The World’s Most Affordable Maserati!

1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati

It may look like a dolled up Chrysler LeBaron, but the Chrysler TC by Maserati was much more than that. The platform came from the Dodge Daytona, not the LeBaron, and the cars were actually assembled in Italy. This particular one benefits from low mileage (23k) and one family ownership. It’s located in Glenview NAS, Illinois and is listed here on eBay for $5,800 or best offer. Thanks goes to Jim S for tip!

Plush Leather Interior

After learning more about these cars, I do appreciate them a lot more. I’ve seen quite a few driving around and always assumed they were just LeBarons with fancy interiors. Well, apparently many consumers thought the same thing when the car was new so it wasn’t a big seller. Those big Lazy Boys do look comfy though!

Chrysler Turbo Four

The Daytona also donated the turbocharged inline-four and some were even built with a Cosworth head and a Getrag 5-speed! Now that would be something to get excited about! Unfortunately, this TC has the more common 160 horsepower engine and automatic transmission.

Trailer Hitch

Even with the negatives, this car looks more like a bargain the more I look at it. I’m not so sure about that trailer hitch, but the car does appear to be in great shape inside and out. It’s also nice to know I was wrong about the whole LeBaron thing. Little did I know, it was actually a Dodge Daytona in an Italian suit and for some odd reason that makes things all better!

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Comments

  1. Danno

    “The platform came from the Dodge Daytona, not the LeBaron…”

    Weren’t the LeBaron and Daytona all basically K-Cars? Like, everything from Chrysler/Dodge, except the pickups, were K-Cars underneath at that time, I thought.

    • packrat

      “It may look like a dolled up Chrysler LeBaron, but the Chrysler TC by Maserati was much more than that”… I’m with Danno: If you say the drivetrain of this one is Chrysler, and the body looks very much like Chrysler–go slower and tell me how they aren’t a K-car equivalent with leather interior? I remember a lady driving a secondhand one in East Nashville fifteen years ago, and her being very impressed that she got a Maserati so heavily discounted…I was confused then and I am confused now.

  2. Francisco

    Nice looking comfortable leather interior. I could live there, or at least take a nice long grand touring trip.

  3. Brian

    Seller should have taking a few pics with the top off, that would have helped the sale.

  4. Dan h

    I have a client that refers to his TC as “the Maserati”. Honestly, it makes me cringe every time I here him say that. But I will say, the car does drive and handle way better that a standard LeBaron. Much more comfy too.

  5. crazydave

    Lets see – K-car underpinnings
    K-Car engine & drivetrain
    Looks a LOT like a Daytona or similar Dodge
    Uses (mostly) the Dodge body
    So the “Maserati” part of this car was….(?)

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Seems like recipe for disaster.

      Take a poorly designed but successful in sales K car platform.

      Send it to Italy so non-English speaking and reading employees can work their manufacturing techniques on it all while laughing uncontrollably about the stamping quality.

      Take a K car engine and hang even more stuff off it like a Turbo with some of those poorly designed and executed accessory hanger brackets.

      Get some of that fine Corithian leather and then upholster it in a way that resembles a couch rather than a touring car.

      Combine a Pentastar with a Maser logo.

      Finally…….increase the price to $40K.

      The end result being a LeBaron Coupe with a few more horsepower for only a $20K more……

      Yeah……here’s an example of someone needing a pink slip ’cause this just must have been a great success, next stop, Buick, pick up 2 more cylinders and call it a nautical name, Reatta?

  6. Bobsmyuncle

    Rather than dishing out incredulity and challenging the writer how about typing Google in your address bar and learning something new.

    That’s what I did and learned that there are so many differences I don’t want to even waste my time typing it all out.

    The 500 or so “Maseratti” engines are especially interesting.

    Completely built in Italy, it would be interesting to compare the fit and finish of one of these beside an American built ‘K’ car.

