I was in the adult playground that is Las Vegas, Nevada, about a week ago when I spotted our featured car. A closely knit group of my friends gathers annually around this time of year to take in some sights, sounds, eats and drinks. We each try not to blow our respective gambling allowances within the first day there. My own such stipend is paper-thin. I was that kid at Chuck E. Cheese who played the one game he was sort of good at (Skee-Ball) the whole time, not wanting to waste my tokens on even Whack-A-Mole, at which I was terrible. Contrary to what my insurance day job might suggest, I’m fairly risk-averse.
While I do enjoy a little casino action, when I’m not with our group, I’m usually happiest when exploring unfamiliar areas with my camera. I’m glad I took a chance by venturing into the part of North Las Vegas Boulevard just north of Interstate 515 (not far from Zappos’s world headquarters) when I spotted this TC making a left turn in traffic.
Much like I am a sucker for the blinking lights, neon signs, glitz, old Americana and superficial glamour of the Fremont Street District of downtown Las Vegas, I genuinely like the TC, which might be seen by some as the rolling equivalent of a Plymouth Reliant K in a bedazzled and sequined jumpsuit. I’ll tell you this, though: when I first saw a picture of a TC on a brochure at the 1987 Detroit Auto Show as a seventh grader, I thought it was one of the most beautiful cars I had ever laid eyes on. I kept a copy of that brochure in my backback while trekking to and from middle school until its front and rear covers had started to delaminate. I still have it in storage, somewhere.
While I preferred the similar-looking, downmarket LeBaron’s prettier, sloping face with its hidden headlights, I loved the TC’s sumptuous-looking leather interior and exotic, faux-Italian heritage as a quasi-Maserati (a Quaserati?). I also thought the portholes on the detachable hardtop were a nice, retro throwback, about a decade before Ford brought them back on the eleventh-generation Thunderbird. And the TC’s “trident” badges? Haawwwt.
Fellow contributor Brendan Saur did a fantastic and comprehensive job of profiling the TC right around this time last year. Paul Niedermeyer also wrote up a TC the same color as the one I saw back in 2014. Our subject TC is probably the only one I’ve seen in any color in probably twenty years. It was even more jaw-dropping to see it in traffic, and in such nice apparent condition.
This year, we stayed at the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino, which had originally been the Lady Luck, opened in 1964. I would consider the end result of the Downtown Grand’s 2013 renovation and reopening a complete success, working off the great bones of what had been a resort complex with a great footprint and an ideal location right off Fremont Street. This property had faced some uncertain times, financial and otherwise, between the Lady Luck’s closure in 2006 and the Downtown Grand’s unveiling in 2013, but I measure its success by what ultimately came to be.
How does the Lady Luck’s / Downtown Grand’s refurbishing compare with Chrysler’s success in reworking the K-car platform into the TC’s “Q”-designated platform? To borrow a phrase from 2005, perhaps not so much. Mr. Iacocca and his crew really did try to make that proverbial (Gucci) silk purse, but didn’t do quite enough to convince more than a handful of buyers – all told, about 7,300 between 1989 and ’91. But darned if the TC doesn’t still look beautiful to these eyes. Seeing this one last month was much like rediscovering a first, serious, seventh-grade crush. Ciao bella.
Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.
Saturday, September 24, 2016.
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