• Aug 27, 2006

Chrysler's "A Platform" hasn't ever received a whole lot of respect from gearheads, but aside from serving as a useful bridge between the K-car and the cab-forward LH, it also spawned the Dodge Spirit R/T. Acceleration came courtesy of the ubiquitous 2.2 L inline four, but topped with a DOHC 16-valve head, and turbocharged and intercooled for good measure. 224 hp was the result, which matched most domestic V8s of the day.

Positioned in the marketplace against other early-90s four-door rocketships such as the Ford Taurus SHO, Chevrolet Lumina Z34, and Nissan Maxima, it was capable of blasting to 60 MPH from a standing start in less than six seconds. Chrysler called it the "fastest sedan built in America", and even today it'd hold its own against any number of other performance sedans in straight line acceleration.

Less than 1,500 of the R/T models were built in '91 and '92, and so the odds of coming across one are slim. The son of Mopar Action's Rich Ehrenberg managed to score one for $1000, though, and threw another $300 at it to run flat 13s at 103 MPH. Oh, yea, and the head gasket wasn't fixed, either. The details here are sketchy - it appears as if we'll have to wait for an upcoming issue of Mopar Action to learn more - but being that the Spirit R/T is a turbocharged car, we're guessing that turning up the wick was a simple matter of wastegate manipulation to increase the boost, and then it became an issue of finding some tires to hook up that power.

[Source: Mopar Action]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is in response to post #7. Other than the '91 and '92 Spirit R/T, the '92 and '93 Daytona IROC R/T also had this engine as well. They were pretty quick cars, but reliability wasn't quite there. I could have bought a used IROC R/T 10 years ago, but passed. The car was quick, but you could tell Chrysler Corporation (hint, hint, NOT DCX) was ready to phase both cars out and spend as little money on them as possible.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The dodge 2.2 is about the only 4 cylinder of that generation that is easily pumped to that type of power, thanks to Chrysler's heavy pushing of the 2.2 turbo platform. Even the grandma turbos (like in lebaron, for example) could be easily cranked up to massive numbers. The 1987 Shelby GLHS was the best, IMHO, even though it didn't have the 16v head or put out as much power as the Spirit R/T. It did come intercooled, and in a sportier package.

      The biggest problem (as alluded to in the blurb) is that the head gaskets on these things needed changed as often as the oil. They just couldn't handle the hammering. Chrysler would have been wise to O-Ring the heads from the factory, but apparently that level of technology isn't known to OEMs.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This car has always been a talking point for domestic enthusiasts defending the Big 3's ability to make a good 4 cylinder engine with a good hp/liter ratio. While this engine is a good example, the numbers speak for themselves. Only 1500 were made. While the hp/liter ratio is a healthy 101.81/1, it takes them a turbo to pull it off. Honda has had a naturally aspirated 100 hp/liter engine in production in some form or another (B series or K series) since 1989 or before, so there are literally hundreds of thousands of them on US soil. Even if you factor in the various different cars that DCX put that 2.2L turbo in, it's nowhere close to Honda's volume.

      Don't get me wrong, I think these cars are really cool, and I would love to embarrass a V8 owner in one of these, but they just aren't the shining star of 4 cylinder US performance that many domestic people make it out to be. Although on a list of all time best sleepers, this car would be near the top. Any company can build a fast cool car when they have production numbers that low. How many can do it hundreds of thousands of times?
      • 8 Years Ago
      From the 2.2 turbo page on Allpar.com:

      +++++++++++++++++++

      Turbo III - Quite rare, and was used only on the Spirit R/T and Daytona R/T from 1991 to 1992 (except in Mexico). Generating 224 hp from 2.2 liters, this engine was a thrill to drive, but finding parts is difficult. The heads were designed by Lotus, and frequent timing belt replacement is a problem unless replacement instructions are followed to the letter. The Turbo III was a DOHC engine with distributorless ignition and four valves per cylinder. If you buy one of these, try to have another car to drive in case of emergencies.

      One Chrysler engineer wrote: "Incredible engine, not many left around here, but lots still in Mexico. Heads cracked in the 1991 version because some dummy decided to use cast iron plugs in the water jacket holes instead of aluminum. Ya send these kids to college, and they still don't know that metals don't all expand at the same rate and something's gotta give.....but then again, Lotus designed the head, and my favorite oxymoron is 'British Engineering' (you ever worked on a British Leyland product?)."