    • Dan h

      Built in Italy or not, any way you look at it, the TC by Maserati will always (at least for now) be thought of as a wannabe. Rather you want to admite it or not, at least a small percentage of this hobby is getting positive feedback from others about your ride.

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Bobsmyuncle, these were horrid vehicles. Sending them to Italy didn’t help and parts for the interior were hard to get.

      Motors interesting but not $20K interesting.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        Horrid vehicles? Brush up on your knowledge my friend, the K platform brought Chrysler out of some dark times.

        See my post below, yours is but a single PERSONAL viewpoint, subjective with no substance. You’re certainly welcome to your opinion though.

  7. Bobsmyuncle

    LInteresting that Chrysler and Maserati are now under the same umbrella. Full circle as it were.

    The new Alfa Romeo has Ferrari DNA in its engine design and there are rumours of this trickling down into a new Dodge platform.

    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Bobsmyuncle, actually Alfa, Ferrari and Maserati all have the same engine block and heads, but with different planed cranks.

      Don’t forget the first Viper Test mules had Italian castings and that lovely V10 crank that was 8 + 2 with a lot of counter balance as the throws were not equal.

      Iacocca a genius when it comes to automotive business triage but bringing in the Italians for consult was a VERY COSTLY mistake and that relationship brought others that were just as bad. They lost a ton of money. Funny bookkeeping over there, cue the Godfather violins.

  8. David

    Maserati?

    Your buying a name. Maserati made nice looking cars, but when it came to there engines…. think Hyundai in the later 80’s

  9. MH

    The has to be the ugliest steering wheel I’ve ever seen!!!!!!!!

    • Ken

      That there’s yer standard decapitated Pillsbury Doughboy-style steering wheel.

  10. grenade

    Junk. And it’s not a real Maserati. Hang on, let me put a Ferrari badge on a Chevy Cavalier. Wow! I just made a Ferrari!

  11. Walter Joy

    I’ve gone to Chryslers at Carlisle the past 3 years and there is always this one older gentleman who has a yellow TC by Maserati that he uses on the autocross track. Puts down some really good times

  12. van

    I see many valid points
    If you had to choose a Chrysler from the 80s how would this stack up

  13. Tirefriar

    I hate to generalize but I think this was as close as many in the Mid West could get to an Italian exotic….

  14. Ben T. Spanner

    What’s the difference between this a Buick Reatta? Cooking onion drive train with a hand crapped body. There are always several of these for sale in South Florida. This one is way over priced.

    At least with a Reatta, you get a 3.8 L V6 which can be supercharged with junk yard parts. My neighbor has 2 Reattas, a coupe and a convertible. Neither will ever go up in value.

  15. RegularGuy55

    When Chrysler Corp started selling this car, Lee Iacocca said it was, ““The best looking Italian to show up in this country since my mother came over.”

  16. packrat

    “Rather than dishing out incredulity and challenging the writer how about typing Google in your address bar and learning something new.”–bobsmyuncle

    -So I took the Google challenge to look for the differences! While there are the thousand-points-of-odd that carmakers invariably invent to charge a premium upon what they deem their top-of-the-line, I still want to hear from traditional Maserati owners and aficionados about this offering. The “especially interesting” Maserati-assembled engine does not, as Jesse helpfully informed us in the Barnfinds article, appear in this car. That special engine was assembled from parts around the world, which is normal for cars today, in Italy, which is not normal for a Chrysler. This particular car, like most of the 7300 or so run, has the “slightly detuned”* Daytona 2.2L straight 4 with an automatic, which is kind of normal for a Chrysler, but certainly Different for a Maserati. I understand that it has Maserati emblems on it.** For a LeBaron, that is Different. I understand that it has an opera window in the top–which, again, is Different. I understand it had limited exterior paint color options, which is admittedly Different than the standard Chrysler luxury fare. According to the web, standard with the car*** was the uneven panel fit and poor trim quality that unifies this modified K car with the other malaise-era Chryslers–as well as many obviously standard Detroit parts that bother even those who dedicate web pages to the car, “including the door locks and handles, window switches, foot-operated parking brake, gauge cluster, cruise/turn-signal stalk, steering column, dash vents, glove box, ashtray, cassette holder, climate controls, stereo (CD & cassette), windshield…and more.” (ibid.)

