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Tom LaSorda: Chrysler Group's lean thinker.

May 2005 marks Tom LaSorda's first anniversary as COO at Chrysler Group. Although Chrysler is arguably on quite a roll, speaking like a good sensei, LaSorda states, "You're never as good as you think you are. Somebody around the corner or across the world is always trying to take your business away from you. So you can never let up." And having great products helps, too.

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IN A SPEECH to the SAE Green-brier conference in October, 2004, Tom LaSorda, chief operating officer of the Chrysler Group (and deputy member of the Board of Management, DaimlerChrysler AG), told the assembled, "Despite what you may read and hear--and, yes, despite even what you may believe and fear--there was never a better time than right now to be in the auto industry."

[A pause is in order here to let you assess and digest that comment from a man who doesn't seem to be given to pronouncements of fancy. He joined General Motors in 1977 and worked his way up through a number of positions in manufacturing, including stints at CAMI Automotive, the GM/Suzuki joint venture, as vice president of Production, and as president of Opel Eisenach GmbH in Germany, which has been regularly cited by GM executives as a place where the company's manufacturing system was implemented well; he joined Chrysler as senior vice president-Power Train Manufacturing in May, 2000, was named executive vice president-Manufacturing in January 2002, and took his position as COO on May 1, 2004. Guys with a resume like that tend to be significantly more pragmatic.]

He went on to tell the assembled leaders from both OEM and supplier companies at Greenbrier, "Because today, out of a relentless environment of change, we're truly emerging as one of the most dynamic and innovative industries on the planet."

SORTING OUT THE CYCLES. So, some five months after he made that statement, I ask him if he still believes it. He laughs, and then goes on to explain, "I've been in the business 28 years now. I think it becomes more and more fascinating. There's something about competition and pressure that brings a lot of good things out of people." There's also something about competition and pressure that brings a lot of people to their literal or figurative knees. LaSorda is not one of them. In fact, it is a straightforward seriousness (not solemnity, however) about the business that is characteristic of the kind of success that Chrysler Group is achieving in the market. While its cross-town rivals are having their share of problems, Chrysler, with hot products like the 300, is doing very well, comparatively speaking. But LaSorda cautions: "You have to be careful, because if you'd asked us (about our performance) a few years ago, you'd have said, 'You're the worst in town; what are the other two doing right?' It is a cyclical business." One day you're up, and the next you're not. But LaSorda thinks that because of some hard choices that the company executives made back in 2001, which he describes as "the year we'll all remember here," there should be less in the way of a negative swing going forward. Headcount was reduced. Plants were closed. There were mandated cuts to supplier invoices. It was a trying time, to say the least. But now things have sorted themselves so that the company is working more efficiently and effectively.

He says that a word that will not be a part of the thinking of any members of the leadership team at Chrysler is complacent. That just won't cut it. Listen to LaSorda:

"We've got to get leaner and better and design content out."

"We've got to get leaner and have lower costs."

"We're not going to add staff."

"We don't know what's next. But we'd better be ready."

There's no room for letting things slip back, no easing up. It should not be assumed, however, that LaSorda is some sort of mechanical, humorless individual. For example, when talking about how some vehicle manufacturers (e.g., Hyundai and Toyota) are adding capacity, he notes that some other companies are working toward becoming "right sized." Speaking of right sizing, he says, "We did that." That was one of the results of the 2001 restructuring. He adds, "I hope the day will never come that I will have to close another assembly plant. I can't say that will never happen. But I think we've right sized ourselves." As for the sense of humor, in his speech at the University of Michigan-Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminar in August, 2004, he opined, "The environment in which we compete--at times--may seem like it was lifted from the pages of a good disaster story. Of course, most of the time it seems more like it was lifted from the script of a really bad Hollywood disaster movie. Remember 'The Blob'--it creeps, it crawls, it eats you alive?" There aren't that many automotive execs who would come out with something clearly so amusing. (The movie reference, incidentally, was borne out of the title of the conference: "The Perfect Storm." LaSorda: "Rather than a Perfect Storm, I think our operating environment is more like a Perpetual Storm.")

