Thursday CarTunes: Cake and the Chrysler LeBaron

By Author: Harvey Briggs, Date: Sep 21, 2017
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The Song
Short Skirt, Long Jacket was written by Cake frontman John McCrae who says it speaks to the “the relationship between prosperity and the population boom.” In other words, money and sex. I guess if it has to be about something other than his description of his idealized mate, then that works. The last stanza of the song switched from the singer’s point of view to that of the woman and that’s where we learn about her peculiar taste in cars.

She wants a car with a cup holder armrest
She wants a car that will get her there
She’s changing her name
From Kitty to Karen
She’s trading her MG for a white Chrysler LeBaron
I want a girl with a short skirt and a long jacket

The Band
Cake (not to be confused with ’60s girl group The Cake) was formed in the early ’90s in Sacremento, California by McCrae, trumpeter Vince DiFiore, guitarist Xan McCurdy, bassist Gabe Nelson and drummer Paulo Baldi. Interestingly, while several people have come and gone from the band over the years, they are currently touring with all their original members. They are jammed into the alternative rock category because of their many influences including country, hip hop, funk, and world music like Mariachi and Iranian folk music. They are rumored to be working on a seventh studio album and can be seen on tour throughout the Southwest this fall.

The Car
The LeBaron name originally referred to the NY design studio LeBaron, Carrossiers Inc a custom coachbuilder that supplied bodies for Rolls-Royce, Hispano Suiza, Duesenberg, Packard and others. After being purchased in 1926 by Briggs Manufacturing (full disclosure, this was my great-grandfather’s company) LeBaron was set up as an indpendent studio in Detroit and designed several Chrysler models for Briggs in the ’30s and ’40s including the amazing 1941 Chrysler LeBaron Newport pictured above.

The LeBaron name was retired from the Chrysler pantheon until the 1950s when it resurfaced as a descriptor for the highest trim levels of the company’s Imperial line. It wasn’t until 1977 that Chrysler launched a distinct LeBaron model, based on their F platform which it shared with the Dodge Aspen. It was available as a 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan, and wagon.

Second generation LeBarons were build on the infamous front wheel drive K platform, sharing its underpinnings with the Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant. In 1982 a convertible version hit the streets. Thank goodness it did otherwise we’d have been deprived of this great bit on Seinfeld. Of course they featured the Town & Country version of the LeBaron in all its faux woodgrain glory.

The third (and mercifully final) generation of the car remained in production from 1987 to 1994 and included the sporty GTC version powered by a 141 horsepower 3.0 Liter V6 made by Mitsubhishi.

Unless McCrae was referring to the 1940’s vintage LeBaron, we have severe doubts about his dream girl’s taste in cars.

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Harvey Briggs

Harvey Briggs is the Founder, Editor, and Publisher of Rides & Drives. He has also written for Car and Driver, Winding Road, and the luxury lifestyle blog, Pursuitist.com. His passions run from fast cars, small planes, boats and motorcycles to music, travel, and sports. When he's not on the road testing the latest cars, he been known to turn up on stage playing rock and blues guitar at clubs around his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Follow Harvey's adventures on Instagram and Twitter @harvey_drives and find him on Facebook. Though keeping up could be a problem. As Harvey says, "If I don't slow down, time can't catch me."

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