1984 California Shelby Rampage

On the Shelby Dodge Mailing List people frequently ask if there was ever a Shelby Rampage. This is a very common question and it has an answer that is both simple and complex. The honest truth is no--at least not in the same scope as the Shelby Charger and the Omni GLH. Carroll never produced and sold any sort of modified Rampage, and the factory didn't pattern one after the Shelby Charger as they had done with the Omni GLH (which are both built on the L-body platform like the Rampage).

The complex part appears, however, because the very end of the Rampage model run did feature a special package that few people know about. This package was referred to as the California Shelby Rampage (which makes some sense as all were sold new in that state only). Others have nicknamed them Direct Connection Rampages and this, too, is a logical moniker due to the "Direct Connection" decal applied to the windshield of these cars.

What did the package include? Here is a rundown of the hardware which is known to have been included; this list may not be complete, however.

That is basically it. No go-fast engine, no suspension/interior mods; this was little more than an appearance package. According to the build sheets, 218 of these speciality one-offs were created; they were said to be the last 218 Rampages built. Note that *all* of these 218 Rampages were base-model vehicles; ie- the Rampage 2.2 did not feature this package on top of already being a Rampage 2.2.

Again, and I cannot stress this point strongly enough, these cars were NOT Shelby Rampages in the same sense of the Shelby Charger. I refuse to call them Shelby Rampages because to do so would be a gross error in my view--it would seemingly imply that they had all the Shelby Charger's modifications (brakes, struts, shocks, sway bars, performance engine, seats, paint/decals, and much much more) which they did not.

For the curious, here is a California Shelby Rampage picture. This was taken at the dealership where the vehicle was sold new. Alongside that picture is some descriptive text from the Shelby Times magazine which was produced at the time; this text relates all the info they knew about the package even while it was happening. Talk about little-known car options!

Some other thoughts about the California Shelby Rampages:

While all of the option codes printed in the above list would be found on the car's build sheet, some of them will also be stamped into the car's fendertag. In other words, a quick inspection ought to easily prove a genuine California Shelby Rampage from an impostor. Is the fendertag missing? Check the sticker on the driver's door sill.

A few of the package items were standard equipment on the Rampage 2.2 (the sideskirts and armrest, for example); a few items were available on the Rampage 2.2 but were not standard (performance exhaust and cruise control); and a couple things were not available on any other Rampage (15" aluminum wheels, the front airdam, and special gearing).

The California Shelby package was the only way to get a base-model Rampage with both cruise control and a 5-speed; all other base Rampages with cruise had either the 4-speed or an automatic. A Rampage 2.2, however, could have cruise with either a 5-speed or an auto.

Color is an interesting point. The above picture shows that the cars were given monochrome paint treatments; there was no dorsal paint stripe as seen on the Shelby Charger. The factory build sheets do not conclusively show which colors were available on the California Shelby Rampages; this is because all the base model Rampages are lumped together. It is believed (and it would make sense) that the three '84 Shelby Charger colors (Garnet Red, Silver, Santa Fe Blue) were used; perhaps any of the regular monochrome colors were also available (except for Glacier Blue and Nightwatch Blue--no '84 Rampage received these colors).

ALL 1984 Rampages were powered by the standard 94 HP 2.2L engine. The Shelby Charger's high-output motor was never installed in any production Rampage by the factory. It is somewhat popular, however, for Dodge enthusiasts to buy a Rampage and build it into a clone of a Dodge Shelby Charger (or even a GLHS). While such a project represents a major undertaking and it certainly looks cool once completed, understand that this was not done by the factory.

"But what about that article I read in the March '98 issue of High Performance Mopar?" While well intentioned, that article (sadly) spread even more incorrect information than was already believed before it went to press. One example: all 1984 Rampages received the standard 2.2 engine; none got the H.O. Shelby version as HPM states. Perhaps the gravest error made in that article, though, is their statement that the original owner really did take his Rampage to Shelby's plant and have it converted to GLHS specs. Quite simply, this did NOT happen as stated in that article. The signed dash plaque you see in that Rampage (which is labeled "Charger GLHS #0057") was originally installed in 1987 Shelby GLHS #0057. That GLHS, which had VIN 1B3BZ64E9HD592608, was originally shipped from Shelby's plant to Celebrity Dodge in San Jose, California on Jan 8, 1987. It then met an untimely demise and wound up in a California scrap yard; obviously the Rampage owner stripped the GLHS clean and bolted all the pieces to his Rampage. Voila! Mystery solved and lie exposed.

Modified 12/13/99.