Chrysler discloses Nov. 16, 1989, that it is ending a troubled joint venture with famed Italian sports car maker Maserati to engineer and build a two-seat sports coupe for the American automaker.
The Chrysler TC, the brainchild of Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca and launched in early 1989, was priced from $29,000 to $33,000.
Maserati was unit of a De Tomaso Industries, led by Alejandro de Tomaso, a longtime friend of Iacocca. (De Tomaso earlier created the De Tomaso Pantera sports car, featuring a Ford V-8 engine and sold at U.S. Ford stores in the 1970s, when Iacocca was president of Ford.)
Chrysler and Maserati partnered in 1984, with the TC slated for introduction in 1987. Chrysler also owned 15.6 percent of Maserati at the time.
The TC was basically a Milan-built Chrysler LeBaron -- or a front-wheel-drive K-car -- with a few expensive components under the hood.
Iacocca, eager to market something to rival the Cadillac Allante, Buick Reatta and, perhaps, the Mercedes 560SL, was infatuated with the project. He was convinced it would be the start of something big and a halo for Chrysler. For 1989, the TC featured a 200-hp, 2.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Chrysler engine with a Maserati-designed 16-valve cylinder head.
In 1990 and 1991, Chrysler dumped the turbo four-cylinder engine for a Mitsubishi V-6 engine, further neutering the car's Italian ties.
Over time, reliability and fit-and-finish proved subpar. Reviews were harsh. With a $29,000 price, the TC by Maserati began piling up on dealer lots, forcing Chrysler to discount it by $4,000. Chrysler managed to sell just over 7,000 TCs over the course of three years.
In his 2013 book, Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership, former Chrysler President Bob Lutz estimated the company lost more than $500 million on the project.