The 2005 Chrysler 300 was as good as it got for DaimlerChrysler.
The 1998 merger of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler Corporation was the brainchild of Jürgen Schrempp, Daimler’s ambitious CEO. Schrempp was on a mission to drive up the profitability and shareholder value of the group, following the disastrous early-1990s acquisitions spree of his predecessor, Edzard Reuter. Reuter had tried to turn Daimler into a broad-based global technology conglomerate, but instead oversaw a collapse in profits and share price that precipitated his sacking in 1995.
Schrempp believed that there was enormous untapped potential in Daimler’s automotive division, Mercedes-Benz. He wanted to leverage this to achieve a step-change in sales and market share for the traditionally conservative and upmarket automaker. This could (and indeed would) be achieved organically by extending the company’s traditional range downwards into mainstream territory, but this would take time and Schrempp was a man in a hurry, driven at least as much by quarterly financial reports as long-term strategy.
At the time of the merger, Mercedes-Benz’s US market share was less than 1%. This might have been regarded as respectable, given the relative narrowness of the company’s model range(1) and the fact that, thanks to the persistent strength of the Deutschemark, the cars were conspicuously expensive in the US. Although finely engineered, they were also rather austere looking and lacking in glamour, certainly in comparison with the Cadillacs and Lincolns with which they competed.
Schrempp saw in Chrysler, by some margin the smallest and weakest of the US Big Three automakers, an opportunity to achieve that step-change. Backed by Mercedes-Benz technology and Daimler’s financial muscle, Chrysler would at last be able to compete on equal terms with General Motors and Ford. Although presented as a merger of equals, it was nothing of the sort: in 1998, Daimler purchased a controlling 80% stake in Chrysler and took over the management of the business.
As we now know, the merger was largely an unmitigated disaster, at least for Daimler. There was an ongoing clash of corporate cultures. Moreover, much of Mercedes-Benz’s technology was either too expensive or perceived to be of little attraction to consumers in the ultra-competitive, feature and deal-driven US automotive market. The failure led to the departure of Schrempp in December 2005. In a delicious twist of irony, his replacement was Chrysler President and CEO, Dieter Zetsche, who immediately began the process of dismantling DaimlerChrysler. Chrysler was sold to Cerberus Capital Management in a deal that required Daimler to pay Cerberus a net $650 million to take Chrysler off its hands.
If the DaimlerChrysler era was a disaster for Stuttgart, the verdict on its impact in Auburn Hills is more nuanced. One conspicuously bright spot was the development of the 2005 Chrysler 300(2) full-size sedan, a car that was an immediate hit and remained a perennial strong seller for Chrysler, at least in its first generation.
The 300 was previewed by a concept unveiled at the New York International Auto Show in April 2003. The styling, by Ralph Gilles and Freeman Thomas, under the supervision of Chrysler design chief Tom Gale, scored a bullseye and the 300 was undoubtedly the star of the show. It was a superficially simple design, a three-box saloon with a high waistline and shallow DLO, but the details were resolved masterfully. These included smoothly curved flanks containing large muscular wheel arches and suitably large diameter wheels, a broad flat bonnet, upright front end with a deep egg-crate grille flanked by dual circular headlamps under a single glass, wide C-pillars and a tapered rear end with upright tail lights flanking the smooth boot lid.
Taken as a whole, the 300 had an unmistakable air of brooding menace. While in no way retro, it was not difficult to imagine it being driven by a latter-day Al Capone and his cronies. The 300 was far removed from most people’s perception of a typical ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ car, and that would prove crucial to its appeal and success.
Chrysler realised immediately that it had a potential hit on its hands. Wisely, the styling was immediately frozen for the 2005 model-year production car. The 300 was based on Chrysler’s newly developed LX full-size RWD platform. It employed a rear subframe and five-link independent suspension derived from that of the Mercedes-Benz W211 E-Class. The double-wishbone front suspension came from the W220 S-Class. The German automaker would also supply the car’s four or five-speed automatic transmission, differential and driveshafts, as well as steering gear, ABS and ESP modules and numerous other items of mechanical and electrical equipment, all expensively developed and proven in Stuttgart.
