Our Cars : Richard Kilpatrick’s Chrysler 300C

Since 2005, Chrysler’s big RWD 300 sedan has been synonymous with hip-hop culture, Dub wheels and the last gasps of the true American auto industry. The reality is that it’s as American as Apple Strudel, bar the reassuringly simple Hemi V8s, and is more likely to be found rolling around the yards of middle-class suburbia than the projects.

When it crossed the pond, Richard Kilpatrick naturally wanted one. Five years later, he’s taken a chance on finding out if it really would have been a better choice than the C6…

Grandpa or Gangsta?

Initially it seemed apposite to explore the fallacy that Chrysler’s largest conventional car was, in some way, a ‘prestige’ product.  But prestige is in the eye of the beholder. Recent forum discussions have focused on the absence of the ‘dad’ car – that big, plush, but not necessarily upmarket vehicle – from Britain’s roads and driveways, and the Chrysler 300C may be the last stand for a genre that many assumed had gone at the end of the 20th Century. Skoda’s Superb comes close, but with sophisticated underpinnings; think gourmet cheeseburger, rather than the ‘big all-day breakfast’.

Europe’s association with large cars and status ensures the 300C  suffers a deeply conflicted presentation. Even alongside General Motors’ sporadic attempts to bring US-market metal to Blighty, it is a poor fit into our aspirational and status-driven demographics.

Chrysler 300C door trim.
The 300C falls short of premium expectations in terms of trim.
In fact, the crude plastic door casings would be more at home in a budget supermini or commercial vehicle.
They are robust and functional.

Leather that feels more like vinyl and plastic door casings that lack ornamentation or even rudimentary padding are strongly at odds with the curious notion that this car is somehow competing for mental space with the delights of the Jaguar XF, BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-class and even Citroën C6. And yet, that is where so many reviews placed it. “Try it before buying a German exec”, “cheaper than an M5”.

Of course, the relative affordability of cheaply-financed prestige metal contributed greatly to the lack of demand behind why we can’t buy a Ford Granada or Vauxhall Omega anymore. Rewind to the 1970s and ’80s, when large cars from mainstream marques coexisted with the burgeoning luxury class of Mercedes-Benz and BMW in particular, few would have considered a Renault 20 as an alternative to a BMW 5-series, or a Ford Granada instead of a Mercedes W123.

The brand values may have been defined, in part, by import duties and clever marketing – but the big saloon car without the upmarket status was a thoroughly agreeable part of the landscape.

The 2012 current 300C – available only with a VM Motori 3.0 CRD V6 diesel in the UK, and in Europe badged as a Lancia with different CRD power options or a 3.8 V6 petrol – costs around £29-32,000 for the ‘entry level’ model, rising to just under £40,000 for the Executive with leather dashboard and door trimmings, real wood, and a substantial glass roof. There’s no denying that the Chrysler 300C is good value – like so many cars now – if you’re not considering the implied status of the badge part of that equation.

300C 5.7 Hemi
Almost certainly killed off in the UK due to changes in Vehicle Excise Duty, the 5.7 V8 Hemi develops 340bhp and just shy of 400 lb/ft of torque.
Yet it returns over 30mpg at best and comfortably stays above 20mpg in sensible use.
Variable displacement has been adopted on later, USDM variants up to 6.4 litres and in excess of 425bhp.

Sadly, for many 300Cs in the UK, the owners seem hell-bent on trying to grasp a little upmarket “credibility” and there’s a disturbing market for grilles that ape Bentley or Rolls Royce (alongside some rather beautiful waterfall and other billet/stainless designs from the US custom market) and worse, replacement stick on Bentley logos.

Really? When you can buy a real Bentley Eight or Mulsanne for about the same money?

300C Startech Grille
The Startech, or “Bentley” Grille, is an accessory so popular that many assume it’s some sort of facelift.
I intend to remove it and fit the stock eggcrate style as soon as possible.
Chrysler's own design for the grille gives the car a distinct identity tied into almost 60 years of 300 heritage. The factory number plate mounting looks tidier as well.
Chrysler’s own design for the grille gives the car a distinct identity tied into almost 60 years of 300 heritage. The factory number plate mounting looks tidier as well.

The 2007 Touring we’re running was built in 2006, another victim of the change in VED bands and a long time spent waiting for a buyer. Even then, it has only covered 15,000 miles in the following 5 years. With an asking price of £11,995, it was at the steep end of 300C Touring prices – typically a Touring of this age would be nearer £8000, though with 60-100.000 miles on the clock. When looking for models with the V8, it’s necessary to consider that in the 4 years or so they were available in the UK only 645 found homes, compared with thousands of CRD models. Of those, 431 appear to be equipped with the 5.7 V8, and of the 5.7s, there may be as few as 75 Touring (estate) models. The remainder are the 6.1 litre SRT-8 model, which is focused on performance.

