Something Rotten in Denmark: 1991 Chrysler LeBaron 3.0 V6

After a bit of a dry spell, Something Rotten in Denmark has this rather over-valued money pit to present, a 1991 Chrysler LeBaron 3.0 V6.

1991 Chrysler LeBaron 3.0 V6
Rust: 1991 Chrysler LeBaron 3.0 V6

Much like the Rover 620 from last week we are shown a photo of the dark side of the car. You can make out the brightwork and the general top heaviness of the car but there are other things not so visible. For examplethe extensive rusting around the wheel arches shown below. You can be sure that it will cost a lot more than the 25,000 kr asked for to put this right. You can be sure the floorpan is equally rotted, if not worse.

Rust
Rust

What else do we know about the car? The mileage is 255,000 km which is asking a lot of a 90s Chrysler. I did write a while back that I couldn´t say much about Chryslers but in the meantime I discovered that some people like the durable, simple quality of the 70s cars. The LeBaron can´t call on that, being essentially yet another derivative of Chrysler´s K-car platform (the J-body). The question is why someone would want to save a vehicle like this? Conceivably the engine might have some life in it but that assumes there is another one of these vehicles that someone wants to hold on to. I don´t believe that there can be very many people willing to spend time and money on a car as unremarkable as this. It isn´t especially interesting to look at or to drive. It has the worst aspects of recent American cars (bland, costly to run) and none of the charm of older American cars. In seems to be just the worst of European and American automotive design in one dull, rusted blue mass. There are plenty of other nicer vehicles costing the same money that do not rest on a sub-structure entirely composed of rust and perished rubber bushings.

1991 Chrysler LeBaron interior
1991 Chrysler LeBaron interior

If we study the interior we find something as lifeless as a 90s Mondeo or Vectra. You can´t find much to entertain here as it’s neither old enough to be cherishably over the top nor new enough to be worth having for its own sake. It´s just intermediate-period American interior design with little intrinsic character (none, being frank).

The engine in this car is the 3.0 Mitsubishi V6. Normally the LeBaron came with a set of anaemic four-cylinder units from 2.0 to 2.5 litres. Driving the front wheels, these gave all the torque steer you could handle. You might get 25 mpg from the 3.0 but expect 22 mpg around town.

We can only wonder quite what motivated anyone to import a car as mediocre as this to Denmark. It can´t have been cheap. And, as it is, the vehicle is a 26,800 kr opportunity to send another 26,800kr down the pan. For the price of a restoration you could import at least two of these cars from Florida or California. This vehicle is, above all, a test to find unhinged people with deep wallets.

In case you´re interested, LeBaron was once an independent coach builder, but their period of independence ended in the 1940s.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

17 thoughts on “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1991 Chrysler LeBaron 3.0 V6”

  1. My calculations are that this is being sold for £2,700 whereas, even taking into account your point that cars always cost more in Denmark, I’d have called this a 5,000 kr (£530) car. Even that is generous since, really, it is an “I’ll give you fifty quid to take it off my hands” car. It truly has nothing going for it and never will, and the persistence of the US industry in taking names that seemed perfect for the happy excesses of Harley Earl and his successors and applying them to things like this make them look all the more sad.

  2. It is surprising how many all-but ruined cars still attain prices north of zero kronor. This car is scrap unless you are a skilled home welder. I thought the market would figure this out. Perhaps there are enough home welder who like American dross to drive this price up as far off the floor as it is. When I lived in the US I considered these to be quite ghastly and I still do. They are depressing machines, regardless of the condition. They suggest collapsing wooden homes in impoverished suburbs or toothless rural folk living in trailers. I know this is pure prejudice so if a PhD-holding professor of Classics wants to admit they own one of these, please let me know.

  3. Just under 25 years ago I had a soft spot for a LeBaron coupé that was always parked on the street where I lived in Paris. It was grey with ‘bordello red’ interior, and for some reason it appealed to me in a similar way a Buick Park Avenue did a few years later, even though it has none of the redeeming features or elegant styling of that latter car.

  4. I feel a lot less embarassed about my liking for Timberlex now you said that. I wonder if Chrysler has always deterred good designers. How did the management so consistently choose the path of mediocrity?

  5. This would be incomplete without mentioning the “Chrysler TC by Maserati” a car whose cack-handed pretentions (nasty Maserati clock and opera windows) make its one-time in-house competitor, the Le Baron, seem the epitome of fine coachwork. That De Tomaso took Chrysler’s money and let them produce such a woeful clinker only increases my respect for him as one of the great survivors of motoring history.

