Cars: The Chrysler 300C is not a Bentley

I’ve always liked the Chrysler 300C – the reviews say it’s not that great from behind the wheel but it’s made-for-gangsters styling is nicely done and translates well outside of the US, which is usually a problem with American cars. But soon after they appeared on British roads, a disturbing trend for replacing the standard grill with a Bentley-style grill became popular. As if that wasn’t enough, yesterday I saw a 300C that actually had Bentley badges on the boot lid.

There’s an obvious issue right away – it’s a pretty desperate move to stick badges from a more expensive car onto a cheaper car. It’s worse than the young lads who buy Fords and Vauxhalls and de-badge them. If you don’t like the brand, perhaps you shouldn’t buy the car? But turning your 300C into a fake Bentley is worse for a more important reason – you’re completely misunderstanding the car and the person who designed it. It is actually the case that the design of the 300C was inspired by a well known British car brand, but it is in fact Rover, not Bentley.

Now before any 300C owners get upset, it’s not as bad as it sounds. The Rover in question is the P5B Coupe, one of my all time favourite cars from an era when Rover was a very well regarded brand. These days, the Rover name is mud, ruined in two phases – firstly by putting the badge on warmed over Austin’s in the early 1990’s, and secondly by continuing to sell severely outdated models in the years before the business collapsed in 2005. But decades ago, the P5, P6 and to some extent the SD1 were cars that cost a few bob and were the preferred means of transport by Prime Ministers, Government ministers and even the Queen.

How are the P5B and the 300C similar? Firstly, the P5B was innovative for offering a coupe option which brought a low roofline and shallow windows, but retained the four door saloon body. This is heavily echoed in the 300C. The standard 300C front grill (not the Bentley one!) and headlamps are very similar in concept, and more so at the rear with the tall thin tail lights.

By the way, the Rover is the one at the top!

Are there any 300C owners out there principled enough to put the original grill back on their car and add some Rover badges?

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