Not only is LaSorda focused on doing things right today, this son and grandson (both sides of the family) of auto-workers states, "I think our obligation is to look at the business on behalf of not only our shareholders, but the employees, and the unions, and to protect it for the next generation." So decisions today have a ramification on what is to come.

TEAMWORK & CREATIVE FRICTION. LaSorda says a fundamental principle of a successful career is predicated on working with good people. He says that at the Chrysler Group the executive committee is an organization that is full of people who have a thorough understanding of the business, from CEO Dieter Zetsche, through to the rest of the members. "This doesn't mean we always agree with one another," LaSorda says. "You want an open environment where you're going to argue with the other person. This isn't about being polite. This is about being focused on the business and doing what's right." He explains that there is an open exchange, then the creation of a consensus. "Then you've got to go out like a team in battle. You've got the mission. Everybody agrees on the path you're going to take. And then you go for it."

The debate, however, is one that includes an assessment of prevailing conditions and the possibilities of what may happen. But he admits, "You always anticipate as much bad news in your planning as you can. But sometimes it goes beyond what you've planned." He cites the rise in steel prices as an example of something that goes beyond what was expected. LaSorda goes on to say that given such a change it is necessary to deal with it, not to proclaim woe-is-me about it. "We're going to take cost out of other areas in materials and offset it. We're not going to miss our numbers. That's the disciplined side of the company. We're not going to lay over. We need to find new creative ideas to fight this stuff."

CHANGING BUSINESS MODELS. New creative ideas are part and parcel of what seems to be LaSorda's approach to vehicle manufacturing. He thinks that the business models of the past are just that--of the past. So there are transformations underway. For example, next to the Toledo (Ohio) North Assembly Plant, three suppliers are building a facility to produce the body, paint the body, and provide the rolling chassis for a forthcoming Jeep Wrangler. While that doesn't sound necessarily different in and of itself--there are, after all, supplier parks--but what is exceedingly different is that ordinarily Kuka Group, Haden International, and Hyundai Mobis are providers of capital equipment, and in this case they're that, but then something entirely different, as well. Kuka, for example, typically provides robots, tooling and associated gear for a body shop. In this case, Kuka will actually own and operate the equipment. Instead of providing equipment, they'll be supplying bodies. Haden will be running the paint shop that it has designed, engineered and built. Hyundai Mobis will be in charge of putting together the rolling chassis.

LaSorda explains that each of these companies would otherwise be working within a Chrysler-owned facility to install, setup, tune, and aid with the equipment they've designed, engineered and built. LaSorda says that he knows, for example, what the layout for a body shop should be, what it would cost, and the number of people that are necessary to operate in it. So does the supplier of the equipment. But LaSorda says that to get the body shop, Chrysler pays a premium to the supplier. By having the supplier own and operate the equipment, Chrysler doesn't pay that premium--in fact, it doesn't pay for the equipment at all. It is, instead, buying bodies, not machines. This is in line with something that he's learned in the business: "A customer will not pay for machinery and equipment." A customer in a dealership wants a Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep product, not to have to offset the cost of a robot or a paint booth or a weld line. Overall, Chrysler will be saving about $300 million in this undertaking, which LaSorda points out is enough money to put another product on the road, which will potentially make more money for the corporation.

"It's a great business model, and we'll prove that it works," he states with no equivocation. He acknowledges that there are doubters in the industry, and that doesn't bother him. He's certain that this will be a competitive advantage for Chrysler, so he's not disturbed by their doubt. It may work to Chrysler's advantage.

Does this mean that there will be a pattern of equipment vendors turning into module manufacturers going forward? LaSorda says that the conditions in Toledo were ideal for this sort of undertaking. Because of the age of Toledo South Assembly-Stickney Avenue and Parkway Annex--the first building was opened in 1910--it was clear that something needed to be done for Wrangler production. They could locate it at the Toledo North site, which began production of the Jeep Liberty in April, 2001, or go somewhere else. Chrysler management engaged in discussions with the people at UAW Local 12; "The International UAW was great about this," LaSorda says.

