After publishing similar lists of Chrysler Corp’s forgotten models in the Dodge and Plymouth divisions, it’s finally time to conclude the series with the parent marque. Most classic Chrysler models were low production vehicles. At least, compared to the aforementioned performance and people’s divisions (not necessarily a strict description). This is why the idea of a mainstream Chrysler never resonated well with the automaker’s buyers.
But that wasn’t the reason for some models to fall through the cracks. After all, some of the most successful Chryslers have become cult-like classics. The 300 Letter Series, LeBaron and New Yorker are such classics that don’t necessarily require a Pentastar badge upon their hoods for us to recognize them. Nor do they need an automaker’s prefix in front of their name. Most car enthusiasts know what they are. Some Chrysler cars, however, are a different story altogether. Especially ones that weren’t even conceived by the brand, like the captive imports. Of course, not only rebadged Chryslers have fallen through the cracks. Some models they held their hopes high for have also flopped. For whatever reason, they’ve become mostly forgotten and obscured. Whether they deserved that fate or not, here they are.
1989-1991 TC by Maserati
This 2-seat luxury grand touring convertible rightfully sits among the most intriguing Chryslers ever produced. The car, which was developed jointly by Chrysler and Maserati, was actually more of a project between two friends – Lee Iacocca and Alejandro De Tomaso who were, at the time, at the helms of the two companies. TC by Maserati was supposed to generate some revenue for the then small Italian automaker while at the same time, bestowing some much-needed glamour upon the smallest of the American “big three”.
The strategy worked well enough on paper, though it didn’t translate into the real world. All 7,300 units (lower than expected) were produced in Milan, Italy, then shipped across the Atlantic. One of the reasons was its price tag. Coachbuilding, shipping, and exclusive interior costs added up to as much as $35,000. That’s about $67,000 in 2017 dollars – for a K-car!!! Although actually called Q-body, the TC’s platform was essentially an updated K-platform. Then there was the issue of scarcely available parts. Even then, very few TC parts were interchangeable with concurrent Chryslers. Today, it’s a nightmare finding spare parts for it, which are a necessity. And that brings us to another one of its problems – sub-par build quality. Then there was the issue of the TC’s late arrival. It was supposed to be ready by 1987 before the LeBaron convertible debuted, but instead, it came after its much more affordable counterpart.
Early TCs came with a 160-horsepower 2.2L intercooled Turbo II 4-cylinder engine tied to a 3-speed automatic transmission. A 141-horsepower 3.0L Mitsubishi V6 with 4-speed auto replaced it for the 1990 and 1991 model years. Finally, some 500 TCs were fitted with Maserati’s own 200-horsepower 2.2L 16-valve turbo four. It featured a Cosworth block, Mahle pistons, Crane Cams and an IHI turbocharger. Other parts were interchangeable with the Chrysler Turbo II mill. Although it’s the most exciting option on paper, finding spare parts for the Maserati engine is a pain in the… Still, the advocates for this classic Chrysler will tell you it’s more comfortable than any Italian supercar car of the time, fun to drive, more efficient than other American sports cars, and practical at the same time. You have to admit – at the very least, it sounds like a good time.