Mystery Car

Is it really that much of a mystery anymore? No, I don’t think so.

Chrysler ad from Dec. 2003

In case you’ve been living under an automotive rock for the last 17 years or so, that car in the ad above is a Chrysler 300. These things are everywhere these days.

In fact, Chrysler is still building these. Granted, they’ve gone through a bit of a redesign since this ad was created, but a brand new 300 is essentially the same car that was introduced for the 2005 model year.

I can’t complain. My S2000 is a 2005 car and it’s brilliant! Maybe 2005 was a good year to be a car? Anyway, to draw attention to the big new Chrysler, ads like the one above appeared, encouraging viewers to check out

Of course, all of us who followed the automotive industry back then (and still do) knew exactly what this car was. There was no mystery. It’s a Chrysler 300.

But, perhaps there were some more casual readers who really didn’t know what this car was, or maybe this very same ad appeared in non-car magazines. Did those readers really mistaken this Detroit iron for something exotic from Germany or Italy or Sweden?

In case you wanted more information about this cryptic car, there was a card along with the print ad that you could send in for more information.

Card that accompanied the Chrysler 300 ad from December 2003

The card doesn’t mention Chrysler or 300 either, which makes sense given the marketing of the “mystery car” ad. And maybe we’re just more sensitive about giving our personal data these days, nearly 17 years after this ad appeared, but I, for one, would not randomly give out all this information to some company if I truly didn’t know where it was going. “Big Data” knows enough about me already.

For anyone who didn’t know the car, that mystery has long since been solved. But what happened to website?

Today, when we go to, this is what we get:

Well, that’s interesting. These days, takes you to Obviously, Fiat-Chrysler still owns the domain. But instead of pointing it to the current Chrysler 300 site (since that’s still a thing you can buy), they’re redirecting to a more generic FCA page.

I suppose it’s good that FCA still owns the domain and is doing something with it. But I would have very much liked to see this redirect to something interesting, or the current Chrysler 300 page.

There’s a little epilogue to Chrysler’s web strategy for the 300.

More than a year after, Chrysler promoted the 300 in ads like this from February 2005:

Chrysler ad from Feb. 2005

With the mystery vanquished, this ad promotes a more conventional site section at

Surely, this will still be around today, right? Chrysler still makes and sells the 300, so this URL is totally logical right?


Seriously Chrysler? You can’t point to your current page for the 300?? By the way, information about the current version of the 300 resides at the slightly different, but still. It’s typically very easy to redirect site sections.

Now, I’m not saying you should buy a car based on the company’s digital strategy (if you want my opinion on car buying, get yourself a Honda). But we’ve seen Chrysler fail at this before and at some point you have to wonder if this is just an accident or an insightful view into the way things are managed at one of the world’s biggest carmakers?

Now, that’s a mystery I’d like to solve.

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