Another factor is the product, the Wrangler, which LaSorda describes as "one of the best, stable products in the auto industry." He explains: "In good times or bad, the volumes are stable." (In 2004, 77,550 Wranglers were sold.) And because this is not a high-volume product, the rate at which the three suppliers will be building products is one that is manageable: "We didn't set up a 60-jobs-per-hour plant," he says, then adds, "Can it grow? Yes." Production is to begin there in 2006.

DRIVING FLEXIBILITY. LaSorda is looking for other types of flexibility within the Chrysler system. This flexibility is meant to do a number of things, with reducing investment costs and providing the means to get desired product to market key among them. For example, LaSorda cites the Belvidere Assembly Plant (Belvidere, IL) and the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP) and Sterling Stamping Plant (both in Sterling Heights, MI). The company announced in January, 2005, a $419-million investment in Belvidere and in March, 2005, an investment of $506 million in the Sterling Heights plants. Belvidere is where the Neon is made; the investment is for the Neon replacement. SHAP is where the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus are made; the investment is for their replacements.

While that is all pretty straightforward, there is more. LaSorda explains that while Belvidere is running a C-segment car, and will continue to, and while SHAP is running D-segment, and will continue to, in the case of both there will be the flexibility to make either: a C and D in Belvidere and D and C at SHAP. This will allow them to be responsive to the market with comparatively minimal investment. Going forward, he says, "We will always make sure that there is flexibility." And he points out, "We put in our flexibility money only when there is a new vehicle."

But there are various definitions of flexibility. LaSorda explains that through planning they'll determine what they're likely to need in the way of product and capacitize their facilities accordingly. So looking at the cases of Belivdere and SHAP, here is a case where there is a defined set of vehicles that can be produced at both. "Some people will say, 'Why don't you do 8 or 10 different models?' Why would I ever spend the money when I know that it is impossible to do that in the plant?" In other words, there is flexibility within reason, not flexibility with no bounds--and no likelihood of being used.

NO PAUSE. As previously noted, LaSorda is an expert on lean. In his mind, lean is a whole lot more than kanbans and andons. He considers it to be a managerial approach that looks at keeping costs low--variable, fixed and operating costs. It's about reducing waste not merely on the factory floor, but in all aspects of the organization. It's about doing more with less. It is about being rational yet creative. It is about facing up to problems and finding solutions.

"I believe the next frontier could be more demanding than what we're seeing today," he says, explaining, "There will be Chinese vehicles entering this market in a couple of years. That's a scary thought. So what are you going to do: Get scared, or do something about it?" The answer in Chrysler's case is evidentially to do something about it. (What? LaSorda first posits that it is about product, and he is appropriately bullish on that score. He admits, "Our wages are more than theirs. I understand that. However, our people can compete on quality and productivity." He further points out, "They have to ship their vehicles over here. That's a cost that I don't have. Now I have to get my material cost to be competitive with them.")

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What's An Equipment Supplier To Do?

Speaking of capital equipment spending, Tom LaSorda says, "We've taken the machinery and equipment numbers and cut that by more than 30% in the last four years." And while doing so, they've been adding product. He adds, "We're working on more product programs with less money." Instead of ripping out all of the equipment and installing new, at Chrysler they're working toward the ability to create new products by simply changing specific tooling. "That's really the future," he says. "We can change tooling on the fly and save a lot of money."

As they are undertaking the conversion of the Belvidere Assembly Plant for the Neon replacement, he says that they're examining all of the equipment, What can be preserved will be refurbished and sent to another plant. He estimates, in effect, that this will give them equipment for 20 to 30 cents on the dollar compared to buying new.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

All of which is to say that the business model for vendors of machinery, equipment and tooling is something that needs to change in LaSorda's view.

