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Exotic Chrysler? 1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati

No really, that’s the name. That’s what these two multi-billion-dollar car companies came up with as a name for this American and Italian exotic-but-not-too-exotic luxury car experiment. They looked too much like the LeBaron so they didn’t go over too well. This 1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati can be found posted here on craigslist in Selma, California, just southwest of Fresno, and they have an asking price of $7,000 listed.

I always thought that these cars were cool and at least somewhat exotic. I had a square, K-car-like LeBaron convertible in this era so when the new, sleek LeBaron came out, all of a sudden mine looked like a box of crackers. Then the Chrysler TC by Maserati came out and I wanted one, at least until I started reading reviews and reports of owner problems so I bought a black two-door BMW 318i. It wasn’t as exotic as anything with a Maserati name on it but it was a great car.

The Q-body Chrysler TC by Maserati was made for model years 1989 through 1991, two years after Chrysler introduced their new LeBaron based on the J-body. They looked very similar and the price difference was enough to put off Chrysler buyers, and exotic car buyers couldn’t see the value or the sense in buying a Chrysler with an optional Maserati engine. Oddly enough, both companies are now owned by Fiat. It would be nice to see this car without the hardtop on, to see the condition of the convertible top.

Things were lookin’ great on the exterior but it’s not quite the same inside. The interior is where you could tell that this car wasn’t just a LeBaron, they were really luxurious, Maserati luxurious. The signature puffy leather seating surfaces look good but it’s scary that the airbag steering wheel has been changed out. The listing mentions that it has a clean title but why would that be changed? There is another steering wheel in the trunk, is that the original wheel? There’s no logo or airbag, weird. You can also see the horse blanket on the dash, or whatever that thing is. I’m assuming that the dash top may be in poor condition or it wouldn’t have that thing draped over it. The area behind the front seats looks great.

This car has the Chrysler 2.2L inline-four turbo which had 160 horsepower. The following year, buyers could get a Mitsubishi V6 which took care of the turbo lag that a lot of buyers were complaining about. Values have doubled in the last year and Hagerty is now at $8,600 for a #3 good condition car. Have any of you owned a Chrysler TC by Maserati?

Comments

  1. 8banger 8banger Member

    Meh.

    Like 1
  2. alphasud Member

    The one you want has the Maserati cylinder head. I like Maserati but the combination was never a hit for me. Let’s see what I can come up with for a compliment on a Chrysler TC. It’s the prettiest K car ever made! How’s that?

    Like 8
  3. Stan

    Is it true these were built in USA then shipped overseas..to maserati , then sent back ? Always liked these they came available with stick shift too i believe.

    Like 3
    • kg23

      The Cadillac Allantes were the ones air-freighted back and forth to Europe.

      The manual transmission TCs came with dual cam Maserati heads for an extra for hp.

      Like 3
  4. George Mattar

    Another Chrysler disaster.

    Like 3
  5. CCFisher

    You can put an Armani suit on a redneck, but he’s still a redneck. Likewise, you can put an Italian interior in a K-car, but it’s still a K-car. It might have worked, had Chrysler not given the ’87 LeBaron such similar styling.

    Like 3
  6. TJDasen2

    I owned a 1991 V6 version for several years. Purchased as a summer fun car and enjoyed it immensely. Never had a problem with it and sold it for my original purchase price.
    The steering wheel in the trunk is the original.

    Like 9
  7. Terrry

    Maserati will deny these things ever existed. Really, this was little more than a gussied up LeBaron with Maserati badges. Maybe that dash “coder” is actually the airbag?

    Like 2
  8. CCFisher

    Wasn’t it “Chrysler’s TC by Maserati”? Complete with the ‘s?

    Like 4
  9. Bick Banter

    The only thing exotic about these was the special Maserati lube that that Chrysler used the screw its customers, usually realtors and older people from Florida. This thing was basically an expensive Chrysler LeBaron, which in turn was basically a K-car.

