By on February 24, 2014

19 - 1985 Chrysler Laser Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Chrysler Laser was the futuristic K-car-based answer to all those science-fiction Japanese cars of the middle 1980s. We’ve seen some of the Dodge counterparts to this car in this series, including this ’92 IROC R/T, this ’90, this ’88, and this ’87 Shelby Turbo Z. Since I’ve been collecting Japanese 1980s digital dashes, I just couldn’t resist adding a Detroit 1980s digital dash to my collection, in the slipperiest of slippery slopes.
05 - 1985 Chrysler Laser Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, I’ve grabbed this Laser’s digital dash and hooked it up to power, and in the meantime I’ve grabbed a few more Detroit digital instrument clusters from junkyards.
04 - 1985 Chrysler Laser Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinCheck out the cool fader/balance joystick control. Less cool is the fact that Chrysler used this exact rig well into the 1990s.
03 - 1985 Chrysler Laser Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Laser XE came with all manner of computerized gadgetry, plus it talked! Unlike the earlier Nissan Maxima, this setup was all-digital.

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86 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1985 Chrysler Laser XE...”

  • avatar

    Man, it seems like Chrysler’s entire lineup was based off the K car platform at one point. I test-drove a laser back in the day. Not bad for the era, but a fair amount of torque steer. Oh and I sure do miss 80s era car stereo radios with a ton of tiny buttons (though Chrysler’s weren’t nearly as bad as Fords back then).

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t believe this is K-based. It rather is a derivative of the Omnirizon twins. Different platform that was developed in France by Simca, I forget what it was called.

      • 0 avatar

        That is not correct; it was based off of the K-car platform. The Dodge Charger/Plymouth Turismo was the sporty model based off the Dodge Omni.

        Yes, most of Chrysler’s lineup in the 1980s and early 1990s were based off of the K-Car and Omni L car platforms. They had the RWD R-body platform for the full size car line (Dodge St. Regis/Plymouth Grand Fury/Chrysler Newport & New Yorker) from 1979-1981; and the smaller RWD M platform for their full size offerings after that. But everything else was based off of the K-car and L-body platforms.

        • 0 avatar

          Thanks for the correction. I always thought the Dodge Daytona (L-body) and Chrysler Laser were the same car, but they were based on different platforms! They look so similar.

          EDIT: I was thinking of the Plymouth Turismo (not the Daytona) which was Horizon-based but very similar to Daytona/Laser.

  • avatar

    I was just thinking about these cars the other day– my dad brought one home as an upgrade from his ’83 Celica when I was a kid. It was really cool, but it didn’t stick around long.

    It talked, but it was basically a talking idiot light. Oil Pressure? Yes? Good. Let me know if that door opens, won’t you?

    • 0 avatar

      Wouldn’t matter anyway. The door is a jar.

    • 0 avatar

      We had an ’86 Lancer with the voice module. God we were proud of that car when it was new. I remember one day while we were giving it a thorough interior cleaning, my sister found a button that would make it cycle through all the messages. My mother heard it rattling off all these malfunctions followed by “prompt service is required.” She was convinced that my sister had ruined the car by pushing that button.

      • 0 avatar

        My first company car was an ’84 Laser XE, turbo 5-speed, with the voice package. Broke almost every company-ordained spec for executive cars, which was a source of great pride to me and great envy among my colleagues.

        I recall showing my 4-year-old niece how the car could be made to talk. She loved to sit in the car, push the button and have a conversation with it.

      • 0 avatar

        Still not as good as Kung Fu Joe’s talking Celica when he gets pulled over by the cops. (Look up the scene from the movie “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.” It’s on youtube.)

  • avatar

    Looks like its still a clean little car, it’s too bad it wound up in the Junkyard. I have a real soft spot for the 2.2 Turbos and this one looks like it was a well optioned little car.

    I’d also be interested in seeing photos of the white convertable that shows up in the last photo. I’m guessing its about an ’84 LeBaron.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m thinking it’s a Dodge 600.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, that’s a rather clean example of the breed. It seems to me they held up well, even in the salty climes.

      I knew a bunch of folks who had Turbo Mopars back in the day, but I only knew a few who had Lasers or Daytonas. I never really got to spend a lot of seat time in them, but adored their looks.