Consider a machinery builder, he says. It is making machinery that will have a useful life of 12 to 14 years. The question to that builder LaSorda posits, "What are you going to do: Wait for someone to pick up the phone"--12 to 14 years from now--" and say that it is time to bid again?"

He says that some equipment manufacturers have decided that their forward-going revenue stream is based on spare parts and service contracts. He puts it to the hypothetical equipment supplier: "How long can you survive? I don't need your service anymore--my people are well trained. The way I do PM and TPM and maintain my equipment means I don't need a lot of your spare parts, either. And if something fails in warranty, you're paying for it."

While LaSorda doesn't put forth a solution for the equipment and tooling vendors--after all, he's got more than enough problems of his own--he does know, "They've got to look at the next way they make money."

The Drive Toward Rear-Wheel Drive

Unquestionably, the Chrysler Group's implementation of rear-wheel drive (RWD) on its LX platform--300, Magnum, Charger--changed the status quo that had long existed, at least since the oil embargoes led to an embrace of front-wheel-drive (FWD) architectures for many vehicles. Will there be the same sort of transformation from FWD to RWD? Craig Love doesn't think so. "For the more-efficient, smaller, less-powerful vehicles, front-wheel-drive is still very much the appropriate architecture. For minivans and D-segment cars it's very appropriate. It offers very efficient packaging for lighter torque applications."

Love, incidentally, is vice president--Rear-Wheel-Drive Product Team and Core Team Leader, Chrysler Group.

According to Love, "We think for a basic architecture standpoint, the rear-wheel-drive setup is the way performance sedans were always meant to be." That is, the transfer of torque and the balance is right for getting the best out of a car, something that European performance sedan builders have never diverted from. So could one conclude that the creation of DaimlerChrysler led to the creation of the RWD architecture for the LX senior sedans? Apparently not. Love notes, "We were headed that way before the merger," then adds, "With the merger, what better partner to have for a rear-wheel-drive architecture?" He says that the Mercedes side helped them to "optimize where we were headed."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Advances in technology, Love says, has opened up RWD opportunities. He explains that back in the day, rear-wheel-drive was the right way to go--assuming the pavement was dry. "The concern was always, 'How do you handle vehicle stability and traction in less-clement weather?' But with ESP, all-speed traction control, a variety of adaptive chassis controls, and new tire technology, we now have the opportunity to have our cake and eat it too: the performance of rear-wheel-drive is not hampered by the problem of a slick patch."

While Love says there is "no immutable law that you have to have a certain wheelbase before rear-wheel-drive works" for a particular vehicle, he points out that for smaller cars, there is a greater packaging efficiency by orienting the engine east-west, to say nothing of not having to have a prop shaft going down the middle of the car.

That said, he goes on to point out that from a packaging perspective, "When you move to a V8, it's very difficult to have the engine east-west."

"There's no way we could have done a HEMI with front-wheel-drive."

A Supplier Solution

With major suppliers having significant financial problems--to put it mildly--the question arises of what a company like Chrysler is going to do. Tom LaSorda says that he and colleagues on the Chrysler Executive Committee (including CEO Dieter Zetsche) have been meeting with suppliers to (1) determine the situation and (2) devise solutions that will involve working together.

The solution is not, LaSorda says, for Chrysler to pay more, as that corporation is also facing the health care, steel price and other issues, too, and he points out, "The customer out there isn't going to pay more." Still, he acknowledges that suppliers need to be profitable, and that he can't afford for them to go Chapter 11.

So what are they doing?

He cites two initiatives. "Some of the CEOs at interior suppliers have told us we source too late." A consequence of this late sourcing. LaSorda learned, is that the suppliers don't have the opportunity to be as innovative as they might be, innovations that could lead to reduced costs and improved quality. So LaSorda said that they're working with a supplier on a future product program wherein both parties are committed to the goal and target price. The timing, he says, is about 25% earlier than would otherwise be the case.

Another thing the executives are doing is to visit with suppliers and conduct technical reviews of products and capabilities. By having the decision makers there, decisions can be made a whole lot faster.

