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.
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.
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.
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.