      I’d find room in my fantasy garage for one of these.

      • 0 avatar

        At the time, I liked the more upright look of Shadow more than I liked the Daytona/Lasers but the look has really grown on me over the years, especially the later models with the pop-up headlights. My all time favorite in this vein is the Shelby Charger.

        People who describe the torque steer are right on. They’d spin the front wheels pretty easily and you could get out of shape really fast. Depending upon how you adjusted your timing you could dial-in how they put the power down. For a while I had mine fiddled around so there was almost no torque but when you were up in the revs and the turbo came on it was like an afterburner kicking in. I didn’t leave it that way long, I liked the power to come on earlier.

        The horespower numbers are not incredible – just shy of 150 but they were light and fast.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes, they were pretty light and zippy. Really can’t say that anything is like that now. Amazing what we were doing with 150 HP…

          Looking at these pix again, this was one loaded car. This must have been a $15,000 car back in the day. Those seats looked familiar to me, they’re the same ones I had in my Turbo Lancer. Incredibly supportive and comfortable, they were a Japanese style of Recaro. Not a copy, as the leg bolsters didn’t move, but everything else was great.

          • 0 avatar

            Had a Lancer ES Turbo back in college…man, I thought that car was simply awesome. Turbo, sport seats, gunmetal grey metallic…I put a set of five star rims on it and hand-built an incredible sound system into it. The size and styling of that car always seemed “right” to me. Of course, one day I got to drive my sister’s brand new CRX Si and I quickly discovered that my beloved Lancer’s manual tranny and clutch were much closer to tractor-grade that I had ever cared to believe. Still, I loved how the Lancer looked when it was all cleaned up!

          • 0 avatar

            Those seats look similar to the ones I had in my Shadow. They were wonderful seats, the best part of which is the way they sat up nice and high above the floor. Too many cars put you on the floor with your legs splayed out in front.

            You are right about the options, looks like there is an AC pump under the engine bay as well. That was an expensive car when it was new to be sure. I’m guessing it had a nice set of wheels, now vanished, too.

          • 0 avatar

            @threer: I had mine for 11 years. I had no idea how much I would miss that package of size, manuverability and capability. I’ve only had one car that came close, a Malibu Maxx, but even that thing was a broadsword compared to the rapier Lancer.

          • 0 avatar

            @Thomas: What really tipped me off about the options list on that car was the rear wiper. I remember those things were not the most inexpensive option you could buy, and cars meant for the lot rarely came with them. But looking at the sport seats, the joystick AM/FM/cassette and a few of the other toys on the car, it’s clear it wasn’t a cheap car.

        • 0 avatar

          Back in the late 90’s there was afew guys who figured away to modify the turbo wastegates for a few bucks at radio shack. A friend of mine added a switch on the dash that would open the waste gate on take off for traction then flip the switch once you hook up for full boost.

  • avatar

    The Daytona was my favorite car for a while as a kid…mostly because of the chick on Hunter, but I grew out of it before I was old enough to actually drive one.

  • avatar

    I have previously mentioned that my dad sold Chryslers throughout the 80s. We had several of these in our driveway as demos during that time. The one I remember best was a brown non-turbo 2.2. It was a dog but it was otherwise loaded and I remember going on many dates in it. Nothing impresses the 17 yo ladies like a talking digital dash!

  • avatar

    While big RWD cars from the previous era are more my style, I can’t help but think how perfect cars like this are.

    They were the perfect size, easy to maneuver around, decently fuel efficient, and I really like the look; two doors, long sloping hatch back; I even find the interior to be far more attractive then any new small car.

    Just something about them, everything looks and feels just right.

    • 0 avatar

      Thus the reason the Acura Integra, Toyota Celica and Honda CRX were such desirable cars. Later on the Eclipse and few others followed this formula as well. To me such cars ARE perfect. Sadly almost nothing like them is available today.

