Chrysler TC by Maserati

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Chrysler's TC by Maserati
1990 Chrysler TC By Maserati.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Maserati
Chrysler
Production 1989–1991
Assembly Torino, Italy (stamping)
Sparone, Italy (assembly)
Milan, Italy (final assembly)
Body and chassis
Class Grand tourer
Body style 2-door convertible
Layout FF layout
Platform Q-body
Powertrain
Engine 2.2 L Turbo II I4
2.2 L TC I4
3.0 L Mitsubishi 6G72 V6
Transmission 5-speed manual
3-speed A413 automatic
4-speed A604 automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 93.3 in (2,370 mm)
Length 175.8 in (4,465 mm)
Width 68.5 in (1,740 mm)
Height 51.9 in (1,318 mm)
Curb weight 3,033 lb (1,376 kg)

Chrysler's TC by Maserati was a "Q" body based on a modified second generation Chrysler K platform jointly developed by Chrysler and Maserati as a grand tourer and introduced at the 1986 Los Angeles Auto Show. After 2 years of development delays, the TC became available in late-1989 and 7,300 units were manufactured in Milan, Italy by the time production ended in 1990. All cars sold as 1991 models were actually manufactured in 1990.

Development[edit]

Lee Iacocca started a friendship with the late Alejandro de Tomaso while at Ford, which led to the De Tomaso Pantera. During the 1980s, Iacocca headed Chrysler while De Tomaso was owner of the historic Maserati brand. In 1984, both companies signed a memorandum of understanding to create a sport coupe, which ultimately became the TC. Chrysler also became an investor in Maserati during that period. In 1985, Lee Iacocca stated that the planned "Q-coupé" would be the prettiest Italian to arrive stateside since his mother immigrated.[1]

The 1989 TC used a slightly detuned 160 bhp (119 kW; 162 PS) [2] Daytona-spec turbocharged 2.2 L straight-4. This intercooled version, known as the Turbo II, was coupled to an A413 three-speed automatic transaxle. The Turbo II was replaced by a Mitsubishi-sourced 3.02 L 141 bhp (105 kW; 143 PS) [2] V6 engine for the 1990 and 1991 model years, with the automatic transaxle being upgraded to a four-speed A604 unit.

501 cars were built with an optional drivetrain consisting of a Getrag manual transmission and a 16-valve head version of the 2.2 L. This engine is often called the "Maserati" engine because it was built by Maserati and has a Maserati-branded cast valve cover.

The 200 hp (149 kW; 203 PS) 16-valve 2.2 L "Maserati" engine's cylinder head was cast in England by Cosworth and finished in Italy by Maserati. The pistons came from Mahle GmbH in Germany. The camshafts were designed by Florida-based Crane Cams and were manufactured by Maserati in Modena. The "Maserati" engine used a specially-made 2.2 block, upgraded crankshaft and rods. A Japanese turbocharger was sourced from IHI. The rest of the engine used common Turbo II parts made in the United States.

The TC's platform was based on a shortened Dodge Daytona chassis with suspension and axles from the original model (except for the 5 speed Getrag with "Maserati" engine). The bodywork was produced by De Tomaso subsidiary Innocenti.[3] The struts and shock absorbers were specially designed for the car by Fichtel and Sachs, and a Teves anti-lock braking system was standard. The special wheels were made in Italy by the Formula One supplier Fondmetal.

Features[edit]

Rear view of 1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati

The TC featured a detachable hard top with opera windows and a manually operated cloth lined convertible top that was available in either tan or black. For the 1989 model year, interior leather colors were ginger or bordeaux. Available exterior colors were yellow, red, or cabernet. The bordeaux interior was only available with the cabernet exterior, both of which were dropped in 1990 when black and white exterior colors were added along with a black leather interior.

The most rare TC built was a "special" at the end of the production run for a Chrysler executive. It was white with a bordeaux interior and the Maserati engine, the only 1991 car to have that color interior or engine.

The TC's dash, door panels, seats, armrest, and rear fascia panels were covered in hand-stitched Italian leather. Inside doorjambs were finished with stainless steel panels and sill plates. The convertible boot, over which the hardtop rests, is a body colored metal panel. A special interior storage compartment came with an umbrella, tool kit, and small spare tire that allowed the use of the full-sized trunk even with the top down. Standard equipment included a 10-speaker Infinity AM/FM cassette stereo, power windows, 6-way power seats, power door and trunk locks, map lights, puddle lamps, cruise control, and tilt steering wheel.

The only extra cost option available for the TC was a CD player that was a plug-in attachment to the standard Infinity AM/FM cassette stereo.

Production and prices[edit]

Chrysler TC by Maserati with the standard hardtop fitted

Total production for each model year and base price. The TC was sold by only 300 selected Chrysler dealers.[4]

  • 1989 - 3,764 - $33,000 (USD)
  • 1990 - 1,900 - $35,500
  • 1991 - 1,636 - $37,000

Competition[edit]

Chrysler claimed that the TC was not in competition with the more expensive two-seater Cadillac Allanté nor the lower priced Buick Reatta.[5] The Allanté was also Italian-designed and partially hand-built. The Allanté was powered by a 200 hp (149 kW; 203 PS) 4.5 L V8 engine (1989–92) with final assembly in the U.S. (after the bodies built in Italy were shipped via special air cargo) at a price of more than $17,000 over the TC. The Reatta was a 170 hp (127 kW; 172 PS) V6-powered roadster with a suggested price about $15,000 lower than the TC.[5]

Criticism[edit]

The original idea of combining a Chrysler engine with a Maserati body was viewed by some automotive journalists as simply "taking the worst from each partner."[6] The press was critical of the Chrysler TC, observing its similarity to the Chrysler LeBaron GTC convertible that cost much less.[4] Lee Iacocca was a proponent of the new model "to change the way the world looked at Chrysler" and to create a new image for the automaker.[7] Though the TC was expected to achieve annual sales between 5,000 to 10,000 units, it sold very poorly due its high price tag among other factors such as the lack of exterior color choices and undistinguished performance. In contrast, the LeBaron GTC had more color choices and exactly the same features at a considerably cheaper price.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nouveautés". L'Automobile Magazine (in French) (Societé des Editions Techniques et Touristiques de France): 23. January 1986. ISSN 0758-6957. 
  2. ^ a b "Chrysler's TC". maserati-alfieri.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 
  3. ^ Heitz, Rudolf, ed. (1987). Auto Katalog 1988 (in German) 31. Stuttgart: Vereinigte Motor-Verlage. p. 125. 
  4. ^ a b c Hyde, Charles K. (2003). Riding the Roller Coaster: A History of the Chrysler Corporation. Wayne State University Press. p. 272. ISBN 978-0-8143-3091-3. 
  5. ^ a b Shouldiner, Herbert (May 1988). "Chryslerati". Popular Science 232 (5): 16. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Ingrassia, Paul; White, Joseph B. (1995). Comeback:The Fall and Rise of the American Automobile Industry. Touchstone. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-684-80437-8. Retrieved 11 November 2013. Iacocca and De Tomaso agreed to mate a Maserati body with a Chrysler engine, which was taking the worst from each partner. 
  7. ^ Johnson, Richard A. (2005). Six Men Who Built the Modern Auto Industry. MBI. Publishing. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-7603-1958-1. 

External links[edit]