The third-generation Chrysler LeBaron is not a car typically associated with high performance.
However, this special machine available on auction website Bring a Trailer might just manage to change your mind.
With a potential top speed in excess of 220 mph, and even a Guinness World Record under its belt, this is anything but your grandfather’s LeBaron.
Born to run
Clearly this is not a regular road-going production LeBaron. Instead, this is a bespoke tube-framed race car, built in 1987 to compete in stock racing competitions.
Initially it wore a Buick Somerset-inspired bodyshell. It was subsequently bought by a Chrysler-backed racing team, who added the LeBaron design and a 383-cubic inch Dodge NASCAR V-8 racing engine.
Several more years of racing in the ARCA series followed, before the car was finally sold to famed Open Road racer Chuck Shafer in 1995.
Shafer wanted the car to compete in the Silver State Challenge event, held on a 90-mile closed stretch of the State Route 318 public highway in Nevada.
In order to accomodate Shafer, and his navigator Gary Bockman, modifications were made including the installation of a pair of bucket racing seats and extra roll bars.
The package worked, as Shafer and Bockman took victory in the 1999 Silver State Challenge, clocking an average speed of 199.99 mph along the route.
Setting new records in the desert sun
A year later, Shafer and Bockman made the history books, recording an average speed of 207.8 mph on the event in May 2000. This led to the race being branded as the “fastest road race in the world” by the Guinness World Records company.
It was on this occasion that the LeBaron posted a recorded top speed of 224 mph – comfortably quicker than what a usual ‘87 Chrysler would hit on a public highway.
Shafer sadly passed away in the early 2000s, with the car then left unused until 2007. Then it was again entered in the Silver State Classic, driven by Gary Bockman. Shafer’s wife Cinde served as the navigator, with the duo finishing seventh in the 150 mph class.
The car was more recently displayed at the World of Speed Museum in Wilsonville, Oregon, following its retirement from racing.
A rebuild on the Dodge NASCAR V-8 was undertaken in 2007, with the car having covered little ground since it last raced. An inspection and fluid flush has reportedly been undertaken prior to being listed for sale.
Sending power to the rear wheels is a Tex Racing four-speed manual transmission, connected to a floating 9-inch differential.
Ready for the next challenge
Disc brakes and coil suspension are set up for open road racing, although the seller notes the car could be adapted for other types of competition. A set of 15-inch racing wheels are currently wearing Goodyear Eagle slick tires.
The bodywork has been modified to cope with the high speed of open road competition, whilst the side windows can be removed for access.
A removable steering wheel, Hurst gear shifter, and a Terratrip rally computer can be found in the cockpit. Race history paperwork, including the prized Guinness World Record achievement, will also be included in the sale.
This car was previously listed on Bring a Trailer in March this year, where a bid of $17,250 failed to meet the reserve price. Now it is listed without reserve, offering a potentially affordable option to buy an award-winning race car.
As one commenter on Bring a Trailer has noted: “Forget the fact that this car has a LeBaron body. The body doesn’t matter. The AVERAGING of 207.8 mph does… for ninety miles!! On a public high desert highway”. A neat reminder of just how fast this car is.
To bag this true record-breaking LeBaron, you’ll need to be almost as quick as the Mopar machine itself. Bidding closes on Thursday September 12th, meaning you will just miss out on the chance to race in the Silver State Classic this year.