The standard power unit in the US market was a Chrysler 3,518cc (215 cu in) 60° V6 petrol engine producing either 190 or 250bhp (142 or 186kW) depending on whether it was fitted to a base or Limited model. The option of 4WD was available, utilising Mercedes-Benz’s 4Matic system. The top-of-the-range 300C model was fitted with Chrysler’s 5,653cc (345 cu in) Hemi(3) V8 engine producing 340bhp (254 kW). This engine featured two spark-plugs per cylinder and the ability to run on just four cylinders under light loads, to improve fuel consumption.
Of course, these large capacity petrol engines would be pretty unattractive in European markets, but Mercedes-Benz was able to supply a more appropriate power unit, its excellent 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6. Cars equipped with the diesel engine would comprise the vast majority of European sales of the 300.
There was also an estate version of the 300 called the Touring. This variant had the unusual feature of a tailgate that was hinged far forward into the roof, to increase the size of the opening that would otherwise have been very shallow, thanks to the car’s low roofline, falling towards the rear.
Autocar magazine tested the 300 saloon fitted with the turbodiesel engine when it arrived in the UK in September 2005. The reviewer described it as “charming, rather than convincing” and summarised its prospects as follows: “Buyers charmed by the 300C’s distinctiveness will chop in their 4x4s and coupés, rather than E-classes and A6s.”
The magazine was rather more taken by the Touring version, tested in May 2006. The reviewer described it as “Big, bold [and] little brash.” He preferred its styling to that of the saloon and conceded that it had “loads of kit” and a decent amount of room, with 603 litres of boot space with the rear seats up, increasing to 1,602 litres with the seats down. The Mercedes V6 turbodiesel was “nicely smooth and very appropriate for the car, especially as it’s mated to a (standard) smooth-shifting five-speed auto ’box.” Dynamically, “The handling’s okay rather than brilliant, and the ride is too harsh, the car failing to deal with poor road surfaces.” Overall, the car was considered “surprisingly charming” and “good value for money…a more individual alternative to the usual load luggers.”
Had the 300 looked like a typical US large sedan and station wagon (and without the diesel engine) it would most likely have proved of little interest in Europe, where it was up against some formidable opposition. But the 300 had an ace up its sleeve, styling that made it look highly distinctive, which drew in customers that would never before have considered a Chrysler. That it became a favourite of US rap artists and featured prominently in music videos merely added to its bad-boy appeal.
Moreover, there emerged a perspective that the 300 looked like an alternative-reality Bentley, the sort of car the storied British marque might be producing if it had not been creatively stifled by its more buttoned-up sibling, Rolls-Royce, for so many years. Aftermarket kits containing mesh grille inserts and winged ‘B’ badges made real this re-imagining and became very popular. The 300, in the UK at least, gained something of a geezer-ish pub landlord done well image, but that seemed to do it no harm.
Surprisingly, the 300 lasted just six years in its original form, during which time a total of 684,265(4) found buyers in the US and a further 49,808 in Europe. From 2004 to 2009, the 300 was also sold as the Dodge Magnum in estate form only and this accounted for an additional 169,080 US sales.
Chrysler was then faced with the dilemma of how to update what had quickly become an iconic design, and it flunked the test: the replacement model, based on the same platform and a similar mechanical package, was broadly comparable in appearance, but the details that made the car so distinctive were all toned down. The new 300 was not a bad looking car but, in comparison to the original, it looked like a tepid facsimile.
Worse was to come: Chrysler’s brief period of post-Daimler independence had been followed by a bankruptcy filing during the 2008/09 Global Financial Crisis. Following its restructuring, Fiat bought a 20% stake as a prelude to a full merger to create FCA(5). Bizarrely, in 2011 Fiat management came up with the wheeze of rebranding the 300 as the Lancia Thema in continental Europe(6), an insult to the heritage of both marques. The faux-Lancia deserved to fail and duly did so: just 5,103 found buyers over six years.
The second-generation 300 has now been on sale for over a decade but has never come close to replicating the success of its predecessor. Over ten years from 2012 to 2021 inclusive, US sales were 448,378. In Europe, only 631 were sold before the model was discontinued in 2018. The 300’s protracted demise is a sad end to what was, for a time at least, a very characterful if flawed car.
(1) The A-Class had only recently been launched and had suffered a difficult first year, thanks to the notorious Elk Test fail that had raised legitimate concerns about its safety.
