Junkyard Gem: 1987 Chrysler LeBaron Coupe

A heavily customized LeBaron Coupe in Pungent Purple

00 - 1987 Chrysler LeBaron in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin
00 - 1987 Chrysler LeBaron in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin
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For the 1989 through 1991 model years, Chrysler and Maserati teamed up to create one of the most fascinating machines of the era: the Chrysler TC by Maserati. Built in Milan, the chassis and general body lines of the TC derived from the smooth-looking 1987 Chrysler LeBaron Coupe (just as its Turin/Hamtramck-made Cadillac Allanté competitor traced its ancestry to the Eldorado). After writing about a few discarded TCs, I decided that I'd keep my junkyard eye open for an example of its LeBaron Coupe sibling. Here's an '87, customized in proper mid-2000s-style Fast & Furious Mode, found in a self-service yard in northeastern Colorado.

The LeBaron name came from a 1930s coachbuilder, ultimately bought by Chrysler, and spent many decades being applied to super-luxe Imperial models. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Chrysler glued LeBaron badges and lots of bling on the Dodge Diplomat; the famous Iacocca-era K-Car LeBarons followed in the 1982 model year. The original K-based LeBaron Coupe seemed boxy and stodgy, so a slicker design went on a modified K chassis for the 1987 through 1995 model years.

This car got some serious interior modifications at some point, including aftermarket seats, purple-and-white paint on the dash, and fiberglass door panels.

The original door controls now live in diamond-plate panels.

The gauge faces have faded in the harsh Colorado sun, but they appear to be custom-made.

The engine is long gone from the yellow-wire-loom-decorated compartment, but the emissions sticker on the hood underside indicates that it was the 2.2-liter turbocharged four, rated at 146 horsepower. That was a big number for a 2,731-pound car in 1987.

More LeBarons than you might have expected came with manual transmissions around this time, but this one has the three-speed automatic.

The big-bore tailpipe got stuffed with dirt at some point during this car's journey here.

The hood scoop must have been so good that a junkyard shopper grabbed it. I hope it stood at least a foot tall.

James Earl Jones did the narration on these heart-pounding advertisements.

Even though the earlier LeBarons were very different cars, we need to get Ricardo Montalban in here. Here's Ricardo after being seduced by the '84 LeBaron convertible.

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