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Fast-selling flagship 300 car appeals to diverse audience

By Brett Clanton / The Detroit News

AUBURN HILLS — Theodore Harrington has gotten used to the stares and random questions at traffic lights. Every time he drives his new Chrysler 300 with its supersize chrome grille and brawny stance, it’s the same thing.

“Mostly, people just want to know what it is,” said Harrington, 73, a retired carpenter from River Rouge, who bought one of Chrysler’s new flagship sedans last month. Each time he’s stopped, he feels a little more satisfied with his purchase.

“Chrysler really outdid themselves with this car,” Harrington said.

Chrysler took a huge chance by developing a flashy, rear-wheel-drive sedan with a starting price below $30,000. But early returns — after just a few weeks of sales — indicate the 300’s neck-snapping curb appeal is translating into sales.

America’s No. 3 automaker sorely needs a hit to propel a much-awaited turnaround that finally seems to be taking hold.

The 300 debuts as U.S. automakers are rediscovering the car market they essentially ceded to foreign rivals years ago in favor of more lucrative trucks.

It’s been decades since Chrysler — which has relied on minivans, pickups and SUVs — has had a hit passenger car. (Chrysler classifies the popular PT Cruiser as a light truck.)

At the very least, the 300 is generating buzz. The car scored a supporting role in a new rap video by the popular hip-hop group G Unit.



300 C
 
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I checked one out at my local dealership and was impressed.

It's allot of car for under $30,000.

AND its got a Hemi ("Sweet"), and RWD.

B) :p
 

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Ugliest car on the planet in pictures.

Then I saw it in the real world.

What a stance! These things are all over South Eastern Virginia. Hot sellers. Far more frequent on the roads here than the CTS from Cadillac.

Cadillac: Pay attention to Chrysler. Somehow they managed to make AN AMERICAN CAR that looks AMERICAN, works like an import (kudo to Mercedes) and has the engine to spit out Cadillacs at stoplights.

I usually despise Chrysler products more than GM ones, but Chrysler has a bargain that looks like it runs. Very impressive!
 

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Originally posted by laserwizard@May 10 2004, 03:33 AM
Ugliest car on the planet in pictures.

Then I saw it in the real world.

What a stance!   These things are all over South Eastern Virginia.  Hot sellers.  Far more frequent on the roads here than the CTS from Cadillac.

Cadillac:  Pay attention to Chrysler.  Somehow they managed to make AN AMERICAN CAR that looks AMERICAN, works like an import (kudo to Mercedes) and has the engine to spit out Cadillacs at stoplights.

I usually despise Chrysler products more than GM ones, but Chrysler has a bargain that looks like it runs.   Very impressive!
:huh: No offense. I've seen them in person and in pictures, and there still ugly to me. The car just reaks of being over-designed (a Chrysler hallmark) and the entry level one's...you know, the one's not covered in slabs of chrome on the front end, and wherever else they can get away with using more. They manage to look bland and even more ridiculous. Trust me. The Cadillac CTS and GM have nothing to worry about in my book. The people who shop this car and the CTS are shopping two different markets, one Luxury and the other just Chrysler (sorry couldn't resist). :p
 

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I don't know, just the whole front and small windows makes me feel pretty uneasy about the 300. I always avoid eye-contact withe drivers... it will only encouage them.
 

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Hope dealers don’t jack up the price like they did the PT Cruiser. I don’t think they will go too high seeing as this vehicle was created to undermine more expensive luxury cars or so it seems. The PT Cruiser really had no competition for what it was when it came out. Now it does and I think the same will be true for this car in the future. I saw one a few days ago and this is one big fish. I don’t think the CTS has an issue in particular because that car can stand on its own but no doubt this is a way better car than the last 300 which was a half hearted attempt. Maybe GM will come out with a semi-luxury sedan which matches the size, price, power specs and style. The pricing structure for the CTS is totally different. I see the CTS as styled to be more progressive and the 300 as styled more traditional even if its a tradition that American car makers left behind a long time ago. I guess that’s where all that chrome comes from. It’s almost like a modern version of the Chrysler New Yorkers from the 80s. There’s enough room for both the 300C and the CTS, the 300 seems to be an attempt to remind Americans that big rear drive vehicles with style is what they want instead of the lesser Hondas and Toyotas they tend to buy now which are totally different animals. Remember that those non hemi 300s are going into a market that the CTS is not in. I see how the two can come into the same discussion since they do meet in price at one point but overall it’s a good day for someone looking for an American auto. You have American style served anyway you want it but in a modern machine that is better able to combat imports than in the past.
 

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I usually despise Chrysler products more than GM ones, but Chrysler has a bargain that looks like it runs. Very impressive!


I'm not a big Chrysler fan either, but I'm impressed with the new
300 too. It takes me back to my youth, when American cars made
a bold statement to the world with RWD, powerful V8 engines,
and styling that set trends instead of following them. I wish
Chrysler much success with this vehicle, and hope it inspires
GM to follow there lead by bringing back passion in styling,
and RWD performance V8's in family cars again.
 

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Originally posted by R.E Sanchez@May 10 2004, 01:49 AM
Looks are a little too cartoon-ish... :pain:
I think that is part of the appeal -- its dimensions are so unique, that it really stands out. I just bought a Chevy, but anything that comes with a Hemi under the hood is downright awesome. My friends Ram has ripped apart plenty of unsuspecting Supras and 3000GTs. Kinda nice to destroy those $40,000 "sports cars" with a $21,000 Ram 1500.
 

