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Who came up with the TC's design?


yellowdog
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Does anyone have an idea of how Maserati and Chrysler decided on the TC's look?

I ask because somewhere I thought I had read that Chrysler was the prime mover but when I came across photos of the Maserati Biturbo Spyder and the Karif, I see a lot of similarities to the our cars.

Would appreciate any insights you TC historians out there may have.

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History suggests that Chrysler did all the design work except for the interior. The car was well underway years before involving Maserati. Chrysler had intended the TC to lead a new design theme followed by the LeBaron, as can be seen in the similar looks. Maserati contributed the all leather interior and arranged some parts supply (ABS braking, gas struts/shocks, body panels/trim, etc.) they did design the DOHC head for the Chrysler block. In fact involving Maserati so late in the development caused most of the delays in getting the car to market and confusion with marketing. There where a couple of odd stories that the TC was intended to be a Shelby or a continuation of the 300 letter cars in the beginning but I can't confirm those, but it does say that Chrysler did have the intent to make the car with or without Maserati.

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For some reason I thgought Maserati did the design. Remember this car was delayed for years before it finally came out. Look at the similarities with the Bi-Turbo. Finally the design was copied in the LeBaron which in essence destroyed any market share that the TC would have had. As usual the "big guys" know better (or do they?).

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This was a photo posted here awhile ago, can't find the post though, so I hope he doesn't mind I put it back up. As I remember this was his Dad in the car and the picture was from the early 80's, a TC prototype that was undergoing testing in California at the time. This car is replete with hood louvers, finned wheels, lower chrome trim and has, what looks to be, a different dash. However it has Chrysler logos and nary a Maserati reference. In doing a little digging this would have been before Maserati was involved. So the design was set in the very early 80's if not well before, Auburn Hills was slow back then. History with car gets muddy at best and I have found several differing stories from people that had been involved with the project at various times.

post-86686-143139243607_thumb.jpg

Again if I could find the post I would reference it, so I hope the poster doesn't mind.

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A follow up: Found the post

http://forums.aaca.org/f144/tc-prototype-333384.html

In the post he says that they worked with Maserati on that prototype but doesn't say on what. In doing some investigating Maserati came into the project about 1983 after Chrysler had started on the car and had been trying to sort out how to position it in it's product line-up. The TC was, as best I could find, designed alongside the LeBaron "J" body cars and, as we all know, was intended to be on sale prior to that LeBaron convertible /coupe. I also found a couple of articles in old car magazines from the late 70's early 80's that said Chrysler was working on a 2-seat roadster with Caroll Shelby "... possibly to be a new 300..." (r&t). A couple of stories from 1980(ish) even stated that Lamborghini (*a Chrysler company at the time) was to be involved. AHHH the history of the TC is a foggy thing at best.

*Almost a Chrysler company at the time. Lamborghini was in talks with Chrysler about this time, the deal was done by 1986.

Edited by Rolf B.
Found the information (see edit history)
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Would be nice if we could talk to someone who was involved with the design team.

While Chrysler may have been working on a design before Maserati got involved (maybe even involving Shelby or Lambo), the design similarities (exterior and interior) between the TC and Maserati's other road cars indicates that Maserati certainly had a significant input. Plus, Maserati had time to re-engineer the 2.2 as a DOHC.

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Hi Rolf,

Again from what I can remember my father-n-law was sent to the San Diego area around 83-85 and worked with some people from Maserati to build the prototype. He was in Calif for about a year and a half as best as I can remember. He worked for Chrysler in design. I'm not sure of anything else as it relates to the car. I have a pretty nice 1989 TC myself that I'm getting a few things fixed on. :)

Russ

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Hi Russ,

That photo got me searching every nook and cranny for information and I thank You for that. Most information, as I noted, is foggy and convoluted at best. Wish Chrysler didn't openly laugh at the mention of the car and blame Maserati for it. I love mine.

Rolf

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If you look at Maserati designs at the time they had a sharper squarer look while the TC was softer and more rounded. Italian auto makers also didn't do much in house styling, being done by design groups like ItalDesign, Bertone, etc., credited or not. Chrysler was strong on design, look at the Laborghini Portifino concept, and that softer TC "look" can be seen in third generation LeBarons, the AA body, of the early 90's as well as the H body GTS hatchback sedans and of course the J body coupes and convertibles. Maserati, and other Italian brands, where strong on engine design so adding a DOHC head to the stock Chrysler 2.2 turbo II was all Maserati. So good that is was the starting point for the later 2.5 DOHC head that Lotus designed for Chrysler. I had a BiTurbo coupe years ago and that car would have benefited from some Chrysler parts and switch gear, the interior was awful and made of cheep plastic bits. Didn't have it long.

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And a few Chrysler models sharing the same basic design themes as the TC (pictured for reference)....

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They are in order: LeBaron J-body coupe, LeBaron AA-body sedan, GTS H-body hatchback sedan, LeBaron J-body convertible, LeBaron AA-body sedan and the TC. They share a common "Chrysler" design language for the time (mid 80's to mid 90's) and the designs compliment each other very well. And as been said so many times, the TC was to have led this look to market but instead was late getting to the party.

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There was a Cadillac made after the TC that was very similar. I was walking to what I thought was my car and thought....."It seems to big". The entire front is almost a copy of the TC but too fat and too tall.

Sounds like the Allante (built 87 - 93), the other American/Italian roadster. Pininfarina designed and built the body in Italy shipped it over here and it was mated with Cadillac running gear and modified sub chassis.

post-86686-143139247032_thumb.jpg

Look familiar?

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  • 2 months later...

[TABLE]

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The 1980's were not kind to Maserati. After Alejandro De Tomaso took over the company in 1975, plans were made to turn Maserati into a much higher volume car producer. The vehicleicon1.png with which the company planned to achieve this mass production was the Biturbo, an unfortunate blend of tricky road manners and mediocre build quality.

The Biturbo had its merits, of course, and was a very capable car in the right hands. Over the years, Maserati even managed to work most of the gremlins out of its system. It never caught on in the United States, though, and Maserati faced sales so pitiful that they were forced to pull out of the U.S. market entirely.

Chryslericon1.png, too, saw struggles in the 1980's. Fortunately for that company, though, chairman Lee Iacocca was able to bring stability back by the middle of that turbulent decade.

Financialicon1.png stability aside, Chrysler was no impressive car company during the Reagan years. Its product offerings, sad and impossibly boring, could do little to excite a public already ravaged by automotive mediocrity. Lee Iacocca saw that something must be done to reinvigorate the Chrysler nameplate, so he contacted his friend Alejandro De Tomaso over at Maserati. Together, they formulated a plan to bolster Chrysler's sagging image and aid Maserati's depressed financial situation.

The product of this collaboration, unconventionally named Chrysler TCicon1.png by Maserati, was introduced in 1988 to an audience that, well, didn't really care. Who could blame them? Delays in production meant that, though the production model was remarkably similar to the prototype, the TC was dated by the time it reached the street.

Its looks were inoffensive, but they were tame to the point of anonymity. Chrysler was in charge of exterior design, and this fact allowed the vehicle's K-car roots to show a little too clearly in the TC's design language. Maserati tackled the interior design, but the car used a standard Chrysler console and instrument binnacle. Maserati did what they could with the little freedom they had, but sexy door panels were hardly enough to save a dull, dated interior.

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