Is the LeBaron's engine that durable, or does the car just attract gentle drivers?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 1996

Dear Tom and Ray:

I recently bought a 1980 LeBaron with 98,000 miles on it, even though my last car blew up at 98,000. I bought it because I've heard nothing but good things about the slant six engine that Chrysler used in the 60's and 70's. My brother's slant six has over 200,000 miles on it, and another guy we know has almost 400,000 miles on his. None of these motors uses over a quart of oil between oil changes. Is there something about the slant six that makes it such a good motor?

RAY: Yes. The ugliness of its surroundings.

TOM: The slant six was used in cars like the Dodge Dart, the Plymouth Valiant and Volare, the Dodge Aspen, and the Chrysler LeBaron. As a group, cars so homely looking that only the most practical, boring, pocket-protector-wearing, conservative people would ever buy them. And how do conservative people drive? Conservatively!

RAY: And driving conservatively and gently is exactly how you get 200,000 miles out of an engine.

TOM: And all these years, we thought Chrysler was hobbled by a lack of styling flair. We thought they were making ugly cars because they didn't know how to make pretty ones. But now we realize this was a part of the plan.

RAY: They figured, let's let the "lead foots" and "peel out experts" get drawn to the Camaros and Mustangs and burn out those engines in 70,000 miles. We'll attract the "feather-foots," and "every- 1,000-mile-oil-changers," and our engines--though just as lousy--will last twice as long. It was brillant!

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One