Car Show Classic: 1979 Chrysler LeBaron – This One’s Under The Brougham Radar

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(first posted 5/5/2013)   OK, when’s the last time you saw one of these? Here in Rust Central, even ’80s Diplomats and Gran Furys are getting scarce, so I was happy to see this ’79 LeBaron coupe at–you guessed it–the Geneseo car show. In sleek black, no less, with no offending water-trapping full vinyl or landau top, either!

1979 Chrysler LeBaron-05

The LeBaron was cash-strapped Chrysler’s answer to the Seville. Despite having less money than FoMoCo, the resulting coupe, sedan and T&C wagon were MUCH more convincing as a luxury car than the “are they dumb enough to buy it?” Lincoln Versailles.

1979 Chrysler LeBaron-06

As you would expect of a 1970s near-luxury car, ample amounts of chrome, wire wheel covers, whitewalls, and velour upholstery were available. Most people who bought a Chrysler back then wanted to advertise their good fortune to everyone, and that meant adding all the gingerbread they could, resulting in over-dressed showboats like this one. Why would you get those wire wheel covers, when there were so much more attractive options. I guess those kids in the background borrowed their Aunt Gert’s new car…

1979 Chrysler LeBaron-01

Even a trim-bedecked one looked so much better with the available alloys, which were also optional on the Cordoba. But I imagine most of these went out the door with the rattly wire covers or “deluxe” wheel covers. Too bad. Interesting fact: the LeBaron came STANDARD with hubcaps! On a Chrysler!

1979 Chrysler LeBaron-07

Interiors were suitably plush, especially with the available leather seating. I don’t normally like gray interiors, but the dove-gray leather thrones shown here look very, very nice. One of these could have been a pretty comfy ride back then. As you’d expect, a variety of Slant Six, Super Six and 318 and 360 V8s could be installed in the LeBaron’s engine bay.

Yes, the LeBaron coupe could get every luxury car styling cliché: landau top, opera lamps, opera windows, pinstriping, and on and on.

1979 Chrysler LeBaron-11

But you didn’t HAVE to. Just a few pages past that wire-wheeled, dove gray parade float in the ’79 LeBaron brochure was this handsome coupe, with just the always-sharp Road Wheels and whitewalls to set it off. And you could make things even simpler–or stealthier, if you prefer…

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…thus bringing us to our featured car, which looks all for the world like a two-door police car. Maybe that’s just what it is/was. It had the standard pleated vinyl interior as well, but the black-and-red color combination made it look very, very good indeed.

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Could this be a factory police-package LeBaron? Or did the current owner just add the slotted wheels and ventilated hubcaps? I wouldn’t blame him; they look great.

1981 Chrysler LeBaron-05

The LeBaron lasted to ’81 in this form, albeit with a moderate facelift in ’80 (CC here). Starting in ’82, the car would become the Fifth Avenue, and the LeBaron would fall into a K-shaped hole it would never climb out of.

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However it came into the world, I like it. And the coupe roofline looks so nice. I love how the C-pillar flows into the mini-boattail deck lid. Great to FINALLY see one without the dratted landau top! Do want.

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