1930`s (picture of 1931 Chrysler Imperial Eight LeBaron)
The earliest reference I’ve found to a Chrysler product bearing the LeBaron name is the 1931 Chrysler Custom Imperial Eight by LeBaron manufactured more than six decades ago.
LeBaron was one of the many prominent coachbuilders that sprung up in the 1920s to provide bodies for luxury cars. Until the late 30s, most of the great prestige automakers - Rolls-Royce, Hispano Suiza, Duesenberg, Packard - often supplied only a running chassis, which wealthy buyers would outfit with custom bodywork at substantial extra cost.
1940-50`s (1941 Chrysler LeBaron Thunderbolt)
Now here is a truely rare LeBaron! One of only six built. The following is an excerpt from an article which appeared in the December 28, 1998 issue of The Detroit News:
"The 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt was a driveable, aluminum-bodied early-day concept car. Marked by a discrete silvery bolt of lightning on each smooth (with no handle, only a pushbutton) door, the hide-away hardtop convertible was one of six built for Chrysler by LeBaron. The electrically-controlled top could be concealed beneath the rear deck of the two-seater by pressing a button. Concealed headlights, anodized aluminum trim at the base of the car body and leather interior trim marked this sleek full-fender look. The '41 Thunderbolt was the first non-production car to pace the Indianapolis 500 race and was based on a design by Alex Tremulis, then of Briggs Manufacturing Co., and Ralph Roberts of Chrysler. It was powered by a 143-HP straight eight engine."
1960-70`s (1964 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron)
I have also found references to the Chrysler Imperial LeBaron nameplate for both the 1964 and 1975 model years, and presumably other model years during the 60’s and 70’s. The M-body LeBaron was available from 1977 to 1981 when it was succeeded by the K-body.
1982 (1984 Chrysler LeBaron Convertible)
In the early 80’s the LeBaron was available as a four-door passenger sedan. 1982 saw the arrival of Chrysler’s now famous K-cars.
An ‘H’ body LeBaron GTS hatchback (Dodge Lancer) was available from 1985 through 1989. The ‘A’ body LeBaron sedan (Dodge Spirit / Plymouth Acclaim) was available from 1990 through 1994.
1987 (1988 Chrysler LeBaron GTC Coupe)
1987 was the transition year that yielded the ‘J’ body LeBaron coupe and convertible as successors to the ‘K’ based sedan and convertible. Interestingly the ‘J’ was the only modern LeBaron that wasn’t carbon copied into a (Dodge / Plymouth) offering. A fact that ‘J’ LeBaron owners should hold dear to their hearts.
1990`s (1993 Chrysler LeBaron Convertible)
The LeBaron coupe was available through to 1993 with the convertible out-lasting it to the 1995 model year. The LeBaron has since been replaced in the Chrysler line up by the Sebring coupe and convertible, which itself is a resurrected.
The Ultimate LeBaron!
A 'purpose-built' 1992 Chrysler LeBaron Coupe!
This machine was built expressly for time trials at the Bonneville Salt Flats. It's powered by a VNT turbocharged 2.0L engine based on the 2.2L/2.5L turbocharged engines found in many street LeBarons.
With an exhaust header, customized intake and an intercooler the engine produces a whopping 450hp! And it still fits into essentially a stock body.
Performance & specs
Turbo IV engine, making 174 horsepower. Only a 5-speed manual transmission could be installed in the GTC, but other LeBarons might have either manual shift or a 3-speed automatic; or, for the first time, a 4-speed automatic that was standard on some models, optional on others. Base engine was a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. A V-6 went into LX and GTC models for 1991. The potent 2.2-liter turbo disappeared that year, in favor of a 2.5-liter that could go into either a base LeBaron or GTC.