The RHD 300C with a V8 engine is a rare beast indeed!

300C dashboard
More Transit than Turin, the 300C dashboard lacks luxury trimmings, a dash of colour provided by Californian Walnut inserts on the wheel and doors aside (V6 models get Tortoiseshell). Rotary heating controls without sophisticated displays look anachronistic but unsurprisingly, are a delight to use by touch. As with any car so equipped, the large satnav is useless after a couple of years, outclassed and outdated. Post 2008 cars feature touchscreen “MyGig” units which were a useful improvement.

It is not, however, deservedly so. The rarity of the Touring models protects them from the worst ravages of depreciation, and by this age and typical mileage they’re competing with much older Mercedes and BMW estates, few of which have V8 power. The body is well engineered, more sophisticated than Chrysler’s 1990s designs such as the Neon, and carries the same feeling of solidity as the Mercedes it’s often claimed the car was based on. The load area is practical, with a false floor providing a strong, flat load area and cubbyholes to either side in tough plastic.

As an estate car the sloping roof robs it of that ultimate carrying capacity, yet that trend blights everything in this shrinking market segment and it still rivals the best with a 1,600 litre maximum cargo capacity (amusingly, similar to an A-class LWB, but better than a Saab 9-5 or Audi A6 Avant). The tailgate extends into the roof, resembling a gullwing door, and  this makes loading extremely easy.

300C rear legroom
Plenty of legroom, and deceptively good headroom, but tinted windows and rising beltline are not child-friendly.
A fold-down armrest provides fuel for sibling battles, and cupholders.

Rear legroom is good, though rear visibility with the typical dark tinted windows (not a standard feature, but a very common treatment) is poor and rear passengers will feel like they have less room than the measurements and reality suggest. The prominent transmission tunnel is like sitting in the back of an SD1 and renders the car a four seater for adults. Unlike most European marques, features like flip-out baby seats are absent – the comfortable but crude bench offers split folding without the faff of removing headrests and only offers the barest mandatory nod to sprog-transportation with ISOFix points.

Boot organiser
Under the false floor of the 300C there is a large storage area, fold up cargo net/organiser, and then a spare wheel and battery/fuse compartment. Each side of the boot has tough plastic trim and large pockets, big enough to keep shopping bags from sliding around.

Up front, the 300C’s crudity may spoil the showroom appeal, but it’s far from unpleasant to live with. The steering wheel position feels very much like that of the E-class, though it would be disingenuous to point at the foot-operated parking brake and claim this was a link to the German, as such features are commonplace in the USA.

Little effort is made to disguise the car’s width, which is revealed in the centre console and distance from the passenger. Forward visibility is acceptable, rather like a large MINI with the letterbox view of the world, and the flat bonnet with sculpted centre line provides a visual reference for the scale and positioning of the car. Nevertheless, later models have forward parking sensors as well as rear ones. Substantial mirrors compensate for the limited rearward visibility imposed by thick B-pillars and the rising waistline.

Targeting SUV buyers in America, the Chrysler’s seating position is high by comparison with the W211 and E60. That made it appealing for me, looking for a car suitable for slightly restricted movement, but counts against it in the UK where buyers really want every excuse possible to buy the 4×4-esque thing, and if they’re looking at a conventional car generally favour a lower, sportier attitude. Any buyers obsessed with status are already going to be discouraged by the dashboard, a relentless expanse of graphite plastic alleviated only by a monolithic rectangle of lightweight silver which carries curiously dated but easy to use rotary heater controls and in our case, the positively antiquated REJ satellite navigation/audio solution. CRD buyers in 2007 were on the cusp of getting better electronics including HD-based navigation and a touch screen, but it’s safe to assume my car’s first owner obtained a healthy discount from the £34,500 list price.

For context, that’s £5000 less than the list price of my previous 2008 C6, built at the same time that this car was sold, for a car with considerably more power and practicality.

Passenger seat visibility
Big mirrors and thick pillars are the order of the day.

The American options list carried some premium features, such as adaptive cruise control, but it feels very much like the UK were given a set menu, a monochromatic colour choice and “good” or “better” kit with few options. This means that the 300C Hemi at least benefits from cruise control and a tilt-slide moonroof, and electric memory seats. All things found on a Ford Scorpio a decade earlier, and on even entry level cars in the 21st Century.

Behind the wheel, firing up the 5.7 V8 is not the dramatic experience Hollywood – or more realistically, thousands of YouTube videos of cutout and ‘Dub’ equipped pimped 300s stateside – may lead you to expect. The OHV iron-block unit uses 2 valves per cylinder, relying on clever engine management, gearing and of course, the ample 390lb/ft of torque to propel the 1,800kg (roughly) 300C. Unmodified, it’s incredibly quiet, rivalling the classic Rolls Royce 6.75 V8 for smoothness yet adding twinspark and variable displacement to the mix.

