Powered by a 5,7-litre Hemi V8, the Chrysler 300C is on its way to South Africa and, according to DaimlerChrysler SA, an estate version of the retro saloon and several Dodge models could also be launched here soon.

Powered by a 5,7-litre Hemi V8, the Chrysler 300C is on its way to South Africa and, according to DaimlerChrysler SA, an estate version of the retro saloon and several Dodge models could also be launched here soon.

Harking back the origins of the original Chrysler 300C of the 1950s, the new angular 300C rides on 18-inch wheels and also uses the acclaimed pushrod Hemi V8 block. Some reports have suggested that the model will be launched on the local market in July 2005.

Speaking to CARtoday on Wednesday, DaimlerChrysler group media manager Deon Ebersohn said although no complete details were available about what would be offered here, the 5,7-litre Hemi V8 and a 3,5-litre V6 would probably make their way to South Africa.

And though no pricing information is available, Ebersohn said the prices should be "very competitive and in the region of the Mercedes Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series."

With its hi-tech hydraulic valve filters, the Hemi V8 uses what Chrysler calls its multi-displacement system to shut off the valve systems on four of the eight cylinders, effectively converting the mighty 5,7-litre V8 to a frugal V4 at cruising speeds.

And with US demand also peaking for the 300C's sibling, the Dodge Magnum, Ebersohn said it was very likely the big Dodge trucks could soon make an local appearance too.

"Dodge is looking at expanding from continental US to Europe in 2005," Ebersohn said. "Although the Viper and other products have been available there by request, there hasn't been a real presence in terms of dealers in those markets. If that happens, Dodge's expansion will probably filter down to SA within two to three years, growing our local range.

The increased US demand for the 300C and Magnum, could also spell imminent production increases.

"We are looking for all opportunities to add production," Chrysler chief executive Dieter Zetsche said in an interview last week. But he added it was too soon to consider adding a third production shift at the Brampton plant in Ontario, Canada where workers have been working overtime since production of the 300C and Magnum started in January and February respectively.

Meanwhile CARtoday.com correspondent Patrick van Sleight spotted a touring version of Chrysler's 300C in Germany recently.

Van Sleight noticed this car (pictured above) with its matte-black, non-reflective paintwork, red number plates and covered badges. After following it, and on closer inspection, he realised that it was probably the 300C Touring undergoing testing.

Ebersohn said the Chrysler's 300C estate would be launched internationally sometime next month and should follow the saloon's SA launch by two to three months.


Chrysler is also reportedly working on a 6,1-litre version of the Hemi V8 capable of producing 280 kW. The four-door Dodge Charger version of the Chrysler 300C could be first to get this bigger Hemi when the Charger is launched on the American market in 2006.