While it may not be as desirable as today’s earlier Chrysler 300K, this true K-car was unquestionably one of the more beautiful variants of the 1981-1995 Chrysler K-platform. Especially in earlier years with their hidden headlights and BBS-style wheels, these final LeBaron convertibles made the best of their underpinnings.
I shot this while riding as a passenger in my friend’s car. I would’ve liked to have been able to stop and take some more better pictures of this very nicely-preserved LeBaron, but unfortunately I was not driving. Better luck next time I guess.
Curbside Classic: 1992 Chrysler LeBaron convertible
Driving Impressions: 1992 Chrysler LeBaron convertible
The 1987-92 LeBaron was/is perhaps the best looking K car I’ve seen Chrysler produce. Most of the K cars I’ve seen have been bland, boring, and (IMHO) a disgrace to the Chrysler name.
“Most of the K cars I’ve seen have been bland, boring, and (IMHO) a disgrace to the Chrysler name.”
The ’84-’86 Daytona turbo Z (and twin Chrysler Laser) disagrees!
During the mid-2000s I joined a friend of mine test driving a LeBaron just like the one pictured, maybe a bit older. I think it appealed to the hipster in him, and it had under 50k miles.
It was by far the biggest POS I’ve ever ridden in. Were American cars of that era really that shitty (I’m 32, for perspective)? For what it’s worth, my mid-50s uncle claims that he used to autocross his K-car (can’t remember which one) and would outrun e21 BMWs.
I know a guy who still ice races with old k car reliants and Aries. That being said, I owned an 84 and it was a great car other than the extremely troublesome carb.
K-Cars and their spin-offs are nothing more but boring pieces of junk.
Have you ever owned one?
No but a friend had and the used 1983 Chrysler LeBaron died after just two years of purchase. It was just a lemon.
In your opinion..
I know someone with a 9 second FWD 87 Daytona that might take issue with your blanket statement.
They are entitled to their own opinion just as I have mines and on the record, I really don’t like the Chrysler K-Car derived cars since its not appealing to me at all. If they take it personally, then its not my problem.
My wife and I had a friend that owned a ’92 Lebaron. It was a convertible and had every option known to man possible for that year. He was in exactly ONE TV commercial and thought he was some big Hollywood star driving around with the top down and Ray Ban’s on. I guess one can dream but the darn car was eight years old at the time of his ownership and while it looked nice it was always breaking down; engine fire and electrical fire that fried all his wires under the hood, just to name a few.
dont know these cars very well – any notable/strange options…i.e like the imperials visorphone option
It’s good enough that many people only drive them in summer.
If I was going to “collect” one I’d rather have the Town & Country version.
Florida (where I live) was the land of the rental LeBaron convertible, to the point that one could pretty well safely assume that anyone driving one was a tourist. I think the LeBaron’s styling has held up fairly well over the years. It’s a shame that the build quality wasn’t better.
As a kid, it looked very luxurious. And the few I sometimes saw were pretty much the only convertibles I could spot in 90’s Santiago, Chile.
They even sold those in Chile! I imagine it is so luxurious especially in the ’90s.
This really was a good looking car. On the smaller scale of the K platform, Tom Gale was really able to put together a nice personal luxury car. To move so much smaller and to not use the brougham cues created such a challenge. Compare this to an 82 Lebaron.
Where it was held back though was the engine. By 1987 on upscale Ks the 2.5 4 had replaced the 2.2. It had fuel injection and a balance shaft and the power was lower in the rev range to all enhance smoothness of operation. Combined though with the three speed auto, you were not getting an appropriate powertrain. It needed a V6 and 4sp automatic.
We are seeing something similar today with much smaller turbo 4s replacing 6 at Ford, BMW and elsewhere. The question is will people adjust or will the V6 come back. Chrysler was too early in the eighties and had to go procure the Mitsubishi V6. This time, I think the smaller engines are here to stay.
Great-looking cars. They fully embraced the aero look, yet kept it elegant, and the hidden lamps were the icing on the cake. And really, for this car’s mission, looking good is what matters. Too bad reliability was so iffy…but I think the ones that have survived this long, and manage to make it another 5-10 years, will make very appealing collector cars. Perhaps not worth big money, but something affordable and fun to cruise in.
I would want one for all of the reasons you gave. Great summary of these cars’ appeal.
I would love to find a Le Baron coupe from these years. The weren’t really as popular as the Convertible.
The drop tops were literally everywhere when I was in High School. It seemed like every Cheerleader got a White LeBaron Convertible when they turned 16.
If only the coupe had really pushed the turbo engines and manual transmission….AND, if they had copied the Mexican version and called it ‘Phantom’. How badass is that?
As I said before, I owned a 1989 LeBaron GTC coupe for about 10 yrs. (1996-2006). It was a bit of a money pit for me (I had to get a new A/C system, paint the lower body, get a new power window motor), but I still have fond memories of driving it. I think the design was one of the best in its period & underrated & I only wish I got one in better condition.
Our old 1992 LeBaron purchased in 1999, left it go in 2007 after the engine finally let go. A classy, fun car, perfect for my “ride in the country” commute at the time.
Very nice! These always looked great in red.
These cars were great looking automobiles, especially the convertible version. When the top was down they exuded a classy, carefree look that many cars would never be able to achieve. And even with the top up, they were still sharp. One of Chrysler’s best offerings, IMO.
I thought these were the best looking of all the K car variants. The market seemingly agreed, as I remember these LeBarons (especially convertibles) being prevalent back in the late ’80s through the 1990s.