Design for Manufacturing & Production

"The whole business is evolving back to product engineering," says Frank Ewasyshyn, which is somewhat surprising since he's the executive vice president-Manufacturing at Chrysler. You'd think that he'd be saying it is all about manufacturing. Ewasyshyn says of the manufacturing operations, "We're on track to do the things we need to do. We're on the glide path to be a real player." He says that they're methodically going through the production facilities, "element by element, plant by plant." They are looking for areas of improvement. And while a goal is to increase flexibility, Ewasyshyn observes, "Unlike some of our competitors, we haven't set a date--by 200X we will have everything converted. I don't have a flexibility conversion budget." In fact, Ewasyshyn, who has been involved in manufacturing in a number of positions of increasing responsibility since joining the company in 1976, remarks, "We want to put our capital dollars into the product. If you look at our capital plan, we've reduced the total spend, we've become more flexible, and we've introduced more models."

Ewasyshyn maintains that design for production is a means by which there will be significant gains made in both quality and productivity throughout Chrysler operations. "Eric and I are putting a lot of effort on that," he says, referring to Eric Ridenour, executive vice president-Product Development. "We've got to optimize the conversion factor from design to the final product." For years Ewasyshyn has been a leading voice at Chrysler as regards the CATIA-based "digital pipeline" that they've been developing and deploying. Doesn't CATIA take care of this design for production issue when the parts are being designed? Ewasyshyn answers that while the computer-aided design tools can assure that the parts go together, it doesn't indicate whether two fasteners can be used in place of four, or one fastener and a hook. "You need people for that."

OK. But what about manufacturing technologies? After all, his just-previous position was senior vice president-Advance Manufacturing Engineering.

* Machining. In powertrain look for a continued mix of CNC and dedicated machines. Transfer lines? "Extremely short. Six or seven stations rather than the traditional ones that go the length of a football field. Those are done." He says that one of the present drawbacks associated with CNC is the fact that the number of tombstone fixtures can introduce too much variability into the operation. But he is confident that there will be the necessary accuracy developed for tombstones, which will cause CNC machines to really come into their own. Still, there will be some transfer lines: "You're not going to do cranks on a tombstone," he observes.

* Joining. "I think we're going to see more structural adhesives in every car," Ewasyshyn says, adding, "Europeans are more comfortable with laser welding than we are. I think we'll see more adhesives before more laser welding." To the point of laser welding, he says that one of the issues is making it "more easily integrated into the workplace."

* Materials for body applications. Aluminum? "Good weight reduction, but expensive." Ultra-high strength steel? "Competitive. Hard to weld, though." Plastics? The cycle time is such that the number of machines necessary to support 70 jobs per hour would take "a massive capital investment," he says, "And that's in front of the material costs."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A Common Language.

"That was one of the assignments that I was given when I took over Design. There was an awful lot of confusion, even within the Chrysler brand: if you looked at the Sebring, Concorde, LHS, and 300M, there were four different faces with nothing common except the winged badge, which at that time was very small." That's Trevor Creed, executive v.p.-Design, Chrysler Group, speaking of the situation when he was promoted to his current job in July, 2000. There were too many conflicting voices. He has been working to create a consistent design language for the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands, something that he believes they've accomplished during the past few years. There may be a language for each of the brands (e.g., look at the grilles of each: egg crate, cross-hairs, seven slots), but within the brands, there's consistency.

One of the more controversial things that Creed has said of late occurred when the new Dodge Charger was revealed. Essentially, he stated that so far as mainstream, non-convertibles are concerned, the days of the two-door coupe are gone--with few exceptions (e.g., "The Mustang is a two-door with a coupe-like profile, and I think it will do very well. You could never imagine a Mustang being anything else. I happen to like the execution.") The problem is, simply when it comes to coupes--and he cites the company's own Stratus and Sebring models--there is an initial rush of buyers, then "their sales curve declines far quicker than a regular passenger car." One of the reasons is the comparative lack of practicality versus a four-door.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"Historically," Creed explains, "four-door cars were very boring, sedentary. The only way to make something exciting was to do a two-door." But that was then. "The four-door look these days," he maintains, "has become sporty. The greenhouse has been chopped--look at the 300. The two-door now doesn't have that cachet."

