Stellantis has been unveiling a series of special edition Dodge and Chrysler models as part of a farewell tour for the famed Hemi V8 engine. The latest example is the limited edition 2023 Chrysler 300C featuring a Scat Pack-derived 392ci Hemi V8. Only 2,000 examples of the 485-horsepower Chrysler 300C will roll out of the assembly line, with an extra 200 heading for Canada.
Those of us, me included, with a lifelong enthusiasm for Mopars, are currently going through the five stages of grief, trying to prepare ourselves mentally (and emotionally) for a future without showroom fresh Hemi V8s. As part of the process, we sink neck deep into the pools of nostalgia, looking back at the four-wheeled highlights that made the hemispherical combustion chamber engine famous.
Now, it is easy to criticize Chrysler for not giving the 300 a supercharged Hellcat badge as a proper send-off to its 18-year-old sedan. The Drive recently investigated the logistical reason for this, which is simply a case of high demand and low supply.
However, I believe using the naturally aspirated Scat Pack 392 Hemi to be a far more appropriate option for the 2023 Chrysler 300C. Historically speaking, this limited-edition muscle sedan is the final chapter in a legacy spanning nearly 70 years.
Chrysler’s First Overhead V8, Spawn by War and Built to Race
Mopar historians will tell you that the tire melting Hemi engine we enjoy today can trace its roots back to World War II. In the beginning, Chrysler developed an experimental hemispherical engine for the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft. Chrysler would ultimately put the experience gained during wartime to use in civilian life in the post-war atomic age.
In 1951, the once experimental aircraft engine had evolved into Chrysler’s first overhead-valve V8 engine dubbed the FirePower. This 331ci mill took up 5.4-liter of engine bay space and produced 180 horsepower. Then, in 1955, Chrysler sourced its parts bin and debuted a stylish coupe with the intent of racing it in NASCAR.
Under the hood, the Firepower V8 featured dual four-barrel gas chuggers to boost the power up to a cool 300-hp. Thus, the 1955 Chrysler C-300 was born, a car many will argue (in all caps) as being the first muscle car.
By 1957, Chrysler had further developed its Hemi V8 to a 392 ci mill, and the top-tier chrome-dressed luxury coupe was officially named the 300C. In an era when gas mileage was a secondary priority, the 1957 Chrysler 300C drank leaded fuel through a standard set of dual four-barrel carburetors to encourage the 6.4-liter 392 V8 into turning 375-hp. Only 2,402 Chrysler 300C models were built in 1957, including 18 special edition models flexing 390-hp.
After that, the rest is history as the Chrysler continued to tweak and tune the Hemi V8 from 392 to the Max Wedge to the first street legal 426 ci and onward to this century’s popular 392 Scat Pack and supercharged SRT Hellcats.
2023 Chrysler 300C Will Not Go Silent into the Night
Buyers, and presumed collectors, of the 2023 Chrysler 300C will get the last in a lineage of American-pride gasoline power land yachts. Chrysler states the 485-hp muscle sedan can sprint from zero to 60 in 4.3-seconds before crossing the quarter mile marker at 12.4-seconds and continue accelerating to a top speed of 160 mph. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends the Hemi’s 475 lb.-ft of torque to the rear wheels through a limited-slip differential. Adaptive damping helps keep the rubber on the road – where it belongs.
My main and only criticism of the 2023 Chrysler 300C Limited Edition is the decision to equip this glorious swan song of a Mopar V8 with a dial shifter. They could have given the car the same shifter as the Challenger to match its gentleman’s muscle car aesthetic.
Igniting 6.4-liters of controlled explosions and feeling the vibrations manifest into butterflies in your stomach at the acknowledgment of being in control of V8 power—a hint of fear mixed with adrenaline circulates through the bloodstream, pulse beating in sync with the engine’s idle speed. Reaching for a dainty knob to select a gear spoils the mood of an otherwise Deep Purple Highway Star fantasy.
Those who order a limited-edition Chrysler 300C can choose from three colors: Gloss Black, Velvet Red, and Bright White. Each exterior color matches its standard red Brembo brake calipers and 20-inch wheels. In addition, black chrome accents, round black exhaust tips, tail light bezels, and a black headlight add flare to the muscle sedan. At the back, a tastefully sized spoiler adorns the trunk lid. Lastly, its front grille design and 300C badge pays tribute to the original C-300 from 1955.
Times They Are A-Changing
With batteries marketed as the silent savior of polar bears and air pollution of the future, 2023 will be full of headlines involving the phrase “the last of the V8s”. But, regardless of what the future holds, there is no time like the present, and in the twilight years of the authentic, raw, unapologetic rumble of controlled chaos, there is only one thing to say – smoke ’em if you got ’em.
When the last Hemi V8 does finally arrive. I, and every like-minded fan, will take comfort in knowing that it will not go silent into the night. Instead, it will paint the asphalt with its mark as it bellows and howls in a mad dash at the horizon in a full-throttle show of Mopar fury.