(2) Most people refer to this car as the 300C but, strictly speaking, it was called the Chrysler 300. The ‘C’ suffix was originally reserved for the 5.7-litre ‘Hemi’ model.
(3) Short for ‘hemispherical’ which originally described the shape of the combustion chambers in the cylinder heads.
(4) All sales data from www.carsalesbase.com
(5) Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
(6) The smaller Chrysler 200 convertible was also rebranded as the Lancia Flavia for continental European markets in 2012.
49 thoughts on “A Diamond in the Dust”
Good morning, Daniel. Only few of these were sold in the Netherlands, I think, as I have rarely seen them. It’s best in its first iteration, but that is a little fussy at the front, still. A slightly cleaner look would have been better, for me at least.
I remember visiting the local Chrysler dealer with my dad to have a look at the 300. The sales person was back in his office on the phone. He noticed us, but didn’t pay any attention, clearly more interested in whoever was on the phone.
It’s only when we walked out of the showroom to my dad’s E39 that he realized we might be actual customers. I’ve never seen a man jumping so fast from his seat and running to the door. He must have regretted the distance to our car was so short, we were inside the Bimmer before he reached us. I can still picture the look on his face.
The dealership has ceased to exist. I am still curious what’s a 300 like to drive, though. I imagine it to be charming rather than convincing, just like the reviewer in Autocar.
Is the Chrysler 300 an example of a design that ought to have fossilised like those Toyota taxis and the Suzuki Juimny. They didn´t need to do much with it – there´s a permanent market for large, RWD cars like this that doesn´t care much about styling. Chrysler could have gone after that market instead of treating it like the churning competitive centre where the volumes can pay for shorter product cycles.
Another driving factor behind the ‚merger of equals‘ was Schrempp’s outsize ego.
Having started his life at Daimler as a lowly line worker he progressed through the hierarchy until the very top by use of his considerably hard elbows. A stereotype of a parvenu he was unique in German top level management in having a thick Swabian accent, an absolute no-no. The neoliberal nonsense he permanently told (shareholder value had to be mentioned in every second sentence) made him the darling of the media which presented him as the counterpart to the dark lord of Wolfsburg who made no secret of his disdain for the media.
He already had the best paid job in the German industry at around 2.5 million Deutschmarks per year but from day one he complained about being underpaid because American managers got so much more.
After signing the DC contract his first action even before the ink was dry was to get himself a salary increase to thirty million Deutschmarks with the sole argument that his American counterparts otherwise would not take him seriously.
Schrempp left a trail of blood through the Daimler-Benz organisation which in combination of his wrong decisions at EADS (acquisition of Fokker, personal war with Nadine Dornier-Tiefenthaler about the Dornier acquisition) and Daimler-Chrysler left a total bill of eighty thousand million (to differentiate between billions and Milliards) Deutschmarks in cash(!), not in market capitalisation. He emptied Daimler’s well filled guinea pig to the extent that the company had to run a cost saving programme for the first time in decades.
The financial situation of the so called merger of equals (Schrempp himself called it a marriage in heaven, if I remember correctly) might have been clear, the consequences were anything but. There was a tendency for corporate meetings to be scheduled in the US because US managers refused to travel to Stuttgart because they preferred their German colleagues to suffer from jet lag in the meetings.
The culture clash between Chrysler and Daimler also showed when responsibilities were newly assigned and Chrysler got Corporate IT. Their first order was that Stuttgart ASAP had to stop using their own systems and move all IT to the US. This did not make them many friends.
I remember an article in CAR which was about the only publication openly sceptical about this merger. Their argument was that if the US car industry was the dustbin of the industry then certainly Chrysler would be the sticky goo at its bottom and a merger between Daimler and them would be nonsense.
Mercedes cars were designed for a usable life of 400.000 kilometres with suitable specifications for bought in parts. Parts meeting these specifications would not be suitable for Chrysler and the parts suitable for Chrysler would not meet Mercedes’ requirements.
This alone made the merger a non-starter from a shared component point of view.
Good morning all. Freerk, it’s interesting to me that the 300 didn’t chime with customers in the Netherlands. I would regard it as quintessentially an ‘Anglo Saxon’ as opposed to ‘European’ design, if that makes sense. I wonder how it sold in other European countries?
