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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

1985 Chrysler LeBaron GTS Turbo: Swinging for the Fences

From the June 1985 problem of Automobile and Driver.

If you happen to had been the man assigned to pound the stakes by which the progress of Chrysler Company was to be measured over the previous few years, you’ll have wanted about 13 arms. Was once that glaciers had extra high finish than Chrysler Company. Now the corporate is mak­ing noise and mud. And new automobiles which have inspiration behind them.

Contemplate this fresh-baked H-car, referred to as Lancer if it is a Dodge, LeBaron GTS if it is a Chrysler. It has all the suitable stuff: front-wheel drive, aero styling, hatchback utility, room for 5 to rattle round within the passenger compartment, and a turbocharged 4­-cylinder engine choice to put some cell into this auto. By no means thoughts whether or not the “Made in ______” label says Stuttgart or Tokyo or Detroit; does not this sound like a critical automotive?

Conceptually, the Lancer/LeBaron GTS will be the most intriguing four-door in-built America today. Within the flesh, some elements of it are second to none. Different as­pects are, effectively, second to some, perhaps even third, however on no account out of the ballpark. It is a automotive that, if it have been somewhat extra refined, might be the reply.

Actually the general package deal is first-rate. The styling division did a pleasant job on the hatchback, which manages to supply sufficient of a sloping tail to curiosity the quick­again crowd and, on the similar time, an simple notch to keep away from turning off those that assume something however a traditional silhou­ette is funny-looking. Neither contingent can complain in regards to the cargo maintain. Oh, they most likely will not just like the lift-over, which involves in regards to the high of the taillights, however the area inside is substantial and the ground is flat. Fold down the rear seat and the ground turns into flat and enormous. The seminotchback lid, together with a hinged panel beneath, does a superb job of hiding the contents of your trunk from prying eyes.

If there are to be any complaints in regards to the passenger lodging, most likely they will concentrate on car width, which is only a bit slender for three-across rear seating. Might­be the blame ought to extra correctly be lev­eled in opposition to the rear seat itself. It has a really good pocket on both sides of heart the place a physique can discover a comfortable spot. However two our bodies of their respective comfortable spots go away not sufficient room within the heart for a 3rd.

1985 chrysler lebaron gts turbo

Richard George|Automobile and Driver

Anyway, that is it for complaints in regards to the inside. Headroom is top-hat pleasant. Grownup knees and toes will slot in again. The from buckets have a welcome—and, from Detroit, surprising—firmness. A couple of sec­onds with the power-seat buttons and the column-tilt lever, and nearly anyone shall be snug on this automotive.

There is not a lot distinction on the out­aspect between the Dodge and Chrysler ver­sions: grille in entrance and chrome title­plates in again are about it. Inside, there’s even much less. These are conspicuously “corpo­charge” automobiles, with the company pentastar getting high billing and the divisions struggle­ing over what’s left. We might discover neither “Dodge” nor “Chrysler” written inside. The car-line names seem solely as soon as, and that is on the respective hatch lids.

We did, nevertheless, discover an instrument panel that ought to be required studying for all Detroit inside stylists. It is to the purpose: six spherical dials instantly earlier than the driving force inform all of them they should know. It is in good style: the dial markings recommend not a online game, not a jet aircraft, not a jukebox, however—ta­-dah!—an car. (An Atari panel is offered for Motor Development readers.) And it is freed from conspicuous errors: the lenses masking the dials do not replicate the sky again into your face, and the precise dial markings aren’t skewed off heart in a bogus try at parallax correction, as they’re in some GM automobiles. The beveled buttons on the radio and heater controls are an unique deal with­ment, too, and a lovely distinction to the jellybean shapes which are the fad elsewhere in Detroit. Chrysler received this half proper.

Within the automotive world today, the Ameri­can makers are looking out their souls, making an attempt to divine the true path between what they’ve all the time finished and what the outsiders do. Which manner is absolutely higher? The GTS represents, in impact, Chrysler handing in its midterm examination for the consumers to grade. The instrument panel is as astute as any German’s in the marketplace, so give the company an A right here. However how’s it doing elsewhere? On the ground to the left of the driving force’s seat are two lever releases for the hatchback and the gasoline door—pure Japa­nese. On the sprint are a pull button for the headlights and, beneath, a foot pedal for the parking brake—pure Detroit. A nifty two-hole cup holder folds out of the mid­dle of the sprint, which can also be pure Detroit. The dimmer change is activated by pulling the turn-signal lever towards you, which was once the international manner however now’s uni­versal, however within the GTS you need to pull it about two inches to do the job, which is pure Detroit. The blue high-beam gentle on the tachometer face is so vivid, it blinds you a few a lot as your brights would blind an oncoming driver, which is a mistake in any language. And the “Entrance Drive” proclamation centered within the PRNDL window (in any other case the window can be empty in fashions with console shifts) remind one of many curious Motor Metropolis observe of bragging about your transmission selection in chrome letters on the deck lid. In any case, what you see from the driving force’s seat is a hodgepodge of interna­tional cues, which we interpret as proof that Detroit is questioning its methods. Chrys­ler’s solutions are typically astute within the GTS. And the place they fall in need of perfec­tion, they at the very least present a critical seek for a greater manner.