According to Creed "good design" in automotive goes well beyond the visual aesthetic of a particular vehicle. "Good design is great style, a great powertrain, great engineering, and at the right price that delivers. That's a good design--with a capital D. What doesn't last is styling. Styling doesn't carry it. It has to be all in one."

Chrysler Design Concepts--WEB-ONLY

To see some of Chrysler's concept vehicles that were revealed at auto shows in Geneva, Chicago, and Detroit earlier this year, check out http://www.autofieldguide.com/articles/050503.html

SRT's Street Cred

Credibility is a key concern of Dan Knott. He's the director of Chrysler Group's Street and Racing Technology (SRT), which he describes as "a very autonomous organization" that's "across the 1-75 ditch from the Auburn Hills HQ. Close enough to be in contact with a board of directors (Joe Eberhardt, Chrysler Group executive vice president-Global Sales and Marketing, and Eric Ridenour, executive vice president-Product), far enough away so that his collection of hard-core automotive enthusiasts ("all of my people are basically cowboys. I've got land-speed record holders, motorcyclists, motocrossers, Pro Rally Series drivers--people who have the passion and walk the talk") are able to engineer cars that have street cred. Knott says that the SRT organization, which consists of about 150 people, is not a skunkworks, but actually "part of the day-to-day business. We used to be a skunkworks," he admits, and adds, "But we do have a skunkworks within us." That skunkworks is responsible for the remarkable ME Four-Twelve concept, the mid-engined car with a carbon fiber body and a 6-liter V12 that can go from 0 to 100 mph in 6.2 seconds (having been thrown back in the passenger seat feeling like I was undergoing astronaut training, I can attest to the fact that this "concept" is the real deal).

But what really makes the SRT team notable is the array of high-performance cars and trucks that it is putting in showrooms for regular people to buy. OK. Regular people who are interested in getting performance versions of what are sometimes comparatively pedestrian (e.g., Neon) or already comparatively hot (300C) products. But this isn't a matter of them just dropping a hot engine under the hood (e.g., a 2.4-liter, 230-hp turbocharged four for the Neon--a.k.a., Dodge SRT-4--or a 6.1-liter, 425-hp hemi for the 300C SRT8).

There are a few considerations that must be addressed. Knott says that they look at the market segment for the vehicle. They then consider the volume that the vehicle in the SRT raiment would sell. Then they consider such things as tooling costs and variable costs. "Performance parts can be expensive," Knott says, with what those who have purchased those parts knows is to put the case mildly. He says that they look at what can be leveraged from the base product, as well as from the worldwide volume of the DaimlerChrysler organization. Speaking of what can be leveraged from the existing car, Knott says, for example, that he'll talk with the seating supplier and say that they essentially want the base seat but want different foam and different trim. So instead of having the costs associated with creating an entirely new product, this seat is far more economical. Once those determinations are made, he meets with the guys on the other side of I-75 and they decide whether to go ahead with the SRT version of the product. And a large part of Knott's consideration is based on achievable credibility. As an example--and one he hopes won't annoy some of his colleagues on the other side of the ditch--he cites the Durango: "I will never do a Durango. It's too big, too heavy for me." But big and heavy aren't the only concerns. "We aren't doing a Stratus."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Most importantly: "We're not going to do cars that lose money."

One remarkable aspect of the SRT Formula is that, comparatively speaking, the cars are remarkably economical. Consider, for example, the 300C 5RTB, which starts at $39,995 (including destination).

There five elements of transforming a vehicle into an SRT vehicle:

1. Powertrain: Something beyond the norm. For example, the HEMI in the SRTB has 25% more horsepower than the one found in the standard 300C.

