(First Posted August 28, 2013) Lee Iaccoca was a huge fan of K car variants. By the time of his 1992 departure from Chrysler, nearly every Chrysler-, Dodge-, and Plymouth-branded product, from Caravan to Imperial, could trace its roots to the humble 1981 K car. One of the more unique, and arguably best-looking K car derivative was the appropriately codenamed “J-body” Chrysler LeBaron coupe and convertible.
Introduced as a 1987, the J-body replaced the 1983-1986 K-body LeBaron and woody Town & Country convertibles. Much to my dismay, a di noc woodgrain paneled Town & Country convertible was never offered on the J-body. This LeBaron was also one of the longest-running K offshoots, soldiering on for nine years with minimal external changes, save for new composite headlights and taillight lenses.
That’s not to say the LeBaron was left completely alone from 1987 all the way up to 1995, the last year for all products related to the K car. Trim, equipment, engine, and transmission choices were shuffled on a yearly basis. Over the course of its lifespan, no fewer than 7 engines and 8 transmissions were offered. The entire interior was redesigned in 1990, loosing Lido’s cherished boxy look in favor of a more rounded, cockpit design. The aforementioned composite headlights replaced the often cumbersome hidden headlights in 1993.
Despite these minimal advancements, the LeBaron managed to sell a respectable 30,000-40,000 units, even in its final years. Private buyers wanting a reasonably-priced convertible didn’t have many choices – this undoubtably worked in the LeBaron’s favor. Nonetheless, I bet a majority of sales were to Sunshine State rental fleets.
This 1993 white LeBaron was spotted a few months ago by your’s truly. It’s a base model, as indicated by the presence of black bodyside moldings. 1993 was the last year for the base trim; only the monochromatic GTC and chrome-laden LX would carry on through 1995. Its small badge ahead of the driver’s door denotes this one’s 3.0L Mitsubishi V6. As a measure of cost-cutting, traditional rear badging was excluded in favor of tape graphic on many later model LeBarons.
Considering their modest origins, these final LeBarons weren’t horrible cars. Mechanical components aside, the body lacked proper rigidity to ever handle like a sports car. Much like the later Sebring and today’s 200 convertible, the LeBaron was best suited as a boulevard cruiser (which I’m sure Lee was perfectly content with).