1 of 500: 1989 Chrysler TC 5-Speed

This 1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati convertible may look like a repeat of the one we featured last week, but the two cars are actually quite different. Barn Finds reader James H. flagged this example because it’s one of 500 made with the Getrag manual transmission and an DOHC/16V engine actually assembled by Maserati with a Cosworth-designed head. Find this rare TC variant here on a North Carolina Auction website, where there’s a high bid of just $1,800 at the moment.

Whenever one of these pops up, I’m always reminded of just how different the drivetrain was between this car and the standard TC models. The engine was thoroughly re-engineered, with the aforementioned assembly by Maserati in Modena, along with the head by Cosworth (and Maserati-branded engine cover), upgraded crankshaft and rods, unique pistons and cams, and a 2.2L block found only in these 500 models.

These changes are said to have made some noticeable real-world differences between the examples fitted with the Daytona engine or Mitsubishi-built V6. Just having the manual transmission likely helps transform overall driving enjoyment from “meh” to “Hmm, decent.” The interior remained the same with all the leather you could shake a stick at, and this car’s interior appears decent for the mileage.

The rear spoiler is horrendous but easily removed. The TC has under 80,000 original miles, and the listing notes a scratch on the passenger side. It runs and drives and comes with the factory hardtop. The Virginia black plates are typically reserved for vintage vehicles, so there’s a chance a previous owner loved this rare TC, but no explanation is offered as to why it’s on a North Carolina auction website.

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Comments

  1. Rx-7 TurboII

    I can’t tell, is this a 2.2 turbo or just a standard naturally aspirated engine? I’d love to have that engine in my glh if it’s a turbo!

    Like 1
    • Sherminator

      According to the stats sheet, “500 cars were built with an optional drivetrain consisting of a Getrag manual transmission and a 16-valve head version of the 2.2 L.”

      Like 2
      • Rx-7 TurboII

        Thank you for copying and pasting that answer sherminator, how does that answer my question though?

        Like 1
    • EDirty

      It is. I also own one. There’s a little turbo hiding in the back

      Like 7
    • Evan

      Looks like a NA car. Online pics show the turbo version with a different valve cover that says “Turbo”

  2. Sam61

    Looks like fun…like it, dump the wire wheels and wheel arch trim. Maybe the owner lives in the greater tri-city metroplex of Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol?

  3. Little_Cars

    Pimp my ride stuff removed for sure. Gold spinners? Even that shift lever looks a little out of place but could be factory original I guess. This seems like a steal for the price, not for long. Headliner on hardtop looks red…odd. Pretty good scratch on the pass side should rub out with some elbow grease.

    Like 2
  4. Superdessucke

    Not the kind of Maserati Paula Abdul was talking about in “The Way That You Love Me” that’s for sure. I remember really disliking these things back in the day but, for dirt cheap now, it might be an interesting winter beater.

  5. CCFisher

    A product of two larger-than-life egos: Lee Iacocca and Alejandro de Tomaso, both a little out-of-touch with what the market wanted by the time this car was dreamed up.

    Originally planned for 1986, the TC was delayed so much that designers working on the 1987 LeBaron cribbed its look and were able to get on the market first, forever dooming the TC to be a “fancy LeBaron.”

    Like 4
  6. John

    Having owned several of these in all three engine forms, I can attest to this particular powertrains spirit. It’s a blast to drive and once the turbo kicks in, you and your passenger had better hold on! I always considered these a Lebaron done right. Fun, interesting and under appreciated..

    Like 9
  7. Del

    Had an 89 LeBaron convert turbo 2.2 for 16 years.

    Did a lot of resto work on it.

    Was very fast car.

    When I tried to sell it no one wanted it.

    Drove it to the wreckers. Got 269 dollars

    Like 2
  8. Jay

    The location (in Virginia) is actually listed on the auction site. Clarksville, which is in south-central (what we in the commonwealth would call Southside) Virginia, not far from NC, but not far west near Bristol.

  9. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Funny an older buddy now in his 70’s who still has the 4sp BB 1964 Belvedere he brought most all his kids home and a 1970 GC Cuda…still gets a hard over his TC Coupe with that 4cyl banger……

  10. Wayne

    I worked a Chrysler store when these were new.
    I don’t even remember them. Bid is at $2,600 and ends today.
    Sounds like a good deal.

    Like 1

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