Bye, Bye Miss American Pie… and Big V8s, Too

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2018 may be the last year for Chrysler as we have known it. Dodge, too. These two sell the automotive equivalent of lawn darts – big rear-drive cars with big V8 engines.

At still-affordable prices.

People love them but the government bureaucrats who have somehow been empowered to countermand our buying inclinations do not. Such cars use “too much” gas – notwithstanding we’re the ones paying for it – and so the bureaucrats have been systematically working for decades to make such cars artificially more expensive to build – and to buy – via punitive “gas guzzler” taxes.

These taxes – the actuality as well as the threat – are why the average new car is compact-sized, front-wheel-drive and powered by a small, four-cylinder engine. Before “gas guzzler” taxes – when the car industry was still largely free to build the types of cars buyers rather than bureaucrats wanted – and those buyers were largely free to buy them at a price that was reasonable because not grotesquely, artificially ballooned by punitive taxation – Americans, average ones, routinely drove big, rear-drive cars with big V8s.

The kinds of cars that Chrysler (300 sedan) and Dodge (Charger, Challenger) still build today.

But probably not for long.

The “gas guzzler” taxes applied right now are a mere Sunsteinian nudge in the ribcage compared with what’s coming.

Right now, a car company gets hit – and in turn, hits its customers – with punitive “gas guzzler” taxes if its fleet of cars fails to average 34.5 miles per gallon.  But tomorrow – 2025 – the fleet average requirement will almost double, to 54.5 miles per gallon.

Big, rear-drive cars with V8s like the 300, Charger and Challenger would incur enormous “gas guzzler” taxes under this regime, to a degree that would render them so artificially expensive to offer for sale that only very affluent people could afford to buy them – as is already the case with other big, rear-drive cars with V8s under their hoods.

The only car companies offering such vehicles besides Chrylser and Dodge are high-priced luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and BMW. And even they have had to retreat from V8s, which are now offered only in their highest-priced models, the ones in the six-figure range. (The 2019 Lexus LS – the company’s flagship sedan – will be powered by a turbocharged V6; it previously came standard with a V8.)

This backdrop accounts for the water-treading of Fiat – Chrysler (and Dodge’s) parent company with regard to the 300 and Charger/Challenger. These cars – which haven’t changed much in years – were due for an update this model year. To be based on the rear-drive Alfa (part of the Fiat family) Giorgio platform. This would have meant a renewed lease on life for rear-drive Chargers and Challengers – at still-reasonable prices.

2018 came  – and the 300, Charger and Challenger remain unchanged. The plans for using the Giorgio platform as the basis for updated – but still rear-drive and presumably, V8-available – versions of these cars were kiboshed.

Meanwhile, Sergio Marchionne – head of the Fiat combine – let loose the horrible news that the popular Chrysler 300 sedan may go front-wheel-drive, riding on a modified version of the same chassis used for the current Chrysler Pacifica minivan. He didn’t say it, but this change from rear to front-wheel-drive would also mean no more V8 for the 300 – the whole point of going to FWD being to lighten the car in order to make it viable to downsize what’s under the hood, in order to appease the government bureaucrats who’ve assumed the power to dictate to us how much gas we’re allowed to use in our cars.

This leaves the Dodge Charger sedan – fraternal twin of the 300 and (currently) based on the same underlying chassis – and the Challenger, which is a two-door version of the Charger sedan and shares the same mechanicals.

People love these cars – just as they love a good ribeye and a beer. But how can FiatChrysler continue to sell them at a price they can manage when government bureaucrats are about to double if not triple the “gas guzzler” taxes that will be imposed upon them?

2025 is less than seven model years away. Whatever FiatChrysler – and every other car company – intends to sell then is in the planning stages right now. Crunch time isn’t coming – it’s here.

There was another rumor that the Charger/Challenger at least might get updated using the same platform Maserati – another Fiat property – uses to build the Ghibli. The good news about that, of course, is that the M157/Ghibli platform is rear-drive and would support a V8.