  • avatar

    Having first hand experience with the ’80s Chrysler Turbo-Ks let’s just say that I don’t think I’ll live long enough to ever remember them fondly

  • avatar

    A friend of mine who is the (responsible, non-coke-addled) son of my old GM and I were once tasked with trying to sell one of the GM’s bimbo’s car – a Plymouth Laser. We used to have a lot in Hudson, Florida where the median income, age of consent, and average IQ is ’16’ and when people called in needing a cheaper car, we offered the Laser. About half of them drove down and said, “I thought you said it was a Blazer.”

  • avatar

    Very interesting that this vehicle talked. Had no idea that these little guys did that.

    Ah yes, the “high tech” gadgetry of the mid 80’s. Clever? Yes. Poorly executed 99% of the time? Indeed.

    I don’t have much experience with hearing chatty vehicles of the 80’s- with the exception of one. My brother in law inherited his dad’s relatively cherry mid to late 80’s Oldsmobile Eighty Eight. Triple gray, of course… of all the colors out there to be “tripled”.

    The Olds would always tell him “parking brake is on” or something of that sort.

    I remember hearing it and being surprised as hell that the grandpa car had a voice.

    I also remember him getting pissed off at the sound of it. Perhaps it was talking at the wrong times? Too often?

    Even my dad’s 89 Olds Toronado didn’t speak to us. And wow, for the time… the plethora of digital gauges (and its hoards of minuscule buttons) was certainly space age.

  • avatar

    My grandmother, who would have been about 55 at the time, had a mid-80’s LeBaron turbo(I think it was either an 84 or 85) with just about every option available including the full electronic dash. I was 14 at the time (so what did I know) but thought it was a pretty hot car. It was promised to me as a High School graduation gift to head off to college with. About two weeks before graduation (May ’89) she was changing lanes on I-95 North in Havre de Grace, MD and was plowed into on the passenger side driving the passenger door over as far as the center console. After the car was finished cartwheeling down I-95 and the jaws of life had been applied, she was able to walk away from the wreck.

    Believe it or not, a very well built car for its time.

    A side note, she was cited for an improver lane change while the speed demon who plowed into her was scott free. I always wondered how much faster he was going than she was to do the damage that was done. The police never seemed interested in that little detail.

  • avatar

    It looks like the meme that you can’t sell hatchbacks in America is false. Just don’t make them 4-door econoboxes and try to sell them as sensible cars. I remember quite a few hatches in the era of this Laser, and the common flavor was sporty and inexpensive to buy, and if it didn’t go fast, it looked fast. The hatch CAN be sold here, just don’t make it look like a Euro family car, or sell it that way.

    • 0 avatar


      In the 80’s when this car was built buying a hatchback anything was pretty darn easy.

      Hatchbacks were popular because of the practicality of them, and in an era of general malaise, even if you were rockin’ a four door, the hatch provided some element of sportiness.

      At Ford alone in 1985 you had:

      Ford Escort (two-door and four-door, all hatches – think about how many cars that was)
      Ford Mustang
      Ford EXP
      Mercury Lynx
      Mercury Capri
      Merkur xR4Ti

      That was just Ford.

      Then you had the VW Scirroco, GTI and Golf, the Buick Skylark Hatchback, Subbie GL, Pontiac 1000, Chevette, CRX, Civic and Accord. You could even a Toyota Camry Liftback – never mind the Corolla. I don’t know if the Mercury Tracer was alive yet, or if Mazda had gone from the GLC to 323 in ’85 – but anyway yup – hatches at Mazda. This doesn’t even count the sport cars like the Laser or Talon or other offerings – and in 1988 the Ford Probe and Mazda MX6 debuted as hatchbacks, and carried on until 1997, I seem to remember the ’98 Cougar was a hatch (could very well be wrong).

      About the same time that the SUV arrived hatchbacks died a very quick death as suddenly uncool. Economy didn’t matter, and the cargo capacity abilities of the hatch was not only negated, but bested by the SUV.

      In the 1980’s – hatchback cars were extremely common and sold very well.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, you may have misread. You pretty much confirmed my contention that there were plenty of hatches around when this Laser was available. That’s what I said:

        “I remember quite a few hatches in the era of this Laser, and the common flavor was sporty and inexpensive to buy, and if it didn’t go fast, it looked fast.”

