On Dec 29, 2000 - The Chrysler Crossfire concept car was unveiled at the 2001 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Chrysler said “The Crossfire fuses classic European proportions and handling attributes with the muscle and character of an American performance car”.
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"The Crossfire concept provides a new image for Chrysler, combining American power with international flair," said Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President - Product Design, Daimler - Chrysler Corporation. "The expressive execution of this small coupe is tangible proof of our capability to elevate and broaden the Chrysler brand. From its distinct design to its potent powertrain and suspension, this modern American coupe is set to impress enthusiasts around the world."
The Crossfire was designed by 25yr old Erik Stoddard, a graduate of Cleveland Institute of Art. The dramatic design has some similarities in “proportion and form language” to the Audi TT and Mercedes SLK, and these are the cars it would be up against, along with the Porsche Boxster.
Powered by a 2.7litre supercharged V6, the Crossfire has the typical Chrysler concept vehicle muscular front end, with a very bold grille reminiscent of the 300M sports sedan. The raised front fenders sweep back inward to intersect with the rear fender forms, which define the whole bodyside. 'Classic' features include the split screens front and rear and 'boat-tail' cabin form, which frames the prominent Chrysler emblem. The Crossfire has an interesting mix of bold, clean surfaces and ornamental detail, such as the hood with it's strong central bulge, flanked by a series of grooves. Of course the MB parts bin was too tempting for Chrysler, and rather than the supercharged 2.7litre engine, all the mechanics came from the tried and tested SLK 320. Whilst some said this pedigree was a little out dated, it presented a solid reliable car with known servicing and operating costs.
“The Crossfire could be produced in small volume at the Conner Avenue plant that currently builds the Plymouth Prowler and Dodge Viper, and would provide a striking image car for the Chrysler brand”. Of course we know that the plan to make the car State – Side never happened, and the famous well respected firm of Karmann GMBH got the contract.
Chrysler had not had an all-new product to launch in the UK for over three years. Somewhere along the way, the more stunning features of styling fell by the wayside; the production car we got was was not as outrageous as the split screen prototype (pictured) which was almost a “batmobile on acid”
In 2003 the first batch of 610 Crossfire started to trickle into the UK dealers. Of the initial batch of Crossfires available 66 per cent had the automatic transmission.
The motoring press went wild and all were snapped up creating a waiting list of eager buyers waiting. One celebrity owner of course had his already, Jonathan Ross had a Saphire Silver Blue Auto Coupe, so needless-to-say staff have dubbed his car a Rossfire. Perhaps Wossfire would be more accurate. Only 2000 right hand drive cars were made for the UK in 2004; again all were sold immediatley. The model mix was be 60/40 auto/manual, the autos being over £1200 more expensive.
Total production figures are not known, but since production started the cars have been seen in many far flung corners of the planet.