The bad news is . . . it’s a Maserati platform. And Maseratis tend not to be the type of cars average Americans often get their hands on.

Unless the 54.5 MPG fatwa is rescinded – and so far there have been no tangible signs this is going to happen – one of two other things is likely to happen between now and 2025.

The first  – and least likely – is that FiatChrysler will use the M157/Ghibli platform to build a new (and still rear-drive, V8) Charger/Challenger, but at very high cost – which would mean very low production. A car for the rich only, the few who can still afford such cars.

The second, more probable alternative is that FiatChrysler will continue to sell the current 300/Charger/Challenger for another couple of years, largely unchanged – then replace all of them with fatwa-friendly FWD/four cylinder (or hybrid/electric) cars.

If the 300 goes front-wheel-drive, expect the Charger and Challenger to follow.

As Michael Corleone explained to his brother Sonny in the original Godfather, this isn’t personal – it’s business. FiatChrysler – like every other car company – has to do business with Uncle first before they can do business with us.

Until that changes, we’ll be allowed to buy only the cars Uncle permits the car companies to build – and both of us will continue to be punished for not bending knee to that.

If, therefore, you fancy a big, rear-drive bruiser like they used to make ‘em, better go get one while they’re still being made.     

. .  .

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69 COMMENTS

  1. One reason Nazis and Communists exist is because people embrace them.

    Schools are nice, but there doesn’t need to be a decree that there must be government schools.

    There are no government shoe factories, but do you own shoes?

    Would you use crack cocaine if it was legal?

    Why did Americans fight Nazis to become Nazis?

    The USA is bankrupt warmongering police state now. Instead of calling for balanced budgets, peace, and freedom, Americans are demanding more government.

    Asking the government to protect you from the government is like asking a thief to watch your house while you go on vacation.

    Madness.

    Do think the Gestapo are some kind of Holy men more moral than you are?

    Americans seem to have gone insane and are begging for their chains.

    The elites have taken over the government and will not stop until everyone is enslaved or dead.

    When will you wake up? What will you do when the government closes your church, burns books, bans your job, steals your house, beats your friend, tortures your family, takes your blood, gives you an anal probe, implants a microchip in you, or sends you to the concentration camps?

    Are you just going to take it?

    Americans are so degraded now that they censor those who warn about government abuse rather than listen to the truth.

    When you ban everything that annoys you or is dangerous then you quickly find out that you live in a police state.

    Good men don’t need laws. Bad men won’t obey laws.

    One worse thing than finding out that you live in a police state is learning that no one cares.

    http://f2bbs.com/bbs

    • The hoi polloi have always embraced the same things their leaders claim to, regardless of however any of them came to be. It is usually jingoism masquerading as patriotism.

    • There are government schools and then there is government schooling.

      This country has had a history of government run schools from before the beginning. They were operated on the most local level and voluntary. Our dear industrialists seeing the example of Prussia changed that. Enter government schooling. Compulsory and top down.

      The principles of human farming, the scientific management of society means that we’ll never see visible out in the open slavery or the camps unless something goes horribly wrong for the so-called elite. We’ll just have our nicely appointed tiny apartments and when a corporation needs us elsewhere or we decide to work for a different one all our stuff will go into an standardized container and we will be moved to the next apartment. Simple. Efficient. Unhuman.

  2. I’m not a big Trump fan, but if he were looking for something useful to do, some odious regulations to repeal, I can think of no better place than here, the CAFE standards.

    I doubt he has the cojones to do it, alas.

  3. Great article Eric. With relation to what’s coming down the pike does that mean my FWD 2.2 1984 Dodge Daytona TurboZ was ahead of it’s time in ’84?

    • I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again…. if I had the time and could find some of those early 80s featherweights that every make had I’d put one of these modern turbo charged tiny engines in it. That’s where all these gas sipping engines belong, on platforms like that Dodge Daytona. FWD, RWD, whatever… they would just be great fun with modern hp and no weight penalty.

