Chrysler entered the 1980s a bit behind the eight-ball. After the oil crisis of the 1970s, the company had to turn to the government for $1.5 billion in loan guarantees or else succumb to bankruptcy. Thanks to the introduction of the popular minivan and the business savvy of then-chairman Lee Iacocca, Chrysler was able to turn things around and pay off its loans a full seven years early, despite a few missteps along the way.
Having been revived off and on since the 1930s, the LeBaron nameplate for Chrysler was used decades before the 1980s. However, the 1980s brought some definite changes to the model worth noting. Front-wheel drive models were branded with the name in 1982. Three years later, using the Chrysler H as a model, the LeBaron GTS was introduced as more of a performance model. Coupes and convertibles were offered, and up until 1987 with the J model, similar models were available through Dodge and Plymouth.
Chrysler TC by Maserati
The Chrysler TC by Maserati was introduced in 1988, and as its name suggests it married the Italian car company with the Chrysler car company. Maserati faced financial hardships in the 1980s, and Chrysler faced a rather unexciting lineup of vehicles. A collaboration between Chrysler's Lee Iaccoca and Maserati's Alejandro De Tomaso resulted in a pricey car that couldn't quite find its niche with the automotive audience. A total of 7,300 models were sold before the model was discontinued in 1990.
The 1980s essentially gave birth to the modern minivan, and Chrysler was at the heart of it. The first generation began in 1984, and the Chrysler K-car models were sold as a Dodge Caravan and a Plymouth Voyager. These would be the forerunners to the Chrysler Town and Country, which was introduced in 1990. These original front-drive minivans didn't sport much power, but the response was undeniable. In the introductory year, 209,895 minivans were sold and changed the way families would travel from the 1980s onward.
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