Tag Archives: Lee Iacocca

Car Spot: A Chrysler with an Italian accent

This was Lido’s idea

Lee Iacocca did a lot of great things in his automtive career. He invented the Ford Mustang and the pony car market and the mini van while at Chrysler, again creating another market. In fact he is credited for saving Chrysler in the 80’s but he had a few clunkers like the Chrysler TC by Maserati, this week’s car spot I found at a reseller near my home.

Lee Iacocca at the introduction of the K-car.

After Chrysler become an investor in Maserati in 1985, Lido set the wheels in motion for a joint development car and claimed that the planned “Q-coupe” would be the prettiest Italian to arrive stateside since his mother immigrated. Ummm, sure. The luxury roadster, which resembled a Chrysler LeBaron because it shared many of the LeBaron’s components but took five years to complete mainly because Chrysler and Maserati engineers didn’t play well in the same sandbox. The original plan was for the TC to be introduced before the LeBaron.

It was powered by a variety of engines sourced from anemic Chrysler and Mitsubishi engines but they were cheap and kind of off the shelf stuff. Then they upped the game. 500 cars were built with an optional drivetrain consisting of a Getrag manual transmission and a 16-valve head version of Chyrsler’s 2.2 L. It was called the Maserati engine because it was assembled by Maserati and has a Maserati-branded cast valve cover.

The 200 hp engine’s parts came from all over. The cylinder head was cast in England by Cosworth and finished in Italy by Maserati. The pistons came from Mahle GmbH in Germany. It used a specially-made 2.2 block, upgraded crankshaft, and rods. A turbocharger was sourced from IHI. The rest of the engine used common Turbo II parts made in the United States.

The car’s platform was based on a shortened Dodge Daytona chassis with suspension and axles from the original model, except for the 5-speed Getrag with “Maserati” engine. The bodywork was produced by De Tomaso. The struts and shocks were specially designed for the car by Fichtel and Sachs, and a Teves anti-lock braking system was standard. The special wheels were made in Italy by a company that was a supplier to Formula One.

Does this opera window remind you of another car? How about the baby Bird?

Just about every Chrysler executive hated the car and thought it should be witten off but Iacocca refused to accept responsibility for its failure pinning it on his marketers because the car had not been positioned propery in the upscale market.  Most outpoken at Chrysler was Bob Lutz who said the partnership resulted in only the TC, a “misadventure” that wound up costing Chrysler “close to $600 million in 1985 dollars. The cost in 2021 dollaars would be $165,930 in 2021 dollars. Yikes!

Yes, that is a cellular phone.

So what would you expect with a car that was overpriced and poor design? It was projected to sellbetween 5,000 and 10,000 units, ibut only hit 7,200. In contrast, the LeBaron GTC had more color choices and exactly the same features at a considerably cheaper price. Reviewers call it out for not luxurious and only nominally European. Does this all sound vagely familiar? Read my car spot on the Cadillac Allanté. What are they worth now? Around ten grand will get you into one of these “european type sports cars”.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with a bit of history behind them. Have a great weekend.

Car Spotting: One of one Mercury

Automotive icon steps in to make it happen

The Mercury Park Lane was a full-sized automobile that produced by the Mercury division of Ford Motor Company. It was the flagship of the Mercury model line upon its introduction. Typical of the big cars in the mid-60’s, long wheelbase, nicely appointed interior, and a big V-8. While it would easily keep up with traffic, it wasn’t really a speed demon. Except for this example.

John Kroll went to his local Lincoln-Mercury in Escanaba, MI, looking to take a Park Lane to the next level. Starting with the top-of-the-line Park Lane S55, he wanted it equipted with the Special Police Interceptor Package. Beyond the upgrades to the chassis and suspension, it included a Super High-Performance 428 V-8 with 400+ horsepower. An engine normally found in Cobras and Mustangs. The dealer sent the order along only to have it cancelled by Ford saying that the package is only available to police departments.

Not to be denied John picked up the phone and called Detroit to find out the reason for the order being cancelled. He made his case and it got sent up the line, way up the line. The next voice he heard was Lee Iacocca, yup Lido himself, asking if he could help John with something. Iacocca told John his order was cancelled because Ford Motor Company didn’t make Police Specials in 2-door hardtops with bucket seats and especially for civilians. But John persisted and on March 22nd of 1966 took delivery of the only car of its kind in the world with the Special Police Interceptor Package!

This car is located at The Automotive Gallery in Green Bay, WI. Oh, and just happens to be run by fellow car geek Darrel Burnett. My car spots run every Friday so check back next week to read about another interesting car I found.

Die-cast: Automodello 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III

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What says Continental more than the fake tire sculpted into the trunk lid?

Resin Continental Mark III a rare offering

Rarity plays a big role in full-size vintage auto prices.

This is true too for diecast models, which is what makes Automodello’s new 1:24 Lincoln Continental Mark III a hit, even at its strong $299 asking price. This is a car for baby boomers who favor the classics over muscle cars. (I know that’s heresy.)

This is rare in that I’ve never seen a 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III in cast resin and in 1:24 scale. On that front Automodello has created a stunningly accurate and beautiful body with crisp accent and trim lines that reflect the Continental’s long, lean elegance.

The History:

The Mark III was a Lee Iacocca idea that legend has it came from his desire to see a Thunderbird of the day equipped with a big Rolls Royce grille. That pretty well sums up the Mark III’s appearance.

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The giant grille is reminiscent of that used by Rolls Royce.

But it was 300 lbs. heavier than the T-bird, yet packed 365 horsepower coming from a new 460 cu.in. V8. That engine was created to help Lincoln challenge Cadillac’s Eldorado, along with the likes of Oldsmobile’s Toronado and Buick’s Riviera. Continue reading Die-cast: Automodello 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III

Plymouth Ruster….err Duster

1972 Plymouth Duster photographed in College P...

It carried a bad nickname for some owners, Ruster.

OK, so right out of the gate, Mopar fans, I really like the Duster. Easy now. We OK? My personal experience comes from my best friend who owned one. He bought it used and I’m not sure how many miles he had on it. I do remember it had a 3 on the floor, the slant six and was some sort of orangish/yellow. I also remember kicking the rear quarters and it raining rust. It was a solid car though otherwise. Rust wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for the cars of this era. They all rusted. He traded it for a Chevy Nova when he had to I think buy a new manifold for his Duster and didn’t fare much better because the Nova he got caught on fire while he was driving it. Good name, Nova. Puffffff! Continue reading Plymouth Ruster….err Duster