Sleeper Potential: Town & Country Turbo Estates

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Lately, I’ve been having thoughts of mixing up my collection. I own a few older BMWs, and while I love the things, life is short. Variety is good. I wonder if the seller of this pair of woody-paneled Chrysler Town & Country wagons here on craigslist feels the same way, since he is letting the pair go for $2,000, and one is even a rare turbocharged / manual transmission model! Thanks to Barn Finds reader Brian K. for the find.

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Now, I will never judge anyone’s automotive preferences. But this is a serious K-Car aficionado, and I wonder what’s next for him (or her) after the wagons find new owners. They are both turbo models, which have found favor with the hot rod set that like to surprise their more colorful competitors at the drag strip. I mean, what better sleeper is there than a wagon that looks like something Clark Griswold might drive? The 2.2L is a respectable turbo mill that will gladly handle more boost if you want to make things interesting.

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It’s hard to tell from the limited photos, but the paint seems presentable. No word on the condition of the interior, but let’s face it: you’re not buying this pair to impress your friends (then again, that Mark Cross leather can be pretty fancy…) From swapping in a complete drivetrain from a Dodge Neon SRT-4 to simply building a super solid example out of two cars, this cheap craigslist duo seems like a bargain for the man who loves to troll stoplight drag strips while still being able to haul home a set of racing slicks. Which of you would buy this combo platter?

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Comments

  1. dirtyharry

    I personally thought the auto industry went to h***, once we got 4 cylinder front wheel drive cars. I can’t think of any reason to redeem these. They were a ‘knee jerk’ response to save Chrysler. America didn’t build good small cars at that time. We have come a long way since, sometimes the past is better forgotten.

  2. Howard A

    Hold on Harry, we’ve been over this and over this. I had great luck with every K car ( and mini-van) I had ( at least 6) Granted, these cars are a far cry from their ancestor T&C’s, but they were good cars. I had a Plymouth mini-van with a turbo, and I tell you what, that little bugger had some steam ( the turbo added 50 hp) Properly serviced, these things ran a long time, and simple to work on. Changed an engine in an afternoon on one, and a timing belt ( my only gripe) in a truckstop once. Please remember, Chrysler, as we know it, would be gone if it wasn’t for these cars. They may be collectible after I’m long gone, but if for now, you want a decent, simple, economical car, you can’t go wrong here.

  3. Dave

    I agree %100, these Kcars no matter how much you like or dislike them were a very popular car and tons were made, parts are readily available and they are super easy to work on. I come here everyday to look at old cars and I appreciate any old car that has survived and is still running today, a lot of the time I have good memories of times gone by, for instance when I was a teenager it seemed that every Kcar I ended up behind was being driven by an elderly person going ten mph below the limit, today it’s Buicks lol

    • Howard A

      Hi Dave, yeah, they were popular with old folks. Might I add, 10 mph below the limit,,,,in the left lane with their signal flashing. :)

  4. 68 custom

    Chryslers 2.2 turbo has to be the best engineered small turbo of the 80s. I have seen several of these that only had timing belts replaced and normal service and still run with 200k on the clock. and yes the manual tranny one could be turned into quite the sleeper. K-cars were ugly but they helped the mini van save Mopar.

  5. Bob S

    I liked the ride of the K car I had. It was a company car and I drove it hard. I think this might be a good buy if you can deal with a Beige interior (s).

  6. wuzjeepnowsaab

    I find myself laughing at the man who collects K cars…maybe it’s an Iaccoca fan or relative…

    NOT judging mind you because I am a guy who has a difficult time not dragging home Saabs…

    • Fogline

      LOL – me too!

      At least the Saabs “seem” to be increasing in value.

      The wagon would be the one to be seen in dropping the kids at school.

  7. grant

    I’m not a big fan of K cars at all, but like the others have said, they straight saved Chrysler. These motors seem pretty robust. All the Chrysler motors I’ve had actually. Drove a Caravan to 280k, it only failed because the windshield seal failed in a freeze and we had a pretty good dashboard fire. I’d be tempted to put one of these on a tube chassis and drop something insane in it. Hellcat, old school 440, there’s a lot of possibilities. Just do it discreetly and watch the jaws drop at stoplights.

  8. Prowler

    I think the Chrysler slogan at the time was…Lee would say buy a car get a check….or if you can find a better car
    BUY IT

  9. HeadMaster1

    My dad had a 86 Lebaron GTS 5-speed, great car, fast ad fun. He traded it for a Spirit RT (DOHC, Intercooled) That was a fast car. One Late nigh I was cruising around with 3 girls in it. We embarrassed the hell out of a Corvette (this was the 90’s). I ended up owning a 88 Shelby CSX-T, great car, would beat the hell of of it and drop it back at the dealer for warranty work (7/70 powertrain). I remember picking it up after a new cyl head and turbo were installed under warranty and the svc advisor told me that they noticed the wastegate diaphragm hose must have come loose causing all the engine damage…….I thanked him, drove it home and puled the hose off again…..12lbs boost was nice, but 17lbs really woke that thing up, and it last for 30k miles usually……If anyone out there has CSX-T #972, I’ve got lots of stories to share with you about the cars history

    • Howard A

      Hi Headmaster, great story, pulled the hose off again. Why didn’t I think of that?

  10. Joe Muzy

    I have an old 84 Dodge 600 convertible that I drive in the summers. Only has 940000 on it but looks and runs like new. It can beat a stock 5.0 . Yes it’s a K Car but gets lots of thumbs up from the people who were young when these cars came out.

    • Howard A

      Hi Joe, a million miles? WOW. Even Mr. Iacocca would love to hear about that!

    • Roger

      I do like the old 600’s and LeBarons, but FYI I’m a Ford guy and LOVE my 5.0s and I’ve had all thtee of the above mentioned vehicles ( more 5.0s than I can count lol ) and I find it EXTREMELY hard to believe with everything being stock that the old 600 turbos could beat any 5.0, just IMHO though of course 😆

      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        I had an ’86 Omni GLH-T with this motor and regularly beat up on 5.0s and IROCs.
        Sneaky little car.

  11. stillrunners

    Carroll Shelby liked them…..

  12. Woodie Man

    Find George Costanzas convertible then you really got something!

    • Roger

      I heard Jon (h) Voight bought it back; fire damage and all!!!!!

  13. HeadMaster1

    The 2.2 turbo mopars would beat a 5.0 mustang, or 305 IROC all day long at the stoplight grandprix, but they may lose in an actual 1/4 mile run. The IROC 350’s would pull about 2 car lengths ahead of my CSX-T, and that was the first 30 feet, door handle to door handle from there……..The 5-speeds were quicker than the auto’s, those auto were hard to launch, they’d vaporize a tire if you brake-standed them……

  14. Roger

    Yup, the quarter is what I was referencing not 60 ft times and what not – not real sure about those.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      In these cars, you had the shock factor going in your favor.
      Once the other guy figured out what you had, you were long gone.

  15. J.R.

    I’m in the woody. ; )
    Listen to the guy’s talking at the end. Priceless!
    https://youtu.be/xmrNC9Ph7H0

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