16V 5-Speed: Chrysler TC by Maserati

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

If you’re committed to owning a Chrysler TC by Maserati, the one to own is an exceedingly rare 5-speed manual version with the Maserati-derived 16V motor. These cars offered slightly better performance and some additional prestige compared to their siblings sporting turbocharged Chrysler motors or a Mitsubishi V6. This example here on eBay has under 90,000 miles and features both of these rare options, but the seller notes it needs new valve seals. It’s listed with an $8K Buy-It-Now.

One of the big strikes against the TC was its lack of overall prestige despite the heavy association with Maserati. In most cars,  you’d life the hood to find a generic Chrysler engine that did duty in cars costing half as much as a TC. That’s why these 16-valve versions are a bit more desirable if you’re a potential TC owner, as the Maserati-built engine offered decent performance and far more desirability thanks to the slightly more exotic engineering than what you could otherwise buy in a Daytona.

The 5-speed transmission also made a big difference in driving enjoyment, and the Getrag unit paired to the Maserati-built motor was found in just over 500 TCs, making it the rarest spec of them all. This car shows heavy wear on the inside, with split seams and bucket seats needing new leather. The dash, carpets and steering wheel present fairly well, and everything inside thankfully appears stock. The seller notes that the speakers don’t work and that the “…engine smokes a bit, could be a valve seal.”

The bumper trim out back is also said to be in need of replacement, and the white-letter radials look odd on a luxury car like the TC. Overall, this is the one to buy if you need a TC in your collection, but given the rarity of the motor, it’s important to do some homework on possible causes of engine smoke before diving in. Will these ever be collector’s items? Not likely, but we suspect rare specs like this one won’t lose their value – provided the engine issues aren’t terminal.

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Comments

  1. ulm210

    He is at the very top of the price range with a lot of issues… engine smoke not the least of them.

    3+
  2. jaymes

    i thought they had headlight covers on these

    0
    • Joe

      The basic Le Baron did, but the TC didn’t. I think it was one of the styling changes by Maserati.
      One of these is on my short list of cars to own, but not for $8k with the work this one needs.

      0
    • SubGothius

      You’re thinking of the LeBaron coupe/convertible, which had similar styling cues. I think the intention was for the TC to lend some prestige to the LeBaron, but it panned out the other way around, as everyone tended to mistake the TC for a garden-variety LeBaron.

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  3. RichS

    Woah, never seen a manual trans one.

    2+
  4. Francisco

    Lee Iococa’s dream. You had to admire his courage.

    2+
  5. Rx7turboII

    wasn’t this the same engine they used in the spirit r/t?

    0
    • The Walrus

      No. The ‘Maserati’ engine was a 2.2 block with a Maserati designed head assembled by Cosworth in Italy. It was rated at 200 HP. The Chrysler TIV (16V Intercooled Turbo) used in the Spirit R/T, Daytona Iroc R/T and originally intended for the never produced (aside from 2 prototypes) 1990 Shelby CSX was designed by Lotus and built by Chrysler. It was rated at 224 HP.

      5+
    • Fritz T.

      Both the Masi & Lotus heads have a wonderful propensity to crack. Good luck trying to find parts for either.

      0
  6. CCFisher

    The cylinder head was by Maserati, but the bottom-end was Chrysler all the way. The Spirit R/T had a Lotus-designed head.

    1+
    • SubGothius

      The TC 16v heads were assembled at Maserati but designed and cast by Cosworth.

      1+
  7. The Walrus

    Nice accurate write-up. These would have a much different story had the Italian side been able to bring it to market on schedule in 85/86. By the time these came out the arguable better looking ’87 LeBaron was already on the showroom floor and these didn’t have the impact they would have 2 years earlier.

    I noticed someone mentioned the stick… all of the Mitsu V-6’s were automatics, which is most of the units sold. In addition to the 500 Maserati-head units, the Chrysler TII (2.2 Intercooled Turbo) could be had with a stick also.

    As mentioned in the write up, the Maserati-head units are the only ones that are likely to have much desirability going forward. It’s somewhat enhanced by the fact that Chrysler and Fiat are the same company now. I’d pass on this one, though. I’ve seen good-very good examples (I’d call this one ‘fair’) trade in the $5-$8K range in the 12-18 months. With the interior requiring work and engine issues unknown, this is a $2-$4K car.

    4+
  8. Jay M

    Why are these “rare” cars regularly for sale? Is there some huge design flaw or mystery problem with these cars?
    They are cheap to buy and supposedly rare…so why are they for sale?

    0
  9. lawrence

    Jay….take a break….read a book – maybe….or read the posts.

    1+
  10. charlie

    The Maserati engines are prone to problems. Big expensive problems. You see Quadroportes for sale really cheap, for the same reason. They also, to my mind, look a bit ungainly from the side. And, for even less money you can get a LeBaron convertible, with a V6, with a back seat of sorts, which you can get mechanical parts for, and which your local decent mechanic can fix. They are at the bottom of their market, being 25 years old, more or less, where most cars bottom out, until they hit 65 when they decline again. Pre WWII cars are dropping, except for the rare expensive to begin with museum pieces. ’49 – ’51 Fords and Mercury’s are dropping now, the tri-5 Chevy’s are next. Every dog has its day.

    1+
  11. That Guy

    Recently there was a manual TC on Craigslist in central California for $2500. It seemed to be in roughly similar shape. I considered calling about it but I don’t need any more projects and despite its rarity there’s zero profit potential. It’s gone now so I assume it sold eventually.

    I’ve always heard these were better, more competent cars than they got credit for being. The appeal is more in the Edsel vein, though, as famously unsuccessful oddballs.

    0
  12. navadisha

    Recently sold one of those porthole windows to a guy restoring one in Australia!

    0
  13. Fiete T.

    Bought one with 57K. For $2K…sure its a V6, but some servicing and mods (nothing whacky) and it’ll make a great, cheap, comfortable cruiser

    0

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