        I still contend sporty hatches will sell. The SUV didn’t kill off the hatches, it killed off the tall wagons, and later, all conventional wagons. They just stopped making sporty coupe-like hatches.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually, the Ford Probe was a hatchback, but the Mazda MX-6 (both generations) was notchback only.

        • 0 avatar

          But the 626 hatchback was smooth looking car.

        • 0 avatar

          Not so! Mazda made a 5-door hatchback MX-6, I think it was 1989-1993. The turbo version was rated at 145 horsepower, but dynos said they were making closer to 185. The interior was essentially a copy of the Porsche 944, with a backseat added on. A friend of mine in high school had one and drove it like he stole it. Several Saturday nights found me in the passenger seat, both terrified and impressed.

          The zoom-zoom was strong with that MX-6.

  • avatar

    Gotta love the James Earl Jones voiceover in that commercial.

    “Come to the Dark Side…we have cookies.”

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    That hood vent was a trick bit of functional goodness which was a major contributor to Chrysler’s turbocar longevity; at speed it routed high pressure air from the base of the windshield over the turbocharger’s exhaust housing, to be evacuated from underneath the vehicle. While at rest, the cutouts allowed heat from the turbo to exit upwards, preventing overheating in stop-and-go traffic.

    Coupled with the industry’s first thermosiphon cooling system for the bearings, it eliminated the number one cause of premature turbo failure; the coking of oil from an overheated turbine housing which would score the bearings and lead to unnecessary replacement.

  • avatar

    I could have sworn I saw one of these badged as a Plymouth Laser in high school.

  • avatar

    That Chrysler stereo with the equalizer and the joystick shaped (and still shapes) my expectations of factory stereos. Why are equalizers so rare on car stereos today? Today they could do a 30 band equalizer in software practically free. Another cool thing with Laser/Daytonas of the day is their trip computer with instantaneous and average fuel economy and miles to empty. There were other functions that I can’t remember. I believe the turbos were about the first cars that would automatically sense the octane in the fuel to set the timing (and the power).

    • 0 avatar

      The Chrysler joystic fade/balance allowed you to turn any song into Bohemian Rapsody…

    • 0 avatar

      I think the lack of EQs is a result of OEMs getting vehicles back in the service department for blown speakers. Or people complaining the stereo didn’t sound right after their kids messed with sliders. Thus we only get generic bass and treble knobs. Recently most OEM system’s I’ve messed with (on rentals) have added “mid” into the mix. Also most OEM systems these days have been “auto tuned” to hide their lack of sound quality and general cheapness of speakers. They clearly don’t want you to EQ them. Now my wife’s ’08 Volvo C30 is an exception – it has separate 5 band EQs for the front and rear speakers. However this option is somewhat hidden several sub menus deep in the audio control system, thus I doubt most people know about it.

      • 0 avatar

        There is certainly truth to this. Sound quality has been suffering lately. I am in a rental 2013 Altima and its stereo is not nearly as good as the stereo in my 2009 Altima. I’m willing to bet that the speakers are mostly to blame.

    • 0 avatar

      Car stereos still have equalizers, the are just only two bands – bass and treble.

      And most guys use them to turn up the bass, cuz they figure chicks like the cars that go boom.

    • 0 avatar

      That particular stereo was in my Caravan, and it was a nightmare. The first, second, third, and fourth one in it all ate tapes. I finally got a good one after I told the dealer, “If this one is bad, I want a check instead, so I can just go to the car stereo place and get something else!”. They agreed, shockingly, but they never had to pay, as the fifth one stayed in. Not for too long, as that little joystick seemed to be a target of my dog’s feet when he would see something like a horse or another dog and go nuts. After getting slammed down by a 75 pound lunatic dog, the joystick started moving down anytime we hit a bump, and then it just fell down sitting still. Off I went to the car stereo place, and a new, joystick free car stereo, a Pioneer, I think, went in for the last year or so we had it. I had a lot of friends who had cars with the same stereo, and if you actually used the joystick (It was a set and forget thing for me, or would have been, if the dog hadn’t been whacking the thing all the time), and the joystick would eventually fail and move on any big bump.

  • avatar

    That’s a fairly snazzy, clean-looking, car… I wonder what malady sent it to the scrap pile? Of course, it wouldn’t take much to send a 30-year-old K-Car to the crusher, no matter how nice.

