BANGIN GEARS

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - BOB MEHLHOFF, ED­I­TOR

We just re­turned from the MATS Las Vegas 2018 event, and as is the norm we rented a car to drive and haul our cam­era equip­ment and such from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia to Las Vegas and back. What typ­i­cally hap­pens in our world is that the ren­tal car com­pany of­fers some­thing like a Nis­san Versa, Toy­ota Corolla, Camry, or some other non­de­script, peo­ple-mover for us when we ar­rive. Not to say that they’re not ad­e­quate cars for the pur­pose, but def­i­nitely not some­thing that a car en­thu­si­ast would find fun, note­wor­thy, or in­ter­est­ing. In other words, they’re def­i­nitely “ren­tal cars.”

Well, the plan­ets must have been aligned just per­fectly the day we ar­rived at our lo­cal renta-car counter. Af­ter a nice greet­ing from the staff there, the topic came up as to where we might be trav­el­ing. Of course, we men­tioned that we were go­ing to be spend­ing about five days away while we worked at an event. And as a mat­ter of fact, it was an au­to­mo­tive event at Las Vegas Mo­tor Speed­way based around per­for­mance Mopars of all years. At this event there would be a huge Mopar car show, swap meet, drag race, au­tocross, and much more.

The ren­tal car man­ager seemed in­ter­ested in this, and I joked about how maybe he could up­size our car ren­tal from a Toy­ota to that one Dodge Chal­lenger in his park­ing lot for no ex­tra charge. He replied that he’d like to, ex­cept that the Chal­lenger was a Hemi and the ren­tal car class dif­fer­ence was too great to of­fer that deal.

A mo­ment later he replied that he had a brand-new Chrysler 300 in the park­ing lot he could of­fer for the same rate, if I had any in­ter­est. Of course this was a no-brainer, “Yes, that sounds great.”

When we went out to the lot, the Chrysler 300S turned out to have lots of great fea­tures, a 3.6L V-6, 24-valve VVT en­gine with 300 hp, ro­tary e-shifter, elec­tric steer­ing, eight-speed au­to­matic, four-wheel disc brakes, leather in­te­rior, pad­dle shifters with sport mode, and even a power sun­roof. And 20-inch Hy­per Black alu­minum wheels.

As I drove away I re­al­ized this was re­ally go­ing to be a great drive, and it was the per­fect car to drive to a Mopar event. Af­ter load­ing the lug­gage and cam­era gear, we found the 300S had lots of great power, es­pe­cially com­ing from a V-6 en­gine. The car han­dled well, looked great, was com­fort­able, and had su­perb pass­ing power. And with all that power, it still of­fered great fuel econ­omy. The drive to and from was fun, and the car was very easy to work out of with our equip­ment and gear.

But one of the best com­ments I got with this car was when I was driv­ing through the pits dur­ing the MATS event. One of my drag rac­ing bud­dies, Scott Gra­ham who races a Ply­mouth Bar­racuda (L.A.S.D. Mo­tor­sports) stopped me near his trailer and said, “Hey, Bob! Did you buy a new car?” “Nope,” I replied. “This is ac­tu­ally a ren­tal car.”

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