Flash Back Friday: 1991 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo

1991 Dodge Stealth RT Twin Turbo
My 1991 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo made the perfect project vehicle while working at Super Street magazine

From 1992 to 1996 I drove two turbocharged Dodge’s as my primary transportation. They were both front-wheel-drive models with four-cylinder engines, and in the fall of 1996 I graduated to a new turbo Dodge with a tad more performance — a 1991 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo. I had loved the Dodge Stealth since it first debuted. The performance specs were impressive in the early 1990s: twin turbos, 300 horsepower, all-wheel drive and an adjustable suspension. Of course the Stealth was really just a re-bodied Mitsubishi 3000GT, and I liked both cars’ performance specs and loved their proportions. Even 27 years later I still think they look great.

1991 Dodge Stealth RT Twin Turob Rear
The 1991 Stealth R/T Twin Turbo made 300 horsepower and featured all-wheel drive

I bought my 1991 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo from a used car dealer in Santa Monica. It had 58,000 miles and I paid $12,000. For a 5-year-old performance car with the Stealth’s technical specs I thought it was a pretty good deal. What I didn’t know at the time was that Stealth R/T Twin Turbo maintenance calls for a timing belt change around 55,000 miles. Mine hadn’t been done, and less than a week after buying it the belt let go and the pistons crashed into the valves, destroying the top of the engine.

1991 Dodge Stealth RT Twin Turbo Colorado
I used the Stealth for a Thanksgiving run from Los Angeles to Denver in 1996

As tragic as this could have been, in the week between buying the car and the timing belt letting go I purchased a factory Dodge warranty for the Stealth for $1,400. All that advanced technology scared the hell out of me. I wanted it covered, and thank god I didn’t dally on buying that warranty. It took the Santa Monica Dodge dealer about 2 months to get my Stealth back to me. In the process they also replaced the clutch and went through the suspension. When I got it back it felt like a new car. The bill was around $2,000 because clutch and suspension work wasn’t covered by the warranty, but the $1,400 warranty saved me an easy $4,000 in parts and labor to rebuild the Stealth R/T Twin Turbo’s engine.

1991 Dodge Stealth RT Twin Turbo Snow
On the Thanksgiving return drive the skies opened up in Utah. Thank you AWD!

Over the next 2 years I drove the Stealth nearly every day and modified it with upgrades from the HKS catalog. I was working at Super Street magazine at the time and did stories on all the upgrades. The Stealth had a boost controller, blow-off valve and a couple other things I honestly can’t remember. It was all going well until I added a nitrous kit. I only used the nitrous a few times on the street. But when I took the Stealth R/T Twin Turbo to an import race event at Famoso Dragstrip, near Bakersfield, in May of 1998 I was running the nitrous and blew a piston ring.

Once again the warranty was utilized to rebuild the engine. This time it took about 6 months to get the Stealth back, by which time I had left Super Street magazine and was working at a consumer website, not an import tuner magazine. I had a new press car to drive every day, making the Stealth an unnecessary garage space hog and insurance cost. Within a few months of getting it back from the shop I sold it to a guy from Santa Fe, New Mexico. He flew out to LAX, I picked him up and we did the deal at a bank. He called me when he got back to Santa Fe singing the car’s praises in terms of performance and head-turning style. By then it had 18-inch Enkei wheels and Toyo tires that really made it sparkle.

I still consider that era Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo (and its Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 sibling) some of the best-looking supercars cars of the 1990s. Sadly, they were too heavy (about 4,000 pounds) and my fears proved correct — the potential ownership costs as all that technology ages are pretty scary…

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