Christopher Busta-Peck is a true renaissance man. Librarian. Artist. Historian. Published author. He’s even restoring a historic home that he lives in with his family. And he drives this impossible-to-ignore 1992 Chrysler LeBaron convertible.
Here’s how this LeBaron looked before Christopher used it as a canvas — normal and sedate. “I bought the LeBaron in February of 2011 for $750,” Christopher said, “and prompty dumped another $750 into fuel lines and exhaust. It was the first car I’ve owned that wasn’t a hand me down. I chose it because, well, convertible!”
His $1500 investment was just the beginning. “I noticed the articles in Hot Rod and elsewhere about using a spray gun and Rust-Oleum for a $100 paint job,” Christopher said. “So I bit the bullet and bought a $25 spray gun and a gallon of Safety Yellow.” He removed the body-side moldings and, while he was at it, patched the holes in the floor with sheet aluminum, pop rivets, and self-tapping sheet-metal screws. But he wasn’t done. “I also replaced the plastic rear window with glass and moved the seat back enough so that my 6’8″ frame can fit in it comfortably. With this, it feels like a dream.”
But then this LeBaron spoke to him. “I started noticing that certain lines just wanted to be there when I looked at the car,” Christopher said. “Eventually I gave in. I did a sketch, and, soon after, penciled out the idea on the car. My lunch breaks for the next month or so were spent painting it.” This is his work in progress.
He used oil paints left over from his college studies in studio art. “They were half used tubes, but they still probably represent a couple hundred dollar investment.” That’s still less than he’d have spent on a quickie paint job at Maaco.
After laying down the oils, he brushed on a coat of varnish designed to protect these paints. Still, he’s reluctant to run his car through a car wash.
“I’ve received more smiles and waves than I ever would have thought possible,” he told me. “I did this for my own enjoyment — it was a painting that wanted to be painted, so I did it. That the public seems to like it so is an added bonus.”
“I’ve had a few real detractors, too, people who have said, ‘That’s the ugliest [expletive] car I’ve ever seen.’ And it’s nice, at least, to have done something that gets a strong reaction – it means you’re doing something right.”
But now Christopher is selling it. Not that he really wants to. “The leaky brake line combined with the transmission that will likely need to be replaced within the next year made me sit down and look at the car as a whole,” he said. “There’s a bunch of stuff, and I might, maybe, consider dealing with it, if not for the significant rust in at least one structural location.”
Does this Chrysler art car speak to you? Do you live near Cleveland? Christopher might, just might, let it go at scrap value if you promise not to actually scrap it.
All photos taken by the car’s owner.