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Turbocharged Survivor: 1986 Chrysler Laser XT

Turbocharged engine? Check. Rear window louvers? Check. T-top roof? Check. Well, it’s confirmed: your ultimate 80s vehicle is here. This 1986 Chrysler Laser XT is a turbocharged hot hatch we rarely see anymore in any condition, much less perfectly preserved like this one apparently is. Featuring a black leather interior with the preferred manual transmission, it checks a lot of boxes if you’re a fan of the turbocharged Mopars from the 1980s. Find it here on craigslist in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with just 34,500 original miles on the clock and an asking price of $8,995.

I always felt like these cars got a bad rap, but that it was largely self-inflicted. Dodge called their version the Daytona, perhaps one of the most sacred names in muscle core lore. To go out and build a four-cylinder economy car hatchback and slap the name Daytona on it was just begging for scorn from the enthusiast community, no matter how impressive the performance may have been for a homely four-cylinder mill. Chrysler, on the other hand, did it right: they gave it a totally awesome 80s name. They made numerous high-tech features available, should you want a digital dash and electronic voice alert. And they didn’t try and build a fuel-sipping homage to one of the most brutish muscle cars of the 70s.

That worked out well for Chrysler, and the Laser didn’t seem to generate the same level of scorn based solely on its nameplate. This example may not have the optional high-tech gadgetry, but a lot of that equipment would only fail as time wore on. Analog gauges aside, the rest of this Laser’s cockpit looks incredibly fresh, without any obvious signs of wear and tear. The thick bolsters of the black leather buckets may have looked good in press photos but can appear quite trashed on well-used cars; not the case here, as the combination of low miles and a clearly careful owner has kept the seats looking like new. The two, true rear bucket seats present in even better condition.

I believe the Laser could only be had with the 2.2L Turbo engine, which produced a respectable 142 b.h.p. and 160 lb-ft of torque. The Laser was decidedly trying to be the more upmarket offering of the family of G-body platform, while the Daytona strove to be the performance-oriented model, including limited production Shelby-ized versions. The valve cover looks to be a little worse for the wear, but perhaps that’s some left-over cosmoline from the factory – I know that can happen on low mileage BMWs of this era. With under 40,000 miles and clearly fastidious ownership, I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff on a survivor like this. When’s the last time you saw a Laser this nice?

Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Bought an ’86 Shelby Daytona Turbo Z new with all the goodies, 5 speed, leather, digital dash, black on black. Fun car, comfortable highway cruiser, and very fast. For Chrysler it was a big jump that paid off and didn’t hurt the introduction of the minivan at all. Note.. Cam cover was painted black. Nice to see one still around in good condition.

    Like 13
    • Trenton Hot Test

      @Bob,
      I had the same equipped Daytona as you, and yes, they were a blast to drive. Though I am curious about your reference to black “cam cover”. I am guessing you mean the part usually called the valve cover. The black covers didn’t come out till 87 or 88 and were found on the “Turbo II” edition which included a intercooler. Maybe someone put a newer cover on your 86? Likely trying to fix an oil leak.

      Like 3
  2. Moparman Moparman Member

    This is a really nice car! I lusted after one of these when they debuted, but never did get one. This one ticks all the right boxes! GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 8
  3. PRA4SNW

    S guy at work had this same exact car, color and all that he bought brand new. I had an ’86 Omni GLH-T that I also had bought brand new.
    His was the luxury version and mine was the no frills machine.
    It was interesting to take back to back rides in them.

    Like 5
  4. Kyle

    I had a black one with the t-top and full digital dash….. and it talked! Was a fun car.

    Like 6
  5. Chester

    Buddy had a turbo Daytona. Best darned seats ever, quite a comfortable ride. Problem was it was a lemon, kept blowing head gaskets and later timing cogs(chain?) kept getting out of wack. he finally traded it in on an import that he was very happy with. Said it cured him of his Chrysler addiction. I have heard of other people with similar problems with the 2.2 turbo. I told him to get the standard 2.5 and a five speed. Nice car, more then enough power, but of course he test drove a new turbo and he was smitten. I admit, when that turbo kicked in after the lag, it was fun back in the day. Of course, the modern turbos are so much better without any lag.

