A Photo For Monday

Sometimes there are cars that seem not to merit a whole day to themselves, especially not a Sunday. This is one of them: the 2011 Lancia Thema nee Chrysler 300.

2011-2014 Lancia Thema

It featured recently as one of my lame “guess the car” teasers. Did you know that this vehicle (as a Chrysler) has been in production since 2011? Or more, honestly, since 2004**? That makes this quite a coelacanth. The Thema left Lancia’s catalogues in 2014 though. The Chrysler version still soldiers on somewhere

As well as the mixed badging, the car has a complex genesis, the fruits of Mercedes’ marriage to Chrysler. Some of its parts are derived from the 1999 W-220 and some from the 2002 W-211, the latter being the first Mercedes that didn’t matter to me, the former being the first S-class not to look like one. Then there’s the Chrysler-as-Lancia badge. The Thema name comes from the time of Lancia’s cooperation with Saab, Fiat and AR. It sold quite well though was less Lancia than the Kappa or Thesis. The 300ema might be worth a family tree diagram, such is its complex parentage.

For now here are the rest of the photos. Do you know I really couldn’t find much to look at on this vehicle, rare as it is.

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The rear lamps recall the elegant fins of the Lancia Thesis, you could say.

** According to Evo the 2011 car is “all-new” but they also said it would be called a “Thelma” [sic] in some markets. Wikipedia describes it as a thorough facelift and Honest John implies the same. Those MB bits are still in there,  I expect. Intriguingly, HJ says Thelma’s steering is less precise than a Jaguar. Does that mean it is nearly as good? Does it mean it is even worse?  Car and Driver gave the all-but-identical 300C good notices after running one on their long-term fleet.

This car might actually be a good Chrysler. It is not a good Lancia though. We have already chanted that dirge so I will not repeat the litany of crimes.

Here’s a Thesis:


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

14 thoughts on “A Photo For Monday”

  1. Was this 300 developed under Cerberus? That would be about the only explanation I could come up with for the utter failure to grasp what people liked about the first generation car.

    1. “In 1998, Chrysler merged with German automaker Daimler-Benz AG to form DaimlerChrysler; the merger proved contentious with investors. As a result, Chrysler was sold to Cerberus Capital Management and renamed Chrysler LLC in 2007.” Chrysler planned the first 300 under the DaimlerChrylser regime. This sad sack emerged under FCA supervision. The plan probably sounded like this: “We can get product into the dealerships – only a stop-gap, mind – if we rebadge, say, the 300 as a Lancia. It´s a well-priced large car and can´t do worse than the Thesis.” To which everyone agreed.

  2. Richard, you’re talking out of your left earhole, mate.

    The 300C has been around since 2005, and was developed by Chrysler under the aegis of the Walking Handlebar Mustache, Zetschke. The zuspension has certain Benz geometries, but not the same pieces, because stamped steel is cheaper. Danke, Dieter.

    Why anyone would check EVO for definitive info on the 300C is beyond me. European rags have even less knowledge of North American cars than the other way around. And the comments here generally prove the provincialism and smug attitude Europeans have about the North American market and its cars. Sad sack? Compared to some crap Euro Lancia? Surely you jest?

    The 2011 update, and it was minor, prepared the car for the new corporate V6, and removed the AWD option for the Hemi V8. Unfortunately. I was interested in that because it’s a proper geared system, none of your VW 4motion or Audi Ultra quattro fluff. The V6 can still be had AWD, but the car is a bit big for that engine.

    Have any of you car jockeys had a ride in one of these cars, or are you just opining off the tops of your heads? I ask simply because in my own provincial way, I cannot imagine any recent Lancia, assembled with the top quality parts and electrical connectors (oh yeah) plus superior (I wish) assembly we have associated with Fiat these past few years, is in any way superior to the 300C. Its main drawbacks are size and poor fuel economy, but Euro oligarchs somehow manage to wheel around in S-classes and Siebeners which are bigger still and ridiculously expensive.

    You should stick to styling critiques. And based on the lousy production rates of the Tesla Model 3, I am even more certain you didn’t see a prototype of it, all protestations to the contrary. Prototypes were not part of the plan, because Elon is a genius.

    1. Hi: it’s kind of you to point out the date – let me clarify. By “around since” I mean shown. It was on sale in 2004 as a 2005 model year car.

    2. Oh Bill, we’d enjoyed such a good run recently!

      Your friend Dieter’s family name is Zetsche, by the way, even though ‘k’ admittedly has the graphik appearance and phonetik properties of a most Germanik letter. But your comments here generally prove the provincialism and smug attitude Americans have about European family names and those who bear them.

      Have any of you name jugglers had to spend any stretches of time with one of our Olde Worlde family names, or are you just opining off the top of your head? I ask simply because in my own provincial way, I cannot imagine any Smith, Miller or Bigland making the effort to have Zetsche, Breitschwerdt or Bartkowiak roll off the tongue with much aplomb.

