Woodie Wagon: 1980 Chrysler Town And Country

Most of the “woodie” LeBarons featured here on Barnfinds of late have been of the K-car persuasion.  But before the front wheel drive K-car platform was introduced in 1981, the then-struggling Chrysler Corporation offered the LeBaron as a rear wheel drive car built on the M-body platform (1977-1981).  Similar in design to Chrysler’s F-body, the M-car was a successor to the short-lived R-body platform.  Is your head spinning yet?  Mine is.  Thankfully, Wikipedia offers a nicely organized list of Chrysler platforms to help sort through all of this alphabet confusion!  This 1980 LeBaron Town & Country is offered here on Craigslist and is located in Vestal, New York.  It’s reported to have just over 45K original miles and can be yours for $4,200.

The wood tone applique is the aesthetic focal point and gives every LeBaron Town & Country its signature look.  Is it me or does the faux woodgrain on this T&C possess a bit more texture and richness of color than what is typically presented on a 1980s LeBaron “woody?”  I prefer this car’s teakwood-esque color over those wearing the ash wood look, which is much lighter.  This T&C’s applique seems to have resisted the heavy fading and blonding often seen on these cars, indicating it’s been stored inside for most if not all of its life.  I find it interesting that the fake wood pegs running along the top of the front driver side fender are much darker in color than they appear on the passenger side.  What about those non-original rims, can anyone place them?  I believe the LeBaron Town & Country wagon came from the factory with faux wire wheel covers.

When it comes to attempting to determine a car’s true mileage, Barnfinds readers are known to be adept forensic investigators.  Does the cockpit look to you like it’s seen 45K or 145K worth of ride time?  All we can go by is the seller’s word and the photographic evidence available.  Accepting that age and storage conditions are factors to consider, the leather upholstery doesn’t look to be in horrible shape given the car’s age, although the driver seat is suffering minor cracking.  The steering wheel doesn’t appear to show signs of advanced wear and the rest of the interior looks to be in very good condition with only a bit of headliner sag, according to the seller.  The car comes fully loaded with power windows, locks, and driver seat.  The AC unit needs to be recharged, which is the only issue reported by the seller.

The sole picture of the engine bay in the ad reveals a motor that neither appears to have been neglected nor obsessively cared for.  The 225 “Slant Six” was the base motor for the LeBaron T&C and is reported to be capable of producing 90 hp.  In other words, if you happen to come upon one of these wagons trudging along the Adirondack Northway laden down with the whole family on their way to a weekend in the mountains, hurry-up and get in the left lane.  Chrysler offered the option of a 318 V8 and today, a quick internet search reveals those cars command a surprisingly hefty price.  So if you’re in the market for a classic LeBaron T&C without the exorbitant cost, this nicely preserved, presumed to be low mileage offering could be a great opportunity.

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Comments

  1. IkeyHeyman

    I’m not a big Mopar guy but I really like this. Would like it more with a 318.

    Like 3
  2. Tripp

    I’m shocked that this car was built with the slant six. Even mid-level Aspens and Volares came with the 318.

    Like 3
    • Douglas Potts

      Not all of the Aspens came with the 318. The slant 6 was the base engine in those also.

      Like 1
  3. Bill Shields

    Hey Jay.

    The rims are actually wheel covers from the Cordoba/Mirada of the same period.

    Like 4
  4. Bill Shields

    Hey Jay.

    The rims are actually wheel covers from the Cordoba/Mirada of the same period.

    • CCFisher

      The 1980 LeBaron brochure also lists a turbine-style wheel cover. There are no images, but it’s likely that these are those optional covers.

      Like 6
    • Jay B Staff

      Bill, thanks for verifying! I tried Googling some images of Cordobas, Aspens, etc. etc and couldn’t find those wheel covers. Glad to know they are factory original and I like them a whole lot more than the wire wheel look. How about you? Thanks again!

  5. Michael

    Those wheel covers also came standard on some Lebaron models of the era as well. Some (our 1981 had them) had the Lebaron “eagle” in the middle. So these may very well be original.

    Like 4
  6. mallthus

    I actually find the presence of the 6 a boon. The 318 isn’t a particularly special V8 (120 hp in this application), so I’d rather have an engine I didn’t feel bad about pulling.

    I can imagine this, with an engine swap, could be a lot of fun.

    Like 1
    • Jerry Brentnell

      if a person was so inclined this would be the perfect place to put a 5.2 v8 out of a dodge dakota with the 4 speed automatic! and put 355 gears in the rear end! ans you would have the best of both worlds lots of power and good fuel mileage. my 98 dakota gave me 1800 kms on 3 tanks of gas it was a rear wheel drive

      Like 2
  7. Brakeservo

    This looks more like Chevy Chase’s family truckster than any other real car I’ve ever seen. Like fintail Mercedes and 308GT4 wedgies, this is just old and weird enough to get interesting!

    Like 3
  8. David Dulmage

    I had one of these. They weren’t that fast off the line, but performed very well at highway speed and the slant 6 was bullet proof.

    Like 3
    • 36 Packard

      Slant Six was just faking it in those years, one from ten years earlier rocked, but these gasped for breath, got worse MPG then the 318 because they were so smothered and you needed to floor them to do anything, plus the started and idled rough. The late 70s was not kind to the once mighty SS. I had a friend who got 17 MPG wit a SS and another had almost the same car with a 318 and got 21 MPG.

      Like 1
  9. Stigshift

    My grandparents had an ’81 with a Slant 6, and it had those wheel covers on it from day one.

    Like 1
  10. Alex

    I lived South of the border when these were new. Down in México they came with a standard 360 c.i. engine, 4 bbl. Rochester carb. Not economical to drive, by any means, but really fun. I know. I owned a 2 door coupe, a 4 door sedan and a woody wagon. Of the three, the one I truly miss is the wagon.

