Chrysler just built the last Hemi-powered 300C


In 2003, Chrysler showed a new concept car to a handful of journalists in Phoenix, Arizona. I happened to be there. I wandered backstage shortly before the presentation, and there was the concept: A rather breathtaking sedan.

Its designer was nearby. I complimented him on his work, and I said it would be great if Chrysler would build it.

“They are!” he said. “Just like it sits here!”

Right, I thought. When the powers that be get through with it, the car will look like a Dodge Intrepid.

I was wrong. The designer was a young Ralph Gilles, and the car was the Chrysler 300C that the company would introduce as a 2005 model. The car kickstarted Gilles’ career, and he rose through the design and motorsports ranks to become the head of Dodge—a very unusual path for a designer. He’s currently Chief Design Officer for Stellantis at the age of 57.

Last Chrysler 300C

I mention this because the last Chrysler 300C rolled off the assembly line in Brampton, Ontario, last Friday, still looking as fresh as it did sitting behind those curtains 20 years ago, though it hasn’t had a makeover since 2015.

That first year, the 2005 Chrysler 300/300C was named the North American Car of the Year by a group of 50 independent auto journalists—I voted for it—as well as Motor Trend Car of the Year. It was a big, premium-looking car that had a slightly sinister appearance. “If science ever revives Al Capone,” wrote Car and Driver, “Chrysler has his car.”

It could be had with a surprisingly adequate 190-horsepower, 2.7-liter V-6, a considerably more adequate 3.5-liter, 250-horsepower V-6—that was the bread-and-butter model for dealers—and, of course, the 5.7-liter, 340-horsepower Hemi V-8.

Eric Ridenour Chrysler VP showing chrysler 300
Chrysler’s Eric Ridenour presenting the 2005 Chrysler 300C with a base price of $23,595, including destination. Stellantis

In my review of the 300, published on April 29, 2004, I wrote: “The Chrysler 300 is a bold, chance-taking design, drawing heavily on tradition, with a prominent, toothy grille, a chunky, means-business profile and a rear that looks like nothing else on the road. It is also a return to rear-wheel drive, after more than 15 years of trying to convince the buying public that front-wheel drive was preferable even for big cars. It’s a selling job faced by Cadillac and several other manufacturers also making the 180-degree turn back to rear drive.”

In the ensuing years, not much changed. The 2.7-liter engine disappeared and the 3.5-liter V-6 became the base engine. The Hemi grew to today’s 6.4 liters, with 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque, acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds, and a quarter-mile time of 12.4 seconds at a top speed of 160 mph.

The 300C was revived for this final sendoff after a two-year hiatus from the Chrysler lineup with a total production of 2200—further commemorated by a line of 300 and 300C merchandise, featuring “apparel for men, women and kids, home gear, drinkware, and accessories.” You’re able to toast the departure of the 300 with “a vintage Chrysler 300 logo black mug” ($16.95).

It seems likely the 300 name—coined for a 1955 model, with the 375-horsepower Hemi-powered 300C arriving two years later—may show up again on a future Chrysler model, as the brand rolls out its first battery-electric model in 2025, a year that marks Chrysler’s 100th anniversary. Chrysler says its lineup will be all-electric by 2028. Until that 2025 vehicle arrives, Chrysler showrooms will be full of minivans and more minivans, as the Pacifica is all the brand has left. Hopefully Chrysler dealers also have a Ram or Jeep dealership to keep the lights on.

Though the 300C is history—all 2200 were spoken for in 12 hours—there are still some left on dealer lots, and production of those won’t end until December 31. There are even some Chrysler 300S models available—it is something of a stealth car with a 363-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, at a starting price of $45,100, including shipping. If you missed out on a 300C, this is a suitable alternative. Get them while they’re warm.

Last Chrysler 300C




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    Guessing Stelantis brass will use this time to completely kill off the brand, similar to the end of Oldsmobile. No way legions of Gen X and Boomer buyers who bought this car SPECIFICALLY because it was old skool looks AND an old skool V8 are magically going to buy an EV replacement, and no way this ‘old man’s car’ brand magically replaces all its wealthy older customers with hip 20-somethings (that can’t even afford to move out of M&Ds basement. Or will they acknowledge that “the customer is always right” in time???

    Not exactly Fresh looking.

    They did well with this car but over time they should have invested to make it lighter and update the styling more. It today is like the Checker Cab.

    There is no reason they could not offer this platform in RWD and AWD for cars and SUV models.

    I expect the new owners will reduce Chrysler Corp to Jeep and Ram before it is done.

