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

(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.

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…

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!

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.

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…

…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.

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.

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.

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.