  3. Fast Fact: The LX chassis (Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger) is actually a reworked LH Chassis (LH, the same chassis that underpinned the Dodge Intrepid and Chrysler Concorde) with the rear suspension geometry grafted from a W202 E-class.

    It’s gone thru a few changes, but the whole car isn’t ground up, and hasn’t been for awhile. FCA is very cash strapped, and the Jeep and Ram brands are propping up Dodge, Chrysler, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Fiat. FCA doesn’t have the development dollars to develop new tech; thus, most of their cars using old platforms (This Chrysler 300 is a good example, but the Chrysler 200 which was a long and wide Fiat Bravo with a trunk) and end up uncompetitive and well, kind of half-assed in regards to basically everything.

    (Also, the LH car is actually an evolution of the chassis used on the Eagle Premier/Dodge Monaco, which was an american-ized Renault 21!…which failed.)

    1. The R21 / Eagle Premier /Dodge Monaco / Intrepid /Concorde were all front wheel drive, so effectively you’re saying this was re-engineered for a rear-wheel-drive architecture. That would entail some pretty major changes I’d imagine. What’s interesting to me about this is the fact that the R21 was designed (as we discussed recently and about a year or so ago) to accommodate both in-line and transverse engines, front and rear wheel drive and was built (as a Renault anyway) in three different wheelbase lengths. By modern MBQ standards, that’s routine, but thirty years ago it was quite the clever piece of platform-sharing. That said, even Billancourt’s engineers couldn’t have envisaged its second, third or whatever life it’s leading now.

      Given that this is (in genealogical terms at least) a thirty+ year old platform, (from the old World no less), it’s pretty staggering it can still meet global regulations. I’m not entirely sure whether to be lost in admiration for Chrysler / FCA’s ingenuity or to be horrified. The R21 is not a memorable Renault, or indeed a memorable car (although it wasn’t a particularly bad one), but this illustrates that even quite dull cars can have something noteworthy about them.

    2. Eoin, it wasn’t really “re-engineered”. The LH chassis was meant to handle FWD, RWD, and AWD drivelines; one of the commonalities between it and the Dodge Monaco, is the fact the engine is mounted Longitudinally, not transverse. Only thing, is none of the RWD or AWD variants of the LH cars ever came to fruition. Then the Damiler/Chrysler merger happened, and Mercedes-Benz went over a lot of Chrysler projects with a fine tooth comb (for better or worse), which is how the LH got revised into the LX chassis, and gained a rear suspension that was basically the same as the E-class of the era.

      To be fair, although the chassis is old, it still is an OK car. The HEMI and “Hellcat” versions are super fast machines, and they handle ok for what they are though.

      Contrary to popular belief, big cars like this actually *don’t* sell that well here in the USA. The Charger/Chrysler 300 get away by being literally the only non SUV cars FCA sells in the US (aside from the 500 and Alfa Guilia) and have easy credit. The Charger is a popular police car, as well.

      As far as larger-than-midsize (E-segment?) a lot of makes have actually stopped making them entirely. Big sedans don’t really sell that well here.

      The Toyota Avalon is a livery special; a lot of people who used to use Lincoln Towncars now use Toyota Avalons

      Hyundai doesn’t sell the Azera in the US anymore, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Kia Cadenza sister gets removed from sale shortly.

      The Ford Taurus is a fleet queen; it’s got a police package as well, but the Taurus (and it’s Lincoln MKS sister) are notorious for having poor interior space for their size.

      The Chevy Impala sells in OK numbers, but nowhere near as much as in years past.

    3. I take it that the large SUV has cut a decisive swathe through the large saloon market, yes? I read recently that Ford were looking at discontinuing several saloon model lines to focus (pun not intended) on SUV’s. Over here, many of us fondly imagine people still drive big opulent saloons as of yore. But I think we all have our cherished notions, even if they now have no real basis in fact. Welcome to DTW by the way and thanks for commenting.

    4. Thanks, glad to be here!

      If anything, Compact and Midsized SUV’s have usurped sedans. If you look at the top 10 sales of cars, you have pickup trucks (fleets buy them in droves), and Compact/Midsized sedans (Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry) and many people “upgraded” to compact crossovers instead of sedans. I personally know a lot of people who replaced their Ford Fusion (Mondeo) with an Escape (Kuga) or Edge. Or replaced their Accord, with a CR-V. On the showroom floor, usually a small SUV has the same payment as a midsized sedan.

  4. One thing I have to say, and none of the idiots that were running the Circo Fiatano could get his amoebic mind around it: If I wanted a Chrysler, I knew where I could buy one – but I didn’t, and even Americans don’t.

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