Chrysler has clearly been trying to find a world answer to the upscale­-sedan drawback, and we’re sufficiently en­couraged by the outcomes to guage the LeBaron GTS on the identical set of interna­tional requirements. Positive, confusion abounds, and Chrysler has intentionally contributed to it. Its showroom menu presents the LeBaron, which is the previous, block-shaped Okay­-car spinoff with the loose-pillow uphol­stery meant for the standard B-O-P purchase­er, after which this new LeBaron GTS (additionally a Okay-car spinoff, although it’s considerably farther down the evolutionary path), meant for the Audi-Volvo-Saab-Maxima-Cressida sort of yuppie. The distinction between the 2 LeBarons is a complete lot greater than the names would recommend. From an enthusi­ast’s standpoint, the GTS is an actual automotive, in contrast with the non-GTS model, which might make a sensible lease journey for some computer-company govt. That is our highest praise. Chrysler is on the real-car sport board now, which is a troublesome league. You do not simply stroll onto this court docket and knock off the professionals. And Chrysler hasn’t.

However the GTS does not get skunked, both. The turbo 2.2-liter is a good performer in view of its lack of an intercooler, an merchandise of kit that’s changing into a typical fea­ture on this class. It is comparatively quiet as effectively, however the texture of its sound is unappealing, agricultural reasonably than visceral.

Chrysler greater than covers the fundamentals in roadholding by providing 205/60HR-15 Goodyear Eagle GT tires on 6.0-inch-wide alloy wheels. The adhesion is sweet, and the look is sweet. The GTS’s dynamics, nevertheless, do not all the time stay as much as the automotive’s idea. If you happen to simply motor round as you’ll within the cream-puff LeBaron, you may assume the GTS is a fairly rocky-riding automotive, and by cream-puff requirements it’s; however in case you’re used to automobiles with aggressive tires, you most likely could have no complaints. If you happen to drive the GTS to the restrict of the tires’ adhesion, nevertheless, you may discover an unwel­come dose of willy-nilly within the suspension. The straight-to-curve transition into cor­ners at speeds the tires are simply able to produces some wiggles within the steering that can stand the hair up on the again of your neck, significantly if the highway is lower than ter­razzo-smooth. The entrance buckets do not assist a lot, both: the supportive firmness you are feeling within the showroom turns marshmal­low when the aspect forces construct, leaving you hanging on to the wheel to remain upright. Hurrying is just not quite a lot of enjoyable.

The stiff tires additionally present up the shortage of structural rigidity within the physique. You may really feel the doorways working of their openings and listen to them rustling in opposition to the climate­stripping. Do not get the incorrect thought right here. You count on some flex in a hatchback, and, by Detroit’s requirements of only a few years in the past, the GTS is a stable citizen. However immediately, we would ask for extra starch.

The enjoyable quotient of the drivetrain scores decrease than we’d hope, too. Chrysler has the notches and the nasties fairly effectively labored out of its cable-shifting mechanism now, however the really feel is, effectively, like pulling cables reasonably than shifting gears. The clutch effort is on the grunt aspect, too. Then there may be the matter of throttle response, by no means a straightforward matter with a turbo. Driving as if you have been in a cream-puff LeBaron, there is no drawback making {smooth} shifts, however while you get the increase up, the engine responds abruptly to sudden openings and closings of the throttle, leading to jerky shifts un­much less you focus greater than is enjoyable. Some makers do higher on this matter.

Some do worse, too, which brings us to the ultimate level. This Lancer/LeBaron GTS undertaking is an bold one, a Chrysler at­tempt to construct a Euro-style touring automotive. Pontiac has managed to do that with the 6000STE, Chevrolet is taking a shot with its Movie star Eurosport, the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe is a stable hit, and now Chrys­ler is entering into the batter’s field for its first strive in what we fans would con­sider the most important leagues. That the primary swing produces a triple reasonably than a house run should not discourage anyone.