Richard, I agree that the 2004 model was something of a design classic and think that the 2010 update was unnecessary and didn’t improve upon the original. (That said, I drove the updated model for three weeks in New England back in 2015 and it was a thoroughly amiable companion, comfortable and relaxing.)
Dave, you describe Jurgen Schrempp’s personality and the realities of the DaimlerChrysler merger very colourfully. The notion of recycling Mercedes-Benz technology into Chrysler models might have seemed like a good one, but it ignored the fact that the typical Chrysler customer didn’t value much of what had historically distinguished the German cars. What they wanted was lots of features at a really competitive price, not a car that would potentially outlast its GM or Ford equivalent (or even one that would be safer in a crash). In any event, given the disastrous decline in the quality of Mercedes-Benz models around the Millennium, I’m not sure that the promise of greater quality and durability was fulfilled.
By the way, the prize for metaphor of the week has to go to you for “if the US car industry was the dustbin of the industry then certainly Chrysler would be the sticky goo at its bottom.” Utterly brilliant, thank you!
Good morning Daniel and thank you for putting the 300 in the spotlight.
I’m a bit in two minds about this car and have been since I first saw it; I like it for its presence and unapologetic brashness of its appearance, a bit like the bad guy in a movie that you still can’t help but like at some level as the story goes on. On the other hand, there was a crudeness about the design (and especially the interior and the materials used) that I found hard to get over. Still, it was better than the second generation that spawned a Lancia Thema that was about as Italian as a pizza from Pizza Hut…..
The 300, at least in its first version, was a beautiful piece of motoring and is still beautiful to look at today.
As a buyer, I would probably also have britishised the front a bit, I have to admit that I have strange tastes. (However, I would have left out the “B”, my taste is not that bad after all).
The second generation is somewhat watered down and has lost expressiveness.
(I’d better not say anything about the Lancia badges on this car. Daniel has said all there is to say about this monstrosity in his words – as politely as only a Brit can. My tongue would slip while commenting and I would be breaking all the rules of courtesy of DTW.)
There is definitely something of left-field appeal about the 300C. Lots of people make comparisons with the Rover P5B which I also remember thinking of the first time I saw a picture of one.
I had a thoughtful moment when I saw one parked in one of the bays at BL Auto’s and discovered it was dad Barry’s current day-to-day drive (when he’s not using the SM). My instinctive reaction was ‘of course it is’, which means that it’s of no surprise to me that a Citroëniste could end up owning one. In a similar way, it was no surprise either that son Robert had bought himself a Maserati Quattroporte V …
I always had it down as being a bit thuggish and uncouth (particularly the interior), but still enjoy seeing one anytime on the road or as street ornament.
In Spain the 300 wasn´t exactly a sales success but you can see one every now and then, of course diesel engined. Not bad for Chrysler standards here.
I don´t like them too much, if in the UK they had an image of “pub landlord done well”, here it was “part-time drug dealer done well”.
The 300 I liked was this. With the RWD platform it could have been rather interesting:
This 300 sold very poorly in the Netherlands. There is one in my area, so I get to see it nearly every day.
I’ll be the devil’s advocate here: while I do agree the 300-based Thema looks awful at first sight and it lacks anything that would make it Euro-conform, it wasn’t a bad car after a drive. Despite it being a Chrysler there were no big panel gaps, no major flaws in interior details – it was a simple, but otherwise well-executed environment. A shame most cars had the all-black leather seats. The VM Motori diesel unit was silk smooth and that wasn’t a Daimler-sourced unit (on the other hand it reportedly fails after a while as a decent premium Italian engine should). Was it worthy of the Lancia badge? Definitely more so than the Flavia or Voyager – considering the circumstances it was an acceptable attempt. A shame for the bodywork – I could never sympathize with it either, but if it gets my vote as Thema, it gets my vote as the Chrysler 300 too. If one thinks of it the silhouette as a cartoonish-shape rather than a serious design attempt it all of a sudden feels more joyous. Saw a few Chrysler 300s used as taxis in service yellow colours – far more pleasent and eye-catching in a good way.
“Hemi” is indeed short for hemispherical, but these days Chrysler use it as a trademarked tag-line as the modern ‘hemi’ engine is not really a hemi.