The 300C’s width and slab sides can make traversing Britain’s crowded residential streets a lesson in patience. Getting out of town allows the big car to settle into a generally comfortable ride, with good suspension travel marred by poor damping on rippled surfaces. On the motorway, it’s an improvement on the C6’s computerised attempts to flatten the rippled state of the M42 though it lacks the ability of the oleopneumatic system to absorb irregular, mangled A and B roads at low speeds.

Hustled along, it lacks poise and handles very much like an older E-class. Steering response is considered, easy to judge, but not to be hurried, and the rear is incredibly well behaved, tamed by the inevitable barrage of electronic interventions. Understeer will inevitably be overcome by the V8’s power if needed or in very poor conditions.

300C Touring boot
1600 litres with seats folded, the 300C is capacious, but the low roof limits practicality. Also available with 3.0 diesel power…

If you’re looking for a large RWD estate generally, the CRD will provide safe, balanced progress. Some effort is needed when braking, and you’re very much aware of the car’s weight when stopping, though a firm prod on the pedal reveals ample capability to halt progress when needed.

Even with the low mileage it’s important to consider that this car has six-year old components, and back to back comparison with a 2010 CRD SRT Design proves unhelpful, as the 20″ rims fitted to that model tramline excessively despite an otherwise impressive setup. For my own taste, the 18″ wheels with 225/60/18 tyres are likely to be the best option. Visually it’s easy to understand why fitments up to 24″ are commonplace in the tuning and styling scenes. Somehow wheels that approach caricature suit a car which looks like it was designed by Alan Moore (designer Ralph Gilles is certainly of an age where Generation X and comic book design could be influences).

The 5-speed gearbox shares the weakness of the Mercedes 722.6, the leaking connector plug, and fortunately mine has had this attended to. It is simply there, neither impressing through features like manual override, not upsetting through poor shift quality, just adequate. Kickdown performs as one would expect, with the stability control system working overtime on wet roads if you want to be silly. It’s best just to let the car find that steady pace, and enjoy surfing an immense wave of torque, letting the gearbox shift around the engine’s happy 1500 rpm until you need to exceed 55mph. If your self-esteem is sufficiently knocked by a fellow driver’s eagerness to leave the lights, the 300C Hemi will quite happily dig its tyres into the planet and spin it a little faster, apparently reaching 60mph in 6.4 seconds. The usual limits apply to the top speed and a 155mph outhouse is nothing unusual these days. Subtle detailing undoubtedly results in a Cd much lower than the square profile suggests.

300C engine cover
Obnoxious, ostentatious, the 300C’s 5.7 V8 is remarkably subtle. It’s quiet and refined, losing the busy chatter of 32V, quad-cam European offerings, and politely shuts off four cylinders when cruising to save fuel, to good effect if driven sympathetically.

Where the car does feature technology, it works. The variable displacement system, far from the misfire (literally, in many cases) that was GM’s attempt with the 1981 8-6-4, is a robust, genuinely useful setup. Using oil pressure to shut off four cylinders of the V8, it can be felt a little like the change in an automatic gearbox with torque convertor lockup, and returns real advantages when using the car on long, steady runs. Whether you pace up and down the motorway, where it will return the claimed 30mpg at 80mph if you can avoid excessive acceleration, or simply exist in the world of 40mph bypasses, the benefits are sufficient to make the fuel costs comparable to much smaller cars. In real world terms, it’s better than my previous 3.3 Voyagers, and compares well with a 1.6 MX5 asked to do the aforementioned motorway runs. The throttle heavy, brutal world of school runs and short commutes will render it, as they should any car, ruinous to use, but used appropriately it’s surprisingly affordable.

300C or Ventora
Admitting to a little FE-series bias, the grille certainly has roots in Chrysler’s own 300C past – yet for me, the 300C is the 21st Century Ventora.

So what Chrysler has produced is, to me, the spiritual successor of vehicles like the Ford Granada, the Vauxhall Omega (in fact, it reminds me a lot of the FE-series Ventora, blending US modern-retro styling with European chassis engineering and a brutish powerplant) and far from a competitor for the rarified status of the BMW or Mercedes. After all, that exclusive club of leather door wrappings and 20 types of veneer is looking a little crowded these days. Perhaps controversially, it also feels as though the 300C V8 offers a taste of the driving experience – rather than the lifestyle aspirations – to be had from a 1980s or ’90s Rolls Royce. Not quite as technically advanced as a W140 S-class or those that followed, it creates an ambience of “adequate” power and ability simply through solidity.