    Incidentally, my personal US secret lust is a Crown Victoria.

    1. At least the ‘panther’ cars have cult status, albeit only in the US.

      Another one of my favourite US crapwagons is the Ford Mustang MkIII (Fox platform):

  6. Yes, I realise that I’d only need to explain my liking for the Crown Vic to a European audience.

    Laurent, surely the Mk 3 Mustang is elegance itself next to the runty Mustang 2. Lee Iacocca was responsible for both that and the Chrysler TC by Maserati. Mustang 1 excepted, how did he manage to maintain such a great ‘car-guy’ reputation?

  7. Ah, dear Lord. The Fox platform Mustang is a horror. The detailing went further down in quality than the Malaise era cars. At the same time there was the Tempo and Topaz pair. Crapwagon is very much the right term for these cars. I suspect the designers imagined they were channelling Japanese or European modernism in that these cars dated faster than a copy of a supermarket celebrity magazine.
    I’ve been an admirer of the Panther cars for at least a decade having discovered they offer a lot of the same things as a Bristol minus the walnut, braided straps and massive price tag: body on frame construction and lazy V8 power. TTAC recently ran a review of the Town Car. I came away with a good impression. Late model Crown Vics are rather good, if rather inefficiently packaged.

  8. Incidentally, I am sure that little effort was needed to keep the Panther cars in production. There will be a steady demand for these cars so long as petrol in the US is relatively cheap. Even the CAFE requirement would have been manageable. While I am fantasising about this type of car I could mention the Mercury Marauder or just the last series of Marquis sedans. GM pulled out of that market a decade too early. Cadillac lost something when the body on frame Fleetwoods bowed out, whatever the automotive press said about their performance. They performed excellently at being cushioning, smooth cruisers.

  9. I enjoyed the Lincoln Town Car article in The Truth About Cars. The comments were enlightening too. I was, however, a bit concerned by one poster who claimed that he would be nervous taking even a police spec Crown Vic around a 100mph motorway curve. I, like others, have always assumed that the Panther cars married old style US car qualities of comfort with more modern expectations of roadability but that opinion suggests otherwise.

    1. Back in the 90s, my parents and I would regularly visit the US, which included stints in Florida – and when in Florida, one better does as the Floridians do, so my dad got us a Town Car. The main thing perplexing my younger self were the dimensions of the Lincoln: the car felt extremely wide with its bench-like seating, but even when not yet full-grown, I realised that rear passenger knee room was definitely no better than that of the BMW E32 I was being “chauffeured” in back in the day. And the Town Car’s boot was just plain silly: as big as an airplane hangar, but with a big old spare tyre right in its middle, so that it was actually more difficult to get large pieces of luggage in it than in the aforementioned Bavarian car. Today, my only explanation for this substantial design flaw is that it was somewhat necessitated by the Lincoln’s frame construction.

      The big impression the (second generation) Town Car left on my dad was its instability when confronted with even the slightest of highway bends. He certainly understood that this was no BMW and adapted an appropriately relaxed driving style, but trying to master a highway interchange, he had to find out that he’d been grossly overestimating the Lincoln’s roadholding capabilities.

      With this in mind, I’d daresay that the Town Car would be struggling with European motorway speeds above 100kph. We’ve simply got too many bends and curves for that around here.

    2. From the discussion thread on the TTAC article quite a few Town Car owners put the police pack suspension in their cars but, as mentioned above, even that isn’t supposed to make them that great at speed. Do we assume that the members of the Highway Patrol are both skilled and brave?

      Speaking as someone who expects his motorhome to maintain 130 kph around motorway curves, I find the idea of a car that can’t maintain a far higher speed in the same circumstances rather odd.

      I’ve never actually travelled in a Town Car, so I’m a bit shocked to read of the packaging problems. I did once arrange for a work colleague to be greeted by a Town Car from JFK which I thought would impress with our lavish thoughtfulness. This was slightly tarnished by the fact that the driver said he couldn’t open the boot and there appeared to be a bullet hole in the back door. Apparently, imagining that the previous client was still in the boot took the edge off proceedings, so my questions about the TC’s ride quality went unanswered.

    3. Is there not a chance the police pack undermines the car’s USP? Orthat it’s a merely automotive machismo in line with a certain tendency among Americans to idealise the police and military.

    4. Possibly it’s excusable stereotyping from watching too many movie cops, but I’ve always assumed that your donut eating officer of the law still insists on a comfortable ride.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s