Noted, thanks Mervyn.
The vast majority of 300s seem to be in a ‘greyscale’ colour, which is a shame as it look good rather in other colours:
Another Chrysler concept that developed the same styling theme was the 2005 Imperial:
That one didn’t make production, sadly (or possibly not?)
Was this the inspiration for the Rolls-Royce Cullinan?
Hi Michael. It actually put me more in mind of this 2009 Aston Martin Lagonda concept:
Oh, dear me, yes!
Autotrader.Co,U.K. has 55 for sale from just over £2.000 to a Hemi version at £14,0000
But how’s about this rather smart looking blue example:
Hi Andrew. Or how about this one, 06 with just 17k miles for £8,100. It’s petrol, so should have a nice turn of speed too, although it would only make sense if one used it sparingly.
It is a pity a similar approach as the 300 (and to a lesser degree the Crossfire) in terms of styling and rwd platform was not applied on the smaller 2007 Chrysler Sebring (later 200) and 2007 Dodge Avenger, although to be fair the latter does have exterior elements of the 2005 Dodge Charger.
On the Chrysler (and Dodge) side of the disastrous Daimler-Chrysler equation, have wondered how they could have improved the competitiveness of the Neon against the European opposition. They could have also probably benefited from bringing the (seemingly Tritec engined) Chrysler Java and Dodge Slingshot concepts into production.
What were the specifics behind Edzard Reuter’s disastrous early-1990s acquisitions spree prior to his sacking? Was it enough to potentially threaten either the automotive or commercial vehicle divisions of Daimler-Benz if not as a whole? Was aware of Volkswagen, BMW and Porsche having moments in their history where they were on the precipice, yet not Daimler-Benz.
Hold those thoughts, Bob. We have pieces on both the Avenger and Neon coming up shortly.
Edzard Reuter had the open disdain for everything automitive typical for German intellectuals.
He didn’t see Daimler-Benz or its Mercedes products as anything special, let alone something worth of admiration. The logical result was the W21o.
Reuter wanted to form an ‘integrated technology concern’ in which automobiles were only one business area.
The others were meant to be electrics and electronics, aviation, IT and general services.
He bought AEG, a large and long established electrical equipment manufacturer like Siemens with the minor difference that they were bankrupt. AEG was meant to become kind of a Bosch competitor but this never happened. After tremendous losses AEG was simply closed.
Aviation business was Schrempp’s pastime and against all advice he bought bankrupt Fokker (eighteen thousand million Deutschmarks lost in cash) and Dornier (to push their boss Nadine Dornier-Tiefenthaler out of the contract that put her firmly into the boss’ seat cost Daimler more than one thousand million Deutschmarks in personal payments to her plus considerable costs for lawyers). After the bubble burst Daimler Benz aviation business was merged with a German military products conglomerate.
IT was formed by acquiring all kinds of companies like the bankrupt German branch of CAP Gemini under the roof of debis (Daimler Benz inter services – offering IT, financial products, insurances and then new mobile phone contracts).
debis was large enough to sell Compaq computers under their own branding. The boxes were exactly identical but the casings were bright white instead of cream and the logo said ‘debis’ instead of ‘Compaq’. You could get a leasing contract for your Benz from debis Leasing, insure it at debis Assekuranz or simply take a loan at debis Finanz.
After they found they weren’t able to make any money they split debis and sold most of the stuff. IT went to Telekom to become the root of T-Systems, one of Germany’s largest IT service suppliers.
None of these businesses ever made any profit and the necessary money came from the car side of the company making the product that all proper intellectuals saw as the thing to be overcome.
Reuter was ousted in a boardroom coup.
Schrempp unwound all this only to throw even more money of of the window by investing in Mitsubishi, Smart and Chrysler in an attempt to transform the ‘integral technology concern’ into a ‘global car maker’ and to boost Schrempp’s ego at the same time. Watching the rate at which Schrempp burned Daimler’s money interested observers wondered how long he would stay in the hot seat. Then all of a sudden the supervisory board made an unusually short press anouncement of the termination of his contract. He didn’t get any severance payments for the premature end of his contract nor did the supervisory board express any thankfulness for his work. From one day to the other Schrempp was lost in oblivion.