  • avatar

    I had two of these cars, a 1985 base model Daytona that was my first car, and a 1987 Daytona Pacifica that had the digital dash and joystick stereo. No voice though. I enjoyed them at the time, and they never left me stranded. They were far more reliable than the 1994 Camaro that replaced them.

  • avatar

    These were nice cars for the time. When this car and the Dodge Daytona debuted, I figured that Plymouth was definitely toast, as Plymouth would have been the division to receive a version of this car in the past. But Plymouth received a version of the Mitsubishi Eclipse named the Laser in the 1990s, if I recall correctly.

  • avatar

    Great job scoring the dash. Firing it up again must have been like when they hooked Bishop’s head back up in Aliens 3 or whatever. Nice!

  • avatar

    Sister got a new 85 Daytona, white, non-turbo, black interior, automatic. She always regretted not getting a manual, but she was sick of her perfectly restored ’66 Mustang, and decided for white and analog guages over a Laser with a 5 speed and digital. It was a pretty car, and later the Magnums seemed to pay homage to the hatch with a flat area of the roof extended into the liftgate. Like your example today, the quad lights were much smoother than the later models of Daytonas, and I don’t think they got around to sticking those on the Lasers.

    Sometime around ’88, I told my brother we should call Lee and do a commercial. Dad had ’79 and ’85 Dodge trucks; Mom was driving an Aries. It was a holiday so Sister’s Daytona, my GLH Turbo, and brother’s Lancer ES turbo were all in the back yard. Looked like a big Chrysler gathering.

    A bong and a joystick were a match made in heaven.

  • avatar

    Mine was a Charger 2.2.I bought it used but only a few years old. A very tossable car. It was my first newer car and served me well. I didn’t have the digital dash but the rest of the interior looked exactly like that one. I suppose they all looked just like that one. My only complaint with the car was the door locks froze on a regular basis in the harsh Michigan winters. I would have to crawl through the rear hatchback to get in. I installed a kick- ass Pioneer audio system in it (for the time) only to have the receiver plastic face plate permanently disfigured by over spray from Off mosquito spray. Who knew?
    Funny how these K cars have aged so well. I agree that there is something about them that still appeals to me. Could these cars become collectible some day?

  • avatar

    When we inherited the f-i-l’s champagne-pink New Yorker sedan with its clarinet-case maroon interior I went looking for something a little sportier, and drove a Daytona. It drove exactly like the New Yorker.

  • avatar

    A friend of mine had one in the mid 90’s. The seal was shot between the wipers and you could push the windshield out for a full inch of flex without cracking it!
    If that ain’t durability then I don’t know what.

  • avatar

    My friend bought a Laser Turbo just like this model (except it was black). I thought it was one of the coolest cars imaginable, for it’s affordable price. I believe he spent around 15k, new. That was a princely sum for me back in those days.
    It was a mechanical nightmare however, especially the digital dash. I think it went out twice on him while still under warranty.

  • avatar

    My Ex had a non-turbo one of these in silver with the red interior. My one main memory of it was the 5-speed which was aptly described as`a Toilet plunger stick in a bucket full of rocks`.

  • avatar

    I had one of these, a 1984 Chrysler Laser Turbo [though not an XE]. This was the only car I ever purchased new [and my only American car, other than the inherited ’64 Riviera], as I wanted a turbo to upgrade from my 78 horsepower Scirocco, and there was not much choice in the market. I was also considering the gorgeous Isuzu Impulse Turbo, but it was not available for sale yet. I paid $10,400 for mine, and it was in a medium dark metallic blue, the name of which I forget [though I remember the color in the photo above is called Garnet Red!] I got mine with the “pizza disc” style wheels.

    It served me well – with the large hatch, I could throw my bike in the back without even taking off the front wheel.

    Mine had 142 horsepower. I remember racing and beating a V8 Mustang with it, which sure shocked the guys in the Mustang, but they had four large guys in it, so I guess I had the better power to weight ratio. When I ran it against a turbo six Maserati Bi-Turbo, I did not make out so well.

