If you don’t know of the grand experiment in late-hair-metal era class and elegance that was rebadging a Chrysler LeBaron convertible as a Maserati, permit me (and by me, I mean Wikipedia) to acquaint you with it.
In the mid 1980s Lee Iacocca, brainchild-sperm-donor for the original Ford Mustang (and, confusingly, the Pinto) and savior of a nearly-dead malaise-era Chrysler, got too drunk one night with Alejandro de Tomaso, inventor of one of the sexiest cars of all time.
When they rolled out of bed the next day, they both realized to their horror that they’d invented a car so perversely badge engineered that the Cadillac Cimarron designers put away the crackpipe for half an hour after seeing it.
The Chrysler TC by Maserati was a wolf in shoulder-sweater ivy leaguer’s clothing. Which is to say it had a slightly different nose, squint-worthy different wheels, a massaged set of taillights, and seats with an extra patty of leather on top of the underlying beef, all necessitating a three-pronged badge on the front and back of the car, thus shaving crucial ounces compared to the five-pointed Chrysler star at the time. That weight savings gave it ferocious acceleration in 141hp and 160hp forms, the former of which was actually detuned from the less-expensive K-car-based fridentical twin LeBaron Convertible for no reason whatsoever.
Needless to say these cars were instant classics. In 1989 the car leapt off
Chrysler Maserati 300 special “selected” Chryslerati dealer lots to the tune of 3,764 sold. By the end of a three-year sales run, 7,300 of these future collectible front wheel drive, 3-to-4-speed automatic supercars were gone, despite a base price of $37,000 by the end, or nearly $65,000 in today’s dollars.
Nevermind that they managed to sell any of them at all, but that they got away with selling a rebadged mid-level Chrysler — that shared a platform that was nearly identical to their minivans — as a sporty convertible, for nearly the price of a Maserati Ghibli today is just mind-blowing.
Well this afternoon, inspired by Tavarish’s Quattroporte article, I logged onto Craigslist looking for Maseratis, and found this:
That’s right, now those wise investors who couldn’t pass up such an investment opportunity are opening up their collections for well-heeled bidders.
The first one on that list up there will blow your damn mind. It’s a 26-year-old Chrysler that Cab-Forward-era cars couldn’t run away fast enough from, and they want $27,000 for it. Think of it as a fine wine, that they’re charging nearly $1,000 for every year it merely didn’t rot away.
But take a look at the underhood shot and all the sudden my rant kind of unravels. It has the honestly retardedly rare 501-of-a-kind bespoke 200hp Maserati turbo engine. And it is genuinely a Maserati engine (mostly), with a higher flowing head, special cams, different turbo, and apparently red spark plug boots in this one. It also comes with a stickshift, in case this isn’t hoonable enough already. Is that combo worth the extra $23,200 over the price of the slushbox with 40 less hp that the lunatic selling the last one up there is asking?
Just to be sure, I checked a couple other craigslists across the country. These are for sale EVERYWHERE now, for some reason. In Seattle alone, I saw five of them.
These are classics, folks. Get them before they become the next Mecum auction craze.