In 1990 I got a convertible LeBaron as a rental car, and I was very pleased. It was a fantastic upgrade, as I hadn’t reserved a convertible and was pleasantly surprised to get the Chrysler. The car was strikingly good looking in black with a red leather (or vinyl…not sure…maybe I should go with “pleather”) interior. The car was an automatic with the 4 cylinder, and while not quick it was at least well suited for the kind of cruising the car was tailor-made to deliver.
It’s too bad that more of the K car spinoffs weren’t as nice as this one.
My favorite k-car derived mopar, the lebaron coupe. Cool interior, great looks from any frontward angle. Good drivability with the V6. Had this body been planted on a rear wheel drive platform, it would have been one hell of a car.
one of the more beautiful variants of the 1981-1995 Chrysler K-platform
And the award for Cleanest Cockroach goes to…
I actually think this looks pretty good compared to the earlier iteration of this model. But the basic K-Car sedan exemplified 70s/80s boxy Detroit junk.
I disagree. Here in the salt belt (eastern PA) you still see k-cars still driving, when newer, “better built?” have long since been crushed. Granted, they are not stylish or fast; they do still provide economical transportation.
I still see these quite often this time of year, and usually in nice shape. While most K cars seem to have been driven into the ground, these seem to get pampered. Even the New Yorker and Imperial K cars don’t seem to end as well or I just happen to see only the clapped out hoopties.
Earliest iteration, 1982-83 Dodge 400
Gotta love the very angular dashboard.
Nice find, the 400 convertibles are rare. Only a year or two before 400 became 600 (and gained rear quarter windows, among other things).
I prefer the boxy look droptops. Much more ‘masculine’, if you will. And Im partial to that Mirada-inspired front clip.
Good little cars, judging by how many of these still survive. I never cared for the convertibles at all…they come off as WAY to feminine. Most likely, that seed was planted since they tended to be owned by women….usually fairly attractive women, at that.
The coupes sure were sharp though. It was obvious that someone took inspiration from the contemporary aero-bird, although these just came off as much better proportioned. If I could find a LeBaron coupe with a turbo and 5spd, straight, clean and in a good color….I don’t think I could pass it up.
In the summer of 85 I was going with a very attractive lady with a Chrysler LeBaron convertible. It wasn’t meant for the long term but it was darn good while it lasted. I think of her when I see a Droptop K.
She’s changing her name from Kitty to Karen/
She’s trading her MG for a white Chrysler LeBaron…
These were available with the 3.0 V6 and a 5-speed, at least for a couple years. Decent power, good looks, the top goes down, what’s not to like? I got to drive a really nice one that belonged to a friend of my parents, a turbo 4/5-speed one. That drove great. A friend of mine bought an ex-rental LeB that was a base model, 2.2/auto with a really plasticky interior-it felt like a completely different car than the nicer one I was familiar with…
I almost bought one of these convertibles when Kid #1 showed up, to replace my Miata but the wife is just not a convertible person.
had three k-car sedans that were total disasters but every so often I see one of this generation lebarons come up for sale and think maybe……
I never really wanted a convertible, but if I had to choose, the choice would be easy: this car. Call me crazy, but I’d want this over a brand-new Mustang convertible or whatever else is out there for new convertibles.
This looks nice even after 25-30 years, still looks timeless as does most other Chryslers (my opinion, anyways). I’d definitely enjoy having a LeBaron convertible for a nice summer road trip down Route 66, Hwy 50 (“the loneliest road in America”) or a drive down Midwestern country roads.
I did consider the hardtop coupe version of this LeBaron back in high school when I was wondering what to buy for my first car. However, I had (and still have) this unfathomable love with the cab-forward LH Chryslers, and thus I bought a ’97 Concorde. That love would not succumb to any other car.
If I ever end up collecting cars, a LeBaron (or three, or four, since there are so many different versions in the K-car lineup) would definitely be in it.
I had the 5-speed in a 1989 Plymouth Sundance. It managed to be vague, rubbery and notchy all at the same time. I have always liked these LeBaron convertibles and still occasionally flirt with trying to find a good one. The 2.5 with the 3-speed automatic should be pretty much bullet proof, if rather slow; the 3.0 Mitubishi V-6 with the Ultradrive 4-speed automatic, not so reliable but faster.
My first car was the “sporty” LeBaron K-Derivative right before this one, a 1986 LeBaron GTS. To this day I think they’re good-looking cars, but mine was a colossal POS. Instead of the 2.2 Turbo and 5-Speed manual, mine was cursed with the base 2.5 K-car engine that, in its prime, wheezed out a noisy 100 HP. Those 100 (probably more like 70 by the time I got it) HP were routed through a base K-Car 3-Speed automatic with a (rare delete option) column shifter that would forget to shift to 2nd until the car was going 55 in 1st with the tach buried way past the red line. Glitchy electronics caused the door dinger and “Check Engine” light to go off every time I hit a bump, and by the end the gauges would occasionally just fall to 0 and trigger all sorts of neat warning lights.
In 1991, I was so happy when we finally had a car with air conditioning and rear windows I could crank down. In 1997, I was ecstatic that mom and dad gave me the car rather than trade it in when mom got her new car. In 1998, I was lamenting the constant flow of my meager warehouse job money into car repairs (including replacing the transmission that had decided it was no longer interested in shifting at all and a subframe that failed because of rust and a broken CV joint). In 1999, I sold that car for $550 and danced as I watched it drive away.
In 2015, I find myself wishing that mom had not totaled her ’85 Cavalier Type-10 in 1991, because then that would have been my first car instead of the LeBaron. Oddly, though, I also find myself occasionally looking around for another LeBaron, despite knowing they were built by drunks and aged with the grace and dignity of a drugged-up homeless person.