Crucially, it feels like a car which is built to last and will succeed at doing so. Sharing an appetite for balljoints with its Mercedes siblings, the enthusiast forums are reassuringly free of ‘typical’ problems with the V8 models, though the CRD reveals the usual modern diesel recipe of emissions-control horrors and demanding servicing, with an added dash of failing alternators. Simple trim is also robust, simple equipment is easily maintained, and simple electronics are not much missed when rendered obsolete. The loss of V8 models to the European market may have been inevitable, but it’s a real shame; no other car combines rational functional trim and the refinement of a V8 in quite the same way.


Richard Kilpatrick
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  1. Why wouldn’t it make a decent taxi? I believe they’re quite popular airport taxis, being spacious and relatively cheap. Most have a 3.0 CRD engine which is less reliable, but no less economical than in any other car. And with good rear access and tough, simple interiors.

    Think W123 with MB-Tex.

  2. I did 3500 miles in one of these in the USA on holiday 2 years ago – it’s a supremely comfortable car, but (at least the US spec model) had brakes that were not up to the job of stopping the car – by the time we handed the car back, it was about 8 weeks old and the discs were warped. Otherwise, I thought it a very nice drive, albeit in the US spec of 2.6L V6 with an autobox.

    Interestingly, the estate 300C is only sold in Europe – in the USA the estate is sold only as the Dodge Magnum and has a much blander nose job.

  3. I like these 300’s they have presence,perhaps a R/T model,interior quality foresaken for value but who cares?

  4. But curiously, the Magnum dashboard is more interesting (shape-wise, not quality), having a hooded binnacle rather than the humped “tower” of the 300C.

    I had a Charger rental, and wish they sold RHD Challengers. I would have had one of those at launch, without hesitation.

    The Charger’s also had a restyle, even though the Magnum/300C Touring (body, not trim level) are gone, and looks very muscular. And the brakes are adequate, but not awesome, on this one. Better than the C6 though.

  5. Love it or hate it, the 300c has caught on over here – and lets face it, what else has this amount of presence, spec, performance, with a diesel engine for less than 30k new.

    Thought for a while now that something very much along the lines of this could work with a Rover badge on……

  6. Just did a quick check of How Many Left for comparison purposes.

    The Cadillac STS appears to have sold under 500 units.
    The BLS (all models) seems to be under 600 units.
    Under 300 CTS…

    The 300C has sold around 9000 units (though as in the article, only 629 Petrol V8 and around 610 V6 Petrol models).

    The C6 sold around 1,000 in 6 years. And that’s with the majority being diesels and a lower cost, lower emissions/VED 2.2 options.

  7. Looking at the rear quarters of the cabin, this car was definitely based on the W210 E-Class. The shape of the rear of the seat frames looks almost identical and you can tell from other details such as the aperature of the door opening and height of the transmission tunnel.

  8. Richard, does the 300 have the traditional Chrysler “It looks rubbish fragile plastic, but it will never break or creak” quality? My Voyager was full of it, and it al still work 175K later!

  9. Andrew – I think so, owning three Voyagers all with over 100,000 miles on contributed quite a lot to accepting the interior would last, along with having a little experience with American cars in general being crude, but robust. We’d initially gone to look at a 2008 Voyager, but no more 3.3 V6 petrol model, and the contract hire was ridiculous – enough to buy a beaten up X-reg every month almost.

  10. Has this been killed off by the Eco Nazis? The current VED system means I will probably never buy a post 2001 car. But I have noticed that early XK8s are getting cheap pity about that plastic inlet manifold though (Expensive LPG systems only)

  11. The 300C Touring/Magnum was killed off post DCX split – along with the decision to stop marketing Dodge vehicles in the UK, the Crossfire, the Pacifica and the PT Cruiser convertible. The V8 model… I don’t know if the SRT8 will return, since neither Lancia nor Chrysler Europe is offering V8s officially and most of Europe is served by private imports being LHD anyway.

    But early press reports seemed to imply the 6.4 SRT8 would appear, albeit at a fairly steep price (I think £55,000 from memory). That’d be 0-60 in 4.something seconds, though, there’s enough evidence from people faffing with the in-dash 0-60 timer on the SRT to suggest 4.4s is not impossible with a stock 6.1 SRT8. Absolutely crazy!

    The VED system is fine for smaller cars. Who can complain about £30 a year (or free!) road tax on small cars. I figure it evens out across my C3 and 300C at £240ish each and that’s fair enough.

  12. My uncle and my cousin both have 300c’s (uncle estate, cousin saloon), both love them to death, both have had some custom paint work. My uncle who has had his from new has done 49,000 miles on the front pads (beating Jackie Stewarts brothers record ;-)) both have said the brakes are more than ample and both have no on going issues with the CRD (both have had to have the Swirl Chamber issue resolved however).