    At 70,000 miles, the manual transmission went, and stranded me at my new girl friend’s house. That was my first overnight stay there, and she eventually became my wife, so I owe that car a lot!

  • avatar

    All modern cars should have a broad vocabulary…all that “a door is ajar” stuff. I want that in my Town Car.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My 85 LeBaron GTS didn’t have all that electronic stuff, thankfully. Being a non-turbo 5-spd manual, it lasted a long, long time, and I miss the style and utility of that car.

    But interior hardware was a distinct weakness, and I kept a small pile of covers, caps, and screws that fell out over time.

  • avatar

    “Check out the cool fader/balance joystick control. ”

    Or, “Hey, there was a bump in the road while my hand was near the stereo … looks like it’s all Front Left Speaker for now!”

    Further proof that “looks cool” and “good user interface” are not remotely synonymous.

    • 0 avatar

      A good idea, done badly. My dog hitting it had it flopping around within a couple of months. At least he didn’t chew on it, like he did the wires when the first stereo was out for repair, he ate the wires, along with the sliding door panel. Advice: Never, ever, buy a new car the day after you get a Pit Mix puppy, unless you don’t care about what the puppy eats. A great dog, but a real horror story as a pup.

  • avatar

    I saw a non-turbo Daytona in excellent condition a couple months ago, was definitely a rare sight. Just like the daily driver third-generation Celica that somehow hasn’t completely rusted out…

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I had a roommate who had a Daytona , same year I believe in this same ugly maroon metallic / silver gray interior Hers didn’t have a turbo and was much more of a stripper model tho it had the automatic . Really kind of cheap interior compared with this , with different seats which were kind of squishy and uncomfortable . No power controls and no talking voice that I remember . The car shown here as mentioned above it really loaded and would have been a pretty expensive car for those days . I thought the Chrysler Conquest ( I think it was called ) was way cooler.

  • avatar

    This got to the junkyard from an estate sale.

    The owner parked it, thinking it will be a ‘classic’ someday, and passed away. However, the heirs all decided ‘just tow that junk car away’

  • avatar

    Test drove a 1984 Turbo when they first hit the dealership. Had decent acceleration but to me the shifter was a bit notchy and the clutch had quite a long travel for a “sporty” car.

  • avatar

    Ray was a Chrysler Laser.

    Mark grinned from behind his thick mustache and Unabomber sunglasses. “Let’s see what this sucker can do.”, he said. He knew the 2.2 needed it’s break-in mileage before cracking the whip, but he couldn’t help it. The light turned green at the intersection less than a mile away from pulling out of the lot at Jess Hull, and he pushed the accelerator into the new carpet. First gear was expended laboriously. “Hmmm.”, he thought while pulling the shifter back. “Oh, is this what you wanted?”, Ray thought digitally. The boost needle swung to the right, and Roy’s front left tire suddenly lost it’s composure. Mark wrestled with the steering wheel, averting disaster. “Holy SH$T!”
    Ray put him on notice. “Yeah, you’re gonna want to hang on to that thing.”

    “Ahhh, those were the days.”, Ray dreamed. Days when his speakers pumped out perfectly equalized New Wave at a high volume, and his family starred in such blockbuster films as Black Moon Rising and The Wraith. John, the man now behind the wheel, snapped him back to the present. He lifted one of his buttocks slightly in the ripped seat, allowing a gaseous cousin to Zyklon B to rapidly escape into the cushion. It sent a shiver right down to the tiny chip of his silicon core. “My…GOD.” John noticed his own stench with a “Hmmph”, and depressed the window switch. Ray enthusiastically obliged him.

    “Come on man, live a little.”, thought Ray as the school bus passed them. John plodded along, causing a rolling chicane in the right lane of the busy highway. He futzed with the tuner controls, trying to dial in a very staticy Ed Schultz. This greatly irritated Ray, who malfunctioned his hall sensor, causing a stumble. John was startled by the anomaly, and tested the state of the Laser with a brief prod of the gas pedal before resuming a steady speed of 57mph. He looked at the information center, puzzled, but found no warning lights on the plan view display. Ray wished he had an obscene gesture light, placed at the driver’s seating position.

