By on September 13, 2021

1991 Chrysler TC by Maserati in Colorado junkyard, LH rear view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWith The General offering a costlier-than-an-S-Class Cadillac built in Turin and Hamtramck (the two assembly lines connected via custom-built 747 freighters) as well as Italianate Buicks and Oldsmobiles in the late 1980s, Lee Iacocca decided to leverage Chrysler’s investment in Maserati to create a K-Car-based Italian sports car: the TC by Maserati. Like the Allanté, Troféo, and Reatta, the TC hasn’t held its value so well over the decades, and I find the occasional example during my junkyard travels. Here’s a crashed ’91 in a yard near Denver, Colorado. (Read More…)

By on August 26, 2021

In Part V of the Rare Rides series on the Eagle Premier, I mentioned an abandoned project at Chrysler called Liberty. Announced in 1985, Liberty was supposed to be a direct challenge to GM’s recently announced Saturn brand. Or it wasn’t, depending on what day of the week Liberty was addressed.

Chrysler’s PR department and CEO Lee Iacocca seemed at odds on what the Liberty project was, but they were both sure it was very important and it would build something, probably.

(Read More…)

By on May 24, 2021

1983 Chrysler New Yorker in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhen Lee Iacocca’s K-cars finally hit American showrooms for the 1981 model year, the ax that had seemed poised over Chrysler’s neck for much of the late 1970s seemed to pull back. For model year 1983, a stretched version of the K chassis became the basis of such luxurious machines as the Dodge 600, Plymouth Caravelle, and Chrysler E-Class. Just to confuse everybody, the New Yorker line bifurcated that year, with the New Yorker Fifth Avenue remaining on the same platform as the rear-wheel-drive Dodge Diplomat and the regular New Yorker becoming an E-platform sibling to the 600/E-Class/Caravelle. Here’s one of those first-year New Yorkers, found in very clean condition in a Denver-area self-service yard last week. (Read More…)

By on August 12, 2019

1984 Dodge 600 in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOnce Lee Iacocca’s front-wheel-drive K-cars brought Chrysler back from near-death and into profitability, the platform became the basis of a sprawling family of K-related relatives. One of the earliest spinoffs was the E Platform, a lengthened K that gave us the Chrysler E-Class/New Yorker, the Plymouth Caravelle, and the Dodge 600. Just to confuse matters, the Dodge 600 coupe remained a true K, sibling to the Dodge Aries.

That’s what we’ve got here, and this Denver 600 coupe has some stories to tell. (Read More…)

By on July 3, 2019

Digging up names from the past is a popular hobby at most car makers, to the point that a few of them would be well served to hire their own archaeologists to smooth out the process. Some are wantonly ditched prematurely in the pursuit of alphanumerics (*ahem* Legend, Vigor *ahem*) while others are relegated to the dustbin of history after being appended to a particularly horrid car.

Others simply slip away into the night like a silent bandit after the shuttering of its brand. Voyager is one of these, with FCA deciding to trot it out again and apply it to entry-level versions of the Pacifica (which, by itself, is a recycled name).

(Read More…)

By on July 3, 2019

fca

It’s seldom spoken of publicly, but every writer keeps in the back of his or her mind an obituary they hope to never pen. In this keyboard jockey’s case, that obit would be the one you’re reading now.

Tuesday night brought word that Lee Iacocca — era-defining auto executive, marketer extraordinaire, outspoken patriot and critic — passed away at the age of 94. Lia Iacocca Assad says her father died of complications from Parkinson’s disease at his Bel-Air, California home, The Washington Post reports. (Read More…)

By on November 19, 2018

1982 Dodge 400 in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Lee Iacocca’s original Chrysler K Platform spawned an incomprehensible tangle of K-related offspring between the 1981 and 1995 model years, but only a few U.S.-market models were true K-Cars: the Chrysler LeBaron, Plymouth Reliant, Dodge Aries, Dodge 600, and Dodge 400.

Of these, the 400 has been the hardest for me to find in the self-service wrecking yards I frequent; in fact, this is the first junkyard Dodge 400 I’ve photographed. (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2018

Certain extraordinary circumstances can move a vehicle from the standard Rare Rides classification and into Concentrated Rides. Take today, for instance, where a concerned collector has gathered together 24 Chrysler Imperials in a California desert.

The why here is unclear.

(Read More…)

By on February 4, 2017

It was a dark and unexciting night. The setting: my apartment. The time: well, last night.