    The road tax currently on the CRD is £270 for 12 months but as someone rightfully pointed out, with all that spec, a good sound system and great unique styling all for under £30,000 new. The car does take some beating!

  13. Nice article.

    The car always reminds me of a modern Rover P5 and I can’t help thinking of how successful this car would have been in the UK had it been made by Rover rather than Chrysler. It would have changed the image of Rover beyond recognition and appealed to a new set of buyers.

  14. Definitely one I’d go for, it’s a shame so few are V8s, if you don’t do the mileage the consumption isn’t a problem. Pity Jaguar has never seen fit to make an estate XJ, that would do the job perfectly. I was also disappointed to see that the XF estate is diesel only and will mostly be sold as a gutless 2.2.

  15. Also one I would consider, but I’m very happy with my C6 at the moment….just wish I could swap my 2.7 for a 3.0 !

  16. Interesting reference to the Rover P5 – never thought of the 300C in that light, but that low roofline is similar to the P5 coupe. Also, in the US, to my knowledge, it is not really seen as a BMW/Mercedes alternative,it’s just a traditional big American car, many of which, such as the Chevy Caprice and more recently, the Ford Crown Victoria, have gone out of production in recent years. I have also seen one converted to a limousine.

  17. It is very much the case that in the US, the Charger/300 family are only really presented as “executive/import beaters” by the media – the buyers, well, they just want some good old fashioned muscle and engineering that feels familiar. Which is why I like it – it’s not a car “with a big engine because it’s posh”, but because that’s what the domestic market thinks is a reasonable size of engine, much like the UK wanted 2.0i Cavaliers instead of 1.4 ones.

    I’ve seen limo in real life, and ragtop in pictures.

    GTS @ 18 – another C6 owner?! (obv. I’m a former owner, mine went at the end of 2010). How long have you had it?

  18. A bloke in my street owned a black 300C saloon with the Bentley grille (it looked a nice impressive car to me). He now has a Range Rover.

    I agree the eggcrate grille harks back to the Ventora & VX 4/90 of the 70s. I actually prefer the look of the Vauxhall FE cars despite them being decades older.

  19. I can’t believe the comments I am seeing in relation to UK road tax. Over here in Ireland it is currently 1390 euro to tax an ’05-07 300C 3.0 CRD. You guys really have no idea how lucky you have it!

  20. In Austria, Germany and nearly the rest of Europe you could now buy the car only as six cylinder version as a Lancia Thema but not as an estate. The only real difference beetween the Lancia and the Chrysler version is, that the Lancia has now a very well equipped iterior with high quality plastics and leather trim and not plastic where Chrysler told us that it should be leather!

  21. The Chrysler 300C in the UK – the 2012 one that is – also has proper leather, and a leather trimmed dashboard in the Executive trim. If they offered the Executive trim, still made the estate… I may well have been persuaded to hold off on this one. Especially if they’d kept the V8. So that’s not unique to Lancia, though I am not sure what they’re offering in the US – presumably still a plasticky 300, and a luxury 300C.

    (For the non-US car fans, the LX 300C and 300 have different fascias and rear lights – most obviously the headlights lack the circular cutout shape).

    Hilton: If I could buy a brand new FE Ventora, or better, Victor 3300SL estate… I spent a fair bit of time in the late ’90s wondering if I could bring back a Hindustan Contessa to reshell my rotten Venny.

    Chrysler’s original 300C had an eggcrate grille in 1957, but the shape is very different. They could have gone for that, and quite effectively.

  22. A very underrated car and I will admit that I have long admired them because they remind of the classic Rover P5 saloon. The sloping rear roofline of the 300C estate reminds me of the very rare P6 Estoura model.

    If only BMW had been successful in trying to establish a collaborative agreement between Chrysler (before they merged with Daimler Benz) and Rover Cars. Who knows, this might have formed the basis of a new Rover 95 model sitting above the 75. An interesting thought.

  23. Spiritually, the LX 300C is essentially forming the genetic material under the next Maserati Quattroporte…

    Though on Allpar there’s a shot of an LX 300 beside the LH 300M (which I’ve driven for a couple of weeks in Canada when they were new). The 300M looks futuristic, sleek, low… and sort of like a Jaguar XF if you really squint. Funny how good Chrysler/AMC’s combined intellectual pool was.

  24. @14
    I just don’t do small cars! they are off the bottom of the radar, so its pre 2001 or nothing for me

  25. Cracking writeup of a cracking car. Looks a great big bus!

    Bit of a fan of the 300C, though I’d be tempted by a diesel unless the V8 was LPGd (no point replacing a thirsty car with another thirsty car). And saloon, as I prefer my cars to have a bit of inpracticality 😉

    Have seen a few in white in wedding-mode, taking the baton from what used to be 20 year old Rolls Royces.

