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For some time Chrysler has been threatening to re-invent the sedan back to the way it used to be. And now they’ve done it. The all-new 2005 Chrysler 300 is the first big rear-wheel-drive sedan to come out of Chrysler in many years. It replaces the front-wheel-drive LH line, which Chrysler has used for years. Back then, there were engineering cases for front-wheel drive, including reduced manufacturing costs and more compact packaging. But new technology has made rear-wheel drive preferable again. Traction control, electronic stability programs, anti-lock brakes, and electronic brake distribution all improve the driver’s ability to control the car. And one thing hasn’t changed: Rear-wheel drive is much better than front-wheel drive for managing horsepower. The 300C, which comes with a 340-horsepower Hemi V8, is too powerful for front-wheel drive.
The 300 might be a case of back to the future, but there’s little that’s retro about it, except maybe the giant grille, with a shape like the 1958 300C. The Chrysler 300 was introduced in 1955 with an engine having hemispherical combustion chambers, called the Hemi; it also had two four-barrel carburetors, and it achieved early fame as the most powerful engine built by Detroit, winning the NASCAR championship in its first year and setting top speed records on the beach at Daytona. There have been some successful Chrysler 300s along the way, but nothing to match the impact of the ’55.
The 300C brings the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 mated to a five-speed automatic with AutoStick, 18-inch chrome wheels, dual exhaust, big brakes, projector low-beam headlamps, and a premium leather interior. It also has bigger and more powerful front brakes, because the engine is some 300 pounds heavier than the V6 and the car is considerably faster. The Hemi engine was brutally tested by Chrysler engineers.
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