    Like 3
    • Miguel

      Alex, I don’t know where those 360 cars went, but most I see for sale haver the slant 6 in them down here in Mexico.

      • Alex

        The 6 was not an option. I know that fir a fact. All of those you now see are engine swaps. I don’t blame them. At 14 to 16 mpg with the 360 gas costs were high.

      • Miguel

        Alex, what car are you talking about specifically. The Darts of this body style almost all came with the 6 cylinder, even the wagons.

        I have seen very few V8 cars for sale in this body style.

        Like 2
    • Alex

      Miguel, I’m talking specifically about the Le Baron. Darts and Volares were another different story.
      .

      • Bill W

        The M body (Diplomat, Caravelle, LeBaron) were based on the F body (Volare and Aspen). So there is a lot of similarity between LeBarons and Volares.

        Darts were another story, using the A body shared with the Valiant – offered the slant six to the end in 1976. No wagons, though, after 1966. And they had real 2 door hardtops.

  11. Bakyrdhero

    Family trickster 2.0

  12. Rusty

    Wow, I really like this one. And that /6 probably represents the spirit of ’80 better than a 318 would. Detroit was downsizing power a lot faster than they were downsizing weight. It seemed at the time like nobody wanted these or the GM intermediates with V8s. The 6s Seemed to greatly outnumber them.

  13. Del

    Nice car.

    Nice shape.

    But I would wait for V8 one.

    Like 1
  14. C F Rapoza

    My Father had a Brand New one just like this, root beer brown and all with the 318 lean burn engine.
    The car just would not run and the Chrysler Dealer just could not fix it
    It lasted 6 months and less than 5k miles.
    He traded it for an Olds

  15. lc

    I believe the drivers side faux wood pegs are missing…neat car though I’d say a maintained 145,000 miles

  16. Tom S.

    As cool as it would look, you’re not going to be able to tow an Airstream with this one.

  17. Allen Member

    I had a ’79 LeBaron T&C. PO had removed the woodwork. It was old when I bought it with about 88,000 miles on it. It did have the 318. I drove it and drove it for years and it never required any repairs. Great old car. Lots of long trips too. The car inspired complete trust. About 10 years later I had an ’85 Fury 318 four-door. Same thing: absolutely bulletproof. Would love to have this one as a DD.

  18. Allen Member

    I guess the advantage of buying cars that are 10 years old or older is the factory bugs like lean-burn have been sorted out long before the cars got into my hands. My originally lean-burn $600 1976 Dodge Magnum 360, bought circa 1990 is another example. Three lean-burn Chrysler products over ten years old at purchase – pressed into super-reliable DD service. The Magnum did some trailer duty too. It could have pulled that Air Stream.

  19. 1CcolRide

    If you think you hate it now just wait till you drive it!
    Eugene Levi

    Like 1
  20. Bill W

    The slant six engine was not an option, but standard equipment on 1978 to 1981 LeBaron models. 1977 had the 318 as the only engine while it was the standard V8 1978 to 1981. The 360 was optional in 1978 and 1979.

    For 1982 the LeBaron was shrunk to the K body and the M body Chrysler became the New Yorker – slant six standard and 318 optional. 1983, now Fifth Avenue, was the last year for an M body with the slant six. 318 only from then to the end in 1989.

  21. Chebby Staff

    It’s weird to see a fully loaded LeBaron with the slant-six. They were peppy engines in the 1960s, but total pigs with smog equipment added. Might as well turbo-charge this one for fun.

  22. Allen Member

    Chebby,

    318 V8s – same story. Great in the ’60s, Great again later (witness my ’99 Dodge Dakota), but they all sucked in the mid-70s. No manufacturer knew how to deal with emissions until computers came up to speed in mid ’80s.

  23. r s

    I had a 1980 LeBaron – maybe it was a ’79, the grille was different – which was fully loaded and had the slant 6. It had a lot of carburetor issues but when it ran properly it was a very pleasant car. Not really powerful but smooth and tolerable. It had those same seats in it and they were among the most comfortable I’ve ever had in a car.

  24. Bob

    I bought a low mileage ’87 5th Avenue M body and can’t believe how similar the front ends are. Mine has the 318 and couldn’t imagine it with a six. These cars are the cat’s meow!!

    Like 1
  25. Mark

    Back in 2003 I picked up a ’79 Dodge Diplomat Wagon at the “Chrysler Nationals” in Carlisle, PA, thinking I would use it for a band car, as from what I could tell, was the last V-8 RWD MOPAR wagon, yes mine has the 318. We swapped in the rear end from a Diplomat Squad car, replaced the original (and anemic) lean burn carb. with a 4 bb. Edelbrock, added dual exhaust, and it’s been a great “sleeper wagon” for many years now. The hatch and “hard deck” rear compartment make load-in/out with my heavy keyboards and amp. a snap, and it gets me there in high style with comfort. Don’t overlook these M-body cars, great, solid, responsive drivers, and quite reliable. At 134K mine runs like it’s just getting broken in.

  26. bachldrs Member

    Amen Mark!

    I had a ’79 LeBaron wagon. Wonderful wagon. Nearly 10 years old when I bought this one-owner car. Lesson applied successfully again: buy ten-year-old (more or less) one-owner cars. Nobody keeps a car that long unless: (1) they like it; and (2) they take care of it. Works for me… Old Chrysler products are always a bargain anyway. Resale values are victimized by age-old baseless prejudices. Consumer Reports always bashes them, but I’ve owned used Chrysler products from just about every decade since my first car: a ’37 Plymouth. And a well-maintained 318 will run forever.

    Like 1

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