Despite the seller’s claim to the contrary, you don’t need to know who Lee Iacocca was to appreciate today’s Nice Price or No Dice Chrysler LeBaron. Let’s see if this blast from Mopar’s past is worth knowing at all.
All automotive marques have their fans. Some are more universally praised than others, but there’s not a single one that’s totally bereft of admirers. Sometimes, however, those faithful and the faithless collide. That can result in some spectacular friction.
That was just the case yesterday as we looked at a heavily modified 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe that was the obvious recipient of some serious love and money. Few of you shared the builder/seller’s affection for either Cadillac as a whole or that car in particular and hence found little favor in its $45,000 asking price. The Caddy’s current owner claimed to be “in no rush to sell” which many of you averred was a perspicuous position considering the car’s 85 percent No Dice loss.
Speaking of being in no rush, what are your thoughts on driving a car that by today’s standards would be considered very slow? Would you shun such a proposition entirely? Or, would mitigating factors like historical significance or a somewhat quirky personality overcome that negative?
While you’re ruminating over that question for the ages, have a gander at this 1985 Chrysler LeBaron convertible. With its 142-horsepower 2.2-liter turbo four and dog-simple three-speed automatic, it is a fairly slow car. Soft springs and a simple workaday suspension make the car less than engaging through the corners, too.
That, however, is damning the car with what’s not even faint praise. There’s a lot to like here. First off, there’s the historical significance. This LeBaron is based on Chrysler’s K-car platform. It is, in fact, little more than a gussied-up Dodge Aries wearing a New Yorker nose. In the early 1980s, that K-car saved Chrysler from the ignominious twin fates of bankruptcy and possible closure. Following that, it served to underpin nearly 80 percent of the company’s automotive offerings for the next decade and a half. People bought them in droves. That, right there, is a pretty solid bit of history.
Then consider the convertible top. Sure, you can buy convertibles today but back when this model was released the body style was considered all but dead in the U.S. market. The K-car convertible was one of the first to bring it back, preceding the return of the Ford Mustang droptop by a full year.
OK, so this is a fancified K-car and you can enjoy the sun and a little bit of wind in your hair while driving it. The question then is whether this particular one is worth grabbing. Let’s take a look.
The ad claims 100,000 miles on this LeBaron’s clock, and the bodywork seems to show that in some unevenly faded paint and the wavy-gravy plastic bumper caps. Wire wheel covers and whitewall tires are a throwback to an ’80s mindset of what luxury should look like. It’s kitschy, but with the Glacier Blue Metallic paint and white convertible top, it actually still looks a little elegant. I mean, squint at it.
That top is said to “work great” though it’s “a little tight,” whatever that means. The body is rust-free, and it appears to have all its trim and badging intact. The interior is white (leather? vinyl?) over a gray secondary hue. This has all the trappings of ’80s luxury, save for a working a/c system. That could be a deal-killer for people living in places like Arizona, but shouldn’t prove too much of an issue as we move into fall. Let’s hope it has the voice command warning system. Who doesn’t love talking cars?
The mechanicals are said to be in “great shape” and considering the ubiquity of the 2.2 under the hood, finding parts for maintenance and repairs shouldn’t prove to be too great a hurdle.
A clean title rounds out the car’s attractions and leads us to its asking price. This is obviously a classic car. Its age and historical significance certainly ensure that. It’s also what we might describe as a budget classic. That owes to the fact that these cars never commanded significant bank when new, and today, despite there not being many left, don’t seem to be on the aggressive side of the supply/demand curve. The result is the seller asking a modest $2,750 for the car. That’s not exactly pocket change, but for a working car (except for that a/c) that might just be a deal.
That’s just what we’re here to find out. What’s your take on this LeBaron and that $2,750 asking? Does that make you feel the Mopar magic? Or does that price have you giving this K-car a clear pass?
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