    Ray was pleasantly surprised when they pulled into the Scion dealership. He had been through this several times before, and knew it could only mean one thing, the end to this dysfunctional little relationship. “Your keys are in the ignition.”, Ray spoke happily, adding “…and don’t bother coming back for them.” John was spotted peering into an xB by a salesman. “Looking for anything in particular?”, he asked. John replied, “Well…sorta. Maybe something fun and sporty.” The comment nearly overloaded Ray’s processor. “WHAT?! You better hope he’s not talking about YOU.”, addressing the misbehaving FRS that sat next to him. “Lets go inside, and talk numbers.”, said the salesman, “That your trade?” John confirmed his assumption. As the dealer guided him into the dealership lobby, he assessed the Chrysler with a stern frown before following John inside.

    Alas, things weren’t meant to be at Scion. John and Ray visited the Chevy and Toyota dealers next. It didn’t happen. Ray’s artificial intelligence was still grappling with the “fun and sporty” comment. “What you need is a nice Grumman LLV.”, said the little Chrysler. They passed a small used car place, and a U-turn was performed. Finally, a deal was sealed. John never looked back as he pulled away, behind the wheel of his new-to-him Ford Escape.

    A young employee brushed the fresh snow off of Ray’s body. “What the hell are we gonna do with this Chrysler?”, an agent said to the kid while lighting a cigarette. “It’s never gonna sell.” This drove Ray further into depression. As the brush slid across his fascia, the brittle pentastar snapped off, and fell like a tear. What was initially a hopeful reception at the lot, had gone sour. A fresh radiator hose had been bestowed on him, and he was cleaned from stem to stern, but there had not been one test drive in two weeks. The salesman picked up and examined the unrepairable emblem. He took a drag, exhaling “Hmmph. Piece of sh%t.”

    Ray left the lot with the convoy of two other unwanted vehicles. He was going to the dealer auction! Enthusiasm renewed, he bounded down the on-ramp. The young errand boy was behind the wheel. He forced the gas pedal into the carpet tear. Ray was only too happy to let the boy test his mettle. “You better hang on! I still got it!”, he thought to himself. After chirping the tires into third gear, the boy let off, and merged into traffic. He said aloud “Whoa. It IS slower than the new Caravan.”

    Ray, confidence shattered, entered the cattle line.
    “WHATTA WE GOT HERE? CHRYSLER LASER BEAM TIME MU-SHEEN, EIGHTY-FIVE, MAKES YOU FEEEL ALIVE! HEEyyy suminsaumina gimme eight, eight, no? We got five over here. ONE, TWO, BOOM!”
    Ray then joined the company of a dead Lincoln LS that hung off the back of the flatbed.

    The loader was not gentle with Ray, and his hind end was disfigured when the stand mashed his empty fuel tank. He sighed, knowing this dusty lot was the end of the line. “This isn’t how I expected to go out! I’m a sports car!”, he sobbed. The familiar voice of a Dodge 400 spoke up. “At least YOU had a long happy life sport-o! Fifty…yes, fifty-thousand miles here. Two oil changes. That’s what you get when you don’t look cool!” Ray pondered the seven owners he had prior to John. They were young, and exciting. Drawn to his alluring shape. Nothing but miles of smiles. “You’re right.”, he said to the convertible with watering washers.

    The forks came for Ray. They picked him up rather gently this time.
    “Your door is ajar.”, the 400 saluted as Ray passed.
    “Your door is ajar.”, Ray replied on the way to face his destiny.

    • 0 avatar

      The Wraith. Nice.

    • 0 avatar

      “Your door is ajar”. Top notch. I love how all the Chrysler talking dash cars in this series have unique personalities. Makes me wonder what my grandmother’s New Yorker would have had to say besides, “Your fuel is low” while cruising for a full service gas station.

    • 0 avatar

      “Your door is ajar.” A fitting epitaph for dreams of technology and freedom. Once again, you have written pure poetry.

    • 0 avatar

      Very nice story. CS, you must have specific K car mechanic experience, as your stories are exactly right– hall effect sensor stumble, etc.

