Chrysler

One Man, And His Mission To Save The Chrysler 300:

The Great-Grandson Of Walter P. Chrysler Wants The 300 To Stay Part Of The Chrysler Brand...

Since 2005, the Chrysler 300 Series has been the halo vehicle for the Chrysler brand. When it made its debut, the 2005 Chrysler 300 took the automotive world by storm. The 300 Series quickly became the most award-winning car of the year, winning titles like Motor Trend’s 2005 Car of the Year, 2005 North American Car of the Year, Automobile Magazine’s 2005 Car of the Year, and made it to Car and Driver’s 10-Best in 2005 and 2006. There was no doubt, that the 300 Series was an automatic automotive icon.

2005 Chrysler 300C. (Chrysler).

The Chrysler 300 Series offered a little bit of everything for a wide range of customers. Two-choices of V6 engines, two HEMI V8 powertrains, rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), budget friendly models as well as luxury models. The 300 Series blended “bling” and traditional American sedan design, creating a vehicle that stood out compared to anything else on the road.

2006 Chrysler 300C SRT-8. (Chrysler).

During 2005, 2006 and 2007 , the Chrysler brand sold almost 500,000 Chrysler 300 Series. The car was on everything from television shows, to music video and even becoming a huge hit in the automotive aftermarket. The car received a minor refresh for the 2008 model year, changing tail lamps design, adding more standard features and updating the interior with slighty better materials and the latest infotainment technology.

2011 Chrysler 300C. (Chrysler).

In 2011, the Chrysler 300 Series received a huge update. A completely updated suspension, updated powertrains, entirely new sheet metal and an interior which was light years ahead of the previous one. While sales picked up during the following year with the introduction of the updated 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8, they were only about half of what the original car was producing in its first three years on the market. Many people blamed Chrysler for it’s the car’s styling not being as aggressive as the 2005 model. But gas prices were hitting prices at record highs and the large car equipped with HEMI V8s weren’t the most economical. 

2012 Chrysler 300C. (Chrysler).

Over the next several years, the Chrysler 300 Series sales numbers plateaued around 53,000 vehicles a year. The Chrysler design team went back and revamped the styling for the 2015 model year, giving the car a bigger grille and a more aggressive look. Even more features were packed into the car. However, Chrysler discontinued their performance SRT offering in North America while offering an updated model to a few regions around the globe. While response was positive, sales still stayed roughly the same around the 50,000 mark per year. 

2012 Chrysler 300C SRT8. (Chrysler).

For the past decade, the automotive industry has been on a drastic change away from passenger cars to crossovers, SUVs and even pickup trucks. Since then, the Chrysler 300 Series has played back seat to the ongoing plans to move Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) lineup more towards the growing market of crossovers, SUVs and trucks. The Chrysler 300 Series has played it tough, when the Chrysler 200 was discontinued in the mid-2017 model year the brand reconfigured the 300 Series lineup to fill in the gap left by the 200 with more affordable offerings.

FCA has quietly over the past couple of model years, allowed the Chrysler 300 Series to expand its offering of models and packages. However, many people wouldn’t have the slightest idea since there has only been one commercial centered on the 300 Series since 2017. 

2018 Chrysler 300 Limited. (Chrysler).

While rumors have been circling around automotive websites and various news outlets that the Chrysler 300 will be discontinued, the car lives on. More than likely, it will live out its life until the end of the 2020 model year. At that point, the performance based Charger and Challenger will be completely updated and from what we are told the 300 Series will be dissolved in order to make room for a new utility vehicle that will be sharing the architecture of the next generation Charger and Challenger.  FCA has yet to make an official announcement to discontinue the Chrysler 300 Series.

This has been disheartening to most Mopar fans. While sales have been down compared to its launch in 2005, lots of Mopar fans think of the Chrysler 300 as a halo car for the entire core Mopar lineup. Fans have been protesting the discontinuing of the car for several years. 

