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HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T, a rarely seen performance...

Pick of the Day: 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T, a rarely seen performance sedan

A turbocharged engine, 5-speed manual and other tweaks transformed the simple family car

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Thirty years ago, Dodge showcased its track-focused direction by installing performance equipment onto a car that most people would not have considered in any way to be a sports car. 

The Pick of the Day is a 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a private seller in Knoxville, Tennessee, who named the car Dorothy.

 “When we bought Dorothy, we were looking for a used four-door with a 5-speed, the seller says.  “Little did we know that she was a unicorn.”  

dodge

The seller goes on to describe the important distinctions between this Dodge Spirit and its more-plebian siblings.  “I have never seen another and have only met one or two folks that have.”

Introduced for the 1989 model year, the midsize Dodge Spirit four-door sedan shared basic design with its counterparts on the Chrysler AA platform – namely, the Chrysler LeBaron and the Plymouth Acclaim.  The chassis was derived from the ubiquitous K-cars of the 1980s, but this one had special sauce.

Engineers at Dodge were eager to elevate the power and performance of the brand during that era, as seen in such other models as the Viper R/T10 and the Stealth R/T sportscars.  That R/T nomenclature, by the way, stood for Road & Track – a designation that became synonymous with cars that were as capable in a performance driving situation as they were in a day-to-day commute.

dodge

With that in mind, the Spirit R/T, offered only in 1991 and 1992, went from a plain-Jane sedan to a car that could clock zero to 60 in fewer than six seconds and was crowned Motor Trend’s Domestic Sport Sedan of the Year.  The Dodge Spirit R/T beat out such venerable performance-tweaked cars as the Chevrolet Lumina Z34 and the Ford Taurus SHO.  

The secret to the Spirit’s success came under the hood, where Dodge outfitted the R/T models with a turbocharged 2.2-liter DOHC inline-four that was developed in collaboration with Lotus.  Output was impressive for its time, rated at 224 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque. 

dodge, Pick of the Day: 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T, a rarely seen performance sedan, ClassicCars.com Journal

Putting that torque to the front wheels was a Getrag-supplied 5-speed manual, and braking came via four-wheel discs.  During its time, an equipment list like this was normally reserved for sports cars. 

Only about 1,400 Spirit R/Ts were produced across the Dodge’s two model years, and Dorothy is perhaps one of the best-preserved on the market.  “Everything on the car works,” the listing states. 

dodge, Pick of the Day: 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T, a rarely seen performance sedan, ClassicCars.com Journal

Maintenance over the seller’s ownership of the Dodge has been extensive, the listing adds, with service items including work to the transmission, air-conditioning system, cooling system, drive shafts, timing belt and audio. 

 “Our desire for Dorothy is to find a home that will appreciate what she is and enjoy her,” the seller concludes, revealing a special fondness for the bright red sedan.

The seller is asking $9,000 for this special Dodge Spirit.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Hagerty
Tyson Hugie
Tyson Hugie
Tyson Hugie grew up in a family of gearheads and enjoys anything to do with automotive and motorsports. He is a contributing editor to Redline Reviews, a YouTube channel with coverage from major auto shows. He also writes for Arizona Driver Magazine and holds leadership positions with a number of car clubs. Tyson has lived in Arizona for 10 years and his current obsession is Japanese cars from the early 1990s which, though hard to believe, are now becoming classics. Tyson can usually be found exploring offbeat and obscure road trip destinations on his blog "Drive to Five," which started as a way to share travel stories and experiences with his now-550,000-mile Acura.

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