The hour was was growing late, but going to bed at a normal time on a Friday night — even my definition of a normal time — seemed like an invitation to early onset senility. I’m a human being, dammit, I’m alive, and doing anything — anything — besides refreshing my taxed brain cells seemed like a good plan.

So, a Budweiser was cracked, an old movie was sought out, and my feet soon raised themselves to a comfortable, elevated position. Now, many who aren’t familiar with my history are unaware of a shocking secret — something that could prompt fits of laughter if you’re not ready for the news. (Read More…)

By on August 25, 2016

Untitled

His commercials were a sign of the times — desperate, struggling times that suddenly turned prosperous.

In the 1980s, Ronald DeLuca was the hidden face behind an instantly familiar one — Chrysler Corporation chairman Lee Iacocca, who walked into his company’s own commercials to personally pitch front-wheel-drive K-car platform products to a recession-weary America.

DeLuca, the advertising whiz hired by Iacocca to help turn around Chrysler’s late-1970s death plunge, died last week at 91, according to The New York Times. During his tenure DeLuca and Iacocca cranked out a slew of unusually frank, bold commercials that paid off in a big way. (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2015

It was the late 1970s. Following the oil crisis in the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, Japanese automakers were able to go from having a foothold on the west coast to being major players in the domestic American market. In 1976, Honda introduced the first generation Accord, a revolutionary package that combined outstanding fuel economy, front wheel drive, reliability, practicality, sprightly performance and a standard equipment list that included a stereo and air conditioning. At the time, Chrysler was headed by Lee Iacocca and in a changing automotive world, for some reason Iacocca decided that what Chrysler needed was a large personal luxury car. Burton Bouwkamp, who was director of body engineering for Chrysler at the time, recalled his boss barking “Where the hell is our Cadillac/Lincoln entry?” The result was the 1981-83 Chrysler Imperial, the last V8 powered Imperial to be produced. (Read More…)

By on September 10, 2014

mini van. Shutterstock user BoJack

Josh writes:

What is the deal with minivans? I was thinking the other day that as an outdoor person, minivan’s are perfect. They have lots of room for people and gear, AWD (in some cases), lots of roof space, and better MPG’s than an SUV. But apparently I can’t own one because they’re not cool. I could get a wagon though. Isn’t a minivan just a super-sized wagon?

Will minivans ever be cool to own?

(Read More…)

By on May 28, 2014

balancing act

Capitalism has no loyalties.

Everybody is replaceable.

Products. Employees. Employers. Services. Alliances. Joint Ventures. Financiers. Even the executives of multinational firms along with their board of directors are only as good as whatever quarterly numbers can be cooked up by their ‘independent’ auditing firm.

Capitalism is the ultimate “Let’s go!”, “Do it!” and “Screw you!” of economic systems. You name the angle or need in capitalism, and chances are that there is a market substitute that can immediately fill the gap. Even government regulations can be routinely challenged by trade organizations, international courts, and the all too common political handshake.

All this reality happens… on paper.

(Read More…)

By on April 25, 2014

Mary-Barra-Chevrolet-Cruze

Reuters reports General Motors announced in its regulatory filing Thursday that it was under the microscope of five different government agencies related to its numerous recalls as of late. Aside from investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and both houses of Congress, the automaker revealed the Securities and Exchange Commission and an unnamed state attorney general’s office were conducting their own probes. The filing also acknowledged GM was under the gun of 55 pending class action lawsuits in the U.S., and five of the same in Canada. GM said they were working with all of the investigations, though the automaker did not say what the SEC was looking for in its probe.

(Read More…)

By on April 18, 2014

Fifty years ago this week, the first Ford Mustang went on sale. While Lee Iacocca is considered by many to be the father of the Mustang, the simple reality is that without the approval of Henry Ford II, the chief executive at Ford, the Mustang would never have happened. That took some doing. After American Motors had shown the viability of compact cars, in 1960, Ford introduced the Falcon, Chevrolet introduced the Corvair, and Pontiac brought out the original, compact, Tempest. When GM introduced the sportier Monza versions of the Corvair, Iacocca, who by then was a Ford corporate VP and general manager of the Ford division, wanted something to compete with it. Henry Ford II, aka “Hank the Deuce”, had to be convinced to spend money on the project, just a few short years after FoMoCo took a serious financial hit when the Edsel brand did not have a successful launch. Iacocca, one of the great salesmen, not only sold his boss on the concept of the Mustang, the Deuce came to love the pony car so much he had a very special one made just for himself. (Read More…)

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