The Chrysler TC by Maserati is often ridiculed for being an overpriced piece of junk that sullied the Italian automaker’s name, but things could have been even worse.
Writing for Road & Track, former Chrysler executive Bob Lutz revealed Lamborghini could have taken a similar path. As he explained, Chrysler bought Lamborghini for $25 (£20 / €23) million in 1987 and Lee Iacocca didn’t care about their history or heritage.
Instead, Iacocca wanted to make a quick buck and Lutz took this to mean he wanted to transform Lamborghini into an “uplevel Chrysler trim.” Lutz and the rest of the enthusiasts at Chrysler were appalled by this, so he effectively decided to sabotage the project with a form of “malicious obedience.”
As part of this effort, Lutz suggested that Chrysler’s vice president of design, Tom Gale, make a so-called “Lamborghini Edition” of the K-Car. If that wasn’t horrifying enough, Lutz told Gale to make it so crazy that even Iacocca could see it was a bad idea.
Gale set to work creating a monstrosity based on the Chrysler Imperial. Lutz writes the car was lowered, painted bright red and then equipped with Lamborghini wheels. The interior was also given a quick makeover which reportedly consisted of “buttery-soft light-tan leather” and embroidered headrests featuring the Lamborghini logo. Lutz contends the resulting car was “sacrilege,” but also the “best-looking K-car I had ever seen.”
While that’s faint praise, the car never went into production. However, Chrysler’s purchase of Lamborghini wasn’t completely in vain as Lutz says their engineers were tasked with transforming an 8.0-liter V10 truck engine into a lightweight powertrain for the Dodge Viper. This was accomplished more quickly and affordability than if Chrysler had to do it alone, and it turned out to be a resounding success.
However, Chrysler’s ownership of Lamborghini was short lived and the company sold the brand in 1994. It was eventually acquired by Volkswagen and rest is history.