By on August 24, 2011

Way back in 2008, I created the Nice Price or Crack Pipe? series for Jalopnik, kicking things off with— of course— a $12,500 Chrysler TC By Maserati. NCOCP was a way for me to do something with car ads that didn’t quite work for my Project Car Hell series, and it has remained a Jalopnik readership favorite since I passed the NPOCP torch to the very capable hands of Graverobber aka Robert Emslie. These days, however, I sometimes see cars for sale that make me wonder… hubba rocks required or real-world price? While in Wisconsin last week, I saw this fairly solid ’91 Lebaron convertible in a laundromat parking lot with this very compelling self-service invitation. How much?
Hmmm… $3,250? The Kelley Blue Book website says a private-party-seller 108,000-mile LeBaron convertible with six-cylinder engine in good condition should be worth $1,650 in Wisconsin.
It hasn’t been driven in winter since 2001, but it appears to suffer from multiple electrical problems, oil leaks, and other stuff I can’t quite make out. I’m sure these things are quite rare in the rusty Upper Midwest, so perhaps that buyer who’s been jonesing for a clean LeBaron convertible will come along and get in there.

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39 Comments on “Adventures In Used Car Sales, Recession Edition: Get In Here!...”

  • avatar

    Definately Hubba Rocks Required.

  • avatar

    But that car is considered a “classic”!!

    [Edit, needed a second exclamation mark]

  • avatar

    When I think of all the better cars that you can grab for $3250, my head wants to explode. In detroit of similar vintage, that would get you a pristine and maintained Reatta, or a beaten non-’93 Allante. In the last few months, I’ve seen a clean running series I MR2, low-mile FX16, and 740 turbo wagon with good leather interior going for about $3250– FOR ALL THREE.

    The nail in the coffin for me is MOPAR: I see on craigslist in Kenosha of all places a beautifully-maintained 91 Spirit R/T with under 100k miles for $3500.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think I’d buy a used car from someone claiming 30/37+ MPG and 330 hp from a turbo-III.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t know about the mpg, but with the right mods 300+ hp seems reasonable.

      • 0 avatar

        Why not? It’s totally believable that a 20-year old car has a broken tripmeter.

      • 0 avatar

        Not sure about mpg, but the 330 is pretty easy and relatively reliable from the Turbo-II even, with aftermarket turbo & injectors & intercooler.

        You should look up the drag racer vehicle “Relentless”. I think they estimated from the official quarter mile times (proven on a real .25 mile track), he was getting over 800hp with a OHC (no DOHC complexity necessary).

        The 2.2L was a solid little motor. It could have been built even better (see the 2.2L history lesson online), but it was just never really necessary. It was reliable and had a nice power output stock at the time (it kept Chrysler in the 6 cylinder class).

        Chrysler threw the motor away to join the V6 craze. I wonder if they wish they hadn’t at this point, since that design could have been running direct injection at this point.

        I owned a Turbo-I Laser, 84 vintage, and it was one of the most fun to drive cars I’ve owned.

      • 0 avatar

        One other point on my reply: Chrysler got a real bad rap when they started putting in the itsibitsi 3.0L V6 into their K cars. That motor was not known for its longevity. I knew of several that burned several quarts between changes. It wasn’t until the intrepid that Chrysler had their own V6 design (worthy of a car — the Dakota V6 at the time was very lame).

    • 0 avatar

      These are a blast, and a good sleeper car. I wish it was stock though–hard to trust other’s ‘improvements.’

    • 0 avatar

      The front of the recent Dodge Avenger always reminds me of the Spirit. It’s a shame I can’t find a Spirit R/T in Vancouver.

  • avatar

    That price might fly on a buy here pay here lot, but the seller’s cell will be very lonely until he drops it to the “it has working AC so its worth $2000” standard.

  • avatar

    Only worth $3250 if it was previously owned by Jon Voight.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis



    Maybe in April, when a certain class of yahoo has their tax refund burning a hole in their pocket and the warm spring weather has their romantic natures forgetting how impractical convertibles are in general and how leaky 20-year-old convertibles can be in particular…

    But in late August, when all that tax money has been spent, and when the nights start to get cool in the upper midwest?

    No chance in hell.

    I mean, I know there’s a used car bubble goin’ on and all, but hey….

    OTOH, as ol’ P.T. is reputed to have said, “There’s one born every minute….”

  • avatar

    This happens often in Wisconsin, where no rust == double sane price. Must travel for (cheap) older cars which do not have the wheel wells rusted out.

  • avatar

    Hmmmm I’m a little spelling challenged myself… New AC coolent?.

    Not many 91’s around here either, but if the top goes down the price goes up. If it would pass a safety check, and the electrical issues are fixable it would fetch $1900 here.

  • avatar

    Hell of a lot for an old dunger like that I can get 2 tidy Commodores that age for less.

  • avatar

    Hold it! Is that deer whistles on the bumper? Thats got’ta add $10 in value.

  • avatar

    As the previous owner of 1990 model, the price is not unreasonable, but it is negotiable. So the final price may be closer to $2000 than $3000. But, if the seller is telling the truth, you have to consider that:
    it’s lightly used
    it’s garage kept
    it’s rust free (in a northern state that is important)
    a CD player on a ’91 is nice
    the AC converted (I assume to R-134a) is a definite plus
    Top boots and their storage cover are as rare as hens teeth for these cars

    That being said their are things to look out for. The top had to be in good condition. Leaks can be an issue, but I had one with close to 200,000 miles on it and it did not leak, unless the rain was accompanied by gale force winds (don’t ask me how I know). Other than the rear windows (a very well known issue) the other “electricals” (front windows, mirrors, locks, and antennae) were pretty reliable. One good thing; parts are plentiful for these both new and junkyard.