      I’ve got what is about the same car– an ’84 LeBaron convertible– and I’m guessing what killed this Laser is a head gasket. That’s why mine is immobile in the driveway waiting for warmer weather. The 2.2 Turbos blow those a lot– mine when I was punching it on purpose like Mark in your story. If you can’t do the work yourself, head gasket replacement (at least in these parts) can cost as much as or more than the car is worth.

  • avatar

    A friend of mine worked at a Chrysler dealer in the 80’s he told me they took delivery of a Starion once where the talking car voice spoke Japanese. The car had been special ordered and they promised the new owner they would fix it. The owner sat in the car and said no leave it.

    Mopar used the joystick on the stereo into the 2000,s I personally love them but I grew up with them in the family minivans as a kid. You can actually find more then you would ever want to know about these stereos over at Allpar based on the writer over there apparently some of these were actually quire good head units.

  • avatar

    A friend had one, an ’86, I think, red with a white stripe. It was modified, and had enough power to make us laugh when we drove it. The torque steer was horrible. The main thing I didn’t like about it was the seats, it was impossible to find a comfortable position, no matter how long you played with them. His wife wouldn’t even ride in it, the seats killed her.

  • avatar

    Hmm. Owned a 1985 LeBaron GTS Turbo. The most comfortable car seats I’ve ever sat upon

    All the cabin electronics worked until the end (amazing my friends). There was a computerized trip/mileage.range, etc , computer which was handy.

    As some previous poster mentioned, the interior bits were flimsy, and kept on breaking.

    I changed oil at intervals of 2,000 miles, and always “idled down” before turning off the ignition. I changed the trans fluid at regular intervals, as well.

    I upgraded to a Mopar performance computer, and higher quality plug wires. Those boosted performance. I had a “Diacom” diagnostic rig which helped, too.

    This car was kind of a “digital test bed” for Chrysler. I had more than a few coolant sensor failures (which affected the fuel mix, badly). The car required premium fuel (!).

    This car blew the head gasket (twice !), until Chrysler came out with a new, improved gasket.

    I brought this car to the track a couple of times, and once I spun the tires to an embarassing 3.0 sixty foot time. I won several races in it, though (bracket racing)

    This car got good gas mileage, and had plenty of storage due to the hatch. I finally had to let the car go after the charging system went berserk and kept overcharging. Probably due to a design flaw or crummy , heat-stressed old wiring.

  • avatar

    I remember a friend who had one of these (85 or 86) in 1991. He hooned it mercilessly, then wrecked it. Most of the damage was to the front suspension and unibody. As he had went to vocational school to be an auto mechanic, he set about to repair it. He chained it to a tree and proceeded to, sort of, straighten the frame. He replaced a few suspension pieces and it looked great. Black exterior with black leather interior. Shiny paint, etc.

    It looked so good, he traded it straight up to another friend who came from a well-to-do family. He had an old American car that was too cantankerous, and didn’t have the power windows, locks, seats, and other goodies the Laser had. So he thought it a fair trade. The trade? A pristine, numbers-matching ’65 Chevelle SS396. Blue with black vinyl. What a bargain.

  • avatar

    My best friend got an ’84 Chrysler Laser XE Turbo as his first car in 1990. It was bronze (brown) with tan leather and loaded with the digital dash and power everything (most of which no longer worked). It had over 100k miles on the odo and a manual gearbox that was impossible to shift smoothly, quickly or without plenty of grinding.

    After a few months in his 16-year-old hands, the electronic voice constantly repeated- “Engine overheating! Engine damage may occur!” And it did….

  • avatar

    I learned how to drive in a car just like this (ours was the base model Laser though, but the same colors in and out but no “talking dash”) It was a 2.2/5-speed car, it seemed faster and a whole lot nicer than the 81 Pontiac Phoenix my parents traded in for it. My dad had looked at Turismos but the Lasers were a “step up” in feel from the TC-3/024 things. It’s nice to see one this old that’s not a complete rust bomb, I haven’t seen a Laser/Daytona here in Wisconsin for years and years. These seem to be “overlooked” Chryslers, you only hear about the Shelby’s or the generic K-cars. Oh yeah, I always thought with the triangular back side windows these looked a LITTLE like Porsche 928’s, but that’s probably because both cars are 2-door hatchbacks, not for any real reason.

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