    Much lament the passing of the ‘dad’ car, this and the Skoda Superb representing the segment, even when many of the segment below are departed.
    Was wondering when the Chinese manufacturers start selling, will they offer profitable SUV/crossovers, or bring in China-style big saloons?

  26. @20
    I’ve had the C6 about 18 months, so far so good apart from a strange habit of the pressure sensing tyre valves breaking !! Generally though I adore the car…

    I’m usually an Italian car driver, with a collection of weird and wonderful Lancias and Alfas in my past. But the present range of Fiat/Alfa products is just too boring for me, so my need to drive something very different from the usual led me to the C6, that and reliving my adolescent dreams of CX Turbos and SMs….

    I’m sort of tempted by a ( very !!) secondhand Quattroporte next…..

  27. David: If you mash it all up, Chrysler and Rover seems like a good match. But in reality… DCX formed in 1998. So, at the time Rover would have benefited from ‘modern’ Chrysler’s abilities, it was too late. When a merger was most feasible – late ’80s – Chrysler was pretty moribund and the benefits of the AMC acquisition were yet to translate into a great engineering pool.

    Faced with a hypothetical choice of Rover (with Land Rover) or AMC (with Jeep) – I think that Chrysler chose well – unlike the R25 platform, Rover had nothing that would underpin mid and fullsize American cars, and Chrysler had few powerplants suitable for the UK (the K-series wouldn’t have benefitted them).

    About the only areas I can think of where technology was available that would have benefitted both firms, culture would have clashed; I can’t see the British liking Chrysler restyling the Maestro (given what they did with the Omni) and making some assumptions based on observation of how the cars are put together, Chrysler would have wanted to tear the Range Rover apart and start again. P38 might have suited them more.

    Thing is, partnering or buying Rover would have been acquiring a load of dead tech and maybe one or good good engine designs. Buying AMC gave Chrysler some rough & ready prescient models like the Eagle ‘crossover’, the Jeep brand, European influence from Renault (who were on an upward trajectory then – think 19, 21, 25). Rover were in no position to benefit AMC, either, who were looking for this investment that came from Renault.

  28. It’s an intersting thought, and the more I think about it the 300C is what the 800 replacement should have been, and the 75 the 600 repalcement, as nice though it was the 75 was never big enough to properly replace the 800.

  29. Mmm a Hemi 300C jealous – am I!

    The 300 has so many cars that it looks like, Bentley, Rover P5 and VX, however I agree with post 31 in that it should have been the 800 replacement as you put one of the against a P5 you can see the symetry – saw this at Battlesbridge Motorbilla a few years ago in the car park and it was uncanny.

    On another note it was a shame that the Dodge version was never offered, as I love the look of it. I drool when I see it in NCIS!

  30. Lots of references in the article to the car feeling like an old E class. Thats exactly what it is! Remember this car was conceived under Daimler Chrysler and used a cast off Mercedes Platform. If it was left to the Yanks it would still have a live rear axle with leaf springs and a push rod all Iron 6 litre V8 producing about 120bhp.

  31. @35: It’s not. The rear suspension is W211, which was the contemporary E-class, the front suspension is W220 S-class revised, the platform is obviously dictated by the mechanicals but it’s not a recycled old Mercedes, the hardpoints are all very different – it’s a 120″ wheelbase for a start, almost 10″ longer than the W210 and 8″ longer than the W211.

    The body engineering is Chrysler; the shape was already in consideration before DCX as an evolution of the Eagle Vision/300M (the 300M tail in particular).

    Assuming that DCX’s appearance derailed the development, it would have appeared as a sophisticated (class leading if the 300M was any benchmark) FWD chassis with an all aluminium quad-cam 24V V6 engine alongside SOHC V6 options.

    The Hemi engine is all American. As are many of the electronic subsystems, the EVIC, etc.

  32. A good and entertaining read, Mr Kilpatrick. I wish to read more of your musings.
    A bit of a generalization to just call it “an old E-Class” though people. The 300C uses a lot of Merc parts but its certainly not pure E-Class. The platform it (the 300C) uses was designed in America, with front wishbones, rear suspension and the auto box being lifted straight out of the Mercedes W211 (although the suspension was made from steel instead of that alooominam nonsense) There were some S-Class parts used as well from memory.
    I quite like the Startech grill, and think the egg box item looks a bit nasty. Although I also draw the line at stick on Bentley badges…

  33. Eh, always good to get backup on this stuff when people are repeating the facts they’ve heard 🙂

    There’s no shame in it being an old Mercedes platform. That ‘rumour’ is exactly what made them appealing to me, particularly the initial rumours of 4Matic coming to the UK. But it isn’t – it was a new design with existing components used, like so many other cars.

