Chrysler 300C SRT-8: The Forgotten American Luxury Muscle Sedan
In 2004 Chrysler introduced one of the most important new vehicles in the brand’s history—the 300C. You might remember that car was a sensation, and quickly became one of the most talked about new models of the mid 2000s.
Looking back, it's not hard to see why it was such a big deal. The 300C’s styling had a swagger not found in American luxury cars for a long time. It also used a proper rear-drive layout and most importantly it had 5.7 liter Hemi V8 engine under the hood. It couldn’t have been more different from the bubble-shaped front-drive V6 powered Chryslers of the past.
While the 5.7L Hemi gave the 300C plenty of power to back up its muscular looks, things got even better when Chrysler introduced the high performance 300C SRT-8 a short time later. It packed the larger 6.1L Hemi V8 which made 425hp, along with more aggressive suspension tuning and Brembo brakes—the same equipment found on its sibling the Dodge Charger SRT8.
Along with the performance upgrades, the SRT version of the 300c also got more aggressive front and rear fascias and a larger set of 20” wheels and tires to better fill out its big fenders. Despite its age, it's a car that still looks great today.
From a performance standpoint, the 300C SRT8 did quite well. Its weight and size meant it was never going to be a nimble sports sedan, but it felt very much like an American take on the powerful German muscle sedan—right down to the Mercedes-derived rear suspension used on the LX platform.
For the 2011 model year the Chrysler 300 got a significant redesign and a modernization of the slab-slided body and other upgrades all around. The SRT8 model also returned, now sporting even more impressive performance credentials than before.
It’s Hemi V8 now displaced 6.4L and made 470hp. It could run the quarter mile in 13 seconds flat, and the car now had adaptive dampers for a better mix of handing and comfort. It was the same formula as the first gen car, just better in every way.
Still, it wasn’t a perfect car. One of biggest complaints about the 300C SRT-8 was that it still used the same antiquated and slow-shifting five-speed automatic transmission that it had before. The hope was that Chrysler would soon replace that transmission with the much improved ZF eight-speed that delivered much faster shifts and better fuel economy.
The 2015 model year saw major updates for all of the LX platform cars (Chrysler 300C, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger). The Charger saw the addition of a new R/T Scat Pack model which featured the 6.4L Hemi in a more affordable trim package—and all models now came with the aforementioned ZF eight-speed gearbox.
The Chrysler 300 also got a refresh for 2015, but sadly the SRT model was discontinued from the lineup and hasn't been back since. A V8 300C is still being sold today, but the old 5.7L Hemi is currently the most powerful engine you can get.
While still an attractive car that's distinct from other sedans on the road, as the years went on the Chrysler 300 just didn't generate the same sort of excitement it did before. And when it comes to the SRT model specifically, it just couldn't compete with the more affordable and ever-popular Charger Scat Pack.
In the years following the demise of the 300C SRT-8, FCA has tripled down on performance, offering Hellcats, Demons, Widebodys and Redeyes—and even dropping supercharged Hemis into Jeep SUVs. The once groundbreaking Chrysler 300 though, has been all but forgotten though when it comes to these factory hot rods.
At this point we aren't sure what the future holds for the aging Chrysler 300 or for the LX platform in general, but here's hoping the concept of high performance Hemi-powered muscle sedan in a luxury wrapper hasn't been abandoned completely.
The Chrysler 300C SRT8 isn't the only departed LX platform car we look back on fondly. Check out our retrospective on the Dodge Magnum right here.