Produced for a lengthy nine model years (1987-1995), the final generation of Chrysler LeBaron coupe and convertible is a car that holds many distinctions. Riding on the officially designated “J-platform”, this extended-K LeBaron was ultimately the last of many very different and often unrelated LeBarons produced, as well as one of the very final K-car relatives, surviving through the final year of production.
The J-body LeBaron was also the first Chrysler in decades without a
comparable rebadged Dodge or Plymouth variant. While originally positioned as an upscale “personal luxury” sports coupe, highlighted by features such as turbo engines, digital instrumentation, and sleek styling, later years saw the LeBaron lineup reduced to its far more popular convertible bodystyle, often in modest trim. With that in mind, a few high-spec and highly special LeBarons made their way to dealers as late as 1992, including this 1992 GTC convertible with the available Performance Package.
In addition to replacing the far more traditionally-minded K-body LeBaron coupe and convertible, the J-body LeBaron also replaced the G-body Laser personal luxury sports coupe, resulting in its sleek and sporty sheetmetal that was quite frankly one of the most captivating Chrysler designs of the 1980s, in your author’s opinion.
Now the fact that it lacked a near-identical Dodge or Plymouth sibling left the LeBaron with more hats to wear than other Chryslers at the time. On the one hand, it was indeed the upscale personal luxury model that fit most in-line with the Chrysler brand. Yet on the other hand, the LeBaron also was sold in more modest configurations, as well as performance-oriented variants to fill the gap with Dodge and Plymouth, a strategy that somewhat muddled its mission in life.
Initially, GTC was the highest-priced, and most performance-oriented trim level, though following 1993, all 2-door LeBarons were GTC convertibles as part of Chrysler’s strategy of having just one reasonably-equipped model with several available options and packages.
While actually driving dynamics only went as far as its K-car roots could take it, this 1992 GTC convertible with GTC Performance Package features the 152 horsepower/211 lb-ft torque 2.5-liter SOHC turbo I4, high-capacity 5-speed manual transmission, 16-inch spiralcast aluminum road wheels (not currently on this one, but they do come with it), and performance handling suspension with upgraded shocks, struts, and front and rear anti-sway bars.
Inside, GTC Performance Package cars added performance front bucket seats upholstered in either unique cloth or perforated leather, with driver gaining a 14-way power-adjustable “Enthusiast” seat that included power lumber and side bolster controls.
This LeBaron also features the top-of-the-line Infinity RS Sound System, consisting of AM/FM stereo with seek-and-scan, cassette player, CD player, 5-band graphic equalizer, and 10 speakers.
It’s complemented by a trunk-mounted Infinity BassLink subwoofer from a newer Chrysler, possibly a Crossfire.
Among other factory options includes this digital mini trip computer — ultra high-tech in the age before massive colorized screens taking up the majority of landscape of car dashboards.
Now regarding the interior goes as a whole, there is somewhat of a disconnect between its design, controls, and features. Replacing the original boxy, upright K-car dash, the 1990-on interior featured a much more modern and driver-centric dash, instrument panel, and door panels.
Indeed, some controls, such as those for headlights and windshield wipers, were rather futuristic. Likewise were the warning lights, concealed in what looked like merely a black trim piece that swept across the upper dash.
Yet rather conversely, Chrysler fitted all LeBarons with the dated-looking parts bin slider bar manual climate control, and the vehicle lacked any option for automatic temperature control and the ever-important heated front seats.
Additionally, while a select few models were equipped with the optional CD player or mini trip computer, most were not, with hollow “storage” dash cut outs in their place.
Adding to the car’s somewhat clouded image was the confusing nature of styling on 1992 models. As far as J-body LeBaron chronology is concerned, 1992 was an odd year as although it was the final season of the original (and quite frankly, awesome) hidden headlamp front fascia, GTC models previewed a new “European-inspired” rear fascia with full-width amber turn signal taillights.
This rear fascia would spread to all models in 1993, replacing the full-width black mask effect taillights, along with a revised front fascia with composite front headlights replacing the costlier hidden headlamp setup.
Regardless of its shortcomings, this 1992 LeBaron GTC is a very interesting example, and quite frankly the cream of the crop as far as 1992 LeBarons go.
Unfortunately, this particular example raises too many red flags that would prevent me from ever recommending anyone to purchase it.
First and foremost is its exorbitant price tag. $6,800 USD for a 26-year old 1992 Chrysler LeBaron with 84,000 miles on it?! That asking price is nearly the same (actually several hundred dollars more) as Kelly Blue Book’s fair dealer purchase price for a same-mileage 2011 Chrysler 200 Touring convertible!
Lastly, there’s the car’s condition. Notwithstanding any mechanical issues, and there are most likely some, the car’s physical condition is less than stellar.
As expected, the paint has numerous imperfections, including swirl marks, scratches, fading, and peeling, and then there’s the rust.
Despite the description of “no rot surface rust only”, there is widespread rust on the vehicle underbody, axles, and numerous suspension components. Most troubling, is that the significant rust on lower body panels looks much deeper than surface rust only.
So is this a car I’d advise anyone to make an offer on? No. But nonetheless, it is one of the more interesting J-body LeBarons out there, and it deserves an honorable mention here on CC.