  4. Methinks I’ll scour the land for some old lady’s 1973 Chrysler Newport or Dodge Monaco that has but 120K miles and has largely been a “garage queen” for the past 20 years. Probably can pick up a very clean beast like that for some $3,000 to $4,000. Nice thing is that even in the People’s Republik of Calipornia since it’s pre-1976 for gasoline (or pre-1998 for diesel), no SMOG CHECK. Especially if the beast has a big block (400, I’ll think I’ve died and gone to heaven if there’s a 440 4 bbl under the hood. Mopar 4 bbls used a Carter Thermo-Quad of which rebuilt throttle bodies and kits are abundant. Test the mill and if it has good compression, then fine, use as is, but even having to pull the engine and go through it won’t be a money pit; and since this would be a cruiser rather than a street rod, many an RV cam available for good low-end torque, let alone a stroker crank. Probably the biggest challenge will be replacing steering and suspension parts due to aging rubber. Invest about $2,500 in a n add-on overdrive for the A727 Torqueflite and a custom driveshaft, and that beast will cruise all day on the freeway at 85 mph while getting over 20 mpg. The best part? Riding in COMFORT while giving the Enviro-Nazis the finger!

    • Amen to that. Doing the same here but with my 84 and 86 Crown Vics. My 84 got 23.5 on my last trip to the coast. (I’m in the mtns of Va). 184763 org miles, never touched, I’m 2nd owner, 1st owner took it to dealer for EVERYTHING. I’m glad. gonna try to keep it as org as possible for as long as possible.

    • Those who can will find themselves subsidizing all of the favored populations and their toys until they learn to follow Nancy Reagan’s advice, and JUST SAY NO!

  5. I just picked up a ’18 300, RWD-only, v8, no-sunroof. I love it. big, fast, quiet, comfy, etc….
    My first Chrysler vehicle ever since the 80’s. I was in the market for a RWD-only big-as-I-could-get sedan, and while Caddy CT6, MB and Audi says they make them, no dealers here in North East had anything but AWD. I did NOT want AWD, I don’t like them. And no dealer would order me one or even try and find one for me, except the Chrysler dealer. They didn’t have a RWD v8 either, but arranged me a drive in the owners car so I could see if I like it. I did, ordered it my way, 4 weeks later it came in Sept., and I have to say it is now my favorite-of-all-time car in many. And a bonus at $40k vs the others mentioned.
    And many say they aren’t the most reliable, bad resale, blah, blah. Don’t care, as I buy all vehicles bumper to bumper warranty for as long as I own it. And don’t car about resale either, cause I easily justify it being the most enjoyable car I’ve had in a very long time. Makes driving fun again. Pay-to-play.

    and yes, I drive it in the snow, no problems at all. It’s actually fun. Thanks for the write up Eric. I am a fan of your work.

    ohhh, I think I read that FCA had to settle with the Canadian Union at the Brampton? Ontario plant that builds these with a contract to 2020-2021? So does this mean these cars stay till then? Hope so, as I’ll get another one before they go bye-bye.

    • Hi Chris,

      Excellent!

      Big fan of these cars as well. And you’re right about the pushing of AWD. For me, it sucks all the fun out of the car. Makes it feel numb. I like being able to slide the rear end out.

      I am guessing you do, too!

      • You bet. I’m 52, and have had lots of cars and mostly trucks because of RWD and V8.
        Most of my sales career I drove a lot (30-50K mi/yr) so I owned almost everything sine the 80’s, but when cars got smaller I went trucks, and trucks kept getting better. But I longed for some sportiness recently, so I bought a Caddy ATS RWD-only, 2.0T stick. It is a great car (minus the not so great 2.oT), and it reinvigorated my love for RWD. So my needs changed to needing a long haul cruiser sedan, so the to-small-for-me ATS had to go, and I’m glad I found the 300. I enjoy driving again.
        I’ve been reading you for a while and enjoy 100% of it. I will be contributing.
        Thank you,
        ps: I’m going to have to turn my brother on to you, he thinks like us for sure. “I will only drive RWD stick forever till I die” hahahahaha He just built a killer ’93 RX7 that’s the fastest car I’ve ever driven. Feels like it wants to lift the front wheels off the ground. I had to compromise on the 300’s auto-trans, but it’s tuned really well in ‘sport mode’ for this old man. Long live RWD V8.

