Rare Rides: The 1990 Chrysler LeBaron GTC Turbo Convertible, Variable Driving Excitement (Part I)
Today’s Rare Ride is one of the rarest versions of Chrysler’s third-generation LeBaron, in its run up to the final days and the conclusion of the very long-lived K-car platform. Sporty, turbocharged, and done up in black, the LeBaron had a long and winding road to get to its terminus.
Let’s talk about that history a bit.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the LeBaron name here at Rare Rides: In 2018 we featured this exceptionally rare LeBaron Town & Country woody wagon from 1978. That wagon eventually turned into the non-LeBaron (but same idea) Town & Country K-car wagon in the Eighties.
LeBaron was an independent coachbuilder once, and started building bodies for Chrysler in the 1930s. When Chrysler created the Imperial brand to compete with the likes of Cadillac, Packard, and Lincoln in 1931, some cars at the top of the range were fitted with luxurious bodies produced by LeBaron. When the Airflow’s overall styling was a flop, Chrysler went conservative and hired away a co-founder at LeBaron to rework the company’s styling. Eventually Chrysler bought out LeBaron entirely in 1953, and by that time the company had absorbed another coachbuilder: Briggs.
The name went dormant for a short while, until LeBaron appeared as the upscale trim of the new Imperial in 1956. The name became its own model in 1977 upon the creation of the M-body (Diplomat) based cars. At that point, it was available as sedan, wagon, and coupe.
LeBaron’s second gen for 1982 through 1988 kept all extant body styles of the first edition, and added on a convertible (available through 1986). After ’86 second-gen LeBaron coupes and convertibles were replaced in a move from the K-body to the new extended J-body. Keep in mind there was another LeBaron at the time as well, the five-door LeBaron GTS on the H-platform. That one was an upscale version of the Dodge Lancer.
The second-gen LeBaron sedan continued on through the ’89 model year before it was replaced with its third generation (1990-1994). That one resided on the AA-body K variant, and was the decked-out version of the Dodge Spirit and Plymouth Acclaim. It’s all a model and trim jumble, but that was just how Chrysler operated in the Eighties.
Complexities over, we’re caught up to relatively present day and the modern iteration of LeBaron. Next time we’ll talk all about the Eighties and turbocharging.
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- CoastieLenn So the Camaro is getting the axe, the Challenger is belly up, the Charger is also fading out of existence. Maaaaan Michigan better have a game plan on how to inject some soul back into the American carscape. The Mustang and Corvette can't do it on their own. Dark times we're living in, bro's. How long do you think it'll be before the US starts to backpedal on our EV mandates now that the EU has rolled back their ICE bans with synthetic fuel usage?
- Duke Woolworth We have old school Chevrolet Bolts, only feasible to charge at home because they are so slow. Travel? Fly or rent luxury.
- Styles I had a PHEV, and used to charge at home on a standard 3-pin plug (240v is standard here in NZ). As my vehicle is a company car I could claim the expense. Now we are between houses and living at the in-laws, and I'm driving a BEV, I'm charging either at work (we have a wall-box, and I'm the only one with an EV), or occasionally at Chargenet stations, again, paid by my employer.
- Dwford 100% charge at home.
- El scotto Another year the Nissan Rogue is safe.
A girl I knew back in the day had one of these. She went through a growing up of sorts...Changed her name from Kitty to Karen and traded her MG for a white Chrysler Labaron. She was very excited a bout the reliability (wanted a car that would get her there) and loved the cupholder armrest.
Ok, I had a 1987 4 door variant. Extremely unreliable car. Huge turbo lag Fun stuff. I have some guy living in my development, has last gen convertible and uses it as truck bed for carrying lawn moving equipment. He basically does some property work for his neighbors using this convertible.