By on June 20, 2012

One of the worst things about the Malaise Era (other than the ascendance of Captain and Tennile) was the lack of cars with convertible tops during the period. The last convertible Cadillac Eldorado rolled off the assembly line in 1976, but the decline of the convertible had started a few years earlier. The top-down drought held until the last of the Malaise years, when machines such as Rabbit Cabriolets and LeBaron convertibles became available. Chrysler kept making the K-based LeBaron convertible until 1995, but you don’t see many of them these days. Here’s a pair of early-90s examples I found side-by-side in a Denver wrecking yard.
For 1991, the LeBaron was nominally built on the Chrysler J platform, but it was really the good old K at heart. By 1993, a restyle made the car look less like something that had stepped out of 1981.
If I’m ever shopping for a cheap convertible with good parts availability, I know what I’ll get!

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33 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1991 and 1993 Chrysler LeBaron Convertibles...”


  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    Not enough time has passed since these were on the road…I still remember them as the car that would get you street cred amongst the walmart set. Too much K car flashback for me…barf

    • 0 avatar
      Oren Weizman

      The front of that gutted ’93 looks exactly like the Will I.AM auto concept

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      I would like a K-car flashback please, in convertable and Town and Country. Metallic pea in color with a huge steamer trunk, and very badly burned. Ranks up there with the Wagon Queen family truckster, 60′ Ferrari Califonia, and 74′ Dodge Monaco as one of the cars I would like to drive around Chicago in. No joke. It’s a bucket list item.

      This version, however, I care nothing about. Best thing it did was appear in the film K-9. James Belushi rents one with a perp’s gold card and immediately uses it as a battering ram.

      The convertable tops must always be up to prevent your oil smoke from coming into the cabin.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Were it not for Veronica Mars, this car would have be completely uncool by now.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      I don’t remember a LeBaron in Veronica Mars (quit watching in its second season), but Cake’s 2001 song “Short Skirt Long Jacket” will probably keep “white Chrysler LeBaron” in the lexicon far longer than a has-been cable show. I remember when that song was new LeBarons were getting quite thin on the ground already at least around the central east coast.

      • 0 avatar
        stuntmonkey

        Maybe it was a season one only thing. They used it to highlight the fact that she didn’t fit in with Neptune High’s economically elite crowd.

      • 0 avatar

        Yep, she drove a green LeBaron covertible (93-95 vintage in seasons one and two). That was replaced by a Saturn Vue Hybrid (“A Saturn for a Mars…”) in season three; her dad at that point drove a Montego (Mars…Mercury…somebody had fun with that one.)

  • avatar
    Syke

    Have you ever noticed that Chrysler convertibles are invariably driven by mid-40′s, 25 pounds overweight (if we’re lucky), women with cheap blonde dye jobs? It started with the LeBaron back in the 80′s and continues with the Sebring’s today. Biggest difference is that the drivers look a lot more natural in the Sebring.

  • avatar
    NotFast

    Wasn’t the Dodge 400 the first convertibles produced at the end of the Malaise Era? My friend’s mom drove one of the back in the 80′s.
    http://www.allpar.com/model/superk.html

  • avatar
    ajla

    I see two LeBarons Gord.

  • avatar
    jco

    no mention of the pure garbage badge-engineered ‘Maserati’?

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      The “TC by Maserati” was not a badge-job. It was the original design whose colossal project management screwups delayed its introduction until after the introduction of the copy – the redesigned LeBaron. Probably had something to do with the lovely Italian work ethic.

      Even according to Allpar very few parts interchanged between the TC and the LeBaron. Just google “allpar maserati tc” and there’s the full writeup.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      The TC was built on the same platform, but was a totally different car, not a rebadge job. The TC was supposed to be the halo vehicle for Chrysler and debut first, allowing the LeBaron to be marketed as an affordable car with Maserati looks when it eventually went on sale.

      The production delays completely screwed up the order, and the TC wound up looking like an overpriced LeBaron when it did finally go on sale.

      • 0 avatar
        jco

        this is something I didn’t know! I never realized that the TC came before that generation Lebaron, I always just assumed it was an automaker slapping an expensive name and some new trim on an existing car. i wonder where I ever got that idea..

  • avatar
    loj

    I’ve always found these to be very pretty cars. The way the hood, fenders, bumper, and nose flowed together to give the appearance of one piece was very nicely done. It was striking at the time, when the front ends of so many American cars were poorly integrated into the design, so obviously friendly to badge engineering and frequent, easy restyles. And the convertible masked the fact that Chrysler still couldn’t do flush side glass in the early ’90′s.

