Affordable Woodie: 1983 Chrysler Town & Country

'83 T&C right side

Are you looking for a one-owner “woodie”?  Well, at least one with plastic that looks like wood? This 1983 Chrysler Labaron Town & Country Mark Cross Edition Convertible is listed here on craigslist and is priced at $5K. Could this car have the longest model name in history?

'83 T&C

It has been reported that there were 1,520 of these sold in 1983.  One issue owners have had to deal with is the rust that forms under the plastic “woody” panels.  We don’t know if there is or was any rust on this one though.

'83 T&C rear

The owner says there are 62,000 miles on the car and that it runs and drives great.

'83 T&C dash

The seats have been covered since day one and the car has always been stored in a garage.

'83 T&C front

The owner now has a pickup and no longer needs the “woody”.  As per the owner: “This is a collector’s quality car. Woodys are rare.”  The jury is out on this call.  Plastic is not wood, that’s the bottom line.

Motor-on,
Robert

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Comments

  1. Mark S Member

    Hide it away for awhile longer it’s time has not yet come.

    • MeToo

      I agree on hiding it. It’s so ugly it hurts the eyes. This would appeal only to someone who finds a “Family Truckster” just too big and not sporty enough. LOL

  2. randy

    Is that one of those “K” cars? 5K is dreaming. This is a swing and a miss.

  3. Woodie Man

    Somebody call Jon Voight….. his car is “rare”

  4. shiro1303 Member

    Yep
    This just screams Planes. Trains and Automobiles

    Maybe whoever buys the minivan will want this too

  5. dj

    Non turbo car. I’ll pass on this K car.

  6. Leon

    Is that 3rd brake light factory ?? If so this would be an 86 ?

  7. randy

    It would be. Many Mercedes owners of the “SL” model put a 3rd brake light on their car to make it look newer.

  8. Charles

    I doubt if anyone will ever seriously collect K cars. Maybe way off many years in the future if one has survived like this one, it will become a curiosity in someone’s collection. As far as collecting them, and them becoming any sort of an investment, that is almost a silly as someone collecting Yugo’s. One can still find nice 60’s and 70’s model Chrysler cars in good condition for under 10K, and those were V8 rear drive cars that people want to own. I doubt if anyone will ever be able to sell a preserved K car and pay for the kid’s college education.

    As a curiosity, yes! For 5K in this day and time??? One could buy it and take it to the ALPAR events. People will walk around it and say that they are surprised that any of them survived.

    This reminds me of a car that my first wife owned in the 80’s, except the ex-wife’s was a much better car. We purchased a 1980 Cordoba Landau Edition used in 82 with 44K miles on it. It was a nice ride with leather, and all the goodies. The ex-wife loved that thing, and with the 318 engine and 904 trans it was fairly peppy for an 80’s car. It ran great and she drove it until the late 90’s. She wanted it in the divorce, and it I told her that she could have the Chrysler if I could keep my Trans AM. She drove that car until it had 330K miles on it, than traded it on a new VW Beetle in 1999. A few years later after the car was long gone, I sold my stock pile of Cordoba parts to a fellow out west. I had collected a whole set of new plastic filler pieces while they were still available, and other plastic trim and such that was unique to that model, all new in the factory wrappers. When this fellow bought the parts he was restoring an 80’s Chrysler 300, and he had a nice low mileage Cordoba Landau. There were lots of Cordoba’s made, but only 1600 Landau models made, so it was as rare as this T&C. He said that model specific parts were non-existent, because no one saved these cars. I believe that K cars will have the same fate.

  9. Jason Houston

    This is a sad commentary on how post-1972 cars just aren’t having any impact on collector car markets. When this car came out, I wanted one so badly. I was excited they were making convertibles again, but this was over the top in my book, and I predicted a huge appreciation, but it never happened. I’d still love to have one, but am concerned about the horrible service and reliability reputations cars of this period were blessed with. Another demand-killer is the cheap lack of a quarter window.

    It won’t qualify as “the longest model name in history” because it was not in continuous use since 1950, when the final genuine Town & Country was built.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      I think they meant number of words not time of use.

      • Jason Houston

        Good suggestion!

  10. roger

    I remember when the K cars came out.
    Good little cars.
    We made fun of them because they were front wheel drive.
    Now nearly ever car made is FWD.
    I still do not like FWD. Feels weird to drive.
    Got a Rear wheel drive pickup for daily use.

    Like 1
  11. ron tyrrell

    if you watch the traffic on a busy day you will see very few American autos with one execption that were manufactured in the nineteen eighties. No Citations, Chevettes, Granadas but you will see K cars. Here in the Portland Or there are still quite a few K cars running around and it is rare to see and Ford or Chevrolets from the eighties. Now you do see a few imports mainly Toyota products. Just and observation, I think they ended up being a tough little car.

