Thursday, July 23, 2015

Long Hood, Front Drive Chrysler TC Maserati

A while ago I wrote about cars with very long hoods.  Those cars were from the days when engines might be long-block straight-eights, V-12s and even V-16s where a good length of hood was necessary to cover the motor.  Today's cars usually have short hoods due in part to more compact engines that are sometime transversely mounted, as well as strongly sloping windshields that take a comparatively large share of a car's length.

For this reason, I've been puzzling over how it might be possible to produce a sensible modern car featuring a long (though not very long) hood.  Then today (as I draft this post) I saw a car like the one pictured below.


It was a Chrysler TC Maserati from around 1990.  Background information on this Chrysler can be found here and here.

It seems that Chrysler Corporation bought a stake in the Maserati firm and launched a collaboration on a two-passenger sporty car combining Chrysler and Maserati elements that would be assembled in Italy.  These sources are a bit vague regarding the styling and exterior metal, one suggesting all this was sourced in Italy.  But much of the outside of the car is clearly the same as that of the 1987 Chrysler LeBaron, as will be seen below.  Please correct me if I'm wrong, but my guess is that the sheet metal on the TC was a combination of stock LeBaron and specially crafted TC parts.

The Chrysler TC Maserati does boast a comparatively long hood.  That's largely due to its front wheel drive with the engine mounted far to the front, a typical arrangement creating considerable front overhang.  However, the TC's hood gets a modest proportional boost over the LeBaron because it's a shorter car (175.8 inches, 4465 mm versus 184.8 inches, 4694 mm).  The difference in length is due to the TCs lack of a back seat.  In effect, a vertical section was removed and a shorter door used.  Body panels fore and aft of the door are those of the LeBaron for the most part.

Gallery

Here are more views of the Chrysler TC Maserati.

The hood is the same as that of the LeBaron, but the lights and the air intake below the bumper are different.

The grille opening is also slightly different from the LeBaron's.  Note that the Chrysler "pentastar" encloses a Maserati trident, symbolizing the link between the firms.

For comparison, here is a 1987 Chrysler LeBaron convertible.  The TC was also a convertible, but a removable hardtop was available.

A 1992 LeBaron advertisement.  Compare the sheet metal to the TC fore and aft of the door cuts.  Note that the gasoline filler opening is identical for both cars.

The TC did not sell up to Chrysler's expectations.  Part of this might have been due to high price and unexceptional performance.  But a major problem was that its appearance was far too similar to the LeBaron's.  At the time, I wondered what the fuss was, calling what seemed to be a LeBaron a Maserati.  Apparently many others had the same impression.

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