Correct. The components that shaped the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (generation W 210) 28 years ago are still very much alive on the ‘other side’ of the Atlantic.
They continue their way in the almost «immortal» Chrysler 300C, a model launched in 2004 that is still in production after almost two (!) decades – it was thoroughly revised in 2011.
Along the way, he did something remarkable today: he passed the raindrops of the ongoing revolution in the automotive industry.
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The American brand has long lost its relationship with Mercedes-Benz, but the Germanic DNA continues to run in the “guts” of this model.
For the most observant, this is not a totally unfamiliar model. You probably remember that this model has already been launched in Europe. However, it changed its name, was marketed as Lancia – Yes that’s right – and now, for 2023, it will get its most powerful version ever.
In summary, it is an American model, with German genes and who became an Italian model in Europe at some point during his life. Thank you globalization!
Confusing, isn’t it?
to explain this cocktail of parts and components, it is worth going back to the end of the last century.
It was 1998 when Daimler – now the Mercedes-Benz Group – had the unfortunate idea of acquiring the Chrysler Corporation, then owner of the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands.
I say Unhappy because, despite the good intentions of both parties, the cultural differences between the two companies spoke louder. The Germans and the Americans did not get along.
The North American brand had already started developing its new generation of its largest models at the beginning of this century and was in dire need of new components, and Mercedes-Benz was its “lifeline”.
In 2004, a «Frankenstein monster» was born – recalling the character from Mary Shelley’s novel – nicknamed the Chrysler 300C and those components from the old Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W 210) and other models of the star brand blended into a new platform developed by Chrysler called LX.
The W 210’s multi-link rear suspension, five-speed automatic transmission and rear differential, steering column, electronics (ESP, traction control), and other less visible parts from the E-Class and other Mercedes were fully utilized by the North American brand for the 300C.
While not exactly a technology compendium, the first 300C managed to build a successful commercial career in the US and, for a brief period, a relatively interesting career in Europe too – thanks in large part to the V6 Diesel from, you guessed it. al, Mercedes. This is largely due to the highly acclaimed design at the time.
However, the results of this Daimler-Chrysler alliance were never positive worldwide. Many millions of dollars later (in 2006 alone the loss was 1500 million euros) the Germans got tired of the Americans and lost money – We don’t know what they got tired of first… — and in 2008 they announced the sale of Chrysler.
Goodbye Daimler, hello FIAT
Who was always alert to all these movements was Sérgio Marchionne (1952-2018). The man who saved FIAT from an almost inevitable bankruptcy looked to Chrysler and managed to find potential where no one else could see.
With this exchange of positions, the Chrysler 300C also underwent some transformations. Do you no longer use Mercedes-Benz parts? Not. A second generation was launched in 2011, still based on the LX (which was also evolving), and on this side of the Atlantic it was renamed… Lancia Thema.
As might be expected, however, Lancia failed to retaliate – who would say… — in the line recommended by the management of now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Administration order: put an end to the Lancia brand and therefore also to Thema.
Lancia has reduced its market presence and number of models to just one of each — Italy and Ypsilon respectively — but the Chrysler 300 C remained active against all odds, supported by the North American market where the standard- the requirement is traditionally lower than the European one.
The French of the PSA group (Peugeot Citroën), led by Portuguese manager Carlos Tavares, arrive in 2021 and agree to a merger with FCA, thus forming the “giant” Stellantis.
Basically, since its launch in 2004, the Chrysler 300C has survived three governments: Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), FCA (Fiat) and Stellantis.
2023. The end of the line for the Chrysler 300C?
If the cockroach was a car, it could be a Chrysler 300C – apparently it’s the only living thing that can survive a nuclear holocaust. A survivability very similar to that of this North American model.
Or maybe it was a butterfly. An insect that is born as a larva and after a short metamorphosis completely changes into its best version: a butterfly. Perhaps this is the most accurate analogy, because in 2023 – most likely the last year of the 300C – we will meet its best version.
To say goodbye to this model, the North American brand – certainly with the approval of Carlos Tavares – will launch the most powerful and radical 300C ever.
We are talking about a final version that will be equipped with a naturally aspirated HEMI V8 engine with a displacement of 6.4 l and an output of 492 PS (485 hp). Acceleration from 0-100 km/h? Just four seconds.
Dynamically, the rear axle was given a self-locking differential and the brakes were given a significant upgrade supplied by Brembo. Only 2200 copies will be produced.
That is why we know that Carlos Tavares has been consulted. If it were up to the Americans, they would produce an additional 60,000 units.
In this farewell moment, Chrysler pays tribute to the first generation of the 300C, launched in 1955. It was equipped with a 5.4 L V8 engine and produced 300 horsepower — it was one of the fastest models at the time.
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Be that as it may, the history of this model is remarkable, which, despite all setbacks and against all odds, not only survived but also presents itself at its best in its “ultimate act”. It doesn’t matter that under your skin there are fragments of what was once a Mercedes-Benz EW-Class 210.