Everyone remembers Chrysler’s E49 Charger R/T. Okay, maybe not exactly the E49 – maybe something like the pale yellow VH Charger XL my Uncle Brian once owned – but that legendary codename carries plenty of baggage for the Chrysler faithful.
This review was originally published in MOTOR’s June 2007 issue
Not only did the 1972 E49 represent the pinnacle of decades of local engineering for Chrysler Australia, it was also the fastest-accelerating Aussie car for nearly 20 years – pipped by Holden’s VN SS Group A in 1990.
With a badge as iconic as E49, it’s not surprising that the petrolheads at the latter-day Chrysler Group in Melbourne chose to reprise it in bastardised form for their “customer evaluation vehicle project” – the 300C SRT8 E490.
Despite the fuel-price phobia, the 300C range has struck a chord with Aussie punters (we’re now the biggest market for the car outside North America), and such is its recognition and nation-wide appreciation, it simply begged for some ‘special project’ action.
Classic MOTOR: 300C SRT8 v FPV GT-E v Senator
The result is Project E490 – a modified, ghetto-fied version of the most recent 300C variant introduced here, the SRT8 Touring. The standard SRT8 is already one mean-looking, mean-sounding son of a bitch, but with a heavy window tint, some subtle but sinister visual tweaks, and some breathing mods for its 6.1-litre Hemi V8, the E490 has to be the baddest and loudest thing to grace Sydney’s streets since Kelly Osbourne in 2005.
The focus with Project E490 is to highlight the much-admired style of the 300C, as well as the stunning performance of the flagship SRT8. But there’s an ulterior motive here – Daimler Chrysler Asia Pacific is keen to develop and market a limited-edition 300C utilising genuine performance parts from Chrysler’s Mopar catalogue, as well as some local engineering know-how. And 300C SRT8 Touring ‘E490’ is the test mule.
Visually, there isn’t a lot in it, but the 300C’s chiselled shape is such a great canvas to work with, the effect of the E490’s subtle enhancements is dramatic. At the front, the grille’s vertical slats have been painted black (they were grey), and to match the Touring’s sinister Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl paint job, its windows have also been darkened.
The 300C’s exaggerated wheelarches are now stuffed with 20 x 9-inch XHP ‘Cruz’ alloys – the same size as the regular SRT8’s polished alloys, but suitably meaner to complete E490’s look and chosen for visual impact rather than a reduction in unsprung weight.
The Hemi V8’s glowing-red rocker covers are also purely for appearance, but E490’s Mopar cold-air induction system (with red intake piping the girth of a roof drain) and Mopar exhaust system with Magnaflow rear mufflers are anything but show pony ... apart from that bloody exhaust noise.
MOTOR comparison: 300 SRT v Clubsport R8 Tourer
And what a noise! True, the E490’s exhaust is currently too loud to meet the drive-by ADR, and the boom it produces at 60km/h in top gear is both deafening and kind of annoying. But tickle the E490’s throttle a little, or simply knock it down a gear, and the drone disappears. Indeed, the bellow from both its engine and exhaust at virtually any rev point is intoxicating.
Foot-to-the-floor, the 1965kg E490 Touring delivers mild wheelspin off the line, followed by a huge shove between the shoulders as its engine hammers. Chrysler reckons E490 is up roughly 15kW over a ‘standard’ SRT8 and our scorching quarter-mile time of 13.5sec seems to vindicate as much.
But, honestly, the numbers mean jack. It’s the wall of thunder that accompanies the E490 under acceleration – of any intensity – that ices this cake.
Having never really cornered a 300C SRT8 hard, I was surprised at E490’s effortless chuckability. It runs the standard SRT8 chassis and brakes, but the Touring’s extra 77kg must all be at the rear end because E490’s balance is impressively neutral.
What we didn’t try was E490’s six grand’s worth of trick Alpine audio gear. But when an engine as great as the 6.1 Hemi has had its volume turned up to 11, that’s all the music MOTOR needs.
2007 Chrysler 300C SRT8 E490
BODY: 5-door, 5-seat wagon
DRIVE: rear wheels
ENGINE: 6059cc V8, OHV, 16v
POWER: 332kW @ 6000rpm*
TORQUE: 569Nm @ 4800rpm*
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic
SUSPENSION: double A-arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-links, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
TRACKS (f/r): 1600/1605mm
BRAKES: 360mm ventilated discs, four-piston Brembo calipers (f); 350mm ventilated discs, four-piston Brembo calipers (r)
WHEELS: 20 x 9.0-inch alloy (f & r)
TYRES: Goodyear F1 Supercar; 245/45ZR20 (f), 255/45ZR20 (r)
PRICE: $84,990 (as tested)
0-400m: 13.5sec @ 174.4km/h
Top speed: 265km/h (limited)