By on May 2, 2016

1984 Chrysler Laser XE Turbo in California Junkyard, RH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The K-platform-based Dodge Daytona was built for the 1984 through 1993 model years and sold pretty well; we’ve seen a few of them in this series. The Daytona’s Chrysler-badged sibling, the Laser (not to be confused — though many do — with the Mitsubishi Eclipse-based Plymouth Laser), was sold only for the 1984-1986 model years and is a bit harder to find.

1984 Chrysler Laser XE Turbo in California Junkyard, TURBO emblem - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

In fact, today’s ’84 Laser is only the second Laser Junkyard Find, after this non-turbo ’85 XE. Of course, the word TURBO was a synonym for “good” during the middle 1980s, so true K-Car players (technically, the Daytona/Laser were on the G platform) made sure to get the cars with TURBO badges emblazoned all over the car.

1984 Chrysler Laser XE Turbo in California Junkyard, tachometer - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Laser could be had with a fancy digital dash and a futuristic voice-alert system.

1984 Chrysler Laser XE Turbo in California Junkyard, rear amp button - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

This one appears to have every possible factory option, including a rear amplifier — just the thing for your favorite synth-heavy Billy Squier songs!

1984 Chrysler Laser XE Turbo in California Junkyard, radio buttons - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Radio-station presets are classier when their numbers are written out, rather than presented as numerals.

1984 Chrysler Laser XE Turbo in California Junkyard, front seats - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Is this Soft Corinthian Leather? You bet! Actually, this could be the Mark Cross leather option, though I didn’t find any Mark Cross badging anywhere on this car.


Darth Vader pitching the Laser? Who else could do it?


The Malaise Era was over by 1984, technically, but car companies still talked about 0-50 acceleration times.

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70 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1984 Chrysler Laser XE Turbo...”


  • avatar

    I’m sold Lord Vader…

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    I’ve sat in many K-car derivatives in my life, and driven a few, and I can honestly say that I never encountered a seat that wasn’t comfortable for several hours on end. Pardon the expression, if you will.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I have. The bench in my sister’s old 92 Acclaim sucked.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        The non-reclining bench seats were terrible. My mother had a 1990 Dodge Dynasty, which was an all-around nice car except for that non-adjustable split bench seat. My grandfather also owned a 1990 Dynasty, except his was an LE model which came with the reclinable split-bench seat. A world of difference…

        • 0 avatar
          Nick 2012

          My high school girlfriend’s parents had a Dodge Aries with the NON-split bench. She was 5’2″. I’m ~6′. I sat in the back rather than sit on my legs.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      An ’84 Laser XE Turbo 5-speed was my first company car (even though it broke all the qualification rules). I still remember that the seats were extremely comfortable, and that almost every passenger I carried commented on them.

      I also remember the turbo lag when one floored the accelerator. For a (long) second, nothing, then it was like the Millenium Falcon jumping to light speed…

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      You must never have sat in a bench seat car that was actually quite common in everything other than these and the hatchback sedan variants.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    That must have been a sweet-looking interior back in the day.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    I was of the age where I still needed baby-sat and the twenty-something my mom hired also worked at the local Dodge dealer. He got a Laser as a demo (though I don’t think it had leather) and I was enamored with it! He was crazy enough to leave the keys in it so I would sneak out and turn it on and press EVERY button. Best button was the “systems check” button that would run through a laundry list of things that the car would audibly announce. Basically, it read all the gauges for you. It was the single coolest thing I had experienced at such an impressionable age. Best part is when you pushed it, there was no way to shut it up so it provided many rounds of entertainment for an irritating child such as myself.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    “The Malaise Era was over by 1984, technically, but car companies still talked about 0-50 acceleration times.”

    That’s because the 55-mph National Maximum Speed Law was still in effect and wouldn’t be modified until 1987.

    I considered a 1984 Laser Turbo when I was car-shopping in late 1983. I liked the looks and the equipment for the money. However, a test drive turned me off because of the coarse engine, the notchy shifter, and a general low-rent feeling about the interior. The final straw was the electronic voice nanny.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      So what did you get instead? I cross shopped the Isuzu Impulse before buying the ’84 Laser Turbo, but the turbo Impulse was not yet available that year. There really was not any competition if you wanted a turbo front drive four cylinder hatchback back then. A Mitsubishi Cordia?

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        I ended up buying a five-speed Honda CRX 1.5 and drove it for 10 years. A delightful, efficient, reliable car that for me was endless fun, even if it wasn’t the fastest thing on the block.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Those turbo 2.2’s were obnoxiously noisy mills that weren’t very reliable unless one knew how to properly deal with a turbo engine. Few at the time did.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Those are nice looking leather seats, and I’m not a fan of the leather or more accurately pleather used in new cars. I much prefer a good MB Tex type of seating material.
    Wow, I almost forgot how steep those interest rates were in the 80s. The last car loan I had carried a whopping 1% interest rate, and this was from a free standing credit union and not the captive finance companies.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I’m pretty sure that 8.8% was a “move the metal” highly subsidized rate in ’84. Inflation was still cranking in those days.

