The V8 saloon isn’t long for this world. We’re all familiar with the new Mercedes-AMG C63 by now, which has an engine half the size of before to cram in more electrical assistance, while BMW has been busy slapping the M badge on its EVs that, the cynic could argue, prepares us for silent M3s and M5s in the not-so-distant future. Possibly.
But unless anything radical happens and the Government steamrolls every existing gas guzzler in Britain out of existence, the V8 will live on through for many years to come through the classifieds. And, best of all, eight-cylinder saloons can be picked up for absolute peanuts. E90 BMW M3s, W204 C63s and B7 RS4s can all be had for around £20,000, or not far off the price of a new Vauxhall Corsa. Those are the usual suspects, anyway, but what if you’ve got a hankering for something with all the V8 goodness of a German Q car with the questionable plastics of a mid-noughties American barge? Then you’ll want one of these: the Chrysler 300C SRT-8.
In all seriousness, this isn’t as ridiculous a proposition as it sounds. The cost of running a 15-year-old V8 from one of Germany’s big three won’t be cheap, especially if bits start to go wrong. The 300C, on the other hand, is a far more solid alternative. That big 6.1-litre Hemi engine under the bonnet may be rudimentary and it’s nowhere near as hi-tech as the eight-cylinder blocks of its German rivals. But, in the highly unlikely event something goes pop under the bonnet, the chance of you being handed a bill containing many zeroes is miniscule. Can’t say that for many European cars, can you?
It's easy to give American V8s like this a hard time because, historically, US car makers manage to extract meagre outputs from high-capacity engines. True, the 431hp on tap from the 6.1-litre V8 in the SRT-8 isn't a huge specific output, but the the C63 of the time made 451hp from 6.2-litre W204 C63, and nobody complained too much about that. The Chrysler is quick, too, covering the 0-60mph dash in just 4.9 seconds while filling your ears with thunderous V8 tones in the process. And although the chassis was left virtually untouched over a standard 300C, the SRT-8 was never intended to be a proper driver’s car. Nope, this is all about waffling along and chugging fuel while looking like a complete thug.
Chrysler managed to sell a handful of SRT-8s in the UK on the basis of them being considerably cheaper than the German alternative. Step inside the 300C, however, and you’ll notice where some corners have been cut. It’s wonderfully basic and hilariously plasticky, though the GT-like front chairs look rather comfy. Plus, you get sat-nav and very basic digital readouts between the analogue dials; an impressive amount of kit for a mid-2000s saloon. And doesn’t it look mega? The 300C design has aged wonderfully, looking just as mean today as it did 17 years ago.
Just like it was brand new, this SRT-8 comes in just below the equivalent M3 and C63 of the era. How does £17,995 sound? Serious money for a car without the brand appeal that comes from a German manufacturer, but it’s a very tidy example with only 54,000 miles on the clock. And as an ownership proposition, it’s unlikely to give you any headaches for many more years to come. Until it comes time to fill the thing up, of course.
SPECIFICATION | CHRYSLER 300C SRT-8
Engine: 6,059cc V8
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 431@6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 420@4,800rpm
Year registered: 2006
Recorded mileage: 54,000
Price new: £41,000
Yours for: £17,995
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