Chrysler 300C SRT-8 Maspeth NY

Chrysler's large rear-drive 300C has the performance to back up its bad-boy John Dillinger getaway car looks. In essence, Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology Group has built the car that every hot-rodder has wanted since the 300 came out in April of last year.

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Don't think so? Well, consider these lustrous examples. The Viper SRT-10 almost needs no mention. But the compact SRT-4 does. It's about as much OEM fun as one can have on a road course, an affordable Giant Killer Neon powered by a potent turbocharged 240-bhp engine. There's also the SRT-6, a Crossfire with a supercharged shot of adrenaline that transforms both the coupe and roadster into serious sports cars that are far more deserving of respect. And now, with the SRT-8, our test subject, Chrysler's large rear-drive 300C has the performance to back up its bad-boy John Dillinger getaway car looks. In essence, Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology Group has built the car that every hot-rodder has wanted since the 300 came out in April of last year.

The transformation starts with displacement. More of it. By increasing the bore of the 300C's 5.7-liter V-8 by 3.5 mm, the pushrod Hemi powerplant now displaces 6.1 liters, or 370 cu. in. for you traditionalists. That, together with an increase in compression from 9.6:1 to 10.3:1, helps this 90-degree V-8 pump out a wheel-spinning 425 bhp at 6200 rpm and 420 lb.-ft. of torque at 4800 rpm. We're talking better-than-Corvette power here, aided by high-flow aluminum cylinder heads (with reshaped ports and larger valves), larger intake runners and exhaust manifolds that have individual tubes encased in a stainless-steel shell.

Chrysler says the improved flow allows for increased engine speeds (a way of increasing power) by nearly 15 percent — the power peak of the 6.1 occurring at 6200 rpm versus the 5.7's at 5400. Helping in this arena are a revised camshaft (with a grind, we're told, that's straight from an old Mopar 340-cu.-in. V-8), twin sparkplugs per cylinder (for thorough combustion) and lightweight hollow-stem valves (the exhausts filled with sodium for better heat dissipation). Other 6.1-specific hardware includes a reinforced deep-skirt iron block with improved coolant passages, a forged crankshaft, connecting rods made of powdered metal and pistons with floating oil-cooled wristpins. And, although the block is painted orange in Hemi tradition, plastic covers do their best to keep proud owners from showing off the fact to their buddies.

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