        • Morning, Chris!

          It gladdens me to know there are still a few others out there. I feel an urge to take my Trans Am out today. If it only it weren’t for the road salt that VDOT sprays like an unfixed tomcat marking his turf at the first hint of a snowflake! That leaves me stuck driving the Corolla Toyota is sending me this week. Neutral dropping a FWD car just isn’t the same!

          • hahahahaha… i will never own a FWD the rest of my life. my brother either. and I had many, Bonnevilles, Park Ave’s, Cutlass, etc… and the Park Ave. Ultra blown, what a great car it was, just the FWD aspect sucked.
            And I’m a little proud to say my 19yr old son is a car guy too. he drove my 300 and said ‘wholly crap dad, that is pretty awesome for an old man’s car, although I would never own one’ hahahah.
            he’s gone down the road with WRX’s, etc.. and has worked his way up to a pretty cool Focus RS. I like……..
            which brings up a relevant point, the youth don’t, nor will they probably ever understand our minority fascination with V8’s. He does get RWD though. He, like me, races dirtbikes, so he gets the physics of it, even though he’s young.

      • I certainly like the rear sliding out esp on unsealed roads we have here in Australia. My boys like that also. That’s why I drive a big Statesman with party room for a back seat and its rear wheel drive platform.

  6. My wife has an insurance replacement car since car was hit by a red light runner. The Ford Fusion hybrid was very disappointing. The combo electric 4 banger couldn’t get off the starting line. I pushed down on the gas and counted to three before the torque kicked in. How can they even sell these things?

    Fortunately I was able to get back in my 2010 Mustang GT. It actually goes forward when you press the gas peddle. Maybe I’ll buy a 5.0 before Ford goes out of business!

  7. Not sure if anyone in the US noticed….. but here int he UK yesterday a few news outlets mentioned in a very by-the-way manner that German car manufacturers were testing emission gasses on humans and monkeys….. compare and contrast that to all the noise that was made about the emissions test “cheating”…… was headline news for days (at least) and you still hear about it on and off……

    Now ofcourse I dont know much about this latest (not much has been said)…. but in my book gassing a human or animal is much worse than not ticking a couple boxes Uncle told you to tick (which in the real world dont even matter because we dont drive how cars are driven on tests anyways)….

    But the media seems to be telling us its worse to not listen to Uncle than to gas living things….. strange times….

    • The American government and military have been using their citizens and soldiers as guinea pigs since WW1.
      The late Joyce Riley told more of the story than many can stomach in Beyond Treason, which she used to give away for free to any veteran who wanted it. Maybe The Power Mall has a few copies left.

  8. FASCISM defined:
    Government control of private means of production.

    Does anyone else think this description fits what is described in this article?

  9. “The second, more probable alternative is that FiatChrysler will continue to sell the current 300/Charger/Challenger for another couple of years, largely unchanged – then replace all of them with fatwa-friendly FWD/four cylinder (or hybrid/electric) cars.”

    Let’s hope for a silver lining. FCA has been continually improving that Hemi drivetrain, most notably, with that 8 speed transmission. Also they have been putting out some very special variants, like the Hellcat and the Demon. Perhaps before disappearing completely, they will offer a GT version, which could be the stuff of legends. Like the original Pontiac GTO.

    Imagine a Charger or Challenger with major handling upgrades, and with a Hemi tweaked to (only) 475-500 horsepower. Sell it for just under $50k. Wow!

    Mopar seems focused on leaving people with something to remember for a long time. C’mon Dodge Bros……Go Out With A BANG!

  10. There already is the $1700 gas guzzler on the 300/Charger/Challenger V8’s already. I don’t even think the Chevy Corvette escapes that tax anymore even.

