Alexei Sayle: A Chrysler that changes you from within

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Indy Lifestyle Online

I steered the Chrysler 300c over the old tram tracks on Lafayette Boulevard, the thick tyres rumbling on the broken tarmac, the 5.7 hemi head V8 whisper-quiet. Tony "Chooch" Lombardi was waiting out front of the lap-dancing place that he manages for some friends of ours from Miami who temporarily can't leave the jurisdiction of Dade County.

On the west side of the city, the roads ain't good and, compared with European rivals, the 300c felt heavy and a little noisy over the chewed up concrete, but you've gotta love a car that has the mean low rider looks of the 300c, and you've gotta love the deep bass note of that hemi head.

"Hey, nice car," Tony says, settling into the encompassing leather seats while taking his 9mm out of his pants and slipping it into the big glovebox.

"Yeah," I says, "I really like this interior. It's much nicer than the Cadillac I had a couple of months ago that I took to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but still, like the Caddy, you gotta wonder whether this car - with its gaping grille and stumpy tail, sharp angles and sculpted slab sides - is going to appeal to many British buyers."

"Louie," Tony says, his voice a little worried, "I thought you'd stopped having these flashbacks where you think you're some sort of British motoring correspondent who used to have some kind of career in the entertainment business.

"It's just, you know, in our business you can't be talkin' about little hatchbacks or fuel consumption or this Clarkson guy you got such a hatred for."

"Naww, I got it under control, Tony, honest," I says. "Cool," he says, relieved. "Now, here's da thing. On the way we gotta pick up Vinnie Narduzzo."

"Aww, that goddam mook." I says. Vinnie Narduzzo was semi-hooked up with the Mantovani crew down in Philly but had to blow outta there quick 'cos he was messin' around with the gooma of a made guy.

"After that, we gotta pick up some boxes off the Indian guy." "What's in the boxes?" I ask. "Do you wanna know what's in the boxes?" he asks me back. "I guess not," I says. "But they're bulky, right," Tony says. "So, let me ask you, are they gonna fit in the trunk? Because these boxes, ya don't want them poking out and the trunk lid tied down with string so the cops can get a good look."

"Sure," I says, "the trunk is a perhaps a little shallow but certainly capacious." "Capacious!" Tony screams. "There you go again. I swear, Louie, if you start talking about living in Bloomsbury and how you had a novelty hit single about a new motor in 1984 I'll clip you myself."

So, anyway, Vinnie Narduzzo is standing outside the lounge on Ventura Boulevard that he got a half share in and he's lookin' even fatter than ever and he got a soda in one of those big gulp things but that ain't a problem because the 300c has got, like, 50 cup-holders so there's no danger of him spillin' his drink on the handsome interior. Although he's so fat he gets in the back of the Chrysler with room to spare, yet this mook is never satisfied.

"Jeez, these windas is really little," he wheezes. "I can't nearly see out."

"I woulda thought, Vinnie," I says from behind the leather-and-wood steering wheel, the steering a lot less overassisted than you get on many US cars, "the number of people that was after yous, you'd appreciate a vehicle wit little slitty windas. Besides, it's an aesthetic thing."

"A what thing?" "Aesthetics, Vinnie. The way a thing looks, the way a thing feels, the philosophical notions that are embodied within it. The aesthetics of something like a car can be so overpowering that they make you feel like a completely different person."

I looks in the rear-view mirror and Vinnie is giving me a look from the back seat, his eyes as slitty as the 300c's windas.

motoring@independent.co.uk

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