    That is a really nice looking car painted Firethorne to bad most of the dealers ordered black ones which will end up being livery cars or Ubers.
    Also can’t understand why the MSRP is so high as the Canadian dollar is worth just a little more the Monopoly money so it looks like the MSRP in the USA would be a lot lower.

    HelenC the monopoly money comment is a lot unfair – there are many economies with money so devalued they need wheelbarrows full to buy groceries; and, when you take the $45,100 freight included in USD, that’s over $60,000 CAD. In Canada, a wage of $60,000 is considered the poverty line. Easy on the rhetoric.

    Please also keep in mind that parts on most vehicles built and assembled near the Canada/US border may, in fact, go back and forth across the border several times during machining and assembly. How much freight is added to build costs during every one of these shipments?

    RobH, Sorry but watching those home improvement shows shot in Canada I figured the money was not worth much. Jonathan and Drew would be remodeling a shot gun shack on a zero lot line lot and the owners paid 1 million CAN before Johnathan and Drew started working. Or the we gentleman on Make It Right was fixing new built million dollar homes with mold and leaking roofs. Just figured Trudy had really destroyed the economy, or that is what all of our Canadian neighbors tell us at our place in Florida.

    I find it very hard to believe that Stellantis will be able to go all electric by 2028. In my region, the electric car boom has fizzled.

    The people that were excited to buy electric have already bought one and many have traded them back in for something else. I see the trade ins at my local dealers sitting for a while.

    They made fistfuls of money with the charger/challenger/300 and made almost no changes to them while shuffling all that capital towards electric.

    I don’t think the same customer that buys a hemi 300 will be dying to jump into an electric “whatever mobile”.

    Chrysler will be killed off, dodge will have a few electric cars that age like milk and ram/jeep will have to keep the lights on selling I6 gas engines.

    The problem with Soviet style economic models is that they leave the customer demand out of the equation. And so it is with going all electric.

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s ridiculous to create mpg standards that practically demand that manufacturers go electric, if the consumer doesn’t want electric vehicles. Why is it up to the manufacturers to meet government quotas? Is this the American version of the five-year plan? If the government wants people to buy EVs, it should tax gasoline heavily (and put the proceeds to the deficit), like every other Western country does. Approach this by changing the demand, not the supply.

    Prof+X – The petroleum lobby is too strong; the government is too focused on their jobs and the money given to them by the fossil fuel giants to ‘tax gasoline heavily’. It’s about greed, not the environment – the earth is just the cover. If every vehicle owner goes battery electric, the world would be in a brown-out state. There is not enough generation of electric power to charge what is in-market now, yet auto manufacturers are being held to unrealistic dates to go completely EV. The infrastructure needs to be in place before the vehicles are built, not the other way around. It’s a mess, with too many diverging interests.

    Considering that they are shutting down and destroying many Power Plants in the Ohio Valley I don’t see how EV’s are going to survive and prosper like the Fed Gov wants them to. Of course these are coal fired plants but you would think they would retrofit them to use Natural Gas? The Electricity has to come from somewhere and solar and wind power isn’t going to be the answer.

    This final gen 300 aged well. Poor Man’s Mercedes for obvious reasons. I own a 2020 300S 5.7L – second Mopar bought new, previous being a 1985 LeBaron GTS. Both are good cars but competent dealer support was lacking then and still is today.

    Regarding the outgoing 300C – quite a few new units are ending up on dealer lots, presumably after the reservation holders skipped out – sad. 3 new 300Cs sitting on the ground in my area at present. Some low mileage used 2023 300Cs are starting to show up also.

    Possibly the Best Chrysler ever built.

    The Germans took our sleek “cab forward” and left us with the 1950’s “brick” styling with the straight up grille and the Chrysler management sold out and accepted it instead of forging forward with new, exciting models.

    I live a 1/4mile from my local Chrysler dealership. I have not seen a 300, a Charger or Challenger on the lot in a few years. Rams, Jeeps, Pacificas and the odd Durango are all they stock. By the way, we an hour drive from the Brampton assembly plants.

    I like the concept behind these, but the brick-like styling and squashed greenhouse always made it a no-starter to me. Amazing how much better the Charger looked on the same platform. Also amazing how much sleeker and stylish the “cab-forward” 2002 300M looked.

    I rented one in San Francisco in July. I wanted a sedan and was very lucky to get one. Great car one the road and even had positive comments from rando’s. Not bad for such an old design.

    I owned a 2006 300C Heritage Edition in Inferno Red. It was a wonderful car and had every option listed in the brochure, including the rear seat DVD player. It had the most comfortable seats, shared with the SRT (just a different logo). You could drive for hours without getting tired. I regret trading it in.

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