      Even 15 years ago 8-9% was still a decent rate for a car that wasn’t utterly crap and given a super low rate to move the metal. 10-12% was a pretty normal used car rate.

      We live in extraordinary times currently.

      • 0 avatar

        My dad, as a retiree with savings and no debt, looks nostalgically towards 70’s stagflationary interest rates.

        As someone who has both savings and a mortgage, and wants to be able to borrow money in the future if necessary, I’m not inclined to agree quite so much.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Yup, whether it is a boon or a curse depends on where you are in life.

          I am getting while the getting is cheap, and hope to have it all paid off well before I retire (assuming I ever do). The shack will be paid off in 5-6 more years, plan to get a cheap winter roost/future retirement shack down south in a couple years.

          And I plan to be that old dude still driving the couple of BMWs he bought new way back when at retirement too.

      • 0 avatar
        scottcom36

        In ’98 I got 4.9/48 from Ford on my new F150. I don’t remember the prevailing rates, but I did think that was a good deal.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        I vaguely remember savings accounts yielding around 10% interest back then. Looking at the historic inflation tables, it’s hard for me to say which part of the eighties that would have been (but probably the early to very early).

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Like a great chef in a poor country, Iacocca must be admired for what he accomplished with the K-car platform.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Only so much you can do with a potato smoothie.

      • 0 avatar
        Willyam

        So true, yet they threw in so many things to clog the Ninja’s blades!

        Saturday I passed, (slowly for a look), an honest-to-Iacocca Chrysler Caravelle being piloted across Missouri on I-44. It was making just enough speed not to be crushed, as this is a pretty busy truck-traffic corridor with a 75mph limit. It’s two very plush occupants looked anxious.

        I took driver training in one (with the optional “whoa-there” instructor break pedal). I won’t call what I felt nostalgia – more like amazement that one had held together this long sans maintenance or even gentle care or concern.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Funny this came up when it did, and you mention the Caravelle. Yesterday when I was cutting grass, a silver (I haven’t seen any other color) turbo New Yorker K went by a couple times. The bumper stickers all over the lip of the trunk lid were a sad indicator of the short fall from grace those cars had quite quickly.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Actually, there’s quite a bit you can do. Add one or two of many different cheap ingredients, and give it a new name. Marketing does the rest.

        Chrysler still had the RWD M bodies, the Diplomat, 5th Avenue and New Yorker, until 1987. Back then, Bob Lutz was complaining that Iacocca dropped the last RWD M bodies from the lineup. Lutz thought it was perfect for a midsize luxury platform, but Iacocca went entirely for cheaper to make FWD.

    • 0 avatar

      This sounds like one of those episodes of Top Chef or Burned or whatever that cooking show is where they give the contestants a bunch of random, gross ingredients and have them try to cook with them.

      Tonight, on Top Engineer, we’ve given our contestants a FWD platform, a turbocharger, and 43 yards of padded vinyl!

  • avatar
    jdowmiller

    Nostalgia attack! I wish I had an example of all the cars presented in the second video parked in my driveway. Also….lol at the 8.8% APR. Wooo!

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      8.8% was a bargain at the time. You could buy a 20-year Treasury bond that paid 10%, and consumer rates were double 8.8% just a couple years earlier.

      • 0 avatar
        John

        If you timed it right, you could buy 30 year Treasury notes yielding about 13.4% in 1984. They were callable after 25 years – non-callable 30 year Treasury notes weren’t issued until 1985, but you would have been collecting that interest until 2009, guaranteed by the US Government. You’d have made out like a bandit. Conversely, 8.8% was a great auto loan rate in ’84.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    I remember the day my dad stopped reading Car and Driver. He went to the mailbox, saw his latest issue had arrived, looked at the cover, muttered “Bullshit,” and threw it in the garbage. I fished it out. It was the intro for the Laser/Daytona twins with the headline, “What the Camaro/Firebird Should Have Been.”

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Even with their shoddy construction, I’ve seen far more 3rd gen F bodies than Daytonas…

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      Girl who ran with our group of friends got a new one for 17 bday, I believe. Yes, I am that old.

      It was basic blue over blue, alloys, but it was a turbo 5-speed. My Firebird had the WORST time leaving it behind in a straight line.

      Whether this is praise for the Laser, or the sad state of formerly fire-breathing Firebirds I couldn’t say.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I did not expect to like this car as much as I do. Turbo, stickshift, upgraded stereo, Corinthian leather. If only all K-Cars were this ambitious. What is this talk I hear of non-reclining benches?

