Chrysler Crossfire Caught in Nardelli's Crossfire

Posted by: Gail Edmondson on November 5, 2007

Crossfire.jpg

Will anyone miss the Chrysler Crossfire? Chrysler has announced the 3-year-old German-American sportscar which starts at $30,000, is being cut, along with three other Chrysler models (Pacifica, Dodge Magnum and the convertible version of the PT Cruiser.

Maybe you never even heard of it. The 215-horsepower Crossfire, available as a coupe and roadster, was launched in 2004. Hailed as the first car to highlight the enormous “synergies” between Daimler and Chrysler, it is now a glaring emblem of the failed merger.

Back in 2003, Daimler managers touted the Crossfire as a halo-model for Chrysler. The Crossfire shared many components with the first-generation Mercedes SLK and was built for DaimlerChrysler by Karmann in Germany. The idea was to blend German engineering and American automotive style. Above all, it was to lend the ailing American automaker real German sportscar cache.

But alas, the Crossfire concept was as flawed as the merger. No one who wants a racy European sportscar buys a Chrysler, no matter where it is made or how many parts it shares with a Mercedes. And Americans aren’t into paying big bucks for a bit of German halo. In addition, the steering is lackluster and the ride was unremarkable (according to Edmunds.com). Hence, the halo never appeared in sufficient numbers for anyone to see it.

Total production plummeted from 35,600 cars in 2003 to 12,500 in 2005. I can’t find 2006 numbers, but the car was discontinued in the US in 2007, so they much have been disastrous. The only remaining question is how much the discarded cross-breeding experiment cost.

Reader Comments

antonio311

November 6, 2007 6:23 AM

Every single person who owns a Crossfire loves his car! Everytime I drive mine I get compliments! The Crossfire is a wonderful car. The styling is awesome and the ride is outstanding! Show me any other car that looks as hot as this and gets more compliments then you can tell me how bad the Crossfire is! Also Crossfire owners will be laughing all the way to the bank when their "lackluster" cars become collector items!!!

John G

November 6, 2007 8:42 AM

Seems a shame as this car looked right being a little different to the normal run of the mill. Perhaps Chrysler should look at Citroens marketing techniques as they seem to be able to make inroads with all their models

Brent Vinson

November 6, 2007 9:50 AM

Wow,

More ignorant, inaccurate stuff about a cool misunderstood sports car. 2007 model year Crossfires are currently for sale at dealers all over the Grearer Cincinnati area. I purchased a base six speed 2006 model year coupe last March. It was heavily discounted; $30K sticker and my price was $20K !!! The Contract with Karmann is set to expire after the current production run. The plant in Onasbruck is now running making mostly roadsters. I do not know if they will be sold as 2007 or 2008 models. This is nothing new DCX paid a heavy penality (100 million Euros !) for the shortfall in the production contract with Karmann
This was reported in European auto press releases over a year ago. Nardelli had nothing to do with this decision; it was a "done deal" long before Chrysler was sold. Currently, this "laskluster" little sports car is doing very well in SCCA D/Stock auto-cross competition. This is a tiny car with exotic styling; it's not for everybody but I LOVE mine !

G Edmondson

November 6, 2007 12:48 PM

Brent,

Don't get me wrong. I didn't mean to imply that the Crossfire is a bad car, per se. But it certainly was a market failure in terms of sales and a money loser for DaimlerChrysler. Moreover, it didn't have the intended effect of radiating coolness to all Chrysler models.

Now, here are the latest numbers from 2006: Karmann produced only 4,805 Crossfires (1,547 coupes and 3,258 roadsters.) Given the paltry production level, you might argue the decision was already made to pull the plug. But my guess is that DaimlerChrysler had other things to worry about as Chrysler lots filled with excess inventory in 2006. Certainly, Stuttgart's top management never announced it was killing the Crossfire.

If Crossfires still grace Cincinatti car lots, my guess is they are the runout of the 2006 production, which would typically be referred to as the 2007 model year.