Thanks for the background on Edzard Reuter. So it seems Reuter if not him and Schrempp together were responsible for Mercedes-Benz losing their reputation for building over-engineered cars as well as generally take a step back in terms of build quality and reliability?
Whose idea was the stillborn W18 engine? – https://www.carscoops.com/2020/08/the-mercedes-benz-s-class-could-have-used-an-8-0-liter-w18/
This could have been a Ford. Here’s the 2003 427 concept.
But they decided not to produce it. They tried again in 2007 with the Interceptor concept.
How did Ford never take those forward to production? They’re great!
Interceptor, the front really reminds me the f-150. Very pure design indeed.
The thing is, that like the 300, the Ford concepts are large three box saloon, both with a high waistline and shallow DLO. Ford had the 427 concept 2 years before the 300 went into production. It’s a concept, of course, but it looks like it could be put in production without too much alteration.
Sadly it never came to production. I agree, Daniel, these concepts look great. The family resemblance with the F-150 is well spotted, Marco. Trouble is,is the market for vehicles like this big enough to justify the development costs? Ford didn’t think so.
Freerk: these cars could have stayed in production for 12 years or more. I now understand that some parts of the car market are not about rapid product cycles. If Ford had viewed the big saloon as a steady seller and not a block buster they´d have had a nice and constant sales of 45,000 units a year and earned kudos for selling an icon. It didn´t need to be an expensive car or even fancy: the same equipment and price of a Golf/Focus but for people who want space and who don´t want a van or a truck. Taxis, government vehicles, older customers and people who like BOF type cars.
You are right, Richard. Ford had the next generation Crown Vic in their hands and wasted the opportunity. Too bad.
Dave, thanks for your most entertaining summary of Daimler’s misadventures but you missed out Daimler’s brief venture into the rail industry. After acquiring ABB’s complete rail business, then merging it with AEG’s historic rail division to form ABB Daimler Chrysler, they took it over completely and created ADtranz, complete with the infamous green dot. After a couple of years, during which a certain amount of optimization and creative accountancy took place, we were sold to Bombardier. I guess at the time the rail business accounted for something less than the rounding error in Daimler’s reports. Wikipedia tells some of the story.
Could we say that “shareholder value” has been a very destructive meme indeed.
Here’s an example of debis’ logo (ask your dad what the thing in the photograph is).
Ah, I never trusted those new-fangled computer diskettes. When I was studying for my computer science degree, this is what we used for our programming exercises in year one:
Much more reliable, as long as you didn’t drop the pile of cards when lifting them off the card punch machine!
From year two, we got to play with a DEC VAX machine. Remember them?
Hi Richard. There’s nothing wrong with “shareholder value” as a corporate objective. In fact, it should be the primary objective for all public companies owned by shareholders, but it all depends on how you define the term.
Too many CEOs try to go for short-term hits that temporarily inflate their company’s share price, even if such actions are not in the long-term interest of the business. Sergio Marchionne’s slashing of FCA’s new model development programmes to pay down debt and make the corporate balance sheet look stronger is a particularly egregious example of a short-term tactical gain leading to the long-term destruction of the business.
The merry-go-round of CEOs and the way in which they are remunerated is a big part of the problem. A new corporate strategy for a major corporation might take five years or more to develop and implement, and more years to prove, so rewarding the CEO with annual bonuses in cash (or shares than can be sold when they move on) is simply wrong-headed. The trouble is that the boards of such companies often argue that ‘compensation packages’ such as these are essential to secure the services of high-calibre CEOs. This makes one wonder why the corporation is not able to develop and retain its own most talented people to fill these roles. A corporate ‘lifer’ is likely to have a stronger sense of loyalty than someone just parachuted in.
“ask your dad what the thing in the photograph is” Haha, some of us are old enough to no know it.
I did a large scale object of the cover of Blue Monday, the New Order 12″ single (http://www.sevendeadlyfinns.com/wa_images/137_blue_monday.jpg?v=1ghv4ss) for our Flat.
When any teenagers came to visit, I usually had to start with the Stone Age to explain what it represented. The look in those incomprehensible eyes, priceless.
Wasn’t DEC the company founded by Ken Olson who meant that there was absolutely no reason why anybody should want to have a private computer in his household?