    The seller of this particular car has listed the known issues so I don’t think he’s trying to scam anyone. I could easily talk him down a grand or more using those. There is something about the odometer but I can’t read it. If the odo broke I would proceeed with caution and try to verify it’s mileage.

    There is an enthusiast market for these cars. They do have their fans (and clubs, forums, etc.). It may not be a good deal for you, but you are not everybody.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t make that window sticker out, but I think it says the odo quit working in 2001 at 100(?)K miles. Not too many miles put on after that, sure. Also, I think it says the transmission leaks fluid. Seems like a crack pipe to me, I used to rent these now and then and never was too impressed.

      • 0 avatar

        A leak in the tranny would be a big concern but it could just be a loose hose connection. That’s why any time you consider a purchase like this you go over it with a fine tooth comb and definitely have it looked at by a mechanic you can trust.

  • avatar

    @windswords….I couldn’t agree more. The right buyer may come along and offer the guy $3000.

  • avatar

    I don’t think I would ever buy a cheap convertible. That’s like putting the words “cheap” and “beach front property” in the same sentence. It never works out. Either it leaks, or you go to use it and some obscure part breaks off, and this being the classic that it is, parts are not getting any easier to find.


    My personal rule for convertibles is: never buy one over 10 years old, never keep one that’s older than 15. (true classics and the Mazda Miata excepted)

  • avatar

    A 20 year old Chrysler product… Even if it is well maintained with documentary proof, I’m not sure I’d ever stump up $3k for it. As Mr Lang keeps noting – used car prices are absolutely crazy at the moment, and this is yet more proof.

  • avatar

    In this episode of nice price or crack pipe…

  • avatar

    The Mitsu 3.0V6 and 5MT was a great combo in its day, but exceedingly uncommon. If this car has the MT, no crack pipe required. Otherwise, the owner had better cut that price in half or plan to enjoy the open sky again next summer!

    • 0 avatar

      Around here you could buy a lower mileage base model Stealth/3000GT with that same powertrain for that money. Unless you really have a thing for K-cars, pass the pipe.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    You’ve got to be joking. You can buy Sebring ‘verts for that price any day of the week.

    Terrible bodystyle, cloth interior, looks like it hasn’t even been washed! $1500 tops.

    • 0 avatar

      Those things were falling apart 12 years ago.

      Quick glance at autotrader shows any number of cars made this century, or at least in the Clinton administration, for 3500 or less. Unless you are just fixated on having a convertible (and you could still get a lot newer car for the same amount of $), this is pure crack pipe. Used car prices aren’t that high.

  • avatar

    Sounds like an incredibly bargain compared to that $35,000 80’s Tercel whose pictures were spotted here not too long ago. I guess used car prices _are_ crazy right now!

  • avatar

    I’d be really nice to see our version of NPOCP on here as a regular feature, seeing as how I no longer go to Jalop and wouldn’t pi$$ on it it was on fire.

  • avatar

    I always wanted to take a Lebaron convertible and put a Daytona front clip on it (and an IROC R/T drivetrain under the hood).

    • 0 avatar

      Well you can’t get a Daytona front clip (unless you do it yourself), but you’re in luck if you want the same engine as the IROC R/T. The Phantom, a LeBaron sold in Mexico was just such a car. Visualy it’s not different from the US LeBaron, but its got all the speed goodies of the top dog Daytona.

      From Wikipedia:
      “Phantom was the Mexican-market version of the J-Body LeBaron Coupe. There were no convertibles of the J-body 2-door for the Mexican-market. Phantoms were sold with the same options as the LeBarons in the U.S., and frequently at a higher trim level.”

      “1992–1993 R/T DOHC Limited Special-Order Limited Edition: 2.2 Turbo III DOHC 16-valve engine rated at 224 hp (167 kW) & Getrag-geared 5-speed manual transmission. Offered with 15-inch “Tear Drop” aluminium wheels for 1992 and 16-inch “Spiralcast” aluminium wheels for 1993. 205/55VR16 high performance tires for 1993 model year. The Mexican Phantom R/T was the only edition of the J-body LeBaron in the world to use this Turbo III engine and heavy-duty Getrag-geared A568 5-speed manual transmission, which was used on the U.S.-market Dodge Spirit R/T[8] and IROC R/T.[9]”

  • avatar

    Hey my town! This car is in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. I thought I recognized it; I’ve driven by this very vehicle. There’s money up here, but why would someone with money by such an old car? Hmmm…

  • avatar

    I really like the crack pipe series! I still play. Thanks for thinkin about it and I hope you are rich as a result.

    Incidentally, I’m lookin at a Volvo 850 with 150,000 miles for 1100 bucks. I’m investigating now. Anyone know anything about these cars? I chose it b/c my mechanic as really faminliar with them. I intend to take it to them before i buy it of course!

  • avatar

    $750 stereo per the note on the paper? Even if you allow for part of that being the speakers and installation, if that is remotely true I hope the car with its razor blade friendly top isn’t being left unsupervised outside the shop at night.

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