Launched locally in the mid-2000s, the 300C saw the platform bits of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class married to a stonking 6.1L Hemi V8. Petrolheads took notice...
It's hard not to fall for the charms of a car such as the Chrysler 300C SRT-8. For all intents and purposes, it was an "old-school" American muscle car brought up to date with the help of the Germans. At the time, Daimler and Chrysler's marriage was still a thing and so you'll notice (if you look carefully), various E-Class bits on the 300C.
But that's another positive about the 300C - it's an example of how platform sharing can work, and result in distinct personalities. And the 300C SRT-8 had plenty of that to start with. That egg-crate grille, muscular stance and colossal (at the time) 20-inch wheels gave it a huge amount of presence for (relatively) little money. The fact that its interior was relatively humdrum by comparison can be easily forgiven. At least it was well-screwed together.
That monster engine
First Chrysler’s engineers took the standard 5,7-litre Hemi V8, bored out the block to 6,1 litres and upped the compression ratio to boost power to a total of 320 kW. Then they painted the block orange (as one does) and fitted black rocker covers – both these colour choices hark back to the ‘50s, by the way.
The result? Yeeeeeeeha! Or shall I say 5,0 seconds to sprint to 100 km/h, accompanied by an almighty roar. And the acceleration didn't stop there. You see, unlike its German cousin, Chrysler didn't abide by the “gentleman’s agreement” to limit high-performance sedans to 250 km/h. Consequently, the Chrysler 300C had free reign to run all the way to 270 km/h!
It's about the drag strip
At the time of its introduction, parent company Mercedes was moving towards the 7G-tronic transmission across its entire model range, but Chrysler decided to stick to the tried and tested five-speed automatic for the 300C. It was by no means the fastest ‘box in town, and the perception of “lag” was reinforced by somewhat tardy throttle response, but it was better at speed and did at least offer a manual shifting function (if not a very good one).
No, let’s be honest here… The Chrysler 300C SRT-8 was not about driver engagement in the sense of lightning fast gear changes, immediacy and responsiveness. It was all about straight-line grunt, a magnificent exhaust tone and comfort. Cruising along, with the engine barely ticking over, the knowledge that standing on the throttle will result in explosive acceleration and thunder a moment or two later, without any further involvement, was very addictive in its own way.
The SRT-8 Today
Sadly, Chrysler's best cars are kept for the US market these days, and so if you want similar kicks to the SRT-8 you ironically have to knock on Mercedes-Benz's door for an AMG. But how about a used SRT-8? You can pick up early examples for around R200k, but the even more desirable facelifted car still fetches good prices (R280k+). Even at the latter price you still get a heck of a lot of bang for your buck!