Chrysler Toyed With The Idea Of A Lamborghini K-Car

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.”

Also Read: Lee Iacocca Passes Away At 94

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.

  • Craig

    Personally.. I would have taken an idea from the man that brought the Mustang and Minivans to the market [among other incredible successes] more seriously.

    • Even geniuses make mistakes sometimes.

      … with that said, I really want to see pictures of the finished product. I don’t think a Lamborghini-Edition K-Car was the way to go, but I would’ve loved if they took the idea further and made a sports-sedan from it. Which they kinda did with the Shelby Lancer that (probably) came later but I don’t care. I still would’ve liked to have seen how this effort could’ve gone had they “reconstructed” the idea.

    • Thetruthísntalwayspopular

      Maybe he wasn’t as responsible for those as you think……….

    • db

      Iacocca was a true salesman. I think he had the ability to sell Girl Scout cookies back to the Girl Scouts.

      He was the proverbial “one of a kind” man that fully believed in what he was selling. He would have made a fine president imo.

  • Merc1

    And you thought it couldn’t get any worse than that POS Chrysler TC by Maserati. WOW talk about wrapping junk in leather..


    • Adilos Nave

      Was going to mention that. What exactly was the story behind the rebadged (barely) LeBaron convertible? Add a trident logo and port-hole to the hardtop?

      • emjayay

        I’m sure there’s all kinds of stuff online. But anyway, the TC was supposed to be out a year before the new version LeBaron convertible. Instead it lagged.


  • Bo Hanan

    This was a Dodge Daytona with a Jalpa V8 in 1988.The V8’s oil pan was 1.5 inches from the ground in all her FWD glory. It also had 250HP.

    • Merc1

      Must have been dangerous, but a riot to drive.


  • EyalN

    Audi A6 with a Lamborghini engine is not a better idea.
    It’s like saying what Germans do best? what Italians do best?
    So let’s take a boring German design and a not reliable Italian engine and mix them together.
    Basic service of the car cost like a car and take weeks

  • Craig

    Lutz always has been a fat head. The idea should have been given serious consideration. And it would not have been a fancied up Reliant or LeBaron or Imperial.

  • Stephen G

    The 1987 Portofino was actually a cool concept. If I remember correctly it made a showing in the “Viper” TV show.

  • ejd1984

    I want to see what the prototype looked like.

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