    What sucks for Fiat-Chrysler is that the rear drive V8 platform is the only compelling thing they have left for passenger cars. The market yawned at the the Dart/200 to the point of them not bothering with even continuing to build them. They weren’t even bad cars, the 200 was offered with four wheel drive and still had a V6, they were actually pretty decent vehicles. But all midsize cars are quite good today.

    Without those characteristics the 300 becomes another also-ran. Which Chrysler really can’t have. I know I would have no interest in a V6 front wheel 300. With the V8 and rear drive you could overlook Chryslers sometimes not so great reputation.

    Chrysler at this point, if nothing changes, will only have trucks and jeeps. Cars will only continue to pull down the business.

    Ironically, if the 300 becomes a very low volume expensive model, it may finally restore the Chrysler name to a premium brand. Wonder if there would be enough money only making Hellcats and Demons………………Guessing not, since there is no new Viper.

    Hope I can get a Charger in my garage before they go away. Not looking so good.

  11. Feh, if things keep going the way they are, you won’t be able to buy ANY internal combustion engine vehicle by 2025, regardless of engine size.

    Born wrong: too late to blaze a trail on earth, too early to blaze a trail in space.

  12. One of the reasons I went for the 8 (vs. the ecoboost) in my ’13 F-150 is that V-8s are harder to get now. Also the durability factor (knock on wood).The DOHC Coyote is a pretty good motor, but the legacy pushrod V-8s have that beautiful smooth low end power and acceleration that just feels so good. Another nice thing about my ’13 is the insurance rates are lower with the all steel body (vs. the new aluminum body).

  13. Couple of random thoughts on this topic: 1) Americans have always like to drive V8 vehicles! First started off as sedans/station wagons. Then morphed into SUV’s (I *think* b/c they were considered *trucks* back then and therefore didn’t come into CAFE). Then when SUV’s got to be considered cars for CAFE, it morphed into 4-door pickup trucks (you know, the ones with ridiculously short beds… essentially an open trunk that can drain out when it gets wet….) Now that half-ton trucks are being rolled into CAFE, the last bastion of the V8 vehicle are the 3/4 ton trucks….. Mark my words, you will see more of the 4-door 3/4 ton trucks with soccer-dads driving them in the upcoming years. 2) Didn’t once upon a time the GMC Suburban come in a 3/4 ton? I remember seeing them back in the day, but I don’t think they exist now. Mark my words, you’ll see the 3/4 ton Suburbans coming out until they get CAFE’d. 3) One last thing, maybe its not about increasing the mpg’s instead its ALL ABOUT THE TAX! Just make the CAFE rules out of the element “unobtainium” and just charge the damn tax. 4) Lastly, I predict an I-don’t-give-a-shit-about-CAFE car company coming out and making all V8’s w/the gas guzzler tax just marked into the retail price as a “cost of doing business”

    Go out and buy your V-8 while you still can!

  14. What was that line in Mad Max as they were all drooling over the wonderful high pitched symphony breathing through a roots supercharger?
    “It’s the last of the V8’s!”
    In theaters in 1979, coming very soon to a country near you..

    When do we go for a ride.

  15. You realize, I’m sure, that the Feds and any of the 1%ers will still be able to custom order whatever they wish, with whatever they choose for the power plant, drive line, etc., in accordance with their status as the ruling elite.

        • You can’t verify that because I am not, nor ever have been, “Studs”.

          If you read and follow places like Reason’s Hit & Run, Unz, Taki’s, and Mises, inter alia, you’ll see my name.

          I have posted here as Liberty Mike for 5-6 years. To be sure, I do not post everyday, and I may go weeks and weeks without posting.

          I believe Eric will vouch for my bona fides.

    • While Colorado Highway Patrol uses a mix of vehicles, the primary trooper vehicle is the Dodge Charger. The second most popular vehicle I see is the Ford Expedition, and the occasional F-350 super duty with a very large topper and “hazmat response team” decals. The local sheriff’s departments generally drive F150 crew cabs or Explorers (most of them are fairly old though).