      Michael Royce, of Lotus Engineering, wrote that development of the Turbo III (designated the A-522) started with a contract signed on March 1, 1985, by Bob Sinclair (Chrysler VP of Engineering) and Mike Kimberley (Managing Director of Lotus Cars Ltd). Royce was the program manager on all three of Chrysler’s programs with Lotus Engineering (the other two are described later.) He noted that the problem with timing belts was that:

      The timing belt tension had to be set so high to overcome "tow roping" of the timing belt, i.e. the
      timing belt going into negative tension. Tow roping is a belt killer. We found that this problem was caused by the extremely low valvetrain friction from using roller rockers combined with the DOHC set up. As soon as an exhaust valve rocker goes over the nose of the camshaft, there is no friction to slow it down and it tries to close the valve even faster, causing the exhaust cam sprocket to rotate clockwise faster and decrease the tension in the belt span between the sprockets. With a bucket tappet, which is used on most DOHC 4 cylinders, there is friction. On the 8 valve SOHC engine, there is an intake lobe on the same camshaft coming up to help out! So we had to crank up the initial belt tension to solve the problem.

      An automatic belt tensioner would probably have helped. However, belt life is probably improved if people watch their belt tension and keep it within spec.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Oh, and Honda does it with 1.6L, 1.8L or 2.0L depending on your favorite flavor. Volumetric efficiency.. what a concept.
      • 8 Years Ago
      During college, I worked as a porter at a car auction. I drove one of these on the "test track" they had. I was amazed by how fast it was! A real sleeper. I'd love to be 19 again and "hunt" for some 5.0 mustangs in this car. I can count on one hand how many I've ever seen on the street.
      • 8 Years Ago
      what other cars had this engine in it?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Racetrackowner,

      That is not correct. None of the Daytona ESs had the 2.2 DOHC Turbo III engine. The ES either had a 2.5, 2.5 Turbo, or the Mitsubishi made 3.0 V-6. The ES was the middle trim level between the base model and the Shelby/IROC. The IROC R/T (not Daytona R/T as the Allpar posting mentions) was an all new trim level in 1992 after the '91 Spirit R/T debuted this engine in 1991.

      What year GLH? Is it a GLH-S? Omni or Charger based? Those cars had the 2.2 Turbo I (146 hp) for the Omni GLH or the 2.2 Turbo II Intercooled (175 hp) for the Shelby GLH-S (both Omni and Charger models).

      Please excuse any errors that I might have presented. It has been a long, long time since I saw the factory order manuals for these cars. Our dealership didn't sell any of the Shelby or R/T models, but I seem to recall seeing this information when I used to follow MoPar and belonged to the Shelby Dodge Automobile Club back in the day.

      • 8 Years Ago
      It would sometimes help if instead of blatantly ripping off material from allpar, even with a line of credit, people would provide the URL so readers can see the full article and we can benefit from our hard work in compiling all this information. Yes, I'm referring to comment 13, which simply takes three paragraphs off allpar.com and reprints it here.

      The full 2.2 turbo story is at http://www.allpar.com/mopar/22t.html and we have a big page on the Spirit R/T itself - a car which I personally owned, and which did 0-60 in 5.8 seconds back in 1991 (not bad for a five passenger, four door American mid-sized sedan with a four-cylinder engine!) - http://www.allpar.com/model/spiritrt.html is the full description for that one.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Some of you have mentioned wheel spin with the Turbo III engine. The solution to that is to install a Quaife ATB that will drive both front wheels 50/50 at launch. And if you are going to mod the CPU and go 3" exhaust, then a Quaife is essential to have a road hugging tiger. See http://www.autotech.com/quaife/differentials/diffs.htm
      • 8 Years Ago
      My father bought one of these new back in the day. He unfortunately sold it right before I was able to drive. It was an excellent, inexpensive performance sedan. It was comfy and it hauled balls. He claims he never found anything similar (performance & 'luxury' for the price) until he got a Saab 9-3. He had the white one, and it had these awful looking white rims...
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hey Risingsun, why the hell do Japanese car fans talk about specific output as if it was the be-all and end-all of engine design? Let's take the shining example of Honda specific output, the S2000's 2.2L 237hp I-4. Now, that car gets 26 MPG on the Highway. Would it be fair to say that say, the 505 hp V8 in the Z06 is more efficient because it uses the same amount of fuel but makes twice the power? Now, granted, I am only looking at the highway number, but even if you look at the City numbers (16 vs 20), the corvette uses 25% more fuel in town to make 100% more power (and roughly 200% more torque). Now, I could make the argument that the true test of efficency of an engine is the amount of power (output) it gets from each unit of gasoline (input). So the LS7 is much more efficient than your precious little S2000 little-engine-that-could.

      Now, this is not to say that the S2000 doesn't have a great engine. I mean, there is something to be said for winding a car up to 8000 RPMs. But just because your Japanese engines make more power per liter, it doesn't necessarily make them better engines.
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