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Do you like football, guns, and all things American? Do you want to go stupid-fast, but fly under the radar in a big, comfy saloon that’s ready for family duty? Do you enjoy burnouts, an exhaust note that sounds like 4th of July fireworks, and obliterating a quarter-mile in under 13.5 seconds? If so, the subject of today’s story might just be for you.
Since it launched in 2006, top and centre on the Chrysler 300 SRT8’s to-do list has been to challenge expensive European performance sedans, and to do it affordably. Updated to its second generation for 2011, Chrysler’s top-dog posh-rocket got even more impressive credentials – and a bigger, more powerful engine.
With baller styling, feature content to rival competitors with much larger price tags, and no less than 425 horsepower from an SRT-tuned engine, this luxury hot-rod was the most discreet weapon in SRT’s lineup. Your significant other, and that local radar cop, needn’t know about the big-ass V8 under the hood.
First-generation models got a 6.1L V8 with 425 horsepower, while second-generation copies got a 6.4L unit that pushed output to 470.
Look for rear-wheel drive, an automatic transmission with manual mode, Brembo brakes, and a track-tuned chassis on all models. The 300 SRT8 got various subtle but effective visual upgrades too, including upgraded wheels and tires, and revised fascias to enhance airflow and accommodate enlarged exhaust outlets.
Owners typically rave about the 300 SRT8’s blending of speed, comfort and luxury, and report a spacious cabin, roomy rear seats and a generous trunk. The up-level stereo system and sport seats are commonly listed as favourite features.
Approximate New Value
At launch, the 300 SRT8 would relieve shoppers of no less than $51,000 for a basic unit, with numerous option packages available to push the price ever higher. Starting prices climbed into the mid-fifties a few years into the 300 SRT8’s life.
Approximate Used Value
Today, at less than 10 years old and often with reasonable mileage, the first-generation unit can be found for under $15,000. Pricing pushes towards the mid-twenties, for a newer, lower-mileage first-generation unit.
Here’s one example of a used 300 SRT8, ten years old with just over 121,000 km of service, for $14,000. Shoppers after a more fully loaded model, or a newer one, for similar money, will have to deal with higher mileage on the odometer, with examples like this one. Here’s a newer, first-generation copy with even lower mileage, for less than half its original price, at six years old.
And, if budgets are larger, here’s an example of a lightly used, low-mileage second-generation 300 SRT8 for under $42,000 – which gives you 470 horsepower, saves you thousands of dollars, and basically makes you a genius.
One note: selection isn’t enormous in the used 300 SRT8 market, so shop patiently, be willing to travel a little, and wait for the perfect used example to pop up in your price range and locale.
Test Drive Tips
Approach any used 300 SRT8 you’re considering with the assumption it needs new tires and brakes, until you or a mechanic confirms otherwise.
Test drivers should check for the presence of unwelcome groaning or grinding sounds from the rear of the vehicle while turning tightly at a low speed, which could indicate a worn-out or damaged rear differential. Confirm that all window seals are present, intact and un-damaged, or water leaks may result. Rubber seals around the windows and doors should be plump, intact and solid, not dried out, damaged or missing.
Fluctuations or ‘lumpiness’ in idle or power delivery could indicate an electronic throttle body that’s on its way out. Note that slippage or hard shifting from the transmission could be a sign of an electronic or computer-related problem with the gearbox, or a sign of gearbox wear or abuse, so be sure to have a mechanic investigate. The 300 SRT8’s driveshaft should be inspected for integrity as well, as some owners have reported failure.
A full fluid change and tune-up is ideal for maximum peace of mind, though most owners report minimal issues, if any at all, and many note that 300 SRT8’s driveline is solid and durable.
With space, power, luxury and discreet performance, a healthy used Chrysler 300 SRT8 with a thumbs-up from a mechanic should prove a cost-effective way to access world-class performance that can be enjoyed on every drive.
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