American Apparel, which is apparently a clothing company that was so successful that they filed for Chapter 11 bankrupcy, are trying to bounce back from the blow to their image by any means possible. One of these means include a raffle where a (un?)lucky person will become the new owner of a classic Cadillac Allante. Not GM’s best effort I’ll admit but if you want the ultimate in failed Italo/American cooperation from the ‘80s ditch the contest and take a look at this.
Unlike the efforts to turn the K-Car into a luxury car with some credibility, which ranged from pathetic to really pathetic, you have to look harder in the TC to get a glimpse of its humble roots. The TC was built on a very modified version of the K-platform, so much so that it was rechristened the Q-platform. Unfortunately all that redesigning didn’t keep it from looking too similar to a Chrysler LeBaron, which was actually longer and had a longer wheelbase but was considerably cheaper to buy.
I can’t help but notice the similarities between this and the Phaeton that I showed to you last time. Both were vehicles designed as halo cars to amaze and surprise the world (through very different approaches) and pushed by the sheer willpower of the CEO of the company at the time. Both were presented to the world with obscene price tags for the badges they were carrying and not enough differences with the competition or even models from the same brand to justify those prices. And they both ended up failing because of that. This must’ve been a personal blow to ‘ol Lido, as he was absolutely sure that this would be adored by all. Even he must’ve started to realize that putting Rolls grills on anything and then giving the interior a mild once-over could only get you so far.
Our featured model is a red 1989 model, one of the first models of the Argen-Italo-American collaboration. It has a lovely tan leather interior. It still has the original stereo, air conditioning, and nobody has misplaced the original Opera-windowed hardtop. The odometer is showing 24,620 miles.
The design really was the strong point of the TC. The oily bits were unfortunately pure K. This is especially egregious in this first-year model, as it has been bestowed with the 2.2-liter turbo that was used on the Daytona and mated to a three-speed automatic. I’m not sure the engine is a good choice for something that could be classified as a Grand Tourer, any more than that gearbox could do in an Italian sports car.
Faults? Read the last paragraph about the drivetrain. Apart from that, there shouldn’t be all that much to go home. As with any car that has been driven so little throughout its life it may run into some trouble as hardened rubber and old wear items are suddenly brought into constant service. Still, at a buck under $8,000 it could be a nice quirky car to drive around. The listing is here and best of all, you don’t need to own anything by American Apparel to make a bid.
“classic Cadillac Allante”
Sure. I remember regarding them only because their taillights always were sloshing w/ water.
At Chrysler, Iacocca wasted alot of $$$ w/ his Italian follies.
As much as I hate to say anything positive about American Apparel, the Allante giveaway was pretty brilliant. They are getting way more publicity from giving away an $8000 used car than they would if they were giving away, say, a brand new $30000 CUV.
I only remembered them because of Kelly Bundy and an episode of Top Gear US….
The “low suds” innards at least would make it cheaper to keep running than the Itaio Caddy, putting this in the “drivable dream” class. Not to mention you’d get the fun of saying “I drive a Maserati” as far as it looking like the same era LeBaron, Style wise that’s really not a bad thing IMHO!
“Drivable dream”…Good one!! 😉
+1 that one’s getting reused!
The speedometer face looks almost exactly like the one used in the Shadow/Sundance. That couldn’t help contribute to the luxury mystique.The engine compartment pic could be from a Sundance, for that matter. If a bit more spacious.
Sundance doesn’t have the plastic covers over the suspension towels though. But it still looks too similar.
Love ti, love it, love it! A beautiful car, especially with the hardtop shell.
Too bad too many things fell apart on these Chryslers, like quarter glass lift mechanisms, switches, etc. Fortunately, on our 1992 LeBaron convertible, I was able to fix all those things, but still…
I’m with you, Zackman. I like these cars despite their shortcomings. I remember seeing them new at the 1987 Detroit Auto Show, and the ones I looked at on the floor exuded class and exclusivity. I think I still have my “Chrysler’s TC, by Maserati” brochure somewhere in storage.
interesting interior (not a hint of woodtrim that the latter versions habe) – don’t see this style of steering wheel often either….interior version most like a real Maserati?
I think that steering wheel was swapped pretty quickly for one with an airbag.
Now if it was a sleek Italian body with a bombproof big block Mopar V8 it would be much more attractive.
There are a lot of ignorant people who have written BS about this car over the years, since the beginning and it seems to continue to this time!
As a member of the TC America Club, I want to enlighten the readers here a little.
YES, the TC is based on the K car platform. That, buy the way, is a better platform than GM and Ford based many of their cars on in the 1980s.
Having owned mine since 1995, it has been a terrific car to drive, both cross country and locally. It has not experienced any major problems at all. Mechanical parts are easily acquired, should they be needed. It now registers 279,053 on the odometer and it stands ready to drive anywhere in this country at a moments notice.
So, please don’t believe all the crap that automotive writers write, often it is pure bias.
