Hey, There’s a Cool Car: Chrysler Crossfire Convertible

By Charles Krome

You know, I can’t believe this car is no more than five years old, and I don’t mean in terms of its design or specs or anything like that. It’s just that the much-heralded “Merger of Equals” between Chrysler and Daimler seems like it was eons ago. Of course, what we’ve got here is well-known as the perfect symbol of that ill-fated partnership, putting what was supposed to be a dramatically “American” skin on top of the impressive—albeit dated even at the time—mechanicals of the Mercedes-Benz SLK.

The Crossfire doesn’t have the best reputation today, but I think that again goes back to its origins. It certainly got some nice reviews back in the day in the buff books. For example, here are some comments on the car from Car and Driver’s first drive, as penned back in June 2004 by Barry Winfield: Style-wise, “Chrysler’s designers thought it crucial that the roadster look good with the top up or down. We think they achieved that goal, even retaining the coupe’s rear boattail design to great effect.”

Performance? C/D didn’t have the stopwatches out, but the guesstimate here was that the roadster’s numbers would “closely resemble the coupe’s respectable achievements,” which meant the ability to go from 0-60 in about 6.8 seconds. The mag also had good things to say about the Crossfire Convertible’s stiffness, grip, braking and ride. Top speed—and this is per Chrysler—was 150 mph.

Price? Coming in at between $34,960 and $38,920, the Crossfire Convertible was roughly $10K less than the SLK.

On the other hand, you’ve got Team Edmunds, which talks about the car’s “aged platform and unimpressive driving dynamics,” particularly “lackluster” steering response and “harsh” ride. The bottom line was that “the Crossfire was simply outclassed by other vehicles in terms of luxury, brand cachet and performance.” And a quick look at the power-to-weight ratio certainly adds evidence to that last point.

The Crossfire, Audi TT 3.2 Quattro and Porsche Boxster S all ran essentially 3.2-liter V6s, but while the Crossfire made due with 215 hp to push around roughly 3,200 lbs., the Audi packed 250 horses to drive 3,275 lbs., and the Porsche, weighing in at less than 3,000 lbs., boasted 258 hp. And these really were the kind of names being tossed around as Crossfire competitors.

All in all though, it was a nice first effort by the DaimlerChrysler crew; I just wish we had had a chance to see a second-gen version.

Author: Charles Krome

Charles Krome is a long-time automotive journalist who spent more than 10 years on the inside at General Motors and Ford, and also has corporate communications experience with Audi, Porsche and BASF Automotive Refinish. As a big motorsports fan growing up in the Detroit area, Krome was lucky enough to be able to attend numerous NASCAR, Indy car, F1 and SCCA events while still in his formative years. This, combined with a childhood that included significant (passenger) seat time in cars from Lotus and Jensen Healey, made him a car guy at an earlier age. Today, he lives in metro Detroit with his car wife, raising car kids.

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