Chrysler TC Maserati
Everything started in the mid-80s when Chrysler was flushed with cash and high on ambition. After the failure of the Imperial coupe, Chrysler was on a lookout for another premium project and again attempted to break into the luxury market. In those days, one of their bestselling products was the cool-looking Chrysler Le Baron.
It was available as a coupe or a convertible, all with front-wheel drive. The Le Baron was selling nicely but Chrysler thought they could turn it into something to rival the Cadillac Allante or Mercedes SL, two of the hottest drop top cars of the day. Through the connection with Maserati, Chrysler decided to upgrade the Le Baron into a bespoke, luxury car. They wanted to give it more power and interior features, leather upholstery and updated equipment.
The assembly was not in Detroit but in Italy, emphasizing its premium roots and exclusivity. Under the hood, buyers could get the turbocharged four-cylinder engine or naturally-aspirated 3.0-liter V6. When the TC finally entered the market in 1989, buyers were shocked by the high price tag. But it was the result of making the car in Italy by hand and then transporting it to the states.
Also, the TC by Maserati wasn’t fast or nimble because they used modest underpinnings that resulted in relatively common driving dynamics. However, in two years, Maserati produced 7,300 TCs, which is a relatively low number. Today, this model is not a popular car since it isn`t exactly a Chrysler and it isn’t exactly a Maserati. Caught somewhere in the middle, the TC is an interesting part of history for both brands and an obscure collector car.
Cadillac envisioned the Allante as a competitor to the Mercedes SL convertible. It was a two-seater luxury convertible with Italian styling by Pininfarina, a Northstar V8 engine and front-wheel drive. That was quite an unusual combination, but the car looked and performed well.
Even the production process was specific since they did the fabrication in Italy in the Pininfarina factory and then shipped the cars to the U.S. by jet. But that made the cost of the final product much higher. The Allante stayed in production until 1993 and they built just over 21,000. Unfortunately, the car was too expensive to produce, so the factory allegedly lost money on every example they made.
The late â90s brought the Qvale as a new player on the international sports car scene. The project started as a De Tomaso concept, but they continued as a Qvale when De Tomaso went out of business. Under the sleek and modern design, there were quite a few Ford Mustang parts, including the 4.6-liter V8 engine and dashboard.
The most interesting feature of this car was the roof. Each Mangusta was also a coupe, Targa and convertible thanks to a retractable hardtop system that allowed for several positions. Unfortunately, the car wasn’t well received, so they discontinued it in 2002 after producing only 284 of them.
These are the cars like spaghetti westerns with Italian styling and American engines. Did any of them strike your fancy? If so, be sure to check the price tag first since most of these are extremely expensive. Sadly, some of these cars are no longer available, but they all made automotive history.