BigMike5

November 6, 2007 1:25 PM

I was hepped up to get a Crossfire when I saw the early proto-types, but just like the 300 Hemi C [not the current 300, the one that was on tour at all the shows] DC just did not come across with the promised product. The original Crossfire called for almost 300 hp, but the word was that D didn't want the new Crossfire to have better performance than what it was then putting out in its own models, so they cut the power down significantly, until it didn't go over with the public, then they juiced it, and the price, way up. I test drove and liked the car, but saw lots of new model glitches written up on the various internet sites so I held off, more because of the HP issue than the glitches. Then, when I realized I could get an end of model 04 Vette coupe for $38K, the same amount as the up-priced Crossfire I elected to go that way. I have not regretted the move. The Vette has had zero problems,gets 30 mpg at highway speed and 25 around town, and with 350 horses in line blasting pick-up and passing power. I doubt the Crossfire could have met that. Anyway, I am sad to see the Xfire go, but my local dealer had three verts. on his lot for almost a year and couldn't move them. Finally dealer traded them.

Mark Sims

November 6, 2007 1:42 PM

I concur that it is a great car. It has a nice mix between refinement and true sports car abilities. With the wide tires, it is nearly impossible to lose grip through turns (no matter how aggressively they are taken). As much as I love my 2005, I will admit that it was too expensive for what it is. Maybe if it were priced five grand less, and if it were advertised, it might have sold better. I cannot remember ever seeing an ad for one, not on TV or in magazines. That could have made a big difference. I will admit that the car is not perfect, but I cannot take anyone serious who criticizes it (without having ever driven one personally). Is it possible that you might have a different opinion than the editor at Edmunds? Because, it would seem that more than one avid sports car fan does.

antonio311

November 6, 2007 4:51 PM

Agree with all of the above. The Crossfire was a bit overpriced when it came out, that I'll agree. But for its style and performance it still generates excitement everywhere! Also the advertising was void when this car came to market. For the people who wanted more power the srt was available with the supercharger and that version had 330 horsepower. Overall the Crossfire was and still is a great car with minimal problems. I still get excited when i see one on the road even though I own one! This car was basically the only fruit of the merger, and it will be remembered as such. Maybe in a way it helped Daimler free a chained-up Chrysler. Daimler was not a good partner for Chrysler anyway. Now the new Chrysler will show the industry what they can actually do!

Charles

November 6, 2007 8:47 PM

I bought my 2005 Crossfire Roadster Limited NEW in April of 2007 for $23,000 - $17,000 off sticker. Regardless of the price - I bought it because it was unique. I owned a 2005 Corvette and disliked the commonality of the car - owned it for less than a year! I also owned a Ferrari Mondial Cabriolet - I get just as many comments about the Crossfire as the Ferrari. Currently, the Crossfire is the best value of any sports car around - drive it and you will certainly love it.

Michael S

November 6, 2007 11:14 PM

A "market failure in terms of sales and a money loser for DaimlerChrysler" is spot on. That's why I was able to recently purchase a left over 2005 Limited Roadster with just 32 miles on the clock, and a full factory warranty, for a mere $21,000. Talk about a discount - MSRP was closer to $39,000 for this loaded vehicle. Give the author a break here gang - this isn't a review knocking the Crossfire, it's more a commentary on how poorly the whole Daimler/Chrysler relationship was managed. The Crossfire may be the bastard child of the merger, but it's actually one hell of terrific car!!

maxxm

November 7, 2007 1:16 PM

I have owned two Crossfires -- an early 04 that I traded for an 05 SRT6. They are superbly engineered Karmann-built vehicles that simply blow away anything else in their (current) price class. Right now, they're probably the best quality sports car values around.
The SRT6 is really a SLK32 AMG with the same engine, drivetrain, transmission and brakes. The design is classic deco and can't be beat at any price. As for the knock that it's "old engineering," well, it's really tried and true high-end German MB engineering that has all of the bugs worked out (except the pump for the supercharger intercooler). The fit and finish are world class. The only real competition for the SRT6 is the Z4M which costs tens of thousands more and delivers less. And just try getting any AMG product for less than nearly three times the price. Brand snobbery at its finest, I'm afraid.
Chrysler couldn't promote the Crossfire properly because MB didn't want the public to cross-shop the new SLK (for obvious reasons). So for those who judged the Crossfire by the early reviews rather than in the cockpit, you missed out on a winner that will become a classic in years to come. Those of us who own them know better.

elise r

November 18, 2007 7:22 AM

Why is the Pacifica being discontinued? My lease is up soon, and I had every intention of leasing another one. I really loved this car and it has suited my needs. It has a third row, back seat warmers, really nice amentities in the front too.Thr price was right when we leased this car 3 years back, and when I went back to the showroom to see about my next Pacifica, they were not offering any deals; I guess this is why??

