The 300C debuted at the 2004 Detroit auto show, a few months before its spring sales launch.
It had a high beltline, short windows and a front end inspired by the Chrysler Chronos concept shown in 1998.
“What we like to do as designers is create something that will look good forever, and a lot of that’s good proportions,” Gilles said. “We cut a really good deal with engineering to give us a really good stance on the vehicle. Once a vehicle has good stance, it should always look pretty good forever.”
The new 300 elevated the Chrysler brand from the Concorde, LHS and 300M. Perugi said it was one of the first models to use parts from Daimler vehicles.
The sedan was so popular at first that Chrysler was backed up with orders for about five months. Perugi said Chrysler’s share of Black consumers doubled within the first year. Among the early customers were rapper Snoop Dogg and then-Sen. Barack Obama.
U.S. sales of the car nearly reached 113,000 in 2004 and topped 140,000 in each of the next two years. Chrysler CEO Christine Feuell said the brand has sold more than 1.2 million 300s since the launch.
Gilles said one of the secrets to the 300’s longevity is that it came to be viewed as a canvas for self-expression.
“Sometimes you can buy a vehicle ready-made with his expression all said and done, and there are certain vehicles that welcome it,” Gilles said. “The Wrangler is one of those; 300 is one of those, where it just begs people to put their own spice on it.”