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Chrysler 300 Pacer 2019 to revive 'storied nameplate'

FCA Australia looks set to bring back the Pacer moniker that it first used in 1969. This time, it will be used on the 300.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia has confirmed that it will launch a limited-edition variant of its Chrysler 300 large sedan in the second half of this year, with it almost certain to use the Pacer nameplate that made its debut 50 years ago on the Australian-made VF Valiant.

While FCA Australia president and chief executive Steve Zanlunghi stopped short of confirming the Pacer badge, he did stress that the decision to revive a moniker from Chrysler’s history Down Under is indicative of the brand’s ongoing local commitment to the 300.

“Stay tuned for some news, because we’re looking to revive a storied nameplate here from our Australian heritage,” he said last week at the Jeep JL Wrangler national media launch in Tasmania.

“We’re going to do a variant for the 300 off our Australian history. You can go back and see who’s having their 50th anniversary. So, there’s a 50th anniversary Chrysler 300 coming.

“With the Chrysler brand, we are trying to bring back a limited-edition run that we will see in the third or fourth quarter, which will be a special edition, to celebrate the anniversary of a certain Chrysler version of a car that was built at the Adelaide plant.”

Mr Zanlunghi did not reveal pricing or specification details for the Pacer – including whether it will employ the 300’s 210kW/340Nm 3.6-litre V6 or 350kW/637Nm 5.7-litre V8 – but he did say there is a gap to fill in the market now that the Australian-made Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon are no longer being produced.

“We started talking about it one day because we own that space now due to Australian manufacturing going away – and we won the police contract – so thought about what can we do to grow it,” he said.

“We’ve got the Australian history, we have the Chrysler by Chrysler, we’ve got the Valiant and Pacer, the plant’s still there, and there’s a 50th anniversary, so we thought, ‘What could we do?’

“And there are a lot of diehard Chrysler fans out there. We get a lot of emails we see when we post something on social media, there are a lot of positive comments, so why not?”

With the New South Wales Police Force now using the 300 as part of its fleet, Mr Zanlunghi added that affordable rear-wheel-drive large sedans still have a role to play, especially when it comes to Chrysler’s model that will carry on indefinitely in its current form.

“Australia is the only E-segment mainstream sedan with a V8,” he said. “There is no end date to announce. We won the police contract in New South Wales for pursuit vehicles, which are the 300 SRT Cores.”

The second-generation 300 uses the rear-wheel-drive LX platform, which is more or less based on Mercedes-Benz components, with the front and rear axles taken from earlier S-Class and E-Class models respectively.

The VF Valiant range launched in 1969, with the Pacer following soon afterwards as Chrysler Australia’s performance offering against predominately V8-powered rivals from Ford and Holden.

It employed the renowned 3.7-litre (225 cubic-inch) "Slant Six" in-line six-cylinder engine until the VG-series surfaced in May 1970 with the all-new Hemi 4.0-litre (245 cubic-inch) unit.

For the new-generation VH Pacer of 1971, the engine grew to 4.3-litres (265 cubic inches), but its production run ended in April 1973 with the debut of the VJ series.

Is the Chrysler 300 more appealing than ever now that the home-grown Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon have departed? Tell us in the comments.