If you want to read more about my TC, go to the ALLPAR website. You will find me there.
Most of the complaints I’ve read about the TC aren’t about it’s reliability, but about it’s market position and pricing. It was a $33k car (63k adjusted for inflation) that didn’t look or perform that much different than the significantly cheaper LeBaron convertible.
It’s a very neat used car, but it didn’t make a lot of sense as a new car.
I would never have paid that much for one, I agree. I paid $6K for mine in ’95.
Exactly…I had a boss with one of these, and I drove it a lot. Great car, massively overpriced when it was new, a great deal for used buyers. It was pretty, comfortable, and any mechanic in the country could fix it. It was a good car asked to do the impossible.
So chastising one of our writers for “bias” and then directing people to a Mopar centric website, and being a member of a club for the car in question. Talk about pot calling kettle black.
calm down there :)….you disagree with the article, leave it at that
I understand your frustration, I don’t agree all the time either but they are writers, putting their work out there for the world to see. What’s great about this site is just how constructive the comments can be with formulating content, evolving peoples opinions, or biases. Fighting what you perceive as bias though(I’m not sure Geraldo’s OPINION is a bias), with your own admitted strong bias really isn’t helping your cause. You even threw others with differing tastes under the bus, IE those “less better platform GM and Fords”, of which my own personal bias would say the D186, Fox, and MN12 were all moderately to vastly superior to the K-car.
And the K-platform wasn’t that great. We had one….
Can you say Ultradrive?
Though, a Maserati with a Turbo-4 and a 3 speed auto in the late 80s? That seems like sacrilege to me….
Even though those three Ford platforms have their advantages, but they all share the rust problem, and it was never solved. MN12 in particular, it is one of the few platforms rusting horribly fast even with Ziebart protection. D186 cars are very horrible in rust resistance, and I know Ziebart works when I saw an ’80s Sable wagon driving all year round with minimum rust on the whole car.
Ziebart only works if it was done originally, at the original dealer. The used car places that do it after the car has been through a few seasons won’t do squat because the rust process has likely started to some degree and merely covering it up tends to actually accelerate the corrosion it’s supposed to prevent.
The MN12 cars weren’t fully galvanized from 1989-1992, and those early model years are the ones that really rot, 93+ models including the FN10 Mark VIII were hugely improved, no worse than what anyone else was putting out at least. Either way, the K cars weren’t any better, metal quality in the 80s seemed to be pretty bad across the board.
I think that many people get confused about the timing of this car vs. the similarly styled LeBaron. Many forget or never knew that this car was supposed to be out first, and would sit in showrooms next to the old square-cornered LeBaron. A car like this was intended to be a style-setter. Unfortunately, the delays in this car coming to market put it well behind the restyled LeBaron. One of the biggest marketing screwups of all time.
The planning that I would question today is the ethics of selling someone this super-expensive fashionable car then doing a blatant cheap ripoff of it the next year to sell for comparative peanuts, probably killing the resale for those who paid so much in year one.
Hemi, I have deleted one of your comments. You need to take a deep breath. Look, I get it, it sucks when a car you like is criticized frequently all over the internet. I’ve been there.
In my opinion, this is one of the least critical TC by Maserati articles I have read on the internet, but obviously you’re a little bit more sensitive to criticisms of a car that has provided you with reliable transport for so long. Frankly, I would love to read more about the experiences of a long-term TC owner, as I think that would make for an interesting read.
But if you can’t articulate your arguments without making personal criticisms of somebody else, especially one of our unpaid writers who creates content for which members do not have to pay to read, then you need to go to another website.
Agree that Gerardo’s nice piece was a more sympathetic take on these, and that was going to be my first comment – that it was refreshing to read.
That said, I wish this would’ve played out differently, Hemi, because I (for one) would have loved to see a contribution piece on your car – one I think is awesome. You clearly love your car, and it would be great to read about a TC from the perspective of a true fan. People bash(ed) my taste in cars all the time, but I like what I like. Peace and be well, friend.
I think you are being too harsh on Gerardo, he didn’t say anything bad about the car itself other than a mild observation of a turbo four being less suited to a “Grand Tourer” than presumably a V6 and the unavoidable observation of the styling similarity to the LeBaron, and actually finished by saying it would be a good car to buy! What was the “crap” that he wrote? Pointing out that a 25-year old car may need some maintenance despite having low mileage?
I think the main point of the article was to point out the similarity in concept to the VW Phaeton, which is both not repeating the same old crap, and a good observation.
A minor observation is this was one of the few US cars that popped up in the local car magazines, I remember a brief review of one of these. I would have to look it up but I think the conclusion was the predictable “not good enough for the price”.
The problem with this car is the Maserati badge that it does nothing to deserve. That and the unrefined I4 under the hood. At least the Allante had a V8, albeit not a great one.
Subjectively I prefer the Allante’s looks, but that’s preference. These were good-looking vehicles but simply not well enough differentiated from the LeBaron.