    Like 1
    • krash

      Noticed this auto every few days up in Maine…..

      • krash

        ….just rollin’ along on rt.95

  12. Dolphin Member

    The K car helped save Chrysler back in the ’80s. They were affordable and mostly reliable and worth owning if what you wanted was basic transportation. They were some of the first domestic FWD cars, which allowed them to be smaller and lighter.

    Iaccoca talks about the K car in his autobiography and mentions how much attention they got. Lots of people wanted one, and the waiting lists got pretty long at some of the dealers, who thought Iacocca was a genius for giving then K cars to sell.

    There was one in our family and my mother loved hers. It was a decent basic car that gave her very little trouble. I thought they were dull, but not all inexpensive, economical cars can be exciting.

    I can never see K cars being collectible or classics no matter how much fake wood cladding they have on the sides. Let’s just be thankful they helped keep Chrysler from going under.

  13. Scotty G

    I can 100% guarantee that people will collect “K-cars” (said in not quite as negative of a tone as some previous commenters). Yes, I had a LeBaron convertible, a non-woody version and yes, it was a great car. There is no way that people will collect old 911s or the dreaded 914s, or vintage Japanese cars, or old work trucks; no way. Er.. wait a minute.. Folks that don’t like will never like them, collectible or not. How people keep saying that something won’t be collectible just blows my mind.

    Like 2
  14. Mark S Member

    My wife and I had a 1990 Plymouth sundance it had the 2.5 engine with throttle body injection which was a big improvement over carbs. It had a sportier look than the reliant and was a good car, never gave us any trouble. The 2.5 injected motor was way better than the 2.2 carb. Motor, better cold start and more power.

  15. Bobsmyuncle

    I’m seeing an opportunity to build a Chrysler museum these past few days!

    I think some people might be more comfortable using a term such as “coveted” rather than “collectible” which seems to imply increasing value.

    That said I think some are forgetting some of the most “collectible” and “valuable” cars these days are those that were mundane in their time. Delivery or work vehicles, micro cars, the Beetle and VW Bus are good examples, there are countless others.

  16. Charles

    Several family members bought K-Cars back in the day. The build quality was poor. I remember paint peeling and cheap plastic parts breaking constantly. One uncle who bought one said that the car should have come with a tube of super glue, a bag of rubber bands, and a roll of duct tape so that the owner could put the parts back on that fell off. No one was happy with them, and they were soon traded on other vehicles. No doubt the K car did allow Chrysler to recover and become profitable again. And Iococca… He worked at Ford when they developed the Pinto with the exploding gas tanks if one were unlucky enough to get rear-ended in one of them. Ford knew the Pinto had a flaw in the design, but did not want to spend the money to fix the problem. Iococca was told of this flaw. He asked what was the estimate of how many people would die as a result. When his subordants told him approximately 800, his reply was that’s acceptable.

    • Jason Houston

      I don’t know any 1980s car that had any degree of quality in the fit and finish department. Ford interiors that were baked in 8 hours of direct sunlight with the windows up, would crumble when touched even gently. GM cars were just as bad, except their steering wheels emitted a foul sticky substance that was impossible to ever get rid of. This was also the age of the electronic ignition, which plagued everybody. If anything good came out of the 80’s it was the return of the convertible after a decade in darkness.

      • Karl

        Dude, I don’t know where you were at, but I would kill to get my ’86 T-bird back. 3.8-liter V6 with the C5 lockup automatic, good power and gas mileage, great driver. I painted it Mercedes blue-green metallic and that was absolutely the sharpest car I ever owned. Incidentally, I bought it from Hertz with 30,000 miles on the clock, and it spent every day I had it outside in the Louisiana sun, with none of the problems you mention. I sold it because I fell in love with the next-generation T-bird and bought a ’90 to replace it. Now THAT was a POS.
        So no, not every 1980s car was a bad car.

  17. Marty Member

    The four door and two door K-cars were cheaply made little econo-boxes, and they were good for what they were good for. The 2.2 engines seemed to last a little longer than the 2.6’s, but neither one of them lasted very long. I agree with the earlier negative comments, these are dreadful little automotive abominations.

    The convertibles were the worst. I had a clean, well maintained, low mileage, non-rusted car, that would still pop one of the convertible top latches when I drove at an angle over a driveway entrance. I learned I had to do that really slowly in this car. It had lots of leaks and wind noise. The body seemed somehow heavy for it’s size, but the extra weight didn’t translate at all to any kind of body integrity.

    The interior was made of ultra cheap, lightweight plastic parts that didn’t fit together very well. The small engine didn’t get very good gas mileage. I quickly ended up hating the one I had. I sold it at a big loss, a few months after I bought it. I later found out that it caught on fire for the next guy. I had previously owned a number of 1960s full size Chrysler products, and this car was a very big step down from those.