  34. The car is made by GM and if it feels like a merc it probably has merc parts in it, as merc was part of the GM group.seriously if your going to part with your hard earned cash buy a 5 series BMW touring a much better class of car for the same money and a diesel, as the 5.7litre hemi engine will ruin your friendship with your bank manager, not very nice staying in overdraft these days…..

  35. “if your going to part with your hard earned cash buy a 5 series BMW touring a much better class of car for the same money and a diesel,”

    Get ooooouuuuuutttttttt! 😀

  36. @42: Mark, I don’t think there’s enough time in the world to fully, accurately explain how very wrong you are. But I’ll settle for “It’s made by Chrysler, as was DamilerChrysler, and there’s no probably about it – it has Merc intellectual property AND some straightforward components, but not as many as people think.” to address the GM bit.

    For the rest – “My money, my choice, my bank manager is a call centre and this isn’t telling people what they should and shouldn’t buy, it’s simply presenting some experience of a car. Strip it back to logic and we should all be buying one new Dacia Sandero and running it for a decade before replacing it with another one”.

  37. ‘mark powell’s comment is either a troll or representative of the kind of ignorant opinions that the general public harbour after being spoon-fed a diet of biased pro-german commentary, reviews and opinion in the automotive media for so long, such that anything more interesting,exciting or individual than a bmw diesel needs to be scoffed at.

  38. Just to stir some poo up, (sorry I mean add balance to the discussion), the 5 series touring is a great car. I’m sure the Chrysler is as well.
    To compare the two of them is a bit daft. The Chrysler would have cost £££ less than the equivalent BMW for starters but that doesn’t make it any better or worse.
    The cars take completely different approaches to the same theme. I could explain why but A: you probably all know how already and B: I could write an entire separate blog post on it.
    Please don’t let us all be dragged into the “What’s better? A palm tree or a microwave oven” nonsense which caused to much acrimony before.

    BMWs aren’t bad cars. The problem lies with all the zombies which think they’re the ONLY good car around. If everyone thought BL cars were wonderful and the roads were full of them, then this site probably wouldn’t exist-maybe we’d all be reading “DieselGermanExecutiveOnline”, so think about that for a minute. If I had 25+ grand burning a hole in my pocket and needed a brand new car I’d at least test drive the latest 120d along with the MG6.
    Like what you like and drive whatever you want-just don’t expect everyone else to like it too 😉

  39. They’re a great deal of fun. Always maintained that if I wanted a true luxury car to drive, I’d get a Transit and have it trimmed up. OTOH, that’s kinda what a Voyager offers.

    Just got rid of the bling-grille and fitted a new original type, so extra pic added.

  40. Hmm…Transit VANdem Plas 😀

    I still can’t make my mind up over which grill I like best. But I will agree the number plate surround looks much better.

    @ Will M. Tell me about it…that’s why I ditched them and only use AROnline as my motoring magazine of choice.

  41. Numberplate surround looks much tidier. The grille can go either way, they both look good in their own way, and much better than the likes of the Irmscher Omega grille which made it look like the car had been in an accident and lost it’s Vauxhall V….

    Are you tempted to get a US-sized one, with a US-sized plate, to re-iterate it’s origins? 🙂

  42. I wouldn’t mind the black mesh “SRT” grille used on later SRT8s/SRT Design, but only if I had an SRT8. My car is what it is and doesn’t need dressing up 🙂

    Plate-wise, no, I live and drive in the UK and that’s the plate my car needs. The only time I’ve varied from that is with Japanese imports, where I’ve had correctly-made import plates to fit IF I’ve been unable to fit UK ones (so my Sera’s rear plates, for example). I just don’t like messed-with plates 🙂

  43. A customer of mine had a 300C with that awful diesel engine. He loved the car, but got rid of it as it returned just 19mpg on that expensive heavy oil.

    Petrol; FTW.

    A lovely motorcar there Richard, I’m jealous!

  44. You shouldn’t have mentioned vans!
    Transits – no,no,no,no,no
    The world’s best van ever was the MK 1 Bedford CF. I used to drive them when they were new – and I’d run rings around any transit!
    Just find an old picture and appreciate the shape – let alone the handling, road holding, cabin space………….
    OK OK – I’ll sign off now before the old Dagenham boys find out where I live.

  45. Hey, I liked CFs too – I love the sound of a slant four on song.

    But I’m more thinking about modern Transits. The bog-standard, cheapo-rental thing. No matter how shabby, how stressful the motorway, they’re just surprisingly pleasant.

