Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Call Of The Lebaron

Why Chrysler Lebarons? This is the question friends and gearheads ask me. The Lebaron Convertible isn't a collector's car. More "fun" may be had from a soft-top sports car...or so say the pundits.

I like my Lebaron for several reasons. 1. The J body Lebaron is the last iteration of the "coke bottle" design. In fact it is probably one of the last cars of the 20th century that didn't follow the Honda aerodynamic "form follows function" design philosophy. Park a Lebaron convertible under a shade tree on a hot summer day and just sit back and meditate on its lines. Take a few sips from the glass of ice tea in your hand. Let the design engulf your senses. The lines of the car are classic American. You have the long wedgy hood and short rounded trunk. These are connected by the voluptuous curves on the lower edges of the doors. A real yin/yang of male and female lines. Then there are the hidden headlights and retro classic grille. The hidden lights provide a cleaner design on the front of the car. The retro classic grille gives a hint of luxury. I am reminded of the Lincoln Continental Mark series.

2. The car is simple to work on. Much of the technology and parts are derived from the K-Car parts bins. Plenty of room in the engine compartment. Easy to read computer codes.

With the top down the J body Lebaron becomes what is called in the industry a personal luxury car. Though in function it could be considered a family convertible since there is useable back seat, I feel like I am in my Big Chrysler out for a day of open motoring. The wind in my hair, Eric Clapton's blues cranked up on the stereo, and the turbo winding out with a just audible whine. The blue-green digital dash winks at me as it continually updates the driving parameters...55 mph, 56 mph, 53 mph...

Though I am driving a K-car based vehicle, I feel that I am in a big 300D from 1958. The legacy and bloodlines are there. (At least in my head!) Maybe it's just a male thing, but I feel that the car is a total package of beauty and brawn. (It's not going to win many drag races, and my car has a turbo 4, not a V-8 Wedge or Hemi.) Just the right amount of power to zoom down country roads, and to cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway on a spring morning or the Boulevard after dark.

Maybe what draws me to the Lebaron is that it's not a truck or an suv/minivan. The CAR is low to the ground, there is only a minimal size trunk, and room for your significant other and two children. That's it...1-4 people surrounded in metal and plastic. A trunk for your cooler or picnic basket, and away we go! Totally impractical. No 4WD and high clearance...you don't need it on the dry asphalt. No gas guzzling V-8. Don't need it. Plenty of power from the turbo 4 and it guzzles gas too. (24 mpg in mixed driving.) The impracticality of selfishness...here I am in my bright red convertible. Look at me.

Why do YOU like Lebarons or convertibles? Click on "Comments" and let me know.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Dramatis Persona - Hot Shot

Hot Shot is my personal Lebaron Convertible. He is a 1987, the first of the "J" body convertibles. Hot Shot is powered by a 2.2L turbocharged 4 cylinder with a 3 speed automatic transmission.

This Lebaron is the Highline model. He has most of the options offered that year.

  • leather seats
  • digital dashboard
  • Traveler dash computer
  • power windows and locks
  • automatic heat and a/c control
Hot Shot has a replacement top and the original boot cover. The boot cover matches the red paint of the body. The cables of the top broke last October. The rear window is a murky vinyl. The original rear window was glass with the defroster.

Currently Hot Shot needs the following:
  • front struts and tires
  • a/c condensor and a recharge
  • new heat regulator on the heater core
  • right rear window repaired so it will go down. (It does work once and a while...so I think there is either a short in the switch or the motor.)
  • a new top...probably a low priority repair if I can get the cables replaced. However when they broke there were several tears in the "c" pillar of the top and 1 1/2 inch of the top welting is torn away from the top
  • power steering pump
I love driving Hot Shot. He drives easily and I'd rather drive Hot Shot than Rugby, my 2000 Ford Focus ZTS. Rugby is faster and handles better, but Hot Shot has a certain panache. A neighbor says that I look "right" behind the wheel of Hot Shot.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Minutiae

Minutiae are postings about the mundane, everyday stuff of living. If you are easily bored, these posts should be skipped.

The Board Of Trustees said many nice things about the Library/Bookmobile booklet I put together as part of the budget presentation for Patrick County.

In the last 2 days I have shelf read Adult Biographies though 782.

Sue is weeding Biographies today and Jan is working on ILL.

Dramatis Persona - Desdemona

Desdemona is a 1981 Chrysler LeBaron convertible. Preston went in 50/50 and bought her in September 2002. She was the first model of convertible to reappear after Detroit's excision of convertibles from their model lineups that ended in 1976.
Des, as we affectionatly call her, was in bad shape when we bought her. The front end was shot, requiring immediate replacement of front struts and tie rod ends. Her top was in tatters and she had been kept for several years with just a tarp to protect her innards from the elements. There were deep rusted scratches on the trunk lid and we found rusted floorboards when we pulled out the dry rotted carpeting. In addition to all of this she has been in a rear end collision at one time, with a K-car rear clip welded on. We realized this when someone pointed out that the rear tail lights weren't Lebaron but Dodge Aries.
We fixed the front end and replaced the top in October 2002. I have sanded out the worst of the scratches and painted them with rust neutralizer. The hole in the left rear floorboard is still there.
Preston told me this week that the 3 speed automatic transmission is slipping. He took her Monday to be checked. These transmissions are pretty tough so we're hoping that changing the transmission fluid and filter, and adjusting the two bands might solve the problem.
Preston and I are going to set up a work day as soon as it warms up to finish fixing the rear floorboard. (He wimped out on the last planned workday. It seems that he would rather go to the hospital for a gall bladder-ectomie than do some real work. LOL)
BTW Desdemona is named after a Jimmy Buffett song. Yes, we are both "parrotheads."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Welcome To leBaron Brothers Blog

Welcome to my first attempt at blogging. The LeBaron Brothers are Randy Glover and Preston Page. Between us we own three Chrysler Lebaron convertibles. My Lebaron is a 1987 Lebaron Highline convertible with leather interior and digital dashboard and 4 cylinder turbo. Preston's Lebaron is a 1992 with the 3.0 6 cylinder. Together we own a 1982 Lebaron that we are trying to restore when we have the money and time.

leBaron Brothers Blog will mostly be my thoughts on our attempts to fix up our cars and the pleasures of convertible ownership. Other topics will make their way into the blog as they bother me or come to my attention.

Preston may be posting as he has time.

My expectations is to use this as a diary, a planning tool, and a vehicle to vent emotions. I welcome any comments, etc., though, if I may not be able to respond to each due to my busy schedule. I hope you find enjoyment and/or entertainment reading my postings

Randy "LeBaron"