    The value of Barnfinds is its writers’ presentation of exemplars of past automotive art which appear for sale and their presentation in a forum where others can comment on their observations/knowledge/buying tips/questions of these selected cars. Otherwise, we could all just page through the thousands of raw ebay/craigslist/copart/hemmings classifieds on our own–if we had the time and inclination. The supplemental comments Barnfinds writers add, and encourage from their readers, keep this on the short list of five or so websites I check on a daily basis.

    The posted infobits about the designers, what to check before buying this type of car, quirks, production run numbers, personal reminisces, all add to the viewer experience. So dismissively telling inquirers to Just Google It does not contribute to the discussion.

    *from a very readable page *here* http://www.maserati-alfieri.co.uk/alfieri33.htm

    **You know, if that’s the biggest part of the attraction, as I suppose it is, that’s O.K.

    ***as cited from Automobile 06/88

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Ironically I agree but there WAS no insightful information being shared, and that is becoming far too common.

      Waxing poetically and reminiscing is a great part of the hobby too so I dont dismiss the value there, however the ‘tone’ (one which has continued in some comments) is actually quite disrespectful to the writer.

      Too many commenters here want to bash the submissions for being “too expensive” , “ugly”, “worthless”, “junk” etc. and offer absolutely nothing in return.

      Expensive? Then post alternatives.

      Throwing subjective criticism and/or ignorantly posting misinformation because of laziness doesn’t further the site, the enjoyment of the site, or the posters’ reputation.

      • grenade

        I usually don’t type long winded descriptive replies because of this basic thought: “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”. That basically means no matter how hard I “sell it” you’re going to believe what you want to believe. Don’t take it as disrespectful to the site, this place is cool. Some of the cars however, just require 1-3 word comments, because anything else- is usually a waste of time. And junk? Is Junk.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        Another common and simple adage;

        If you dont have something good to say, say nothing.

        That isn’t to say one shouldnt point out legitimate concerns that might help a prospective buyer, but expounding a negative and soley personal opinion as fact has no substance and little class.

        Someone here might roll of of these proudly. And good on them. In this day of escalating prices (note I don’t say values) many can’t afford what we all consider as standard fare classics.

        Additionally there is interest of different sorts for most automobiles. It might be mechanics, racing heritage, popular culture, societal reflections, personal history, maybe historic associations or maybe its importance within the industry.

        Discounting any car wholey as worthless or junk is base thinking at best.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      As to this car, again there are so many differences I refuse to spoon feed them here when its all a click away.

      To imply that this simply a badge on a K car is clearly short sighted.

      From the altered chassis, panels being pressed and assembled in Italy to Italian sourced wheels and leather and unique shocks and struts there are many differences, and it really was a unique approach for the company.

      Further, these changes would certainly not benefit from economy of scale so, again to imply that these were simply priced higher because of a badge is short sighted.

  17. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Bobsmyuncle, honestly have learned a lot from you and others, but……………….
    if we’re to adhere to the “if you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything” Barnfinds will cease to exist as well as most of the Internet.

    Just about all cars have something good……..along with something bad, our observations are used to hopefully detail the cars that have more good than bad but hey occasionally there are some bad ones, even ones that have been badged with a luxury Italian Marque.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      I don’t think this site relies on baseless claims.

      I acknowledge and truly appreciate the different opinions folks have, but spouting off nonsense is just that. Don’t like a car? Say nothing.

      Or even better point out design details that you feel are lacking or make suggestions on how you see fit to improve the design. That FURTHERS the discussion in a meaningful, intelligent manner.

