Unusual Pairing: 1989 Chrysler TC By Maserati

The Chrysler TC by Maserati had only a brief lifespan and can be found in only 3 model years, 1989-1991.  Although it was actually introduced in 1986 at the Los Angeles Auto Show, developmental setbacks followed, and by the end of the run, only 7,300 vehicles had been manufactured.  If you have an interest in a well-maintained debut year example, this 1989 Chrysler TC By Maserati may be a good car for you.  This TC is located in the Alphabet District of Portland, Oregon, and can be seen here on Craigslist with an asking price of $5,500.  Barn Finds wants to thank Matt H. for the tip on this one.

These cars were quite expensive new, to the tune of about $33,000 in 1989, or over $70,000 in today’s currency.  And to the untrained eye, they looked a lot like a LeBaron on car lots, which could be had for roughly half of that amount.  But at least it was manufactured in Italy and came with a significantly upgraded leather interior, plus you got that Maserati Trident logo inside the Chrysler Pentastar logo which in and of itself has to be worth something!

The TC being offered here appears to be a fine example of this scarce and unusual vehicle.  The seller says that it was originally purchased by his grandparents, and claims it only has 50,000 miles but also mentions that the odometer stopped working last year.  The car is said to have been beautifully maintained and always garaged, and looking at the photos it really does seem to be in exceptionally good condition all the way around.  The TC was only available in 6 exterior color choices with the interior limited to 3, and it looks like what you’re getting here is Light Yellow on the outside and Ginger on the inside.

It’s always a good sign when the owner’s manuals are still present, and they appear to be about as well preserved as the rest of the vehicle.  The car also has a new timing belt and new tires, and while everything is said to be working mechanically the AM/FM tuner is not.  However, the cassette deck is still working so you’ll have to go to Goodwill and stock up on some of your favorite tapes to blast through the 6 speaker Infinity stereo.  In addition to the soft convertible top, the car also comes with a yellow hardtop.

While the TC may not be the most glorious moment for either Chrysler or Maserati, it’s definitely an unusual concept and sure to strike up a conversation everywhere you go.  This car really doesn’t seem to need much of anything and should be ready to be enjoyed by its new owner.  What are your thoughts on this 1989 Chrysler TC By Maserati?  Is $5,500 in the ballpark?

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    Seems like a good deal to me. Would make a perfect weekend or nice day cruiser. Chrysler reliability with supple Italian leather.

    Like 4
    • Terrry

      Chrysler reliability? Even back then it was spotty at best.

      Like 11
  2. Steve Bush Member

    Very overpriced when new with very average performance but for the $5500 asking if everything checked out, it would be a nice somewhat upmarket 2 seat convertible with low maintenance costs.

    Like 6
  3. Gary

    Engine? I believe these were either 2.2 turbos or 3.0 Mitsubishi V6. Which is it? At this point, I would rather have the V6. More dependable. Funny, they mention a new timing belt, but not what engine, plus where is the engine shot? Not on the actual listing either. I must add, why sell Grandpa’s pride and joy? Would he have not wanted someone in the family to love and use it? Five grand, isn’t all that much money these days, not even a good down payment on an F150. How much will you sell your families memories for? Maybe you can discuss it with him outside the pearly gates as you wait your turn for the trip down the big slide.

    Like 3
    • SubGothius

      500 of the first year also had the “Maserati” 16v twincam head, which was actually designed and cast by Cosworth and only finished and assembled at Maserati. Those were all 5-speeds, tho’, so this ain’t one of those. The V6 replaced the Turbo II after the first year, so this must have the Turbo II.

      Aside from those heads, the only thing “Maserati” about this model was Iacocca’s deal with deTomaso who owned Maserati at the time, but even the bodies were actually built at Innocenti, which deTomaso also owned at the time.

      Like 4
    • Glen Shaw

      I have one in Maroon/ginger. The two engines in 89 were the 2.2 Chrysler and the 2.2 Maserati engine with a 5 speed standard. The V6 wasn’t offered until 1990.

      Like 3
    • Kim Margosein

      During the TCs short run tbey used several engine blocks in various degrees of tune. A couple, there are no parts available at any price. However, with the 3 speed auto it’s unlikely it has anything wierd.

  4. Mitchell G. Member

    Remember when Chrysler tried to market a modified Dodge Daytona with a custom Chrysler LeBaron-esque body as a Maserati? Pepperidge Farm remembers

    Like 2
  5. Terrry

    And shortly after, Maserati tried to deny these cars ever existed. Can’t really blame them, as it’s basically a LeBaron with a Maserati nameplate. I wonder how Iacocca pulled that off?

    Like 4
    • SubGothius

      The TC was supposed to launch first, then the similarly-styled LeBaron would launch later and borrow some cachet from the TC.

      But squabbling and production delays made the TC launch much later than planned, so it wound up seeming little more than a tarted-up LeBaron even though they didn’t share a single body panel in common. Oops.

