QOTD: What Was Peak K-car for You?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd what was peak k car for you

It was one of those make or break moments. A company teetering on the financial verge which threw a Hail Mary at the right time — and at the right target. The company in question was Chrysler, and the Hail Mary was the K-car platform.

Today we ask you: What was peak K?

I got to thinking about the K-car recently, both as financial savior and platform-sharing wonder. Among its virtues of affordability and flexibility, there was also an aspect of unfortunate longevity. One basic platform, tons of variants, and a timeline stretching between 1981 and 1995.

To put that in perspective, people drove a new K-platform car to see Raiders of the Lost Ark at the movie theater. They did the same thing in 1995 when they went to see Jumanji, a film which actually featured the final K variant sold — the Chrysler LeBaron (though an older one, which was not great for giant mosquitoes).

In between, just about every body style was covered by the K: sedan, coupe, convertible, hatchback, wagon, limousine. From base wheel covers to, well, brougham wheel covers, models ran the gamut in price. They all had a couple things in common, though: front-drive and a transverse engine. I’ll try and make a platform derivations list below.

  • K came first, compacts
  • E and H, larger cars in the midsize class
  • AG and AJ, sporty driving cars
  • S, minivans to 1990
  • AS, minivans 1991-1995
  • AP, later version for revised compact cars
  • AC, later luxury midsize sedans
  • AA, later standard midsize sedans
  • Q, one-hit wonder for the TC by Maserati
  • AY, longest wheelbase luxury sedans

Somewhere in that extensive list there’s undoubtedly a peak vehicle, though you may have to look up which particular version of K resides underneath. Let’s hear ’em.

[Images: IMCDB, Steph Willems/TTAC]

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  • THX1136 THX1136 on Jul 26, 2018

    I got to drive a Spirit when my 84 Charger was in for collision repairs (drunk individual ran a stop sign at highway speed). I enjoyed the car and thought that I would buy one when the time came. As it is I kept the Charger way longer so I never acquired a Spirit. Also liked the looks of the Daytona/Laser, but never got a chance to drive one. Those would be my picks.

  • Dodge440391SG Dodge440391SG on Jul 28, 2018

    I owned a 1985 LeBaron GTS Turbo. Absolutely the most comfortable bucket seats I have ever sat in. Good handling and acceleration. Goofy voice alert and fluorescent dash displays worked at the time I sold it. I upgraded the computer to a Mopar performance computer and upgraded the plug wires, distributor and air cleaner element. Turbo worked great; I always let the engine idle down after a drive. Changed oil every 1000 miles. Car required premium fuel, which was a drag, though necessary. I raced the car a few times at the track (drags). Little traction, believe it or not. The sensors (especially the coolant sensor) would fail a lot, along with the hard plastic vacuum and sensor lines. The coolant sensor was critical to the fuel/air mix calculations in the computer. All -all, decent car; but I would not buy another (used).

  • Arthur Dailey Ford was on a roll with these large cars. The 'aircraft' inspired instrument 'pod' for the driver rather than the 'flat' instrument panel. Note that this vehicle does not have the clock. The hands and numbers are missing. Having the radio controls on the left side of the driver could however be infuriating. Although I admire pop-up/hideaway headlights, Ford's vacuum powered system was indeed an issue. If I left my '78 T-Bird parked for more than about 12 hours, there was a good chance that when I returned the headlight covers had retracted. The first few times this happened it gave me a 'start' as I feared that I may have left the lights on and drained the battery.
  • Jeff S Still a nice car and I remember these very well especially in this shade of green. The headlights were vacuum controlled. I always liked the 67 thru 72 LTDs after that I found them bloated. Had a friend in college with a 2 door 71 LTD which I drove a couple of times it was a nice car.
  • John H Last week after 83 days, dealership said mine needs new engine now. They found metal in oil. Potential 8 to 9 month wait.
  • Dukeisduke An aunt and uncle of mine traded their '70 T-Bird (Beakbird) for a brand-new dark metallic green '75 LTD two-door, fully loaded. My uncle hated seat belts, so the first time I saw the car (it was so new that the '75 models had just landed at the dealerships) he proudly showed me how he'd pulled the front seat belts all the way out of their retractors, and cut the webbing with a razor blade(!).Just a year later, they traded it in for a new '76 Cadillac Coupe de Ville (they had owned a couple of Imperials in the '60s), and I imagine the Cadillac dealer took a chunk out to the trade-in, to get the front seat belts replaced.
  • CaddyDaddy Lease fodder that in 6 years will be on the 3rd owner in a poverty bound aspirational individual's backyard in a sub par neighborhood sinking into the dirt. The lending bank will not even want to repossess and take possession of this boat anchor of a toxic waste dump. This proves that EVs are not even close to being ready for prime time (let's not even talk about electrical infrastructure). EVs only exist in wildly expensive virtue signaling status-mobiles. FAIL! I know this is a Hybrid, but it's a Merc., so it will quickly die after the warranty. Show me a practical EV for the masses and I'll listen. At this time, Hybrids are about the way to go for most needing basic transportation.