First Look: MOPAR 12 300

Chrysler parts division also reveals three other special editions.

by on Jan.31, 2012

"Big Daddy" Don Garlits stands alongside the new MOPAR 12 300.

It started out selling antifreeze but, 75 years later, MOPAR has become a key part of Chrysler’s global growth strategy – and a brand in its own right, with its third specially badged model in three years soon to roll into showrooms.

The new MOPAR 12 300 is a muscled-up version of the new 2012 Chrysler 300S that promises to cut nearly a full second off the stock sedan’s 0 to 60 times, while also improving braking performance.

Meanwhile, the Chrysler parts and service unit marked the start of its 75th anniversary by unveiling three other special kit models. Including a ruggedized version of the Jeep Compass, performance and appearance enhancements for the Fiat 500 and a bulked-up version of the all-new Dodge Dart sedan.

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Originally created in 1937 to market a line of antifreeze for Chrysler products, MOPAR has long served as the Detroit maker’s replacement parts and performance upgrade brand. But it has a much bigger role in store as part of the alliance between Chrysler and its Italian partner, Fiat, noted the brand’s president, Pietro Gorlier, during a media presentation.

MOPAR wants to pump up the new Dodge Dart, the special GTS 210 Tribute shown here.

MOPAR is now overseeing parts and service operations for both sides of the trans-Atlantic alliance, an opportunity for significant growth as both Fiat and Chrysler push into new markets.  The parts unit just opened major new distribution centers in both Shanghai and Dubai. Gorlier announced, with MOPAR now operating in over 100 different countries.

But one of the more significant moves has been to place the brand’s name on a series of special-edition models and kits.  That began with the 2010 MOPAR 10 Challenger and the following year’s MOPAR 11 Charger.  Both limited editions quickly sold out, the maker reports.

Now, fans will be able to sign up for the MOPAR 12 300.  Based on the new elite version of the Chrysler sedan, the 300S, it gets an extensive once-over – inside-out and under the hood.

MOPAR's take on the Fiat 500 - the Stinger.

The “stealth-like” black paint is complemented by a black chrome front surround, with MOPAR Blue pinstriping running nose-to-tail and accenting the 20-inch gloss black wheels.  Inside, the MOPAR 12 300 gets a unique Katzkin leather upholstery with baseball stitching.  Meanwhile, the personalization kit has been signed by the sedan’s designer.

But the big news is likely to be the upgraded 5.7-liter Hemi mated to a 5-speed automatic with paddle shifters.  It is rated to deliver 0 to 60 timres in the “low 5-second range,” according to Gorlier, about a second quicker than the standard-issue Chrysler 300S.  And cross-drilled brake rotors will help scrub off speed faster than the stock sedan, he noted.

No pricing was released.

The MOPAR anniversary briefing saw three other models roll out, including the Dodge Dart GTS 210 Tribute — which honors the beefed-up Dart GTS of the late 1960s –a customizable package the parts unit plans to offer when the new compact sedan reaches market later this year.

The most immediate feature is the black carbon fiber hood with a black out chin spoiler beneath it.  The modified Dart package also includes a rear decklid spoiler and matching diffuser, as well as 18-inch Hyper-Black wheels and tires. Inside, the model on display featured a ruby red Katzkin interior package.

The stock Dodge Dart 2.4-liter MultiAir engine gets upgraded from 184 to 210 horsepower, thanks to features such as a catback exhaust.  The car was also lowered an inch with its modified coil-over suspension.  Like the MOPAR 12 300, it features cross-drilled brake rotors for enhanced stopping power.

MOPAR also strutted its stuff by revealing the Jeep Compass True North, a package designed to further enhance the crossover-ute – which was last year given the coveted Trail Rated badge of honor.  The package includes a 2-inch lift kit, 16-inch wheels and tired, with matte black wheels and fender flares, roof rack and grille surround.  The interior has also been ruggedized for serious off-roading.

The final MOPAR package was dubbed the Fiat 500 Stinger.  In fact, it features two different “stages,” one to enhance the performance of the little coupe, the other focused on appearance – though a buyer could opt for both.  It’s designed to provide an intermediate step for those who don’t go all the way up to the new performance-oriented Fiat 500 Abarth Edition.

Designed to create a “whisper effect,” the Appearance Stage includes elongated headlamp surrounds, black accents on such details as the mirror caps and door handles, and a checkered flag roof graphic – though MOPAR officials noted there are 500 other graphics available.  Inside, the Stinger also gets a Katzkin custom interior.

While MOPAR officials didn’t provide specifics, they hinted at a measurable jump in the base 500’s 101 horsepower by using the Stage 2 Performance Package.  It includes a cold air intake and free-flow catback exhaust, a cross-body bar for improved handling and drilled brake rotors.

The four offerings MOPAR displayed signal the parts operation will be getting even more aggressive going forward.

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