With the Crossfire, Chrysler Motor Company took a shot at making a rear-wheel drive, 2-door sports car. Built between 2004 and 2008, the Chrysler Crossfire was manufactured by Karmann of Germany. The most interesting bit about the 2-door roadster is the fact that it was co-developed with Mercedes-Benz (Chrysler and Daimler were partners back then).
First shown as a concept in 2001, the Chrysler Crossfire was based on the Mercedes' R170 platform, meaning it shared as much as 80 per cent of the components with Mercedes-Benz SLK320 that was built around the same time. In 2005, Mercedes developed R171 platform and moved the SLK-Class to that. The R170 platform was entirely made available for the Chrysler Crossfire.
According to the company, the name Crossfire signifies the two character lines in the car's design that run from front to rear, crossing each other midway through the door. The name also refers to the collaboration between the two companies – Daimler of Germany and Chrysler of America.
While the Crossfire was based on the same underpinnings as of the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class of that generation, Chrysler designed the interior and exterior itself. The rest of the mechanical components such as the engine, transmission, chassis structure, suspension components, are lifted directly from the R170 platform based SLK320.
One of the similarities between the two models was that engine bay of the Crossfire was almost identical to the Mercedes-Benz SLK320. In fact, the seats from the Mercedes-Benz SLK320 could be fitted directly into the Crossfire's chassis. The dashboard layout, features and instruments also had a hint of Mercedes-Benz SLK320.
What that means then is that the Crossfire is the fusion of American masculinity and German engineering. You couldn't ask for a better combination, could you?
Sales of the Chrysler Crossfire commenced early in 2004. The 2004 Chrysler Crossfire was powered by a Mercedes-Benz derived 3.2-litre 18-valve SOHC V6 petrol engine that developed 215bhp of maximum power output and 310Nm of peak torque. Since Mercedes was involved in the engineering and development of the Crossfire, the German automaker's AMG division also did their bit with the Chrysler derivative of the two-seater. The SRT-6 version of the car came fitted with the Mercedes-AMG sourced supercharged engine. This engine was also a 3.2-litre V6 petrol motor, but it was rated at 330 bhp and 420 Nm of peak power and torque.
Transmission options included a 6-speed manual as standard while an optional 5-speed automatic was also offered. SRT-6 models were only made available with a 5-speed automatic transmission though. Both the transmissions were also sourced from Mercedes-Benz. Surprisingly, the automatic variants of the car had better fuel efficiency over the manual version – which is not the case, generally. This was achieved by tinkering with the gear-ratios in the automatic version.
The Chrysler Crossfire did not incorporate a rack and pinion steering system that is generally fitted in cars. In place, it used a recirculating ball system, thanks to platform sharing with the Mercedes-Benz SLK320. The front suspension setup was double wishbone type while the rear wheels employed 5 point multi-link setup. Two wheel sizes were offered in all variants of the Crossfire - 18-inch or 19-inch.
Equipment-wise, the Chrysler Crossfire trumped almost every other car in its segment – it was loaded to gills! Even the base model of the car featured alloy wheels with performance-tyres, a Becker-sourced stereo with anti-theft and a single-disc CD player, air-conditioning, keyless entry and exit with security alarm, a power-retractable spoiler, leather seats and steering wheel, power-retractable roof (convertible models), dual-power front bucket seats, full instrumentation, etc.
Optional extras included an automatic transmission, a 6-speaker Infinity sound system with 2 subwoofers mounted directly behind seats, a CD based GPS navigational system, additional exterior shades and interior trim choices. The SRT-6 version's cabin came finished in a unique leather/alcantara upholstery. In addition to that, the Crossfire SRT-6 was fitted with uprated suspension and brakes and a redesigned front fascia with an air dam. Most the mechanical components were shared with SLK32 AMG.
The Chrysler Crossfire was built in both coupe and roadster (convertible) body formats. Production of the Chrysler Crossfire was mostly limited to the European markets. In fact, only fewer units were exported to the USA and Mexico in the year 2006, of which mostly were roadsters. Chrysler discontinued the Crossfire in 2008 after the last model rolled off the assembly line in December 2007.
Close to 76,000 units of the Chrysler Crossfire were sold before its production was ceased. Sales peaked in 2005 when Chrysler managed to sell over 35,000 units of the car. Chrysler manufactured the car in both RHD and LHD configurations, which eventually helped it gain popularity in different markets.
The Chrysler Crossfire is a rare breed of sportscar. It may be a Mercedes-Benz SLK under the skin, but on the outside it has something unique about it, it has that special Chrysler and American charm about it. Also, compared to the Mercedes-Benz SLK, the Crossfire sold in fewer numbers, making it even rarer. If you've a thing for a "different" kind of sportscar made in the mid-2000s, the Chrysler Crossfire should be on your list.
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