      Someone just wrote that they were horrid vehicles. What does that even mean? . As I pointed out the K platform is openly known to have pulled Chrysler out of a dark financial spot. Pretty significant outcome for a “horrid” vehicle.

      It’s not about who is right or wrong its about contributing to the collective and respecting others.

      • grenade

        Oh boo hoo. Get out your big boy pants and deal with it, not everyone has to be politically correct or positive all the time. If they were trying to do something special, they should not have cut corners and used Lebaron or K car sheet metal. It doesn’t matter if Santa’s elves assembled it at the north pole, it’s still a poor excuse for an Italian sports car and they were trying to save Maserati as well as improve Chrysler. Just look into the history of the BITURBO Maserati and this was just another ill fated attempt at the “Maserati for the everyman”. You see how well those turned out… You know what? I think you must own one of these things lol

      • Bobsmyuncle

        Right on man fantastic contibution again, give me a second to go find my big boy pants so I can be an internet lowbrow just like uncle Grenade.

        If you can’t conduct yourself like a mature adult don’t get you briefs in a bunch when someone calls you out on it.

        I can spout off like a child with the best of them. Instead take a deep breath, think before you type, oh and use your big words. Chicks dig big words.

  18. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Bobsmyuncle, a McDonald’s burger can also feed a starving person, not going to get in a quality versus cost discussion.

    The K car saved Chrysler……….and they had a host of problems, don’t believe for a minute that 20 years from now someone at Chrysler slaps his forehead and says “We need to do a retro version of a K-car, it will be just as successful as the Challenger was!”.

    The K-car was sold to people not wanting to abandon their marque and people who were hoping it lived up to the ad literature, it didn’t unfortunately, read the old reviews.

    Poorly designed, poorly executed, poorly supported by the dealerships, warranty issues that went on and on, all for “just” an extra $20K more than the Chrysler version.

    Increasing the price tag on a car like this is fraught with risk. BMW did the same thing with the Z1 when they made the Z8. Not a ton of them sold but they are loved, but most question the $80K plus upcharge for putting a V8 with updated suspension mods.

    Many of the unique difference that you mention were due to “Italian content” rule that meant components sourced had to be Italian or European sourced, because content would be too American otherwise for labor and manufacturing rules.

    I was probably the one who said they were horrid, I stand by that.

    Like another responder, the question has yet to be answered. This car didn’t have the optional engine goodies so what exactly does the Maser badge denote, a boat trip to Italy and back?

    • Bobsmyuncle

      The K car platform outsold the Challenger by millions…millions.

      Go find your answer its out there.

      • Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings All,

        Bobsmyuncle, that statement MAKES my point! If the K was such a great car and gave everybody such warm and fuzzies, they’d be tooling up for it as we speak.

        Before we were married, wife had a K car. Was way too familiar with that car and the dealer’s parts counter, and put about 1000 miles not at one time dealer trips needed, on a TC. 😃

        Good Health To You And Yours, Ross

      • Bobsmyuncle

        Interesting idea, but I’m not sure the design lends itself to a modern interpretation.

        We’ve seen clean examples selling on the used market though haven’t we? As we have with many, many high production low entry platforms from over the years.

        How bad is a car that sells in such high numbers? Clearly it served some purpose quite well.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      BTW what is the Italian content rule?

      • Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings All,

        Bobsmyuncle, Italian content refers to the whole host of arbitrary laws, usually originating with unions, but now with the EU formed a lot more interesting.

        We have them here in the States, Honda had them at the Marysville, Ohio plant.

        The rules control the country of manufacture on usually the “feeder” supplier items. Seat assemblies, door mechanisms, switches, usually anything other than engine and drivetrain along with stamping so that have to have federalization testing.

        Having the country that imports the car contributing to the percentage of content lowers the import tax and/or satisfies a union requirement.

