Words and Pictures by Lane Skelton
The 1980’s had some really great cars and we celebrate them on a daily basis. I drive a 1985 Porsche 944, and the collective group of DWA! has 6 cars from the 80’s. Every time I get out of my 944 I am rewarded with a solid (underrated) clunk when the door shuts. The interior of the 944 is a nice place to be and the design has aged well. Sure, the dash has cracks and the turn signal stalks are some of the flimsiest I’ve ever felt, but overall it’s a clean, well designed and executed place to be. The same thing can be said for Warren’s BMW E30, and Art’s Mercedes 500SEC, but probably not Bryan’s 1985 Corvette.
While the German and Japanese auto makers were trying to make the best cars they could, America was busy building rattle traps with fake wood grain, stitching and as much hard plastic as they could get their hands on.
Now that I’ve established my “hate” for 80’s American cars, I can move on to my story. Art and I were going on a little trip to LA and needed a rental car. We didn’t want a new Ford Focus, “or similar”, so we jumped on TURO to find a car with a real sense of occasion...and boy did we find it!
Our choice was a 1984 Chrysler LeBaron Town and Country Convertible, complete with “wood” paneling, a turbo charged 2.2 liter 4 cyl engine and a smooth shifting 3spd automatic transmission. Making this Chrysler even more special, was a plethora of mods, including Dodge 600 front fenders, a Plymouth Caravelle front end, custom blue metallic paint and a continental kit. If anything, I could say that this car was rare, but I thought nah forget it, yo holms to Bel-Air.
On our way to Beverly Hills we stopped to grab some breakfast. While eating we watched at least 3 people take pictures of the Chrysler, and a nice homeless man told us about the K Car wagon that he used to have and asked if we kept ours in a hanger, to which we responded “of course!”. Within an hour of driving, we had multiple people yell “nice car!”, a police officer stop to tell us how nice and rare it was and we even parked in front of a yellow Rolls Royce on Rodeo Drive (stealing all the thunder from the Rolls). We felt like celebrities and knew that we had picked the right car.
Beyond the ridiculous exterior, the interior had even more easter eggs. There was the odd configuration of the window switches, “front wheel drive” being prominently displayed on the digital instrument cluster, the ‘Chrysler Messenger Center’ and the 50 shades of tan plastic and vinyl throughout the cabin.
Our two days with the Chrysler included a visit to The Porsche Experience Center, a guest appearance on ‘The Smoking Tire Podcast’ and attending the ‘Race Service’ launch party, but all of those pale in comparison to our experience in a 34 year old K Car.