I agree. This car is far too reliable to earn a Maserati badge!
It would be difficult to NOT name it ‘by Maserati’ when the body was stamped out (built) in one of Maserati’s plants and it was assembled in another, Milan. The whole name is Chrysler’s TC by Maserati. Exactly what it is.
The Daytona 4 cylinder engine was the best performer they had available for a FWD car. The 3 speed automatic was the BAD choice as the only one available for the 8 valve Turbo 4. A 5 speed manual totally changes the cars driving characteristics.
ummm no I don’t accept that …..did they not make some 5 spd manual editions with a 16 Valve 200 horsepower 4 cylinder??
that would be more proper for this nameplate and price
They did, that pushed it a bit further to the Sports car side of things. Still doesn’t make up for the price tag.
They paid Maserati money to make it look like a LeBaron? And then gave it poor internals? A 5-Speed manual makes more sense, but the 2.2 just doesn’t seem prestigious enough for the Maserati badge.
Of course, we know how reliable the BiTurbo was.
The money spent on styling seems to me to be a worse move than the imfamous 4-way GM A-Body design in the mid 1980s….
One of the engineers working on the 4-cylinder engine later jumped to work on the formula one project, but it ended when McLaren chose Peugeot. He still had good memories about the time though.
It’s all in the connotation. Take another car with a similar naming convention, the Volvo 780 Bertone coupe. (Full disclosure: I do own one of those, so if that’s bias, so be it.) It has a similar naming convention due to a very similar circumstance–the 760 sedan design was modified into this coupe by Bertone design studios, and then they handled the production at their plant in Turin. So I definitely see your point as the process is nearly identical.
However, “Bertone” (or Pininfarina or Italdesign or…) brings up a connotation of design, style, and Italian provenance. It does not carry any particular connotation of performance. “Maserati” brings to mind sports cars. GT cars. Fast cars, with racing-bred engines. The Maserati name writes a check this car cannot cash.
Lipstick on a pig rarely disguises the pig underneath, even Italian lipstick.
The price point at the time was very high for what you were getting, and as someone had pointed out here in the comments section, the fact that it came out after the LeBaron even though it was intended to come out earlier, makes it a victim of bad timing. But for what they go for today, I think it’s a good price, and I still really like the styling……really the last sort of era for the more squared styling of the 80’s (i’m not really a fan of styling too much past the early 90’s, as everything went pretty much to rounded shapes). It is still a car with Maserati involvement, which is cool.
One of the problems with it is, as mentioned, the lack of really all out differentiation from the rest of Chrysler’s line, as well as the LeBaron. Car companies like to use as many parts from their existing parts bin that they possibly can (out of minimizing their costs on R&D and tooling), but the problem with that sometimes becomes that the more common items–especially drive train and engines–start to be the items where people start to look at less expensive variants within those car divisions to spend their money in a “more bang for buck” scenario. The turbo 2.2 was a good concept and was good for fuel economy while boosting power output, but if you can get it in a cheaper car, many people most likely did.
Nevertheless, I can imagine more than quite a few high roller type exec guys on Wall Street and big corporations had bought these; wheeling and dealing on their gigantic cellphones. For some reason, it still seems to typify the 80’s and its cocaine/ money excess.
I suspect that even if the TC had made it to market on time, i.e., before the lookalike, next gen Lebaron convertible, and with a proper dash (not one from the Daytona parts bin), it might have sold a bit better, sure, but it still wouldn’t have been a success. There was just no disguising the FWD K-car underneath, and not too many folks, even well-heeled ones, would be willing to part with $33 large for a K-car, no matter where the body came from.
I read somewhere that the TC was supposed to be out in 1985-1986. Had it come out then it might have been better received as it would have not looked like anything else on the road. But since it came out in 1989 and the car buying public had seen the J-Body Lebaron coupe and convertible for 2 years already, the TC ended up looking like the Mopar version of the Cadillac Cimarron(AKA a car that bore a big resemblance to a cheaper car but was priced a lot more) instead of being an original car.(Yes I know that they were on different platforms and did look different if you stopped and looked at them but to the car buying public, it seemed that Lido was trying to pass a gussied up Lebaron as a high dollar Euro import)
Personally I would rather own another J-Body Lebaron rather then the TC as in my opinion the 1987-95 Lebaron was better looking(especially the versions with the hidden head lights)
Thank you one and all who replied to my ” Defence of the TC”.
I can easily agree with points in each reply.
Darn, there are just some of us that will defend the fort to the bitter end, I am one of those.
On another note, I was deeply moved by the terrific article on the Packard.
That takes me back to when I was a kid with a brand new drivers license.
Those Packards were a wonder to see. Such a sad ending.
There is one of these cars not too far from me. It appears to be partially covered so it’s likely that it’s been parked in that driveway for a long time. Not sure if it runs. The owner must know how uncommon it is or else it would be in a junkyard by now.