Junkyard Find: 1985 Chrysler Laser XE

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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junkyard find 1985 chrysler laser xe

The 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.

Yes, 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.

Check out the cool fader/balance joystick control. Less cool is the fact that Chrysler used this exact rig well into the 1990s.

The Laser XE came with all manner of computerized gadgetry, plus it talked! Unlike the earlier Nissan Maxima, this setup was all-digital.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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  • Beelzebubba Beelzebubba on Mar 05, 2014

    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....

  • Dannew02 Dannew02 on Mar 06, 2014

    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.

  • Lou_BC Full sized sort of autonomous RC's. Cute.
  • Art_Vandelay Autonomous capabilities are being deployed (or planned anyway) in multiple combat vehicles. Should be fun from my perspective
  • Drew8MR Interior is trivial now you can get repro everything in various levels of quality. Getting the top sorted will be a couple grand, but I'd drive it as it. I drove a $1500 67 GTO convertible for 20 years, not every old car needs to be like new.
  • John Not everyone pays that much for power. Mine is 10 cents per kw…..
  • TheEndlessEnigma I didn't need another reason to stay away from NYC, and yet I was handed another reason.