Welcome to the latest installment in our ongoing “Will She Dig It?” series, where we take a look at cars and trends from the past that were, for better or worse, perceived to be chick magnets. This month, we turn our snickering side-eye toward the Dodge Stealth.
Although it can be sometimes lost in the nostalgic haze of early-90s whimsy, there was a time where being “Stealth” carried some weight. We had aircraft shaped like razorblades; they were stealth. Submarines that looked like sharks? They were stealth, too. There were even Stealth Bomber-themed fruit snacks, which I devoured even though the idea of a black fruit snack is fucking disgusting. Simply put, the ubiquitousness of “Stealth”–by definition, something trying to go undetected–was pretty much anything but.
In the meantime, “Stealth” hasn’t endured. Frat guys contributing foreign elements to a girl’s drink? That’s stealth. The criminally shitty movie where Jessica Biel takes a waterfall bath and inexplicably doesn’t go full-nude? That’s Stealth. “Stealth,” as a cultural signifier, is best left to the 90s.
As it would seem, so too was the Dodge Stealth. When Dodge went through its early-90s renaissance–most evident in the Ram truck and the phallic Viper–the Stealth was a more accessible and affordable option. It was essentially a rebadged Mitsubishi 3000GT, and it was fast. In the mostly comical mid-90s boom of two-door coupes, the Stealth was the most Matchbox of all of them, something of a working-man’s Viper, which was itself the working-man’s Corvette. Factor in the cheesy-in-hindsight side vents, available all-wheel drive and jet-inspired cockpit, and the result is something of a Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn in automobile form.
All this is to say, the Dodge Stealth is somehow awesome. It’s so over-the-top that it manages to be somewhat quaint today. Even its awkward mid-trunk spoiler–which, no lie, they labeled the fucking “combat wing”–is charmingly ballsy in an old-guy-with-a-fauxhawk sort of way. Everything about the car screams, “You’re goddamn right I’m listening to ‘Bawitdaba,” and strange as it seems, the Stealth’s outsized ego is endearing.
Of course, the Stealth’s swollen eroticism couldn’t last. By 1996, the American sports car market had dried up, and the Stealth was discontinued. The writing was also on the wall for many of its chief competitors, such as the Toyota Supra and Mazda RX-7. The Stealth’s legacy is a curious one, mostly because its brief lifespan was in an era that most gearheads aren’t particularly fond of.
But will she dig it? It’s the opinion of this writer that she will, even as she claims otherwise. Ignore the irresponsible fuel economy, two-ton weight and somewhat clumsy suspension, and enjoy the Stealth for what it is: a devil-may-care excuse to indulge the part of all of us that is comically unconcerned with speeding tickets, illegitimate children or urinary tract infections. Because, at its very essence, the Dodge Stealth is about our more carnal urges, about flexing in the mirror, and about winking at its on-the-nose moniker.
And am I listening to “Bawitdaba?” You’re goddamn right I am.
Join us next month for “Will She Dig It?” We’ll be looking at the confounding trend of accent decals on cars and trucks, particularly as it applies to the Ford Ranger Splash.