Nicest One Left? 1979 Chrysler LeBaron

I expected to see world peace and political harmony before seeing such a nice 1979 Chrysler LeBaron again, especially a T-Top Coupe such as this one for sale here on eBay. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a nice example, they don’t seem to be out there anymore. This one is located in Urbandale, Iowa, just west of Des Moines and the current bid price is an eye-opening $8,701 and the reserve isn’t met!

I heart this highly-unusual grille. Having the headlights on the bottom is just crazy, they must have slipped something into the coffee maker in the Chrysler design studio that day. It’s such a simple move but so ridiculously unique and cool. The seller says that these are LED headlights but the photos are so small that it’s impossible to really tell. They sure look like regular sealed-beam headlights to me. They say that the T-Top feature is rare and I believe it, it was about a $600 option and not many were made. That has to be adding to the bidding war on this car.

LeBaron was a coachbuilder in the early-1900s and they supplied custom bodies for Chrysler’s Imperial line and other top models by other manufacturers. They were built for a decade beginning in the early-1930s and came back again in 1955 to be associated with the Imperial line of cars until the mid-1970s. They became their own Chrysler model in 1977 so this is actually a first-generation car which was made until 1981, to be followed by Chrysler’s K-body front-drive LeBarons in 1982.

This car looks just about perfect inside and out. I don’t really see a flaw anywhere in the photos, but they are fairly small photos. Clearly, the bidders aren’t seeing any flaws in the photos. Collector Car Market lists a 1979 2-door LeBaron with a 318 as being $8,400 in #1 condition. This car may well be that nice, and it has a 360 with a 4-barrel carb so the current bid price is probably right on the money.

The interior makes me weep it’s so beautiful and perfect. Red leather? It doesn’t get any better than that. The seller says that they have color-matched red leather in case the next owner wants to redo the seats, but I don’t have a clue why anyone would want to do that! A built-in factory optional CB radio and 8-track player?! Yes, please, even if they don’t work, which I’m guessing they both do in this case. The back seat doesn’t look like it’s ever been sat in and the underside looks great, too, especially for a vehicle located in Iowa where they do get snow. The seller doesn’t seem to know what the actual mileage is and clearly, this one hasn’t been used as a winter car.

This is the top engine, Chrysler’s 360 cubic-inch V8 with a 4-barrel carburetor and 195 horsepower. The seller says “NEW 360 CUBIC INCH 4 BARREL MOTOR AND FACTORY TORQUE FLIGHT AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION” (sorry for yelling) and I don’t know if that means that this engine and transmission are new or were rebuilt or what that means. The lean-burn system is there but is disconnected. This has to be the nicest LeBaron of this era for sale maybe anywhere on the globe right now. Have any of you owned one?

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  1. alphasud Member

    I agree one of the nicest in existence and it HAS T-TOPS! honestly I didn’t even know such a thing existed on this body style but I like it. Somebody knew what they wanted and they wanted it all! I’m curious to see where the bidding ends up.

    Like 19
  2. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    My first thought from the opening photo was “I didn’t know T-tops were an option on the original Seville” I think it’s the grill that threw me off. Awesome car that checks a lot of boxes.

    Like 11
  3. Big_Fun Member

    I wonder if the inspiration of the front headlights on the Family Truckster came from this model. Jist flip a pair upside down – Chrysler did it. Now, imagine the Truckster with an example of this grill (multiply by 1 1/2)!

    Like 9
  4. Big_Fun Member

    Isolated front end

    Like 7
  5. Big_Fun Member

    Truckster front end…

    Like 14
    • Matt

      If you think hate now, wait to you drive it!

      Like 1
  6. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    There are 2 bidders that want this. As long as both of them are real, this could go a lot higher.

    Like 5
  7. Terrry

    Turn the headlight assemblies upside down and you have a Dodge Diplomat.

