As is so often the case, the theory behind the Chrysler TC by Maserati was perfectly sound. Chrysler wanted to add some glamour to its humdrum K-Car range, deputising Maserati, which it owned at the time, to provide it.
The ingredients were all there. Power came from a tuned, Maserati-built 2.2-litre turbo engine with components from the likes and Cosworth, Mahle and Crane Cams. The styling was quite handsome, the interior quite luxurious.
Yet, somehow, Chrysler and Maserati couldn’t get the recipe right.
In many ways, the TC is the American equivalent of the Alfa Romeo Arna. Two great companies were involved in the design and development (which took two years longer than planned) and neither did what they were good at.
That exotic-sounding engine, for instance, was at heart a Chrysler motor and not one known for its smoothness and refinement. And the body was built by Maserati at a time when its quality controllers seemed to work on a ‘that’ll do’ basis.
To make matters worse, the handling was wobbly and the performance wasn’t exactly sparkling. The TC wasn’t a sports car and it wasn’t refined enough to be a good GT, either.
Then there was the price. At launch in 1989, the TC cost a staggering $33,000. The Chrysler LeBaron convertible, which wasn’t much different, cost a good $10,000 less.
Chrysler predicted sales of 5,000 to 10,000 units a year for the TC, but in three years on sale shifted just 7,300. It was complete flop by any standard.
These days, every car manufacturer seems to have at least one halo model based on humble origins. The Audi TT, for instance, is closely related to the Volkswagen Golf. Chrysler were early adopters of platform sharing and, though prolific, weren’t especially good at it. The Chrysler TC should have been a good car, but lacklustre performance, indifferent quality and over-ambitious pricing killed it.
By Only Motors
Images via Favcars.com