FEATURE OF THE SEASON
The Chrysler TC Convertibles Roadster
Reviewed by T. Thomas, August 2003
When the sun is shinning high in the clear
summer sky, nothing feels better than driving with the top
down in a sporty convertible. But not all convertibles are
created equally, some are for show and others are to be
driven. This featured convertible was created as a show
car, but prefers to be seen in motion.
Convertibles have always been produced
in relatively small production runs. In the old day’s they
were cheaper than their coupe counter parts, because less
metal was used in the body of the car. Today’s convertibles
have enhanced safety, advanced technologies, and more luxury
accessories, so they are typically more expensive than similar
hardtop vehicles. The production runs are still small, so
buying a previously owned convertible can be more than a
cost saver; it could be an investment into history.
In the late 80’s Lee Iacocca and Alejandro
de Tomaso created a business arrangement between their automobile
companies to create the Chrysler-Maserati TC. This was to
be Chrysler’s flagship for luxury and style; however, this
was not to be. Only 7300 TC rolled out of the Milan factory
between model years 1989 and 1991.
This particular TC is now in the hands
of its third owner, John, it is a bright red 1990 with a
beige leather interior and has 26,000 original miles on
the Mitsubishi made V-6 engine. It has been equipped with
after-market multi-spoke chrome wheels, which adds nicely
to the Italian mystic of this roadster. The interior is
in good condition, except for some spots from where the
rear window leaked long ago, a common problem with the vehicle.
The soft-top has been replaced, but the hardtop is original
and in good condition. The low mileage will be disappearing
quickly as this TC starts traveling routine trips to Pennsylvania
and Vermont to see the grandchildren.
Two roadster convertibles that can be
found in the new car showrooms today are the Ford Thunderbird
and Toyota MR-2. These two contrast more than they compare
with the Thunderbird being one of the largest and the MR-2
being one of the smallest convertibles. Both vehicles continue
the TC’s, or rather Iacocca’s, legacy of luxury, smooth
ride, style, freedom and passion for the open road.
Ford created the new Thunderbird in much
the same spirit as the TC; however, no one at Ford would
ever say that. There are rumors flying around that Ford
will be discontinuing the Thunderbird due to poor sales.
Sounds similar to the TC story. The Thunderbird didn’t become
the flagship symbol that Ford envisioned, so now, it faces
that same fate as the TC.
Toyota based the reintroduced MR-2 “spyder”
in 2000 from the Corolla. They designed the MR-2 for drivers
and nothing else. It has a great engine, drive train, chassis,
and roomy cabin for such a small car. The only thing missing
is a trunk. It is only for “light” day-trips or commuting
The TC is without a doubt a well-rounded
two-seater roadster. The interior is driver friendly and
built with better quality materials than other Chryslers
of the day. The leather seats wrap around the driver and
passenger like gloves with good support and a handy armrest.
Visibility of the road and the simple instrument display
are great during the day and at night. The power windows
and seat controls are small by today standards, but are
easy to reach and to operate. The TC also has a nice roomy
truck, there is nothing worse than having a weekend car,
such as a convertible, and having no place to store a weekend
The ride is smooth as any luxury coupe
should be and power is adequate for an average driver. For
better or worse the TC is front wheel drive. The MR-2 and
Thunderbird are rear wheel drive, as are most new roadsters.
The TC’s Mitsubishi 6-cylinder engine produces 141 horsepower
at 5000rpm and 171 pd-ft of torque at 2800rpm. Fuel economy
is respectable at an average of 18 city and 24 highway.
The MR-2 produces 138 horsepower at 6400rpm
and 125 pd-ft of torque at 4400rpm. This is a lot of power
for a car that only weights 2200 lbs.
The Thunderbird produces 280 horsepower
at 6000rpm and 268 pd-ft of torque at 4000rpm. Ford didn’t
want a muscle car, but it is not grandma’s Sunday church
The Chrysler-Maserati TC is a great collector’s
car and a great driver’s car. The only problem with the
car is that it looks too similar to the Chrysler LaBaron
of the same time. There are a couple Chrysler TC for sale
on Ebay for less than ten thousand. The cheapest Thunderbird
auction is at 23K and the reserve is not meet, yet. A previous
owned 2000 or 01 MR-2 in excellent condition could be had
for about 18K.