Buy/Drive/Burn: Three Decades of Halo Convertibles

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Today’s B/D/B was suggested by commenter namesakeone, who posited that a couple of the cars featured in the worst halo cars article last week might make an interesting trio for this segment.

I needed to cover one more as a Rare Ride first, which is why we saw that Thunderbird yesterday. Requirement out of the way, it’s time to have our first multi-decade, Rare Rides-sourced Buy/Drive/Burn.

All cars featured today were halo convertibles for their manufacturer at the time of their offering. They hail from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. And of course we’re assuming here in The Present Year that you could buy a brand new example of each.

Chrysler TC by Maserati

Oldest car first. The Chrysler TC by Maserati was the brand’s halo vehicle introduced in 1989. Designed in conjunction with Maserati in Italy, the TC was assembled at two different Maserati factories and fitted with a very luxurious interior before it was shipped to eager US customers. The front-drive TC was technically on its own (LeBaron-based) platform, though it looked a lot like the much less expensive LeBaron with which it shared some components. Today’s example is one of the earlier 500 equipped with a high-output 200 horsepower 2.2 inline-four, developed by Maserati. It’s paired to a five-speed Getrag manual, for the most fun Italian luxury experience possible.

Cadillac Allanté

The Allanté was Cadillac’s grandest attempt to capture the 1980s/1990s “European car buyer” who eluded General Motors for… forever. Introduced for 1987, it was designed and built in Italy by Pininfarina. The bodies included Italian-fitted interiors, and were flown at great expense to Detroit for final assembly at Hamtramck. Another front-driver, the Allanté also used a unique platform, the V. Today’s car is the most developed example from Allanté’s final year in 1993. It has the 4.6-liter Northstar V8 good for 295 horsepower. Those horses are routed by a brand new four-speed auto which debuted in the Allanté and was used through 2006 in the DTS.

Ford Thunderbird

Our 2000s halo mobile is the Ford Thunderbird. It debuted for the 2002 model year, in the prime of the Modern Retro Is Cool thing amongst older buyers across the nation. The only rear-drive vehicle here, the Thunderbird shared its platform with the not retro Lincoln LS, and very retro Jaguar S-Type. All examples had a five-speed automatic that directed power from a 3.9-liter Jaguar V8 good for 252 horses. Pictured is the 2003 007 Edition Thunderbird, but you can swap it for a regular one if it’s your Buy.

Three decades and three halos. Which one will light up your life with a Buy?

[Images: Chrysler, GM, Ford]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Mar 24, 2021

    Why, thank you for using my suggestion! Buy the Thunderbird, unless you're talking about used-car prices. The Allante was too expensive new. Drive the Allante, unless it was the Northstar. From what I have heard, that engine wouldn't be running often enough to be driven. Burn the TC. A bad copy of a good original.

  • FreedMike FreedMike on Mar 24, 2021

    Burn the TC. It's a freakin' LeBaron with a nicer interior. For me, the buy/drive rests on a question: whether the head gaskets on the Allante have been replaced. Apparently the job is so expensive that most folks just junk the car instead, so I suspect these might be rare. Therefore: Buy the T-bird. Like the looks, RWD handling, plus it's a more modern car. I understand the engine in these can be problematic, but it's a newer model than the Allante, and most of these are very low-mileage creampuffs, so I'm thinking these should be OK for light weekend-drive duty for some time. Drive the Allante. Reverse this if the head gaskets on the Allante in question have been dealt with.

  • Arthur Dailey 'The capitalists will sell use the very rope that we use to hang them.' In our household we have cut down our shopping/spending and pay more to purchase products from 1st world nations or 2nd world nations that are our 'allies'. That also means quite often only buying and eating fruit and vegetables that are in season. Just like our parents and grandparents did.At least TTAC published an article on May 21st regarding LAN transformers that contravene the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act being used in some BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, and VW products?
  • ToolGuy I wouldn't buy any old Chinese brand of vehicle, but the right EV at the right price, maybe possibly yes. If you told me this would alarm Ford and torque off FreedMike, all the better. 😉P.S. I would *definitely* consider an EV made in Taiwan. Take that, paramount leader!P.P.S. China batteries/components to convert one of my ICE vehicles to EV? Yes.
  • Wolfwagen I expect Renault to be less popular than Fiat
  • ToolGuy Helium-3, baby!
  • Roman Our 1999 Pontiac Sunfire Gt is still running without any issues. 25 years and counting.
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