2. Ride and handling: Differently tuned dampers, specific spring rates, and different wheels and tires are among the modifications. Even a vehicle like the Dodge Ram SRT10--yes, a pickup truck--is run through paces on a slalom course.

3. Braking: Performance is not only a matter of going fast, but stopping as well. So, for example, the 300C SRTB has Brembo calipers on all four wheels (360 X 32-mm vented rotors up front, 350 X 28-mm vented rotors in the rear).

4. Interior appointments: From modified gauges to seats with suede inserts that keep you planted in place when the accelerator is stabbed.

5. Exterior appointments: Comparatively stealthy, not the total boy-racer appointments. Changes typically include front fascias with functional openings for brake cooling and rear spoilers that increase downforce. Yes, there is SRT signage.

Knott says that the approach they're taking at SRT is to maintain exclusivity as a means to bolster credibility in the market. "Look at Harley-Davidson," he observes. "There is a two-year waiting list for some of its motorcycles. You don't think that builds credibility?" One of the things they've done is to set a ceiling on the number of SRT models that will be built during any given year. "We want to make sure demand is higher than supply," Knott says.

"It's not easy to start a brand, and this is a brand within a brand," Knott says. "It's not easy to build that heritage. But it's pretty damn easy to break it.

"So our collective job at the corporation is to make sure that we don't screw it up."

Building a Bolder HEMI: A Recipe for Power

The HEMI engine that's found in the 300C provides 340 hp @ 5,000 rpm and 390 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm. Which is certainly sufficient for most drives. However, people who are drawn toward something a little more, ah, robust, may opt for the '05 300C SRTB from the tuning and racing wizards at Chrysler Group's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) group, a gang who, when it comes to performance, don't leave well enough alone. Here's the recipe for transforming the typical HEMI into an extraordinary HEMI, one that provides 425 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm.

Don't try this at home.

1. Increase displacement. Cut the bore diameter of the cylinders 3.5 mm more (bringing the bore from 99.5 mm to 103 mm; the 90.9-mm stroke is maintained). This increases the total displacement from 5.7 liters to 6.1 liters.

2. Increase the compression ratio from 9.6:1 to 10.3:1 for increased efficiency and power.

3. Redesign the aluminum cylinder heads for better flow.

4. Redesign the intake manifold to have larger-diameter and shorter runners.

5. Redesign the exhaust system so the exhaust headers are individual tubes encased in a stainless steel shell. Increase the diameter of the exhaust pipes from 2.5 in. to 2.75 in. and add 3.5 in. chrome tips.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

6. Increase the diameter of the valves and reshape the ports for better airflow. Use valves with hollow stems. Fill exhaust valve stems with sodium to dissipate heat.

7. Create a new camshaft profile that allows more air into and out of the cylinders.

8. Increase peak power output engine speed to 6,000 rpm from 5,000 rpm.

9. Reinforce the deep-skirt, cast-iron engine block. Paint it orange.

10. Use a forged-steel crankshaft; high-strength powdered metal con rods; floating-pin pistons cooled by oil squirters; and an oil pan designed to manage oil return to the sump at high engine speeds.

11. Attach to A580 five-speed automatic transmission with performance-tuned AutoStick manual control and electronically modulated torque converter clutch.

12. Watch the needle on the 180-mph speedometer rise, rise, rise.

13. See flashing lights in rearview mirror.

Apply the Brembo brakes (four piston calipers; 360 X 32-mm vented rotors in the front; 350 X 28-mm rotors in the rear).

By Gary S. Vasilash, Editor-In-Chief
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gardner Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:The INDUSTRY
Comment:Tom LaSorda: Chrysler Group's lean thinker.(The INDUSTRY)
Author:Vasilash, Gary S.
Publication:Automotive Design & Production
Article Type:Cover Story
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2005
Words:5625
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Overcoming negative quality stereotypes at Chrysler: paying careful attention to detail and not allowing products to proceed through development...
Caliber: locked and loaded; In the C-segment, there are plenty of products built in other parts of the world and brought to the U.S. and stickered...

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