1941-1984 Chrysler Town & Country

1984 LeBaron Town & Country Convertible

The front-drive LeBaron convertible featured a spacious rear seat area.
The front-drive LeBaron convertible featured a spacious rear seat area.

The Town & Country name was revived at mid-model year with the introduction of the 1984 LeBaron Town & Country Convertible.

Though the wagon was expected, a convertible was not -- let alone one cast in the image of one of Chrysler's most memorable cars. But it was all part of the plan to put more pizazz and competitiveness into the company's offerings, and Chrysler's miracle worker, Lee A. Iacocca, was never one for doing the predictable.

Ordinarily, the simple addition of wood-like appliqués to an otherwise standard production car wouldn't be enough to garner more than a stifled yawn from enthusiasts. But there was something different about the LeBaron Town & Country convertible.

Call it character, call it nostalgia, this car was noticed, attracting as much interest as some performance machines and far more than its non-woody linemates.

Like all LeBarons, the new convertible rode a 100.3-inch wheelbase and was just shy of 15 feet in overall length, making it the shortest T&C in history as well as the lightest.

It was also obviously the first with front-wheel drive. But it was not unlike its massive forbearers when it came to smooth performance, fine ride, and quietness at cruising speeds. And it offered something no T&C has ever had before: roadability.

Standard equipment included the 2.6-liter (156-cubic inch) Mitsubishi-built four-cylinder engine that was optional for other models, teamed with Chrysler's still-excellent three-speed TorqueFlite automatic.

A more exciting prospect -- and an item definitely suited to the convertible's sporty nature -- was the newly optional turbocharged version of Chrysler's 2.2-liter (135-cubic inch) overhead-cam "Trans-4" engine with electronic port fuel injection. Scheduled for mid-year introduction, it made this the first T&C that could truthfully be described as "fun to drive."

Other features of the 1984 included more rear seat room than in the initial 1983 convertible; roll-down rear quarter windows, another improvement; a backlight made of glass instead of plastic; and more convenient roof and latch mechanisms.

Preserving its luxury link with the past, the new T&C was offered with an optional Mark Cross interior package featuring genuine leather upholstery. And despite all this talk of tradition, this was a very modern car, with such high-technology attractions as computer-aided body design and a fascinating, extra-cost electronic instrument cluster.

The LeBaron T&C convertible was available in three pearlescent shades -- Mink brown, Gunmetal blue, and Garnet red, which was in keeping with traditional T&C convertible colors.

Is the 1984 as collectible an automobile as its classic predecessors? Probably not, at least not for a good many years yet, but we wouldn't discourage you from considering one on that basis.

A replica of the original? No, nothing like that. But the 1984 Town & Country was also more than mere transportation. Like the original, it was a handsome convertible with a difference: stylish and plush, indefinably yet unmistakably classy.

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