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    “Yᴏᴜʀ ᴋᴇʏs ᴀʀᴇ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ɪɢɴɪᴛɪᴏɴ.”

    “Yᴏᴜʀ ᴡᴀsʜᴇʀ ғʟᴜɪᴅ ɪs ʟᴏᴡ.”

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    Junkyard dog footprints on the hood? Also, the Cutlass Ciera next to it looks very straight. These Cieras are not worth fixing if something major happens, but I still see lots of them running that look a lot worse.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    These were the cars that led me to start with a 70 V8, cam, carb, exhaust, and fix/upgrade whatever broke. For a decade. Until an Integra made it better. I hated that new didn’t mean better in any way I appreciated. I’d go test drive the newest, greatest and be glad to get back in my old beast.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Man, this one is loaded up! That leather does look nice. See what happens, car companies, when you use some ruching – leather holds up.

  • avatar

    The nice thing about that color is that you can’t tell where the rust ends and the paint begins.

  • avatar
    threeer

    You just have to love the squared-off interior lines! And that gear shifter…oh, how it reminds me of my 1986 Dodge Lancer ES! It shifted with all the smoothness of a stick in concrete. But the seats in my Lancer (cloth, not leather) were glorious! Kind of like driving a John Deere while sitting in a Laz-y-boy.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I’ve mentioned many times that my dad was a Chrysler salesman for most of the 80s. We had a Laser in the exact same color though it wasn’t a turbo and it had cloth seats. I still have a pic of it somewhere with the old yellow NY dealer plates. Took out a bunch of 17 year old girls in that sweet ride, they were definitely impressed with the talking dash.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I attribute the longevity of my former 85 Lebaron GTS to it NOT having the turbo and extras.

    It succumbed to rust, but even basic elements like the analog odometer and radio quit working. I replaced them both, and finished with 206k on it.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Looks like it was a runner until it hit something up front.

    There is a stunning number of these still running out in the universe – you see them for sale pretty often. I hope someone rescued that interior.

    I still remain amazed on how well Detroit interiors from the malaise era and into the 80’s have held up. We see so many of these cars that are sun faded, oil stained, scratched, marred, cracked glass and the interior looks like it just needs a vacuum and a wipe down to come back to life.

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      It’s true. In the 80’s the interiors didn’t seem so great. Aside from some dash cracks, they appear to be largely exactly the same 30 years later.

      I have seen many ‘luxury’ car interiors disintegrate in their first couple years of use in the last 15 years.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I had an ’84 Chrysler Laser Turbo, though it was not the XE. It was a beautiful medium blue metallic (yes, not all my coupes have been silver), had cloth seats, and the “pizza disc” wheels visible on the top video. I loved the car; at 0-60 in 8 or 8.5 seconds (I forget which), it was so much faster than my previous car, a ’75 Scirocco. Of course it had 142 horsepower, close to double that of the Scirocco’s 78 HP. It really kicked when the turbo kicked in. My next car, an “89 Supra Turbo, was faster, but I missed that kick in the pants that the Laser had. The two times I raced it, I beat a Mustang (really shocked those guys!), and lost to a Maserati Bi-turbo, which had a turbo six. The Laser had a huge luggage compartment when the back seats were folded down, so I could just throw my bike in the back. I sold it after seven years, when the transmission failed (I replaced it with a unit from a junkyard.) The only other thing that I recall going wrong with the car was the power windows once.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Rear amp button = turbo button on early PC’s- as if it would ever be in the “off” position..

  • avatar
    montecarl

    I use to lust after that very car as high school senior….A black one with every option…

  • avatar
    readallover

    My ex had one in silver. The 5-speed was aptly described as `a stick in a bucket of rocks`.

  • avatar
    Balto

    Baseball glove-brown leather seats with matching door panels!? Hot Damn! 2016, take note.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Best thing about this car is that it has probably already met the crusher.

  • avatar
    v8corvairpickup

    A friend bought a new Laser XE in 1985. I was subjected to being the “third wheel” and put into the penalty box back seat a couple times. I’m 5′ 8″ and I didn’t have adequate headroom and the rear window allowed sunlight in ahead of me so even with a solid roof, I had the sun in my eyes.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Damn, that’s an exceptionally rare find: the A/C wasn’t installed at the factory, but is the dealer-installed Mopar unit. Someone liked that car enough to have a properly equipped A/C kit fitted instead of ARA’s nasty hack jobs.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    What’s that Oldsmobile doing in the Chrysler section? From the look of the pictures, the GM section is across the aisle.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    0-50 times. Depressing.

  • avatar
    and003

    I remember reading in an issue of Mopar Action magazine about an auto dealer who had a Chrysler Laser converted to RWD with a 360 V8 under the hood. I could see myself doing something similar, but with a 3G Hemi from the SRT line-up. A Hellcat engine comes to mind.

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