If hair metal was all about a menacing image, the rock anthems spawned by the leading bands within the genre were much less daring, offering a lot of bark, but not an especially painful bite. Along such lines, many coupes during the same era were created by wrapping pedestrian, sedan-based technology in expressive bodywork and aiming the resulting product at a young, indulgent demographic. The rather exaggerated looks made these cars a lot like the popular rock of the era, and in Chrysler’s case, resulted in one of the most over-the-top K-derived chassis, the G-body Dodge Daytona/Chrysler Laser.
While Pony cars long followed the dressed-up sedan formula, by the time the Laser and Daytona were around, the platform architecture which underpinned the likes of the Camaro and Mustang was on its way out, if not already gone, for more family-friendly applications.
But with Ford and Chevy were pulling people into its showrooms with newly invigorated coupes built using a good ol’ fashioned rear-drive layout, surely Chrysler Corporation wouldn’t be left out of the action, especially when so many unsavvy customers were forking cash over for underpowered, low-trim “dream machines.”
The cheap, expedient front-drive turbo solution to reinvigorated performance meant the Daytona and Laser represented a perfectly legitimate alternative to the likes of the non-V8 Mustang and Camaro, and while many correctly argue that the Laser should’ve been a Plymouth, marketing a variation of the car in Chrysler showrooms was a path to higher profits, offering the potential effect of softening Chrysler’s very upright, traditional image (if only Iacocca weren’t pushing other cars which made that conservative image more entrenched).
That made these K-based coupes unique given that cars like the Prelude and 626 attracted more of a proto-yuppie demographic. So naturally, positioning the very American Laser as a European-oriented GT proved to be an unconvincing ploy, and 1986 was the final year the car would appear in Chrysler showrooms alongside LeBarons and New Yorkers.
And while a car like this could never replace a V8 pony car, the lure of its high-tech turbo power–prominently advertised with graphics and a boost gauge–was enough to entice more than a few buyers. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had some influence in Ford’s abortive decision to replace the Mustang with the Probe.
That car, introduced just after hair-metal was reaching its peak, was met with a good degree of initial success, but until then, the Laser and Daytona were the kings of front-drive butch glam, that is, if buyers could fit their big ‘dos underneath that low roofline.
Given this car’s analogue gauges and subdued color scheme, its interior actually provides some relief to the edgy exterior styling. In 1984, this was a seriously exciting shape, and badgeless versions of it graced packaging for auto-related products from car wax bottles to bras over the next five years. Fox-body Mustangs are timeless in comparison.
If you can meet the reserve and pay a $1,000 deposit in the next five days, this high-zoot period piece can be yours. And “high-zoot” certainly characterizes this car, dressed up as it is with gizmos, from a CD ready stereo (check out that pause button) and a prominently mounted trip computer to very comprehensive instrumentation. If, of course, this doesn’t meet your criteria as a desirable purchase, its current and original owner should be congratulated for keeping a footnote to the era’s cheap excess so presentable. It begs to be featured in a movie.