2019 Chrysler 300S Sport Appearance Package. (Chrysler).

One man in particular, has made it his personal mission to save the 300 from extinction. His name is Frank Rhodes. He is the great-grandson of Chrysler founder Walter P. Chrysler. While Mr. Rhodes doesn’t have anything to do with the company directly, he continues to play an important part in helping to protect his grandfather’s legacy. But it’s not just the legacy of his great-grandfather while he is on a mission to save the 300.

Mr. Rhodes is a Chrysler 300 owner. His personal daily driver is a 2018 Chrysler 300 S AWD and believes that his current car is one of the best Chrysler products he has ever owned. He also believes that the car offers something Dodge Charger can’t and that is blue-collar luxury. 

Frank Rhodes with his 2018 Chrysler 300S AWD. (Frank B. Rhodes).

“I view the Chrysler 300 as one of the most iconic American branded vehicles of all time. Introduced in 1955, this HEMI-powered machine became the foundation for the future Chrysler 300 letter series vehicles with their own distinctive looks. Power, performance and distinctive styling are all hallmarks that separate this vehicle from the rest.”; Mr. Rhodes said in a recent conversation with MoparInsiders.

He has wrote several letters to the management at FCA about keeping the 300 nameplate in the Chrysler lineup. Mr. Rhodes is encouraging all of the diehard Chrysler 300 owners and fans to do the same. We already seen some people start using hashtags on social media like “#SaveThe300”. Mr. Rhodes’ goal is to make sure that the FCA management understand not just what the nameplate and the car mean to the Chrysler brand, but the Mopar community as a whole.

Frank Rhodes’ 2018 Chrysler 300S AWD. (Frank B. Rhodes).

“At various times this past week I have noticed various 2018 Cadillac, Continental, Mercedes and BMW models on the road and I am partial to the brand but the FCA designers have really made a head turner of this
vehicle. Several days ago at a stop sign with the awesome display of 300 running lights on a new Mercedes came by and the occupants were staring at my car. The 300 stands out in a crowd. It is a really cool automobile. FCA,
you need to keep this iconic brand! Re-badge an Alfa Romeo or Maserati like you did with the 300 in Europe, the Lancia.”, said Rhodes.   

While sales of the segment has shrunk, the Chrysler 300 is still a solid seller. In 2018, the Chrysler 300 Series sold 46,000 sedans in North America. Not bad numbers, for a vehicle with little to no marketing. The 300’s sales numbers were enough to place it ahead of one of its direct competitors, the Ford Taurus in sales for the past several years. The 300’s other direct competitor the Chevrolet Impala sold over 56,000 units in 2018. But in the past few months, both Chevrolet and Ford have announced they are discontinuing their full-size sedans immediately. This leaves the Chrysler 300 in a segment with only a few foreign competitors. It’s closest competition is the radically redesigned Toyota Avalon (which sold just over 33,500 units in 2018). 

2019 Chrysler 300 SRT. (Chrysler Australia).

With the segment becoming scarce, the Chrysler 300 could be a new choice for those still looking for a sedan offering. The big Chrysler sedan offers plenty of utility for most buyers in the sedan segment and offers everything from a budget-friendly mainstream model to a luxury car offering that can easily do battle with Ford’s lackluster Lincoln Continental sedan (which sold just over 8,700 units in 2018). 

The Chrysler 300 continues to win awards. Two awards were just announced recently. The 300 Series made it to Edmunds’ Most Wanted List as well as named “Best-in-Class Ideal Large Car” by AutoPacific.

If you are interested in getting FCA’s attention to save the 300 nameplate along with Mr. Rhodes, you can direct your e-mails to sustainability@fcagroup.com

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Robert S. Miller

Robert S. Miller is a diehard Mopar enthusiast who lives and breathes all that is Mopar. The Michigander is not only a Co-Editor for MoparInsiders.com, 5thGenRams.com, and HDRams.com but an automotive photographer. He is an avid fan of offshore powerboat racing, which he travels the country to take part in.

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