After going to the brink in 1980, Chrysler Corporation roared back with the unassuming front-drive "K-car" compact and its many clever spinoffs, such as the 1988 Chrysler LeBaron GTC. Chrysler's pioneering minivan was the most wildly successful derivative, but convertibles played their part in the company's resurgence by generating showroom traffic that dealers hadn't seen in years. Indeed, Chrysler led Detroit's ragtop renaissance with LeBaron and Dodge 400 models previewed well before their 1982 debut.

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1988 Chrysler LeBaron
The 1988 Chrysler LeBaron GTC established Chrysler as the king of convertibles. See more pictures of classic convertibles. See more classic car pictures.

Trouble was, the small, boxy K-car made a rather dull convertible, even those LeBarons decked out in pseudo-wood side trim, Town & Country-style. But the new 1987 LeBaron was something else: still K-car inside, but curvy, clean, and balanced outside. Buyers responded, and Chrysler moved over 38,000 ragtops for 1988, the highest number in five years.

 

1988 LeBaron
The 1988 Chrysler LeBaron GTC was a bargain, selling for less than $17,000.

Helping that figure were a handful of "spring special" GTC models introduced at mid-year. Power came from a choice of turbocharged fours: a 174-horsepower 2.2-liter with five-speed manual shift or a 150-bhp 2.5 with Torqueflite automatic. Firm suspension and lacy-spoke aluminum wheels were included, and all sported monochromatic white exteriors, though buyers had a choice of interior hues. Starting price? A bargain $16,495. No wonder this LeBaron line maintained Chrysler's position as maker of America's best-selling convertible by far.

For more classic convertibles of the 1980s and 1990s, see:

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