Category Archives: Mercury Bobcat

LeBaron drop top: OK-car!

The roof goes down. What else do you need?

The roof goes down. What else do you need?

It was announced just this past week that Chrysler would not be offering a convertible version of its 2015 Chrysler 200 sedan.  The 200 convertible has long been a staple of sunbelt rental car fleets but the sad fact is that very few have been purchased by individual consumers.  The predecessor of the 200 was, of course, the Sebring which was most notably driven by the self-deluded Michael Scott, as played by Steve Carrell, in the long-running NBC series The Office. The car was cypher for the character’s being eternally clueless; it was ultimately replaced by an even more dorky PT Cruiser convertible to drive the point home that Michael was, verily, far from hip.  Hey, we’re of the opinion that just about any car is made somewhat more palatable if the top goes down but we do get the point about Michael Scott.

Trust us: putting the top down improves the profile.

Lowering the top down improves the profile. Trust us.

LeBaron was Chrysler’s pre-Sebring convertible and represented a comeback on many levels.  It was the flagship of the K-car family that saved the company, bolstered by Federal loan guarantees, that included the somewhat less glamorous Plymouth Reliant and Dodge Aries.  The convertible had been pronounced  “dead” following the final run of Bicentennial Edition 1976 Cadillac Eldorados but, after six sunless years, Chrysler resurrected the rag top in 1982 with LeBaron; there was joy in the land.

Zip it!

Zip it!

We found this stellar, mostly un-restored, example that underscores just how low our standards were at the dawn of the Reagan era.  To be fair, it’s a serviceable little front wheel drive car that’s seen a surge in collector interest of late with prices skyrocketing into (almost) five figures, especially for the fake wood sided Town & Country edition.  Here’s one for $9950 if you just gotta have it.

Star power!

Pentastar power!

In this commercial Ricardo Montalbán served as pitchman for LeBaron, as he had done earlier for Cordoba, but with nary a mention of “rich Corinthian leather.”

We used an ’84 LeBaron convertible as one of the official “greeters” at the recent DRIVEN art installation in Palm Springs, presented by FeralCars.  If you squint you can make out a continental kit out back.  Talk about lily gilding!  Its “pal” is a rare (for good reason) Pinto-based Mercury Bobcat.

Art parked
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DRIVEN was a wild ride

FeralCars is delighted to have played a role in last week’s DRIVEN installation at Palm Springs’ Stephen Archdeacon Gallery, attended by scores of cognoscenti in town to celebrate Modernism Week.

Art parked

Art parked

“Bob,” a swanky orange Mercury Bobcat begged the question, “Would a Pinto, by any other name, would still explode on impact?” Bob, along with an anonymous though glamorous, in a 1984 K-car kind of way, Chrysler LeBaron convertible greeted guests at the event celebrating the ‘car noir’ art of Eric Nash, hosted by ZZ Top’s Billy F Gibbons.

DRIVEN co-conspirators: Matthew Reader, Bob Merlis, Billy F Gibbons, Eric Nash

DRIVEN co-conspirators: Matthew Reader, Bob Merlis, Billy F Gibbons, Eric Nash

Matthew Reader, a/k/a “Mr. Palm Springs Modern,” curated the collection of cars deployed in the area that included a “Smokey and The Bandit” style Pontiac Trans Am, complete with “screaming chicken” hood treatment, an Oldsmobile 98 the length of three Smart cars, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV plus a “plain Jane” Ford station wagon that is the subject of one of Eric’s pieces.   His set design sense was spot on with matches strewn around the Bobcat along with a gasoline can, a vintage lunchbox exhibition in the “wayback” of the Ford wagon and a literal “trunk show” of women’s shoes in very large sizes next to the Olds.

"Atlanta to Texarkana and back in twenty eight hours? That ain't never been done before." "That's cause we ain't never done it."

“Atlanta to Texarkana and back in twenty eight hours? That ain’t never been done before.” “That’s cause we ain’t never done it.

Kickin' it Oldschool

Kickin’ it Oldschool, curbside

After sundown, Feralcars presented a breathtaking slideshow in which 190 images were projected on an outside wall of the gallery.  We’re told that some of these could be seen from the International Space Station but this has not been confirmed.

Pura Vida powered non-Pinto

Pura Vida powered non-Pinto

Let’s take stock: great art, legendary rock ‘n’ roll star host, curated cars, Feralcars slideshow. And, oh yeah, our friends at Pura Vida Tequila were kind enough to send along Sara Abbas who most artfully and responsibly poured the finest agave-based cocktails we’ve ever enjoyed at an art installation.

Portrait of the artist with a portrait of a feral Ford wagon

Portrait of the artist with a portrait of a feral Ford wagon

Life imitates art

Life imitates art

When she pours she reigns

When Sara pours she reigns

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.