      Like 3
  6. Jammerx19

    Ah the legendary Moparati. A couple of these show up and park in the Italian car section at Carlisle every year.

    Like 1
  7. Bick Banter

    A very cynical effort. They really ladled out the soup in the brochure. In reality they stole $77,000 in adjusted dollars in passing this tarted K-car off as an exotic. Mostly from seniors still loyal to Chrysler back then, Might be fun now for Radwood but pathetic overall.

    http://oldcarbrochures.org/United%20States/Chrysler_and_Imperial/1990-Chrysler/1990-Chrysler-TC-Brochure/index.html

  8. wuzjeepnowsaab

    What a grandpa car these were. These and the 2 seater T-Birds. They reek of white patent leather belts and shoes

    Like 1
  9. david r

    I’ve always thought these were great looking cars, after 32 years they still are.

    Like 5
  10. Beignet at the Beach

    We still have our TC. It was one of 24 Training Center vehicles to train technicians. They are not true “K” cars, as the body is from Maserati, but the cowl and front stub frame are semi-Chrysler. 32+ years latter it is still rattle free. Many of the early cars were actually ‘tabbed-up’ in late 86, getting vins latter. The dollar to lire exchange rate pretty much killed the car along with the Lebaron J-coupe & convertible being half the price and having a back seat. This car presented in the Barn Finds is a good deal, and there is a active club of owners the new purchaser can use to keep it going!

    Like 7
  11. Howie Mueler

    Yes these look great, but they are hard to sell.

    Like 2
    • Scott L.

      Took me a loooooong time to sell mine. A Chrysler dealer in Canada bought it. They were never available up there.

      On a positive note, I’ve owned many convertibles, and this was by far the nicest ride with the top down. It was quiet and calm. You could have a normal conversation with the passenger, and your hat wouldn’t blow off.

      The seats were pretty nice, too. Very comfortable.

      Like 3
  12. charlie Member

    All those who are complaining that the big auction houses have made it impossible for us ordinary guys to get into the hobby, here is a way in. With Chrysler or Mitsubisi runnning parts you can get it fixed, it is a drop top, it has beautiful Italian leather, (my ’93 Allante has torn GM “bonded leather” which is a thin leather skin over nylon) and it goes well. And yes, for less money, you can get a nice Lebaron convertible of the same era with a V6 and a back seat, another way into the hobby for us ordinary folk. And this one looks as good as you will ever get, you can drive it, not trailer it.

    Like 5
  13. Mikefromthehammer

    Since the powertrain was not indicated, I googled this:

    2.2 liter 4-cylinder turbo with 3 speed auto. 160 BHP and 171 lbs./feet of torque.

    https://www.automobile-catalog.com/auta_details1.php

  14. Gerard Frederick

    Whenever this car shows up here at Barnfinds, a tsunami of negativity seems to appear in the comments section. I don´t understand this. I think this car is a beauty and the owners apparently think so too, since I don´t remember ever seeing a maltreated example. It´s by far the best ¨Maserati¨ ever produced. The next owner should be a happy camper with this and I for one wish both him and the seller the best.

    Like 7
  15. Michael L Gregory

    In spite of the fact my beautiful ’91 LeBaron convertible reigns as the worst car I’ve ever owned, I always wanted one of these because I still think they are even more beautiful. The trident gives them cache other cars from this era don’t have. I have a friend who bought a car identical to this one new and still has it. There are a couple of them in my town and my heart still skips a beat when I see one.

    It’s frustrating to see one person after another put cars down on this site; one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Sure, some cars were POS, but that doesn’t mean someone didn’t love them or they don’t deserve to be loved.

    Like 4
    • Gerard Frederick

      BRAVO Michael. My sentiments exactly.

      Like 1
  16. Patrick Curran

    A friend bought a new 1991 and got one hell of a deal on it as the dealer wanted it off his lot. I remember driving it a few times and the cowl shake was very apparent when the roof was off. The transmission went at 30,000 miles but was covered under warranty. My friend finally dumped out of it.
    This car was a novelty at the time but makes for an interesting buy now that you can get them for very reasonable money.

    • Terry R Melvin

      If you like cowl shake, drive any Chysler Sebring convertible with the top down. Go over some railroad tracks. You’d swear the front sheet metal disappeared briefly.

  17. Glenn Barnett

    I enjoy my twin to this TC very much. Chrysler runnig gear make upkeep afordable. Love the luxury of rich Italian leather and the fact I can say I own a Maserati! I call it my baby Imperial

    Like 1
  18. Mike Britt

    Bought a ‘90 with 600 miles on it (6’ 5” purchaser returned to dealer). Drove it 200000 miles in 17 years. Many road trips. No problems whatsoever. Ran like a top. Best convertible we ever owned. Best mechanic (read very fussy) I know were impressed with overall quality & made a standing offer to buy it (for his wife) – great memories (stolen in 2007).

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