- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2003

NEW YORK — Chrysler once planned to introduce the successor of the 300M at the auto show here.

Although the 300C is still a concept, Chrysler staff says that it is very close to the production version. We now may expect it to bow at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

The 300C is a completely new car with a platform that is specially developed for the use of rear-wheel drive. The design and the engine may be completely American; the mechanicals are from Mercedes-Benz. Chrysler says it had been looking at rear drive for some time before the merger with Daimler-Benz.

With DaimlerChrysler in full operation it was obvious Chrysler could use German technology, not only for the 300C, but also for the Crossfire and the Pacifica crossover. Rear drive is a better match for a four-door sedan of classic proportions (long hood, short deck). On top of that Chrysler wanted to use a classic performance engine as well: the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, already used in the Dodge Ram, would be the perfect match.

The complete package of the 300C reflects the famous letter-series cars of the 1950s and 1960s, which started with the C-300 in 1955.

The 300-horsepower Hemi V-8 is teamed to an electronically controlled five-speed AutoStick automatic transmission. Systems such as ESP (electronic stability program), traction control and anti-lock brakes make “living with” a performance rear-drive car much easier than decades ago.

Chrysler also will use the independent-suspension components, rack-and-pinion steering, seat frames and electronics from Mercedes.

The new shape allowed the designers to build a larger interior that is decorated in the concept car with fancy details such as tortoise-shell accents on the steering wheel. Heated leather seats and automatic climate control are most likely meant for the production version. For loading flexibility, the rear bench is asymmetrically (60/40) foldable.

In 1998 the Chronos concept car already hinted at Chrysler’s new brand styling that we see in the 300C and the new Crossfire and Pacifica. The new car’s wheelbase is 120 inches, its length is 196.8 inches, width 74 inches and height 58.4 inches. The 20-inch alloy wheels are equipped with 245/45 tires in the front and 275/40R tires in the rear.

The new 300C will arrive in Chrysler showrooms in 2004.

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