Today’s fun-fact: The second generation Chrysler Sebring—the crappy one that preceded the also-crappy third generation—died after the 2006 model year, but it lived on in Russia as the Volga Siber. Here’s a look at the Russian plant that built the Sebring until 2010.
Oh yes, the Volga Siber. I bet you’ve never heard that name; I sure hadn’t until earlier today, when I spotted it while strangely lusting over Dodge Stratus Coupes. I even found on Autoblog a press release from the Russian company GAZ, who wrote that the car was engineered by Chrysler, styled by a British company, and that it got a beefed up suspension for Russian roads:
The Siber model is based on a platform acquired from the American corporation Chrysler and was designed by the leading British studio UltraMotive, which took into account the latest trends in modern car design. The Siber is fully adapted to Russia’s roads and harsh winter conditions. The Siber platform has a stiffer suspension and increased ground clearance compared with the original platform.
The 2008 press release even includes a statement from none other than then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who said: “It takes off fast and they’ve increased the clearance. It will be fine for our roads.”
The Siber was a big deal. It brought back the Volga name after the old Volga was phased out in 2007, and it was promising for a then-reeling Chrysler and thus for Michigan, whose representatives flew to Russia to attend the car’s big reveal. According to Automobile Magazine, it was Chrysler who was approached by GAZ, with the result being that Chrysler shipped its tooling to Gorky, Russia, with the website writing:
The tooling was shipped and installed in GAZ’s plant in Gorky, Russia, while engineers worked on a few changes to the car.; Yes, it now sports an enlarged grille and HID projector headlamps, but we’re told the Siber’s suspension is stiffer and allows for a taller ride height.
The Siber’s powertrain is also older Chrysler fare; the base engine is the 2.0-liter “World Engine” I-4, delivering 141 hp. Uplevel models will use the 2.4-liter I-4, which produces 173 hp.
Unsurprisingly, the sad and outdated car ended up being a flop, as Autoweek reported in its 2016 article, which read, in part:
GAZ had plans to produce 100,000 Sibers and fill the streets of Russia with a car that generated fond feelings for the departed LeBaron. GAZ counted every Sebring-chicken before it hatched because they (fortunately) made less than 10,000 Sibers between 2008 and 2010. Those Sibers rolled off production lines with a 2-liter 4-cylinder that made a surprisingly paltry (even by 2008 Chrysler standards) 141 hp.
And thus, the JR platform—once built in Michigan’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant before being replaced by the JS platform, but then given another chance in Russia—was gone for good.