When Chrysler bought the American Motors Corporation in 1987, it gained not just the valuable Jeep brand (including the big-selling XJ Cherokee) but a huge jackpot of Renault powertrain and chassis engineering from AMC’s partnership with the French company. Starting well before that time, plenty of Mitsubishi DNA made its way into Chrysler products as well, alongside vehicles with Rootes Group ancestry just to make things interesting. Then the “Merger of Equals” that created DaimlerChrysler happened in 1998 and a big infusion of Mercedes-Benz hardware got mainlined into Chrysler designs. Starting with the 2004 model year, an SLK-class-based two-seater hit Chrysler showrooms: the Crossfire. Here’s one of those first-year Crossfires, found in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard recently.
The Crossfire’s styling was taken from a concept car that appeared at the 2001 North American International Auto show; the idea was that the Crossfire would replace the Plymouth/Chrysler Prowler. The chassis was lifted from the Mercedes-Benz R170 SLK-Class, a mid-1990s design whose final model year in the United States was 2004.
That meant that, starting in 2005, American car shoppers could buy new R170-based Crossfires and new R171-based SLKs.
Starting with the 2005 model year, the Crossfire became available as a roadster. Production continued through the 2008 model year.
The Crossfire’s engine was a 3.2-liter Mercedes-Benz V6, rated at 215 horsepower and 229 pound-feet. The SRT-6 version, available just for 2005 and 2006, got a supercharged 3.2 good for 330 horses and 310 pound-feet.
A six-speed manual was standard equipment in the non-SRT Crossfire, though the five-speed automatic proved more popular with buyers here. This car has the manual, which I predict will end up in a Mercedes-Benz before this car meets the crusher.
The MSRP was $33,620, or about $55,874 in 2023 dollars. If you wanted the automatic, the cost was $35,570 ($59,115 after inflation).
The people driving and admiring Crossfires in television commercials seem conspicuously younger than those who owned the cars in real life.
Can the car of your dreams be an affordable reality? Absolutely!