    Of course when they did redesign the front of the car it destroyed the design. The 1993 car on the right would have had the post-restyle composite headlights, which were heinous.

    • 0 avatar
      jastereo

      Completely agree. Wow those headlights in the re-design were horrible – even nicer when they yellowed after about 2 years. The body design was great though. Nice coke bottle shape with the sculpted part under the doors without being too overworked. Simple but one that aged well and looked fabulous at the time – even more-so in the convertible.

  • avatar
    jastereo

    These early 90′s Lebaron convertibles will always have a place in my heart. My mom got one sometime in my sophomore year of high school so therefore it became my ride for numerous Homecomings, Proms, dates etc. usually in exchange for me washing it.
    The drive wasn’t bad, nothing to write home about but I remember it being about 10 times as smooth and powerful as my ’84 CRX was. It was easy to find yourself at 85mph without even realizing it.
    Had some great times in that car and the girlfriend at the time sure liked it more than the Honda!
    Seem to remember it having lots of little electrical & body issues after a few years. I think they got rid of it before it started having the engine/oil burning issues that seemed to plague the V6 Chrysler was making & putting in just about everything at the time.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    She wants a car with a cupholder armrest
    She wants a car that will get her there
    She’s changing her name, from Kitty to Karen
    She’s trading her MG for a white Chrysler LeBaron.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    @ Syke, LMAO; but you forget multi-divorced too

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I had a ’86 K-body Lebaron convertible at one time. It was a well made car with very good attention to details. Unlike other domestic cars of that era- the interior was actually well made and very well color-coordinated (mine had an all-red faux leather interior). It was comfortable and floaty like a little Cadillac.

    I had a 87 or 88 Rabbit convertible also- the car was alright- but the reliability was pretty lousy. I would definitely go for the Chrysler between the two.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    I soooo tried talking my dad into getting one. The Adventurer had given up the ghost and our Olds diesel had caused him to curse all things GM, so it was back to Chrysler/Dodge. Searching for a family car he locked onto an Aries station wagon. I desperately wanted something cooler. Which was about everything else in the dealership. Unfortunately he simply refused to see the world through the eyes of a high-school student.

  • avatar
    Gannet

    I always thought those were neat. Very pretty and well-styled.

    Cooler than any of the “Coolest $18k Cars” if you ask me, and $18k would undoubtedly buy you the best one in the world, with money left over.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    I actually think they were good looking cars, especially the coupe version they made. I’ve always like more “angular” design in cars as opposed to curves.

    But it was definitely a situation though where the “image” of a
    Le Baron driver was just too much to shake. I remember even when they were still relatively new, it was something older, white trash women seemed to gravitate towards, usually with an ash tray full of cigarette butts.

    • 0 avatar

      Just curious since I have no memory of LeBaron – what convertible the rest of population besides white trash females (I guess it means all European origin school dropouts) would drive? E.g. what college graduates, Blacks, Latinos, Arabs or Jews were driving at the time? I would not take Mercedes SL, CLK as an answer.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Beautiful, beautiful cars. We owned a 1992 model. See my comment over on Curbside Classic.

  • avatar
    LeBaron

    I’ve had a 1995 as a daily driver since 1997. I can’t say that the 81,000 miles on it have been trouble free, but it’s been worth the hassles. I like the styling ( especially compared to current trends), fun to drive, reasonably quick and has never left me stranded. I just wish the paint (white) had stayed on it but I’ve gotten used to the gray hood.

    Paul

  • avatar
    stanthony2

    I liked the Daytona / Laser twins better

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    In the late 80′s early 90′s these were nice looking cars and they still hold up today. I still see a few around on the road. You could see the influence of Ford’s Aero look especially T-Bird and Cougar though those are better cars. I once owned an 87 T-Bird. Heck I would take a decent LeBaron turbo over a late model Sebring.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    We’ve had a ’92 LX convertible since 1996. As someone else has already said, not the most trouble-free ride, especially when it hit the 7 year old mark, but good since then. The 1987-92 cars are among the best looking cars in that era, IMO—the ’93-95 front end redesign is not very attractive to my eyes but to each his own. At 136K miles, it still runs and handles great and I’m not afraid to drive it anywhere. We also own a 1990 TC, also a rather good car. None of the sheet metal interchanges between the 2 cars, despite the similar appearance. Almost all of the mechanical bits, other than the ABS brake system, are shared.


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