hagerty Drivers Club. For the full, in-the-flesh experience of our world-class magazine—as well other great benefits like roadside assistance and automotive discounts—join HDC today.]
The two-plus-two sports cars were built in Japan and differed only in B- and C-pillar treatments, headlights, and badging. The Stealth was offered in four trims, all with a version of the engine that powered Chrysler minivans and New Yorkers. The base model was roughly $18,000 and had a naturally aspirated, single-overhead-cam V-6 with 164 horsepower and front-wheel drive. ES and R/T models, also front-drivers, added another cam and upped output to 222 horsepower. The R/T Turbo was something else entirely, a fiendishly complex exercise in excess. Beyond its twin-turbocharged, intercooled V-6 making 300 horsepower and 307 pound-feet of torque—enough to propel the car to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds on its way to a 155-mph top speed—it came equipped with every awe-inspiring gizmo of the day: four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, active aerodynamics, electronically adjustable suspension, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, and tunable exhaust. Save for ABS, these are all cutting-edge options today, let alone nearly 30 years ago.
The $29,595 Stealth R/T Turbo was as sophisticated as the Dodge Viper (created at the same time) was crude. Like the Viper, the Stealth was a match for nearly everything else on the road. Dodge was rightly proud of the Stealth, which is why the manufacturer selected it to pace the 1991 Indy 500. Outcry over its Japanese origins, however, scuppered that plan, and a pre-production Viper replaced it.
For the first few years of production, Stealths featured pop-up headlights as well as grafted-on plastic “blister covers,” an inelegant solution to ensure that the hood would clear the strut towers. For 1994, a redesigned hood solved the issue. There were upgrades beneath that hood, too, with output in the R/T Turbo climbing to 320 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque and the five-speed manual transmission gaining an extra forward gear. The Stealth soldiered on for another two years, and then, like so many of its Japanese contemporaries, it was gone.
The Dodge Stealth was a real head turner in period. Today the same may be said, but only because you rarely see one. Which is a shame. The Stealth has aged well, and performance is still on par with that of many new cars. The best examples of the lower trims are available for less than $10,000, and even clean R/T Turbos in #2 condition are out there for $15,000. A pittance, really, for one of the fastest and most underrated examples of ’90s radness. Put on your aviators and your bomber jacket, pop the headlights, and say in your deepest voice: “Stealth.”
1991 DODGE STEALTH R/T TURBO
Engine V-6, 2972 cc, twin-turbo, EFI
Power 300 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 307 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
Weight 3800 lb
Power-to-weight 12.7 lb/hp
0–60 mph 5.2 sec
Price when new $29,595
Hagerty #2 value $12,300–$16,000
HE OWNS TWO
Ken Fincher, Purcellville, VA
“I currently own two Stealth R/T Turbos, and I also had a couple Stealths back when they were new. I was attracted to the design—the car was wide and long and lean, like a futuristic Charger. The all-wheel-drive system was so well balanced, and I loved how stable the Stealth was at high speed. I got one of them up to the 155-mph limit, and it felt like I was going 75 or 80. To me, only the all-wheel-drive R/T Turbo is fun, unless you like torque steer. I do have a problem with both of my Stealths now, however, and it’s the one issue that plagues these cars: The ECUs crap out. Moisture can get in them and they swell, and that’s it. Even replacements off the shelf can be bad, although they fixed the issue in the last Mitsubishi 3000GTs, so sourcing an ECU from one of those cars seems to be the cure. They’re just not easy to find.”