      I wonder how long it will be before Northrop Grumman starts building police cars? It seems like an untapped market for them, setting up local and state PDs with long term lease deals that include all service, maybe even their own fuel depots. They could spec out whatever they wanted, much like the Post Office -anyone remember the right hand drive jeeps from the 1970s? Cash strapped local governments will love the idea of leasing and “low low monthly fees,” and I’m sure Congress could set aside a few hundred billion dollars to kick off the program. After all, everyone is onboard with spinning off their communications to AT&T through a program known as Firstnet. It only makes sense that they continue the trend now that that Pentagon is pretty much on a lease and contractor plan.

      https://www.firstnet.gov/about

      • That wouldn’t be a surprise if police departments start using more military vehicles once cars like the Charger go away. The finance model would have to be set in place since most police departments can’t afford what military equipment costs. They seem to manage to pay about $25k for a police Charger. No military vehicles would be that inexpensive, a military humvee is well over a 100k a copy . Wish there was a civilian Charger with the V8 for $25k……….

        • Urban police departments have been receiving all manner of military equipment since before the turn of the century, gratis from the Pentagon.

          • This reminds me of the very first “Robocop” movie (starring Dr. Peter Weller, who narrated a bunch of history documentaries, as the titular character), where the late Ronny Cox (I find myself prefacing so many celebs that I known with “late” these days), as the corrupt CEO of the company that runs the Detroit PD under contract (OCP, kinda like OCD, ya know?), tells his gangster accomplice, Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith, before he was threatening to put his foot in the arse of his TV son on “That 70s show”), in a discussion of how to acquire military-grade weaponry to defeat the Robocop, sez, “Hell…we practically ARE the military!”.

            Judging by the battle helmets, body armor, assault rifles (funny how the same don’t want Joe six-pack to have one, fuck the 2nd Amendment), riot gear, and ARMORED vehicles and armed helicopters and other aircraft, I’d say that life has, in utter disregard of the Posse Comitatus Act, imitated art, and it only took 30 years.

        • I was also wondering what the cops would do without Chargers. They’ll probably replace them with Tahoes. That way it’ll be more expensive, less efficient, and they won’t be able to surpass 105.

          I’m sure they get a sweet deal from GM on the Tahoes. And the Tahoes will continue to be produced as long as the soccer moms keep financing them.

          • If they aren’t blubberbots, the best place for them is on bicycles, especially since they’ll be having cake sales to buy anything.

      • I have a proposal: Let’s mandate that ALL police cars, police APVs, and police MRAPs achieve 54.5 MPG by 2025… and while we’re at it let’s include all vehicles used in government motorcades.

        Let’s see how the m_____f_ckers like living under the same rules they impose on rest of us…

        • The same copsuckers that want the local police as well armed as the Russian 3rd Shock Army want to disarm the average, LAW-ABIDING citizen, in disregard of the 2nd Amendment (another relic of dead white slave owners), so why should one’s ride be any different? The PTB want nothing less than the complete emasculation of the US Male.

      • I think if it wasn’t for pickups and the Mustang, Ford would be out of the V8 game already. Of course Mazda no longer even offers a V6 anymore. Honda offers no more V6’s with its Accord. I was surprised the new Toyota Camry still offers one. I bet it won’t make it to the next refresh though. It will likely get quietly dropped in 2019 or 2020 model year. Lots and lots of electric cars coming even without any real breakthrough tech that ungimps them. It’s going to be like the late 70’s early 80’s again soon.

        • Ford was ahead of the curve. They tried to kill the V8 for the Mustang in 1974, then again in the early 1980s, and again for 1989. In 1974 they actually removed it from the options and people complained loudly and it returned. In the early 1980s they created the Turbo GT and SVO Mustangs and deliberately set up the options to steer performance buyers to them. They failed, people still largely bought the V8 GT. Then for 1989 they were going to launch Mustang iv on the Mazda 626/MX-6 platform. People got wind of it and the outrage started early. Ford backed down and made that car the Probe and started on the SN95 Mustang.

          That’s the problem with a free market, customers. Which is why control freaks never want one.

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