Find of the Week: 1983 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country

The autoTRADER.ca Find of the Week this week comes from one of the longest-lived nameplates in automotive-dom. A nameplate that probably has been glued, riveted, and screwed onto the widest range of vehicles as well. It might be often overlooked, but it's also likely to become a semi-modern classic. A vehicle that will likely return from obscurity to see the popularity it deserves. It's a 1983 Chrysler Town & Country.

The Town & Country name was first attached to a Chrysler vehicle way back in 1940. It was a four-door wagon that was the first woody wagon fitted with a steel roof. It shared that roof with the Chrysler Imperial, then an eight-passenger limo.

 

After the war, the name came back. This time it wasn't on a wagon. It was on a four-door sedan and a two-door convertible. Still as a woody, with a forest of real timber on the sides.

In 1951, the wood was gone but the wagon was back. It was a trim line offered on the Windsor, Saratoga, and New Yorker. Over the years that back and forth would continue. It went from a package on multiple cars, to a trim level on just one, and the wood grain would come and go. But it stayed as a premium full-size wagon until 1977, when the badge would designate fake wood on a mid-size car.

Then, in 1981, Chrysler underwent a revolution. The K-body chassis was here. Chrysler was losing money, and this was the platform to save it. Suddenly, nearly every car in the Chrysler Dodge Plymouth stable was based on this underpinning. Chrysler's version, the LeBaron, would get two special Town & Country trims.

A wagon version, and a convertible version arrived. Both would get the Town & Country signature feature, woodgrain trim, though by this time it was definitely not real wood.

It might be wire hubcaps and false wood trim, but that was the time. And this car does a great job of representing it. While most of these cars have long lost their wood, either to the sun or to shoddy repair attempts, this one still looks to have all of it. More importantly, it looks to be in good condition. And this was the return of the convertible. The open-top had largely disappeared after 1976, with automakers worrying about new changes to safety regulations.

The drop-top LeBarons, including this one, were put together by Cars & Concepts, a small-run fabricator that would handle a scale that was too small for the automaker. Only a few thousand were built before 1986 when it went away again.

This one has the upgraded 2.6L four from Mitsubishi that gave the car 93 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque, routed through a three-speed automatic. It has the Mark Cross Edition interior, made in cooperation with the then longstanding leather goods maker. The package added the brown leather that you see inside this car. These cars also got the talking dash, making sure that everyone was well aware that the door was ajar.

Is this the most interesting car from 1983? Perhaps not. But it's also probably close to it. After all, John Voight drove one! This one has yet to turn 100,000 km. It's for sale in Belle River, ON, near Windsor. Unusual for the early 80s, this one has power locks, windows, seats, and even the top. And it's our Find of the Week.

 

Open air and wood grain 2/6/2019 10:51:31 AM