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Originally posted by ColoradoZQ8+May 10 2004, 09:37 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (ColoradoZQ8 @ May 10 2004, 09:37 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-R.E Sanchez@May 10 2004, 01:49 AM
Looks are a little too cartoon-ish... :pain:
I think that is part of the appeal -- its dimensions are so unique, that it really stands out. I just bought a Chevy, but anything that comes with a Hemi under the hood is downright awesome. My friends Ram has ripped apart plenty of unsuspecting Supras and 3000GTs. Kinda nice to destroy those $40,000 "sports cars" with a $21,000 Ram 1500. [/b][/quote]
Wait until your friend and his Ram challenge the cars on the highway, above 70, and his governor kicks in at 98. :lol:

In light of a $33K 300C with a 350hp V8, Cadillac would be wise to offer a V8 CTS under the V, with the same 350hp and base price under $35K. How many people will buy a CTS with a sub-300hp V6 when they can have the Hemi-300C for the same loot? I think Caddy is moving the CTS-V to 450-500hp in order to position a 350hp V8 in the mix without stealing the -V's thunder.
 

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I imagine a cheaper CTS-V is would easily wipe out the direct competition and the 300C but that would be a last resort for GM. The CTS-V is a better machine Period! So maybe they can afford to make some money and invest in future models and eventually offer some deals. I already want to know whats next. :D If we are lucky we can have some American muscle car wars! :argue:
 

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It was well said here, the 300c lookks American. That is a statement in todays American cars that don't know what they are. This car has unique proportions that give is an almost street rod look. (chopped)

Lets not pick on the chrome to much as I've seen way to many gold trimmed caddy's. Not to mention the stainless grilles all over the the V's Hello Black is okay... less bling is a good thing.
 

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Originally posted by geronimo66@May 10 2004, 01:06 PM
It was well said here, the 300c lookks American. That is a statement in todays American cars that don't know what they are. This car has unique proportions that give is an almost street rod look. (chopped)

Lets not pick on the chrome to much as I've seen way to many gold trimmed caddy's. Not to mention the stainless grilles all over the the V's Hello Black is okay... less bling is a good thing.
Less bling may be a good thing, but bling is something that got Caddy a lot of respect (Cadillac's have been featured in many hip-hop and rap videos). Don't be so quick to discount that aspect of marketing.
 

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IMO, this is one of the better bargains on the market right now. If you can sacrifice not having a prestigious name like Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, etc. then this is a great car! The HEMI drives like a dream BTW....ahhhhh <drooling>
 

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Originally posted by idontcareican@May 10 2004, 05:13 PM
I imagine a cheaper CTS-V is would easily wipe out the direct competition and the 300C but that would be a last resort for GM. The CTS-V is a better machine Period! So maybe they can afford to make some money and invest in future models and eventually offer some deals. I already want to know whats next.  :D If we are lucky we can have some American muscle car wars!  :argue:
I meant offer a V8 option in the standard CTS, as in below the CTS-V. They could easily pull off a GTO-spec, 350 hp version and sell it next to the VVT V6. They'd get a couple more grand for the V8-equipped car, despite it being lower-tech, and it surely costs less to build than the high-tech V6. Would it eat up CTS-V sales? I doubt it. The BMW M3 has always done well, even though the lesser Beemers have the same I-6 layout under the hood. If the CTS-V gets 450 hp it'll do just fine.

Let's put it this way, for those who say the rear-drive 300C and CTS sedans won't be cross-shopped.... I was considering a CTS, but not a $50K -V. But now that I can get a 350hp 300C Mopar for the same cash for a V6 Caddy? Forget it, GM. Are the bragging rights of owning a Cadillac worth the loss of 100 horsepower and wheezy sound of a V6? Nope. But just put an old-tech, 350hp V8 in a $35K CTS? Then it's big-advantage: Caddy. Looks to me like GM's blowing it again.
 

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So what you are saying when you say GTO spec is that they should put an LS1 into the mix to make it more competitive with the 300C at around the price instead of making buyers move so much higher in price range to get the CTSV? I could still be misunderstanding you but that doesn’t sound like a bad idea. I was thinking they could get some return by just making the current V a little more friendly on the wallet but I dont have near any idea what the profit margins on it are. It came out recently that CTS sales had tapered off a bit. Buyers like you may have GM and others move to combat the 300C on a performance value basis in one form or another. I personally wouldn’t mind the 300Cs success, if it lasts, because I can only see good things come out of it.
 

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I'd greatly prefer to buy the CTS because of overall quality (although who knows? maybe the 300 is as solidly built as Caddy's are), but the 300C wins on style, at least from the outside... I need to test drive both. And the 300C definately wins on power. The Hemi may not be sophisticated like the Northstar or other DOHC engines, but the brute force and raw power of the Hemi are enough to win over normally skeptical reviewers, especially at that price point.

Now, if the CTS had an available LS1 or LS2 motor with 350hp, it would be a much closer battle I think. Again, without having driven either vehicle, I can't really say for sure which one I'd take.
 

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Originally posted by R.E Sanchez+May 11 2004, 05:26 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (R.E Sanchez @ May 11 2004, 05:26 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-awalbert88@May 11 2004, 04:09 AM
Now, if the CTS had an available LS1 or LS2 motor with 350hp, it would be a much closer battle I think.
Once again totally different market.... [/b][/quote]
How so? Two storied American nameplates with a mid-sized, RWD car. A CTS V8 and a 300C Hemi would be heavily cross-shopped.

I just said that before the 300C, I might have purchased a CTS V6. But now I'd go for the Mopar. So how are they different markets? Am I the only one who'd compare them? I highly doubt it. I'd wager that the vast majority of buyers looking at one would consider the other. They'd be crazy not to. I mean, how many $35K, RWD American cars are out there? Uh, three? Caddy fans can flatter themselves and think that CTS would only be compared to something like a 3-series BMW, but that's not very realistic.
 
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