CC For Sale: Armoured 1995 Chrysler LeBaron – Bulletproof Invisibility Cloak

I thought I’d seen it all, at least as far as AA-body Mopars go. I mean, there are six of them in my COAL series; I’ve written about American and Mexican TV ads for them twice; I’ve geeked out about carbureted and multipoint-injected Mexican Spirits, and waxed photographic about an old-timer Acclaim in the mountains. I’m disturbingly conversant in the minutiæ of the European-market Chrysler Saratoga; I’m aware of the police Spirits of Mexico and Argentina; and of the leaded-fuel-injected Spirits, Acclaims, and LeBarons in the Middle East; and the top de luxe AA-body New Yorkers of Mexico, with the V6, padded landau half-roof, and air-level suspension. I’ve chased rumours of locally-built ones in Taiwan or China (fruitlessly; that was probably the Hongqi CA750F as spewed from the output pipe of a garburator).

But an armoured (AArmoured?) one…?! Squack! Here’s Here’s the listing on MercadoLibre (more or less eBay in Latin America), and here’s a screen grab:

An old friend sent me this shortly ago in retribution for my having sent him an American ad for a low-miles Spirit R/T I knew would make his teeth itch. At first I completely missed the point of the LeBaron—Ooh, yeah, be seen in this and everyone’s gonna know they better not cross you because you will mess them up. No, it’s just the opposite: this is a car that gets lost in a crowd of one. It’s an invisibility cloak—and a bulletproof one, at that. Which, come to think of it, might still mean don’t cross you because you’ll mess them up.

First off, the listing’s text, minus the advertiser’s all-caps shouting:

Chrysler LeBaron 1995 blindado nivel 3 plus. Crystales de 27mm sin burbujas ni delaminados, placa de acero balistico de 7mm, totalmente reforzado. Motor 4 cil turbo, todo functiona perfectamente—motor, caja, clima, suspension, etc etc etc. En verdad impecable, factura original. Tenencias en orden, excelente unidad, muy buena proteccion a muy buen precio. Precio unico, solo venta de contado efectivo. Vehiculo utilitario y con bajo perfil, vealo sin compromiso. Escriba, llame, o por whatsapp. 135,000 km, $150,000

All of which is to say:

1995 Chrysler LeBaron armoured to level 3-plus. 27mm (a little over 1″ thick) glass—no bubbles or delamination. 7mm (a little over ¼”) ballistic steel plating—totally reinforced. 4-cylinder turbo engine. Everything works perfectly—engine, transmission, air conditioning, suspension, etc etc etc. Truly impeccable [with] factory invoice. Papers in order, excellent unit; very good protection at a very low price. One price, cash only. Utility vehicle with a low profile; see it without obligation. Write, call, or WhatsApp. 135,000 km (about 84k miles); 150,000 Pesos (about USD $7,400 as of today).

It’s for sale in Xalapa—also spelled Jalapa—where the English word “jalopy” comes from, and the capital of the Mexican East Coast state of Veracruz. Alright, then; let’s see it without obligation!

Thick bulletproof door glass moots the question of whether the power windows work. Note the dotty pattern around the inner perimeter—that’s some nice attention to detail adjacent to the somewhat hackish-looking glass/metal junction at the outer perimeter.

I figured the armour-up was what makes the windshield look odd, but it took some closer scrutiny to figure out how; it’s a combination of its rubber seals bulging unusually, and the double reflections of every branch in the tree. The rubber seals are missing from around the headlamps, at least one of which is wet inside; neither fault is surprising. Up north here, we’d call this an ’89-’93 Dodge Spirit ES front bumper fascia with ’91-’93 frog lamps. The power-operated antenna wasn’t offered up here, and neither were the body-coloured sideview mirrors.

The armoured backglass, too, looks a little unusual; its surface curvature isn’t standard and there’s another bulgy rubber seal. That’s a ’91-’92 Dodge Spirit R/T trunklid spoiler, and a rear bumper fascia never used up north, with a notch for the straight tailspout also never used up north…

…and lookin’ kinda heat-baked and warped by the hot Mexican sun. We also see here (barely, through the dark tint) the licence plate-lookalike sticker in the backglass, a hedge against licence plate theft I’ve seen on other Mexican-registered cars.

Front and rear passengers get bulletproof glass of their very own.

The seats are done up in a combination of velour and FCL (fine Corinthian leather) not offered up north. Digital instrument cluster with printwood faceplate; courtesy lights in the doors, power driver’s seat. This isn’t one of the safer AA-bodies to crash in; the knee bolster’s been removed from under the steering column for some reason, and—like its north-of-the-border counterparts—it’s got the self-unbuckling seatbelts:

No airbag, either; that’s a bag-delete steering wheel cover; here’s a closer view:

It does have power locks, though, and that’s gotta count for something.

I think the torn trunk carpet we see here might be revealing some of that 7mm ballistic steel plating the ad mentions.

Behold the Mexico-only Chrysler 2.5 Turbo-II engine: 168 horsepower, up 18 from the US/Canada Turbo-I version with no intercooler or intake charge temperature sensor. I’m not sure whether the Turbo II has balance shafts; they were deleted from some of the Mexican MPFI nonturbo 2.5s—and boy, would this long-stroke Four be a buzzy, harsh engine without them. I sleep well knowing the engine control module is № 4686820. The transaxle is a Torqueflite 3-speed. I don’t know how much scoot it would be reasonable to expect of this powertrain loaded down with all that extra glass and steel…

…and these chrome wheel arch mouldings.

Still, I’ve got questions. Those look like 14-inch wheels. Does “Level 3” armour include run-flat tires? If not, these 195/70R14s would seem to present fat targets. What about the fuel tank, is it armoured as well? Just how extensive is that 7mm ballistic steel plating? And how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll centre of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know…!