Rare Rides: A 1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati - the Lemon Mix-up
The heart of a K-Car, the styling of a LeBaron, the build quality of an Italian, and the price of a Corvette. Just one car in the history of the world managed to combine all these virtues together into a gelatinous, custard-like vehicle.
And our Rare Ride today just happens to have a similar color, too. Come have a look at the majestic Chrysler TC, by Maserati (not really).
Introduced in 1986 at the Los Angeles Auto Show in America, the idea behind the TC was solid: A luxury grand touring convertible in the finest tradition. Designed and built by Maserati, with the parts sharing, reliability, and common sense of Chrysler (and its vast checkbook).
Born from a friendship between Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca and Alejandro de Tomaso of Pantera fame (and then-owner of Maserati), the two companies signed an agreement in the mid-1980s to develop a coupe. Available at 300 select Chrysler dealers between 1989 and 1991, the TC started with the heart of a Dodge Daytona. It’s actually the same 2.2-liter four-cylinder we recently saw in the Shelby Charger. For 1990 and ’91 Chrysler upped the ante and the displacement, using a 3.0-liter Mitsubishi V6 like you’d find in a Dodge Dynasty.
Of the 7,210 total model run, just 500 examples received a special engine. Matched to a manual transmission was a 2.2-liter turbocharged Maserati-developed unit, which was actually made in England by Cosworth. Cosworth’s production stopped short of finishing each engine, shipping them to Italy where Maserati would tighten some screws and apply its stamp.
Meant to be a halo car for the Chrysler brand, the TC’s development took longer than expected. Unfortunately, the years between the 1986 auto show reveal and 1989’s dealer deliveries revealed the TC’s biggest problem — the new LeBaron. It didn’t share a body, it didn’t share a platform, nor was the interior the same. But it looked just like the TC, had the same engine, and was considerably less expensive.
A loaded up LeBaron GTC convertible with the Mark Cross package cost $19,666 in 1989. For the same year, the TC started at $33,000. Here are some other competitors’ prices from 1989.
- Corvette Convertible, $36,785
- Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz, $26,738
- Lincoln Mark VII LSC, $27,569
- Buick Reatta, $26,700
For this absurdly high price, you received a special hand-made, sumptuous Italian leather interior in either camel or black. This photo is how it originally looked from the factory — our example today has had some cheap leather work done on the seats.
All versions came with a plastic hardtop featuring a unique opera window for use in more formal occasions or when the weather was frosty.
Located in Washington state, this 1989 TC has many new parts, and is asking $6,300 from a seller who is likely desperate to unload it at this point.
[Images via seller, Chrysler]
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