Chrysler's Italian Affair, Round 2

January 21, 2009

The last union of Chrysler and an Italian marque, back in the go-go 80s, produced nothing less than...the Chrysler TC by Maserati. For those too young too remember, the TC looked like a barely restyled Chrysler LeBaron convertible with leather seats so overstuffed that Top Gear screenwriter Richard Porter was inspired to ask: "ever wonder what it'd be like to see your grandparents naked?" Even a removable hardtop (with opera windows) and a Cosworth-developed DOHC cylinder head couldn't hide this $33,000 ride's Dodge Daytona K-Car roots. Only 7,300 units were sold during the TC's three-year production run.

In an ironic twist, the newest Chrysler union results in an association once again between Maserati and Chrysler, though in a more distant way; Ferrari and Maserati are run largely as separate entities from the Fiat Group.

Chrysler TC by Maserati

Chrysler TC by Maserati

Enlarge Photo

Not that Chrysler was the only offender in the land of Italian-branded badge-engineering (remember the Cadillac Allante?). But in the spirit of learning from the past, we're hoping that we see the best of Chrysler melded with the brightest of Fiat.

Chrysler TC by Maserati

Chrysler TC by Maserati

Enlarge Photo

Chrysler, please take this chance to separate the wheat from the chaff in your platforms. It would really be a shame if you lowered the caliber (ha) of your Fiat-sourced drivetrains by anchoring them beneath low-rent plastic interiors with harsh molding seams and Wal-mart grade upholstery. Forget the refrigerated six-pack gloveboxes and gimmicks; focus on textures, colors, and subtleties. GM (Chevy Malibu, Cadillac CTS) and Ford (Fusion, 2010 Mustang) have done it, and we know you can too.

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