    Like 14
    • YankeeJB

      Yup, pretty much lol

      Like 2
  8. Tony Primo

    These were probably aftermarket halogen headlights with removable bulbs that have been converted to LED bulbs. I have done the same thing on all of my cars as I work afternoons. It makes a big difference.

    Like 6
  9. Blyndgesser

    We had one in Dove Gray with the t-tops, gray leather, and a 318. Once we got it sorted out (eliminated a pesky flat spot and put some decent tires on it) it was a very nice car to drive. A bit prissy looking for my taste at the time, but quite good overall.

    Like 5
  10. Mike D

    What a cool car.

    Like 8
  11. Tommy T-Tops

    Boy I really like this one for some reason..

    Like 9
  12. Connecticut Mark

    Great face, great seats, great looker, like the rims too, but exhaust tips got to go.

    Like 11
  13. Joe

    Nicely optioned but didn’t realize these were offered with the E58 engine option. ‘Special Order’ is a possibility, as Chrysler Corp was known for accepting ‘special orders’ when possible and feasible. Get rid of those cheapo, low budget straight tail pipes. Nice looking car otherwise and a favorite from the past.

    Like 9
    • Kevin McCabe

      The E58 was a regular production option, not special order.

  14. R. David Rose

    That headlight arrangement was on ’81-89 Chrysler 5th Ave, Dodge Diplomat and Plym Fury

    Like 4

    Weren’t these built by AMC under contract for Chrysler, in Kenosha, WI?

    Like 2
    • Brent in Winnipeg

      LeBarons were built at the Chrysler – St. Louis Plant.

      Like 2
    • Joe

      Thinking about the Renault Alliance?

      • sshayss

        Had a 78 with TTops. That lean burn is garbage.

        Like 4
    • nlpnt

      Later Dodge Diplomat/Plymouth Gran Furys were. Maybe some Fifth Avenues too, and L-body Omni/Horizons.

      Like 1
  16. JCA

    Pretty cool and unique. I’d drive it. Wish the seller paid the extra $2 Ebay fee for the pictures that enlarge when you click on them.

    Like 5
  17. TimS

    Cool ride except that headache red interior. Eight of ten Chrysler products from 72-82 must have had it. Ugh. And this from a guy who loves anything that’s not “charcoal.”

    Like 3
  18. Jcs

    Great looking car for the era and is worth every penny of whatever the buyer pays.

    And yes, here is yet another “Nicest one left”, this one does not count in yesterday’s contest with great prizes. Certainly ironic.

    Like 4
  19. George Louis

    The replacement aluminum radiator is not factory original.

    Like 1
  20. Phil D

    Tapestry Red with matching red leather in a ’79 LeBaron Medallion coupe — the second best combination available that year, IMO (Sable Brown with Cashmere leather was sexier, IMO, but not by much), and the white landau top and T-tops make it even better!

    I don’t remember the 360 4 bbl. being available as a regular option for the ’79 LeBaron, either, but it would have been EPA certified for police versions of this family of vehicles, so they could indeed have installed one as a special order without running afoul of Federal emission regs.

    Like 3
  21. John Oliveri

    My buddy had a 78, red w white half top, white leather interior, no t tops, Spokes and 1.5 inch whitewalls, every option, great cruiser, he bought it new, wound up in a little police chase, and it wound up nose first in a ditch, think it was NYS thruway, everyone got out ok, car burned, probably that lean burn trash,

    Like 2
  22. Rustytech Member

    I had a 78 four door in the same color combo, I loved those red leather seats. After disconnecting the lean burn, it was one of the better cars I have owned. At just over 175k, I gave it to a niece who then put another 100k on it before the tin worm claimed it.

    Like 2
  23. Kevin McCabe

    In going to the ebay listing the seller has shown the serial number of the car. Based on that, the car was built with a 318-2V, so the 360-4V claimed to be in the car now, is NOT original to the car.

