In June 2022, a Saddle Brown Crystal 1984 Chrysler Laser XE with 17,000 miles came up for auction on Bring a Trailer. That’s enough reason for me to update this seven-year-old post.
“The competition is good. We had to be better.”
Debuting in 1984, the Chrysler Laser was intended to be the upscale complement for the Dodge Daytona. Equipment was not notably different from the Daytona, but the Laser had more of a luxury emphasis with a slightly softer suspension.
Two engines were available. The base engine, Chrysler’s 93 bhp 2.2 liter/135 ci inline four, was available with a standard five-speed manual transmission or a three-speed automatic transmission ($439). Mileage with the manual was 22 city/32 highway by 1984 standards (19/29 by today’s standards). Moving to the automatic helped city mileage a bit but dropped highway mileage significantly—23/27.
The more interesting engine was the optional 146 bhp 2.2 liter/135 ci turbocharged inline four with the same transmission choices as the base engine. Depending on whether you were adding the turbo to the base Laser or the XE, the extra cost was either $934 or $872. Mileage with the hot setup (turbo and manual) was 20 city/27 highway by the day’s standards (18/25 by 2022 standards) while the 0-60 time was about 8.5 seconds. Moving to the three-speed automatic once again killed highway mileage, making the ratings 20 and 23.
Standard equipment on the base Laser (priced at $8,648 or about $25,000 in today’s dollars) included a leather-wrapped steering wheel, intermittent wipers, and an AM radio with digital clock.
Moving up to Laser XE ($10,546 or about $30,500 in 2022 dollars) added features such as an electronic instrument cluster, tilt steering wheel, driver’s side sport seat, dual power side mirrors, and an AM/FM stereo radio.
Options & Production Numbers
Optional equipment included air conditioning ($737), cruise control ($179), rear defroster ($168 base/$143 XE), power windows ($185), power door locks ($125), and AM/FM stereo cassette ($285/$160). With all the trimmings, a Laser XE could fairly easily get to $12,900 or so or about $37,300 in today’s dollars—about what an all-wheel-drive 2022 Dodge Challenger GT costs.
The Laser sold decently in its first year, with almost 34,000 base coupes and nearly 26,000 XEs crossing dealer lots. This was actually more than its Dodge Daytona sister car (with a total of almost 50,000 sold).
However, Chrysler must have been disappointed—this was an era where the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, and Pontiac Firebird were routinely selling in the hundreds of thousands (the three models combined for 530,000 sold in 1984).
Chrysler would never see these first-year totals again—by 1987 the Laser would be gone, with the Daytona hanging on through the 1993 model year after a few pretty good years in the late 1980s.
The View From 2022
Lasers rarely show up in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, on eBay, or on Bring a Trailer (the most recent BaT example was only the fourth in five years). You see some Daytonas on eBay and BaT, but even they are relatively uncommon.
Make mine Black, please.
Updated June 2022.