        Lots of companies made KDK, knock down kits, to satisfy import regulations. This has been going on for years. SS Cars in the 30’s, later Jaguar used to ship chassis and drivetrains to Australia where Australian body beaters would cloth the chassis with their own Australian made wood sub-structure and metal wrapped bodies. Makes for some interesting differences when they show up at a Concours.

        Australia, still added a tax to the SS Cars that were imported but it was considerably less as it satisfied their country’s regs.

        Not sure why my response appears twice?

        Have to get some sleep, Good Night.

        Tomorrow’s another day.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        I’m familiar with all the concepts you outlined but what proof do you have that this played any role? I’ll take a wild guess and say absolutely none.

        Regardless the point being made was that the car WAS not a standard K car.

  19. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Bobsmyuncle, a McDonald’s burger can also feed a starving person, not going to get in a quality versus cost discussion.

    The K car saved Chrysler……….and they had a host of problems, don’t believe for a minute that 20 years from now someone at Chrysler slaps his forehead and says “We need to do a retro version of a K-car, it will be just as successful as the Challenger was!”.

    The K-car was sold to people not wanting to abandon their marque and people who were hoping it lived up to the ad literature, it didn’t unfortunately, read the old reviews.

    Poorly designed, poorly executed, poorly supported by the dealerships, warranty issues that went on and on, all for “just” an extra $20K more than the Chrysler version.

    Increasing the price tag on a car like this is fraught with risk. BMW did the same thing with the Z1 when they made the Z8. Not a ton of them sold but they are loved, but most question the $80K plus upcharge for putting a V8 with updated suspension mods.

    Many of the unique difference that you mention were due to “Italian content” rule that meant components sourced had to be Italian or European sourced, because content would be too American otherwise for labor and manufacturing rules. Italian content is not an interchangeable term with quality, or don’t you remember the years Fiat ran Ferrari?

    I was probably the one who said they were horrid, I stand by that.

    Like another responder, the question has yet to be answered. This car didn’t have the optional engine goodies so what exactly does the Maser badge denote, a boat trip to Italy and back?

  20. charlie Member

    Chrysler decided to build this before the similar looking LeBaron convertible, but, it took so long to figure it out, that the LeBaron showed up at the same time, for a lot less. The first year it claimed to have the Maser engine, which as noted above was a cobbled together device, and was as unreliable as a “real” Maaer engine, so the 2nd year it was just a plain Chrysler engine, and, very reliable. Many good cars have come from humble origins – Mustang from Falcon, Corvette from same year Chevy convertible, Cadillac Seville from Chevy Nova, so the K car as well spawned a really nice car. I wanted one, for years, and now, clearly could afford one, but NOT the first year with the maintenance prone engine. And I bought an Allante, another trans Atlantic gem, absolute GM reliability, Italian body and interior (and well made, no rust at age 24, panels fit well, leather serviceable, no rips, at 146,000 miles) and, if they had not made it resemble the Cadillac family as much, it would have been even better looking. So, Reatta’s, Allante’s , and Chrysler/TC are relatively inexpensive now, but, especially the drop tops, will probably keep going up in value and are a good car for a hobby, that can be driven all day at 75 mph or more, with A/C and available mechanical parts (except for the first year Chrysler TC). If you had one of those million dollar cars, you would not dare to drive it.

  21. Bryan

    No, this isn’t a Maserati. Nor was it marketed as such….it is called a Chrysler TC by Maserati. It’s certainly not the first American car linked to a prestigious italian brand, like Pininfarina (Nash, Cadillac), or Ghia (Imperial limos, Ford Granadas, and Mustang IIs). At least this is assembled and fitted by Maserati.

    This was a halo car for Chrysler when they desperately needed one. No, it wasn’t successful from a sales standpoint, in part because it was a two-seater and cost 35k dollars. The majority of the TCs had the Mitsubishi 3.0L V6, hardly exotic but very reliable. Certainly less expensive and more reliable than Cadillac’s 4.1/4.9L aluminum V8 engine in the Allante (Peninfarina).