    Like 1
  6. James Clark

    I had a 1989 LeBaron GTS Turbo.
    Like this laser but 4 doors. Did everything pretty well .. strong torque steer on launch. Put a lot of highway miles on it. Timing belt left me stranded.

    Like 4
    • David

      I had a Dodge Lancer ES turbo 5 speed. Pretty basic but a nice car, great gas mileage if you shifted it before the turbo kicked in. The transaxle went out <100K and being a poor kid, it went back to the bank. It was fun to drive when it ran though.

      Like 0
  7. Peet

    I had the Silver 2.5 nonturbo lazer (yes they did sell them) manual. My first and only new car purchase until a 2012 challenger. Loved it till I gave it back to the dealer as a lemon at 9 months. They gave me my full money back towards a truck. Lots of little quality problems, but the two things that did it in were the speedo cable kept breaking so I never new my speed or miles. The 2nd bigger thing was the manual shift linkage kept getting out of line so u could not physically shift the shifter forward, so no reverse. Could not back in our out of a parking spot. Had to find pull through parking slots all the time. It was a shame, but still have a soft spot for that car.

    Like 1
  8. Uncle al

    …too bad it’s over 2,000 miles from my home….would look nice next to my Challenger and Durango….oh well…..

    Like 1
  9. Mark

    One of these in my town with a 340 in it….rear wheel conversion kit is pretty cheap for these.

    Like 3
  10. BRIAN JOHN FULOP

    1st car. Black w checkerboard seats. Sat in garage 2 weeks cuz didnt know how to drive a stick. :) Brings back. “Your door is ajar. :)

    Like 4
    • Dave

      Ohhhhh I remember that checkerboard material! The first one that 13yo me saw in ‘86 had those seats! Thanks for jogging my memory!

      I also recall how it broke down in my parents driveway one weekend and we had to take the owner (family friend) home. I may or may not have sat in that car

      Like 0
  11. Gerard Frederick

    I worked for Walker Brs. Jeep in West LA back in the day and bought an Eagle Talon Turbo off the showroom floor. The ancient dealership was looted and burned to the ground during the Watts riots and closed its doors afterward. Despite meticulously maintaining the car, it turned into a POS at about 75000 miles. Great fun car before that.

    Like 0
    • David

      ALL of those Diamond Star Motors cars were garbage after a few years. Many people said it was how the owners took care of them but they were garbage regardless. Fun when they ran, but a headache waiting to happen

      Like 0
  12. JeffChiTown

    I had a Laser in that color, but it was the base non-turbo model. The upholstery was cloth. It had a problem with peeling paint that was covered by Chrysler. I had to replace the clutch cable at some point because the original broke. I replaced the original tires with bigger all-season tires because it slipped so badly in the rain.

    Like 0
  13. Royal

    When these came out my friend who had an 81 Plymouth Reliant K called the local Mopar dealer and inquired as to whther the shocks struts and springs woupd bolt into his Reliant. Turns out that they did!!

    Yup, you guessed it. He installed the Laser components into his 4 speed K and boy would it handle the curves!!! Trade off was that it rode like a buck board, especially in the rear seat!!

    Like 0
  14. Bhowe Member

    My folks bought a new 84 Chrysler E class sedan which was on a stretched I platform. It was special ordered and I remember as a kid talking them into getting the voice alert which was a 66 dollar option. Nice car in theory but overall quality was very poor. If you parked it up hill someone would have to push it forward to take the pressure off the park pin otherwise it wouldn’t come out of park. My mom was a realtor and she once had to have her clients push her car so she could shift it.

    Fast forward 30 years I found a survivor grade near match to their car so I bought it. The replacement doesn’t have the voice alert so I’m looking into whether than can be added. Loved the voice alert and wished we would’ve ordered the digital dash.

    This car is pretty close to me so I’m definitely tempted. I preferred the Daytona turbo z but the either version of the mopar g body would do.

    Like 0
    • David

      Very few people know the proper way to park a car. If your parents had performed the ritual correctly, then shifting wouldn’t have been the problem. The proper way to park a vehicle, manual or automatic is to first stop the vehicle, apply the parking brake, shift the vehicle into neutral and carefully and slowly release the foot/service brake. Then, when the parking brake is holding the vehicle, then shift the automatic transmission into park. Or leave the manual in gear or neutral. I own an auto repair shop and in over 30 years in this business, I have only known one customer who used her parking brake religiously with her automatic transmission.