    Like 2
    • bone

      He doesn’t claim it to be the original engine, but he does say he put a new 360 and transmission in it . Its possible the owner works at a Chrysler dealership and was able to locate a new 360 cheap, or maybe he’s a guy who wanted a 360 in his car and money was not an issue to have one installed

  24. George Reuter

    I had a 79 LeBaron with the lean burn computer system and it was a very fast car, however, I went through carburetors and catalytic converters every three to six months so I traded it in for an 84 Chrysler E-Class. I loved the car, but I could not afford the bills for these repairs. Hopefully, this car with a disconnected system, should be trouble free.

    Like 2
  25. pwtiger

    Maybe the only one, what a nice ride, does it have a “new” engine?

    Like 1
  26. Morris Bacon

    Detuned underpowered piece of junk. This was the beginning of the low point for Chrysler. Only to be topped by the K Car. The reserve should be $87.

  27. John R

    Lean burn system disconnected. Best thing that could’ve happened to it.

    Like 1
  28. Loy

    I had one, but not this highly optioned. It was a nice car. I loved the look of it.

    Like 1
  29. Stan Kaminski

    You could ALWAYS identify these cars coming at you at night when cresting a hill as the parking lights appeared first followed by the headlights below. Ditto for Volkswagen beetles.

    Like 2
  30. Kevin

    Nice car,I would dump the ugly wheels and then drive it 8 month’s a year.

  31. Chris

    Great car , motor has to go they were junk Lean Burn ….Blah

    Like 1
  32. Russ Ashley

    Morris, have you owned one of these, or did you get your information from reading Consumer Reports magazine? I have had a 76 Aspen station wagon, a 76 Aspen sedan, an 87 Diplomat, an 87 5th Avenue, and various other Mopar cars and they were all great cars. We seldom get snow here but you would never find a hint of rust on any of them.

    Like 1
    • Morris

      I worked at a Dodge dealership in in the service department. They were hanger queens. Nothing but problems. Endless warranty repairs.

      • Kevin McCabe

        What sort of problems were you seeing?

        Like 1
    • Joe

      My sister and her husband bought a ’78 Volare Wagon during the early ’80s. 225/2bbl – I drove it a number of times. I liked it, except for the obvious rust issues – this was in NE Florida. They had few problems (if any) with it as I recall. Don’t know where the Volare originated from…

      • Kevin McCabe

        Volare and Aspen were developed as replacements for the Valiant and Dart, starting in 1976. Both car lines were sold that year. Chrysler had a real problem with the quality of steel in the early cars, but once they sorted that out, they were pretty decent. The LeBaron/Diplmoat/Fifth Avenue cars are based directly on Volare/Aspen and any major and many minor parts can be swapped between them. Fenders, bumpers, lights, instrument panels and so on. The V/A cars originaly came with 14″ tires while the LDF cars came with 15″ tires. Putting 15″ tires on a V/A makes a big improvement. So does putting the 11-7/8″ front discs from a ’79 Cordoba.

  33. Richard Sikes Member

    My late father was a carburetor/ignition whizz, he figured out how to partially disconnect and re-wire the early lean Burn system in the mid 1970’s. He did quite a few “upgrades” for friends and family in our driveway to help with improvement in reliability, although the dealer said it voided warranty. It was legal in Texas back then to re-configure federal emissions if you lived in a non-metropolitan county, but the dealer wouldn’t do it. Otherwise, Lean burn either was causing a problem, or it was about.
    I purchased a new 1980 Diplomat 225/auto, it was pretty much like this one except in white/red and no t-tops, by then they had a more Tornado like roof line.. Loved it when I bought it..I remember the excitement of my first new car! It didn’t live up to my expectations though and so I loved the money more when I sold it 11 months later for about 10% depreciation! I felt I was lucky to loose so little because man that 225 in that heavy of a car was a dog and it handled like an old Valiant.

  34. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this LeBaron sold for $9,900.

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