    A friend of mine has had a couple of these over the years. Both proved to be reliable and fun to drive with the top down. Body parts and trim are hard to find because they aren’t shared with LeBarons.

    I think they are much more distinctive than a LeBaron convertible and better looking than a Buick Reatta. I don’t believe they were horrid cars. In fact, one day (after we’re all dead) they will most likely be very collectible.

    Bryan

    • Dave Wright

      There a lot of us here that like the K platform, we have been down that road several times…….Where is Howard?……..I owned and operated a fleet of them in the 90’s. Probably one of the cheepest cars to operate on the road as long as you stayed away from the Mitsibishi engine. They did save Chrysler and brought it into the modern age of automotive engineering. These were just fancied ou overpriced K cars with some nice features. Chrysler has had a long time connection to Italian manufacturers. The great limos of the late 50’s were built in Italy. Chrysler would send unfinished 2 door hardtop chassis to Italy where they were cut, extended and finished as a limo. They were works of art. I have owned a couple,of real Maseraties and loved them. My Mistral was a much better car than the period Ferraries. It was very reliable, never overheated even during hours of bumper to bumper 3 MPH traffic on the A10 north of London. It also had very comperable performance with most of the horse cars. The Maserati name has been applied to several cars that didn’t diserve it, Citroen SM and the Biturbo lines for instance. The Chrysler was only called a Maserati by some people that bought them…….not by either company. As pointed out, it was a Chrysler TC, by Maserati. The only true Maseraties built later on were actually Oscas…….they were built by the Maserati brothers long after they sold the company.

  22. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All and Bobsmyuncle,

    There were most definitely not different chassis stampings for the TC, just the outer bolt on ones, otherwise it would have been subjected to additional federalization crash tests. So it most definitely was a K-Car underneath, built better overseas? Not from what the owner’s groups report.

    The Mitsubishi V6, could have been a sweet engine, but judging by the numbers that Chrysler replaced under warranty, this would not have been my choice. The V6 had a history of burning oil at 80,000 miles, which was 20K short of Chrysler’s warranty. Remember this was the engine of choice in the minivan, which sold huge numbers, and cost the company a bundle.

    Bobsmyuncle, how about you do a little typing on Google?

    While, I am also passionate about automobiles, even some real quirky dogs, never have encountered anyone like yourself so defensive so about a car without their name on the grille.

    Starting to wonder if you cornered the market on TC’s in your part of the world. Possibly you thought these would be a good supplement for that retirement 401K plan?

    Diversify………there is a reason you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket.

    My point, the TC being based on the K-car platform was not worth the extra $20K that the dealers were charging. There should have been more to that car than the badge, T-Bird style portholes and an Italian vacation….for the car.

    Obviously, more than a few others agreed with this as these sat on the sales room floor for considerable time, long enough for Chrysler to issue memorandums on “special TC sales techniques” and later some deep dealer discounts.

  23. Bobsmyuncle

    The frame was from a K car but shortened.

    The panels were stamped in Italy not the chassis.

    What pray tell do you think I need to Google? The facts that you got wrong because you can’t take the time to read clearly?

    I’m not defensive of the car. In fact I wouldn’t drive it if you gave it to me. I’m promoting a higher quality of posting and more thoughtful input.

    Again if you read what I and a couple others have posted or do some research you will find MANY reasons why the car in question would be priced higher. Was it WORTH it…thats for a discerning buyer to decide but its price was indeed criticized.

    Which leads to its failure which ALSO has been addressed here by someone else. But I’m not surprised that you missed that.

    Edit- your trolling has become tedious and I wont be taking any more time to respond. Your on your own Kitten.

    • Francisco

      Are you two guys going to duke it out?

  24. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All, and Bobsmyuncle,

    Bob, I stand by my statements.
    My first response mentioned the price difference, guess you didn’t read that though.
    Interesting that I use my own name while you use a pseudonym.
    I’m done here with this subject and with you.
    Have a fine day, Good Health to You.

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