    Like 2
  10. TomP

    Very funny responses, none of the body panels on this car are compatible with a Lebaron. This body was cut and shortened to become a two seater. 1989 TC’s didn’t have steering wheel airbags. The car was made in the U.S., shipped to Italy for finishing, and shipped back to the U.S.. The 1991 TC’s had the V6 engine and airbag.
    I had two of these, one I ended up selling to a famous car collector. And believe it or not, they still attract crowds at car shows.

    Like 5
    • frank Orzechowski

      These cars had a weird braking system they didn’t use vacuum but hydraulics and the brake system was a disaster.

      Like 2
  11. That Guy

    These were intended to hit the market a few years earlier than they did. As it is, they were in the showrooms alongside the newly restyled Lebaron and that doomed them.

    Twenty years ago a co-worker had a manual-transmission one, and he really liked it; it was quick and handled well. They are rare though, and don’t come up often. As a cruiser though, the automatics are probably perfectly adequate.

    I’m always drawn to automotive weirdness and oddities, so of course I like these. I search Craigslist fairly often to see what’s out there. A year or so ago there was a manual not far from me that was cheap as it needed some bodywork after an unintended offroad incident, but it was gone before I could make an appointment to see it.

    Like 2
  12. Allen Member

    A friend had one of these and he let my wife and I take it out for a long ride one idyllic top-down day. We were really impressed by the fact that we could easily converse in a normal tone of voice at 70 mph with the top down. This was the V6 automatic. Lovely car! If it was a K-car, they concealed it superbly. Not that there was anything wrong with K-cars, although quality in the fit and finish department was perhaps minimal. I bought an ‘85 Horizon for my son, and that thing was a real hoot to drive. Even in base trim, the little 2.3 could surely get out of its own way. I test-drove it spiritedly – as it invited me to, and suddenly I was going 75 mph in 3rd with no particular strain and TWO MORE GEARS TO GO!!!! I bought it on the spot. My son ran it 200,000 miles before the clutch gave out. Yeah, the headliner fell down, door handles ended up on the floor and knobs broke, but the thing kept going – and with great gas mileage too. Based on that, my daughter got an Omni – also getting close to 200,000 miles before a cousin of the original owner begged her to sell it to him. Last we heard, he was still driving it perhaps two years later.

    I used to call these Detroit’s best-kept secret. I’m still attracted to the Sebring convertibles – which are easily mistaken for the T/C model. I did not know that the T/C by Maserati had any Maserati mechanical components. ‘ Thought Maserati’s contribution was strictly bodywork and trimming.

    Four unique American cars built from ’89 to ’91: the T/C by Maserati, the Cadillac Allante, and the Buick Reata. I like all three, but my heart is really set on the Reata – with it’s indestructible Buick 3.8-liter V6.

    Like 3
  13. Beignet at the Beach

    So.. I confess, I own the lowest vin number of a TC in the USA. It was a former Chrysler Training Center vehicle. I’m the 2nd owner of this turboed vehicle, with now 75k miles. These are NOT K-cars! Maserati assembled their sheet metal body around the K-sub frame/cowl. The relationship between DeTomasso and Iacocca was the back story on this (and Ford’s Pantera), resulted in this being a “crash-N-burn”, since the car was NOT delivered by the promised date by Maserati, and the dollar to lira value had reversed…making it impossible to sell the car for the original price. So here’s Chrysler…’ we have a nice e $30k 2 passenger car or you can buy a nice $15k car…that also has a back seat,(the J coupes and convertibles)… Mr. Iacocca’s ego forced a T-bird style porthole window along with the continuation of this project. Having said that, my TC is QUIET, EZ to maintain, and VERY COMFORTABLE with those Maserati CHAIRS (not seats!)

    Like 7
  14. Sam Shive

    put lipstick on a pig its still a pig

    Like 0
  15. Glenn Barnett

    Ive had four Chrysler’s Tc by Maserati including a 16 valve stick. Have nothing but good to say about them. My current turbo 4 is always a head turner with lots of compliments and questions. I get to own a Maserati for little $$$ and call it my baby Imperial!!

    Like 1

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