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Chrysler 300 special edition recalls Valiant Pacer past

John Law

Chrysler has unveiled a uniquely Australian twist on its ageing 300 SRT sedan with the introduction of a Pacer tribute, paying homage of the Valiant Pacer of 1969. Wild Yellow paintwork and decals mark a Pacer out over a garden variety 300 SRT: that’s the same hue as used on the sixties Valiant, with Chrysler surely looking to tug at the heart-strings of muscle car devotees who remember the good old days.

In an age where the traditional V8 muscle car appears to be an endangered species, we’ve seen an increase in the volume of special editions of big cars, tugging on nostalgia of an age before vehicular emissions mattered. In a world where Mercedes-AMG, among others, are toying with electric hybrid performance cars, the SRT Pacer is a refreshingly honest sports sedan.

That’s largely down to the 6.4L bent-eight under the bonnet producing a monstrous 350kW/637Nm sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox with launch control. Traditional the concept may be, the 2020 Pacer’s power is almost triple that of the 1969 Valiant, which made a mere 130kW from its 225cu V8 – 3.7L in the new money. That car made use of a three-speed manual.

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In introducing the SRT Pacer, Chrysler claim the SRT is Australia’s “last affordable rear-drive V8 sedan”. They’re not wrong – after the departure of Australia’s locally-made Commodores and Falcon, the big Chrysler is one of the only affordable sedans left that can hit the ‘strip on wednesday, rip burnouts on saturday and take grandma to church on Sunday.

Though the 300 SRT Pacer is technically still in the late concept phase, Chrysler Australia say a limited edition production variant will be available soon. The Pacer will join other limited-volume muscle cars on sale locally, including Ford’s Mustang R-Spec, tuned by Herrod Performance, and the Chevrolet Camaro, converted on our shores by Walkinshaw.

The rather creamy Wild Yellow paintwork and decals – including referential 392 stickers – found on the 300C do well to reference the original, though two other colours, blue and red, were available, expect to find these as options on the production variant.

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As a package the 300 SRT Pacer looks taught and very aggressive, the extra addenda and 20-inch alloys helping to spice up a fairly conventional and boxy exterior.

It would have been nice to see Chrysler step away from the trendy black-out-everything approach and embrace more of the chrome of the era – though they have given the new Pacer the polished mirror cap finish seen on the original.

While the original Valiant was also sold in an uber-cool Safari station wagon variant, the current generation of the 300 is not sold as an estate, meaning this special edition will be saloon only.

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The current Chrysler 300 is getting rather long in the tooth now, and the Pacer variant functions as an end-of-the-line attention grab which makes sense after losing the four-door Australian Commodore and Falcons with big displacement engines, exciting exhaust notes and tyre-frying capabilities.

Though specifications have not been finalised – and nor has price – it appears the SRT Pacer will be based on the 300 SRT Core grade. That will likely mean missing out on some creature comforts like leather seats, adaptive dampers and adaptive cruise.

We’ll have more on the 2020 Chrysler 300 SRT Pacer if or when its maker adds it as a production grade to the wider 300 lineup.

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