I know the people who bought the former DEC HQ at the legendary address of Powdermill Road 111, Maynard, Mass.
They found that Mr. Olson had an office of 800 square metres with his own bathroom, separate kitchen and a dedicated elevator.
Maybe Daniel Goedevert was right when he said that the higher you get up in a corporate hierarchy the more the windows to the real world become mirrors and in the end all you see is your own image (French pronounciation required).
That’s the one, Dave. It once employed 140,000 people, but was defunct by 1998, outpaced by nimbler more innovative rivals.
Daniel: used in the sense you use it, it´s a harmless idea about working in the interest of the company and its owners. The trouble is that the term was defined narrowly to mean the short term interest of shareholders (and not the long term interests of the company or anyone else who was a stakeholder). Ultimately, the term is one open to so many interpretations that it’s either dangerous or meaningless.
Around me there are a few 300s, all in silver and all all with private plates and they very much has the “pub landlord done good” image and while the design does what it does quite well it mostly comes across as an ugly poor man’s Bentley. Or maybe just an American’s idea of a Bentley.
Comparisons to latter day Bentleys notwithstanding, it extols its own proud heritage:
Hi gooddog. Is there a Karmann Ghia hidden away somewhere inside that red car? 😁
Hi Daniel, just the Ghia part.
Bad boy car, it was the auto of Walther White in Breaking Bad.
Hi Marco. Wasn’t Walter White’s car in Breaking Bad a Pontiac Aztek? Or did he get a 300 later, when his drug production business took off?
Hi Daniel, both correct, he had an accident with the pontiac if i remember well. Then came the leasing miracle 🙂
Those cars were built on the LH (and related LHS) platform. The sedans were front wheel drive. The LH platform allowed for all wheel drive, but despite the provision for it being built-in right from start of production (the standard floor pressings did not require alteration for drive to the rear wheels to be accommodated) the opportunity was not taken to fit it in the production models. Pity.
There were several development paths for the LH which were investigated but not taken any further. They included a rear wheel drive version with transaxle at the back and a V-8 version (interestingly the prototype was fitted with a LS engine from GM and not a hemi!). There was also a twin-turbo V-6. It trashed transaxles and, since money was not allocated to beef that up, the turbo engine was not deployed.
The rear wheel drive (and all wheel drive) LX platform had heavy Mercedes influence. It is a good car with certain models being vastly superior to others and so you have to be mindful of that when you choose your model and options.
LX was in design and early development stages when Mercedes took over. Once Mercedes were running the show the LH was dead. There was no will to continue it alongside LX. Perhaps they considered LX much too French.
Mercedes did not appear to be so much interested in Chrysler’s smaller cars. There the German involvement was primarily budgetary and restrictive of resource. At the time it appears that US market segment was beneath them. Too bad. They’re begging for more of it now!
“Mercedes did not appear to be so much interested in Chrysler’s smaller cars”
I think it bears mention that those were co-developed with Mitsubishi. But that was not a unique situation for the Detroit three: It was a longstanding practice at GM to cede most of it’s N.A. small car development to GM Europe and lately to GM South Korea. Ford employed Mazda to the same end for decades, while occasionally leaning on Ford of Europe. I notice a strong pattern here so I’m not certain whether Daimler should shoulder the blame for the awfulness that comprised the mid 00’s Dodge Caliber, Chrysler Sebring, Jeep Patriot/Compass, et al. There were also a couple of Citroëns and Peugeots built on the same Mitsubishi GS platform.
There are a lot of angles to explore here: Daimler’s incompetence at building small (and relatively affordable) cars. The Detroit three’s complete inability to design and build small cars for their own market*. The downfall of long time Chrysler partner and formerly shining diamond-star Mitsubishi. Attrition and disaffection at Chrysler following the Daimler “merger”.
*As we have been tipped that a discourse and deeper look at the Neon is forthcoming, it might serve us best to put its saga aside for this particular discussion. I look forward to future articles and discussions around these and other such enigmatic topics.
A point of clarification – the Dodge Magnum was sold in the US as an estate only, never as a sedan. Which is peculiar, since LX stablemate Dodge Charger would have seemed to be a better fit for an estate.
Thanks for the clarification, Timothy, duly noted.