      As I said, very few people know the proper way to park a vehicle so your parents likely didn’t know any better and you can’t blame them. But you shouldn’t blame the car either.

      Like 1
      • Bhowe Member

        You are technically correct, however of the over 100 automatic transmission vehicles I’ve owned that has never been necessary on any other vehicle. I should also add this wasn’t on a steep incline but rather a very moderate angle. For the purpose of brevity I left out of my story the many many other issues we had with that car. It would take a book. Nevertheless I still like these K based vehicles and purposely searched for as close a match to my folks car as i could find. Nice looking and driving cars but i dont think they finished the engineering before they went into production.

        Like 0
  15. RoughDiamond

    Wow that Laser is in great shape. IMO analog gauges are a plus.

    Like 2
  16. piston poney

    theres a red one of these in my back yard its my dad’s and back when he street raced he would beat fox body mustangs in it cause it was so light, then one of the computers went bad and you couldnt get one at the time, but after that computer went bad he parked it at our old house and it was sorounded by weeds over 8 feel tall along with a 76 for granada and whatever else was back there but there is suprisingly little rust on it, the paint is faded bad and the trim is coming off and the seals are hard and the seat are destroyed from the sun. it would probly run again with a couple new parts.

    Like 0
  17. piston poney

    my dad had an 86 dodge shebly daytona it was blue, he had it before he could even drive lol his gf at the time could so he would let her drive it when they went out, ohh man his mom (my grandma) got so mad at him when he did that lol, and dang i never relized so meany people had these, it kinda sad tho you really just see them anymore

    Like 1
  18. BB

    I had one of these brand new, mine was a left over 1985 Chrysler Laser XT I bought in June ’86. The color was flash red with grey cloth interior and almost loaded with everything like rear louvres, sunroof etc. Only thing I didn’t have was a/c and man did I roast in that car in the summer! My cars fit, finish was miles ahead of GM or Ford cars I shopped for then and to this day I still love these cars. Wish I still had mine, so it was nice to see this car here on BF’s.

    Like 0
  19. Ten50boy

    Omg…. Can’t believe I missed this one. Super nice car. I would’ve been driving the seller nuts if I had seen the ad. I have owned about 30 cars….. from a 65 A code Mustang, to a 66 k code, fox bodies, 2nd and 3rd gen T/A’s, Firebirds, Camaros, numerous foreign rides including a 86 300zx , numerous VDubs (including a couple VR6 cars….fun fun fun they were), & now a modified (APR tuned, CAI, charge pipe, exhaust, coil overs, charge pipe, blow off valve, intercooler and hybrid upgrade coming soon) late model (‘19) Jetta………. but my freshman year of college, I had an 86 Turbo Daytona C/S. I later learned from multiple Chrysler/Dodge dealers that it was allegedly super rare for CS to have all those options with analog gauges and the Mark Cross interior…. anyhow…..i bought it on Long Island from a nephew of a former owner of a Chrysler dealership. Was allegedly used at the Auto Show in the Dodge area for 86. The dealer acquired it after. It was Gunmetal Blue Metallic (like the one in this ad), it had a 5spd, the black leather Mark Cross interior (like the one in this ad), ttops and analog (sooooo much better) gauges. Try finding one with that combo….. it won’t happen. But if you do……. let me know!!!!! I loved that car. Great memories. Lost my scholarship being a stupid kid chasing girls…. came home to attend Community College and get my grades up before moving on again to another college. Folks had me sell the car. Some guy who worked for Chrysler showed up, checked the codes with a few flips of the key in the ignition, waved $$$ in my face ……. then drove off into the sunset (literally) with my pride and joy. Yeah, most of those other cars came later…… but….. even though they are worth more, are faster, by most people’s standards…. cooler……I would trade any car I once owned to have that car back. Being this link is so old, no one will most likely read this……. but just in case……… if anyone knows that guy from Port Jefferson Long Island that bought my car in 1994……… let me know if you have any idea where it is or where it went. I last saw it in 1995 on the 4th of July headed away from Jones Beach……I was unfortunately traveling the opposite way…… damn divided parkway with no turn around!!!!!! Anyhow, great car, better memories. Seriously though….. if anyone ever reads this or knows anything about my lost pride and joy…… let me know.

    Like 0

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