The LeBaron GTS Turbo is one 12 months forward of its time. That is how lengthy it would take GM and Ford to provide you with something shut. Sadly, Chrysler too will want a 12 months (or extra) to rid this machine of the bugs it was born with. I am speaking buzzes and rattles, nothing actually critical. For instance, the clutch lets out an agonizing groan while you de­press it at excessive rpm. The window seals whistle. The exhaust system fills the inside with sonic growth at sure speeds. The suspension often feels gentle when it ought to be agency, exhausting when it ought to be supple. The seats allow you to down within the hips.

I am constructive the suitable engineers might form this automotive up fairly properly, given a beneficiant 12 months’s finances to take action. The scale, weight, fashion, and horsepower necessities are all neatly in place, prepared for the fairy godmother to come back alongside and bestow true star high quality on the LeBaron. I am certain that Lido has her cellphone quantity, so let’s hope he reaches out for somewhat developmental magic. —Don Sherman

Chrysler does it once more! Yet one more new automotive primarily based on the identical bits and items that the New Chrysler Company inherited from the Outdated Chrysler Company. However the LeBaron GTS guarantees far more than that. Seen rolling by on the freeway, it seems to be virtually as contemporary and thrilling because the Chrysler minivans did a few years in the past. It’s a neat wanting automotive, no query, and it has quite a few endearing sensible virtues. However why does it should be so noisy within the decrease gears? Why are the entrance seats so skimpy and missing in assist, lateral or in any other case? Why did I’ve a backache each mile that I drove it? Why is the shift linkage so imprecise and rubbery? Why is not it as good to drive or to sit down in as an Omni GLH?

Chrysler has spent huge quantities of time, expertise, and treasure to provide a automotive that is a terrific leap ahead in idea however a retrograde step in exe­cution. It is clear that their hearts have been in the suitable locations on this one, however everyone knows that the highway to hell is paved with . . . —David E. Davis, Jr.

Heading to Europe on enterprise and in a rush, I as soon as handed in a narrative as tough because the LeBaron GTS Turbo I drove final evening. I had labored myself ragged do­ing the analysis—a stable week of nights on the library, transatlantic phone calls and interviews, the tedious double­-checking of names, dates, and titles. The entire items have been so as and the in­tent was pure, however I ran out of time, bundled the story along with baling wire and Band-Aids, and was off for the Con­tinent. I am right here to inform of my disgrace solely by the persistence and forgiveness of my superiors.

One rewrite, guys; the LeBaron GTS wants a easy rewrite. Because it lands, solely the outside can escape the blue­-pencil remedy. Inside, we’re confronted with a wraparound sprint that ends in skinny air, properly formed seats with aspect bolsters that dissolve below assault, a scrunchy shifter, a rock-hard clutch pedal, and an engine that sounds as if it have been laundering peastone.

Now I do know why Sherman was so mad at me. It is discouraging to see the slipshod and unprofessional execution of a principally sound piece of labor. —Jean Lindamood

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1985 Chrysler LeBaron GTS
Car Sort: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 5-door sedan


Base/As Examined: $9659/$13,733
Choices: luxurious gear group (energy home windows, locks, mirrors, and driver’s seat; tilt steering wheel; cruise management; rear defroster; console; gentle group; tinted glass; intermittent wipers; flooring mats) $1288; air con, $757; sport dealing with package deal, $688; 2.2-liter turbocharged engine, $610; digital AM/FM-stereo radio/cassette, $515; rear wiper/washer, $125; leather-based steering wheel, $91.

turbocharged SOHC inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, port gasoline injection

Displacement: 135 in3, 2213 cm3

Energy: 146 hp @ 5200 rpm

Torque: 168 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm 

5-speed handbook


Suspension, F/R: management arms/trailing arms

Brakes, F/R: 10.2-in vented disc/8.0-in drum

Tires: Goodyear Eagle GT


Wheelbase: 103.1in

Size: 180.3 in

Width: 68.5 in
Peak: 52.9 in

Passenger Quantity, F/R: 53/45 ft3
Trunk Quantity: 18 ft3
Curb Weight: 2844 lb


60 mph: 8.3 sec

1/4-Mile: 16.2 sec @ 84 mph
100 mph: 26.6 sec

Prime Gear, 30–50 mph: 15.7 sec

Prime Gear, 50–70 mph: 13.3 sec

Prime Pace: 115 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 202 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.78 g 


Noticed: 17 mpg

 Metropolis/Freeway: 19/29 mpg 


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