    By the way, the 1982 and ’83 models like this one, were built out of regular two door cars and were made into convertibles by an independent shop. These can be easily spotted by the lack of side quarter panel windows. The 1984 and newer models, (with quarter panel windows) were true factory-built convertibles, but weren’t much better in quality.

    • Scotty G

      But, like everything else in life, not every one was bad. My LeBaron convertible was great – no problems, no peeling paint, no sagging doors, no ill-fitting interior components; no problems what so ever. A blanket statement like that is an opinion, not based in fact. It would be like me saying that 100% of them were perfect because mine was; I know that’s not the case. I’m sorry to hear that you had problems with yours, I was a huge Chrysler product fan in the 80s and early-90s (even my 1991 Dodge Spirit was 95% trouble-free up to 315,000 miles when the front end rusted out).

  18. Jason Houston

    Chrysler’s K-Car has an interesting history. After Iacocca took over, brainstorming sessions were held to determine what prior identities could be renewed to dig Chrysler out of a sure grave. The high-performance cars of the late 60’s wouldn’t work, because they had none to offer. The crappy quality of the late 50s wouldn’t sell cars, nor would the hideous styling blunders of the early 60’s. The one success standout was the Valiant. With its new slant six engine, the Valiant had been deemed industry-wide the most reliable of the early US compacts. ‘The Reliable Valiant’ became “Reliant” and, love it or hate it, it ultimately saved Chrysler.

  19. piper62j

    The only real issue with these platforms was the cracking of the front apron just in front of the firewall on the right side.. AND the rusting of the shift shaft on the automatic transmissions.. It sat on top of the case. Water, sand, salt and debris would settle there and cause the shaft to rust inside the bushing.. You could not shift out of park occasionally.. A real bugaboo…LOL

    • randy

      The only real issue, is they were made by Chrysler in the 80’s. Yuk yuk yuk.

  20. Marty Member

    Scotty, I’m beginning to suspect I’m not alone in my disregard for these K-car convertibles. Over a period of time, I had three of them. An ’82 LeBaron, an ’84 LeBaron as described previously, and an ’85 Dodge 600.

    The one that should have been the worst, actually turned out to be the best of the bunch. The 600 had the ‘wrong’ engine, an accident history, and needed a repair when I got it. But this time, I had a more realistic expectation for what the car was – a cheap, disposable convertible. I paid a much more appropriate price for it. I did a minor repair on it, and used it and enjoyed it for a summer, and then sold it for a very modest profit. Most importantly, this time I never tried to kid myself or anyone else about what a great car it was. The best of the three, it was still underpowered, had very poor body integrity, rode like a log wagon, and had a cheap, creaky, ill-fitting plastic interior, albeit this one with aged leather seats.

    Originally, I though these small, boxy K-cars were a logical progression from the big boxy 60s Mopars I loved so much and owned so many of. They weren’t.

    When I see these for sale, I still like the idea and the look of them, but it doesn’t take long to think of the many other better cars I’d rather own for the same money and equivalent driveway space.

  21. Charles

    I remember K-cars having one brand and type of cv joint on the left side, and another brand and type of cv joint on the right. There was no reason for this practice except poor quality control. There were several designs used on none were interchangable with the others. Just a tiny bit of planning, and they could have paired them up so that each car would have a matched set.

  22. Charles

    I remember K-cars having one brand and type of cv joint on the left side, and another brand and type of cv joint on the right. There was no reason for this practice except poor quality control. There were several designs used on none were interchangable with the others. With just a minor amount of planning, they could have matched sets.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Any supporting documentation for that? Sounds incredulous to say the least.

  23. Walter Joy

    Worse part is you could get a continental kit for it

    • Jason Houston

      Thank god I never saw that… Yuk!

  24. Charles

    Ironic, but funny! A fake spare tire to match the fake wood grain vinyl trim with the purpose of decorating a turd of a car that at best is attempting to mimic basic transportation.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist…

    • Jason Houston

      Oh, don’t worry, I understand your point completely. I guess my fascination with the car was from comparing it to the other US and foreign crap that was on the 1983 market, and in that light it stood out. Being born and raised in convertibles, I was always drawn to them, but there were only three in 1983 – Mustang, Dodge and Chrysler. Only the Mustang came with a V8 and manual trans, but only the T&C had any degree of class. Again, remember, this was by 1983 standards, not 1950!

  25. Theodore Donahue

    I had an 86 red Lebaron Convertible for 18 years and would buy another if I had the chance. Sharp car and fun to drive. As for the car feeling ‘heavy’ while driving, the trick was to trash those ridiculous wire wheel covers. Each one weighed about the same as a cinder block, and was about as stylish as one too. And the rattling noise, besides. First thing I did to mine was get a set of chromed plastic ones from Pep Boys, and that’s when my car started drawing compliments!

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