  46. @61, Richard Kilpatrick,

    I think it depends on which Transit. I much prefer the most basic Transit 100 with RWD and 5 speed box. The 6 speed 115 is a bit more powerful, and more motorway-worthy, but very prone to stalling, esp when trying to take off gently when driving on snow and ice, but hey- its RWD so still fun on the ice…

  47. I simply love these 300c Models .I have had the old model well pre 2012 CRD 300C, well it was practically new 2 months old unused with 38 miles on the clock in 2008,Paid £19800 I kept it until 2011 then part exd it for £13800 against the new 2011 BMW 7 M sport series which was a very nice car but well over priced and I think over rated,I simply missed my 300c comfort big style, so Ive bought another!! ,A 2013 pre-reg 300c Executive model with 1900 miles on the clock for around 27K collected it yesterday from Bristol. Drove it back to Co Durham and I honestly didn’t stop smiling all the way home ,it took that long to work out what did what ,never had a car with so many quality extras. There’s something about this car that simply makes me feel great and makes me really enjoy my driving. In fact in all my 40 years driving and owning all sorts of big cars nothing compares to this model. Read the spec list of what you get for your money on the executive model,and try and find another car with the same for the same money!Plus the new fiat engine ,pulls like a train and the ride quality is brilliant, I averaged 40.1 MPG cruising 70 to 80MPH at around just 2000 revs ,To me a big bloke aged 57,& loves BIG!!Honestly you simply cant get better for your money. My advice (1ST) buy at the right time,I always buy the month before the reg change ,dealers always try to offload older stock, (2nd) take your time look about for a super low millage car,with loads of warranty,don’t be scared to offer lower money & always haggle,but!!be friendly and polite ,let them know you know what your talking about and you will get a bargain. And believe me this car is a bargain compared to other models.

  48. Great choice. Very nice car, more modern and better value than a V8 ZT-T (dons flamesuit).

    Even better in “basic” Dodge Charger flavour, with more aggressive styling.

  49. 19 mpg?! Should have got it seen to as it should never be as low as that. 34.9 is the official figure for them.
    300C is very high up on my Freelander replacement list. On paper it appears to have respectable economy for such a big car as well as a good turn of speed. I am of course referring to the CRD version. I just need to be able to see one in the flesh. I am in Spain so nowhere near the choice of them to be found as back home in the UK. I want to see how nasty these plastics are as in my opinion they would have to be really nasty to be any worse than the Freelander 1 facelift door panels. Mine is ten years old and they are very creaky and flimsy feeling. The plastic panel around the window switches is very low for such a then premium vehicle. No excuse on the face-lift as by then the Freelander was such a sales success and could have more than paid for it self with more quality materials.
    Back to the 300C. I find it incredible value for money, a dramatic presence especially in black which If I purchase one, I shall be hunting down in Touring form and then replacing any grille with a black one. I personally find the touring to be the better looking car of the two. Lets just hope that If I do buy one I spend less on running it than a TD4 Freelander!

  50. @62 totally agree about the car just making me smile every time I drive it. I recently bought a Crd touring for £5,300 off eBay and I love it. I always wanted one since I first saw them and was told I couldn’t have one as a company car because it was the wrong image so had to have an Audi diesel estate instead. The Audi was well made but just so boring. I started my own business a couple of years back and vowed to buy a 300c touring when I could – and to get one so cheap just makes it all the more enjoyable! The diesel does about 26 around town and upto 40 mpg on a run. For me it has to be the proper grille and no extra bling – its a Chrysler not a Bentley and none the worse for it. Some of the trim is cheap and the alloys corrode but it just has so much presence.

  51. Chryslers seem to be everywhere at the wedding fairs.
    They’re usually advertised as ‘luxury car with Bentley looks’.

    We’ve ended up booking one as the 2nd car, so I can see for myself what they’re like.

    The local large multifranchise dealer has a couple of mk1s in stock. Tempting. Seriously tempting.

  52. @67 – Indeed, they make a great cheaper substitute, but in my opinion are every bit as classy.

    The early ones did have a bit of a reputation of having a plasticy interior, but the later refresh pretty much sorted this out.

  53. @68
    It’ll complement the first car which is a real Bentley.
    The company we’re using at least didn’t substitute the Chrysler badges for the flying B…

    As for my own wheels, alas 300s hold their value (perhaps with wedding companies snapping them up!), I ended up with something a little more Scandinavian. I do still cast an envious eye at the big Chryslers though.

  54. Hi
    I have owned a 300 crd touring for 18 months now. I can honestly say it is the best car i have had. It is true that the interior is plasticky, and that the wheels corrode. But what prescence, I just love this car, I agree with previous replies when they say they dont care what people think they have their own opinions on what they like. Its bad enough that most manufacturers cars are beginning to be indistinguishable from each other. so in my very humble opinion the 300 styling is absolutely brilliant. I like the “bentley” grill but it is so commonplace now as to be passe.So lets hear it for individuality and respect other peoples views as well. I also dont particularly care for bmw , but hey thats personal choice.

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