WALT M.

November 29, 2007 4:14 AM


THE BICKERING PARENTS OF YOUNG CROSSFIRE NEVER NOTICED THAT THEIR OFFSPRING WAS REALLY A GIFTED CHILD, MISSUNDERSTOOD, AS MOST ARE.
BUT I AM HERE TO BEAR WITNESS THAT THIS CUTE CHILD -- I HAVE A 2005 SRT -- IS ONE H-E-L-L OF A BLAST TO DRIVE AT SPEED. I WILL PROBABLY NEED THE ASSISTANCE OF A "DOC. HOLLYWOOD" TO GET THIS GRIN OFF MY FACE! TO THINK THAT I ALMOST PASSED THIS CUTIE BY FOR AN M-3. THANK YOU MR. ANGLE FOR NOT LETTING ME MAKE THAT MISTAKE.

Chris L

December 21, 2007 11:25 AM

Paid less than $23K on 12/05/2007 for a new Limited Coupe that was produced in May '07. The absolute bargain of a lifetime & comes with a Lifetime Powertrain warranty.....after 900 miles of "getting on it"...still gets over 24 mpg!

Tim D

August 12, 2009 12:06 PM

Does anyone really know how many 2005 Crossfire Limited Coupes were Produced. Just bought one $10,650.00 and only 36,000 on it. Don't care what anyone else thinks, its the best all the way around and I love the Slap Stick Automatic and Power. Will there be a 2009 or is the 2008 the end of the road for the Crossfire?

R. Morris

May 18, 2010 8:42 PM

I have a Crossfire Convertable and absolutely love it. It is a great little car that is fun to drive and is very well engineered. I am 68 years of age and have always wanted a little sports car and this is just what the doctor ordered for an old man's toy.

Kim

July 17, 2010 7:55 PM

I have an '05 Limited Coupe in sexy red. It gets LOOKS, LOOKS, LOOKS!!! Got ours used in October '07 with 9000 miles for around $21K. We couldn't be happier with the car. My husband deliberately takes exit ramps rather quickly just for the rush. It handles like a dream. It's also fun to hear comments of people we drive by. Sometimes they forget the top is down! People ALWAYS come up to me at gas stations and parking lots to inquire about the car. I like talking to people who are asking questions because they are considering buying one. I agree with the comment above about not seeing these cars EVERYWHERE you turn. Makes the looks more fun! Can ya tell I love the car?

Ray Medlin

November 4, 2010 12:41 PM

I have had dozens of cars, ranging from domestic muscle cars, 68 SS, RS, Z-28's 65 Mustang Fastback's, 69 GTO, 63 Corvette Roadsters to some of the fun European models, 53 MGTD, Lotus Turbo Espr, Alpha Romeo Spyder Velocet, etc, etc, etc. Yes, I am a gear head. All of the above cars were in perfect condition and always drew good comments but yet my 2005 Crossfire Roadster elecits the most positive comments. It is an unbelievably fun car to drive. It has refinement and a sports car feel. To heck with the naysayers. It was marketed wrong from the beginning. The merger between Chrysler and Daimler should have never taken place. (Merger my butt, it was a takeover, thanks to the dumb a-- leadership at Chrysler)
The world knows that! Irregardless of that, this is a car that is destined to be a collector. Mine is black, black and more black and looks great. I took it on the track at MIS and popped it up to 135 with plenty of pedal left. With the top down yet!
Because of the small number of Crossfires built
it's value will climb exponentially in the near future. I am looking to buy two more roadsters to store away for my grandchildren, ages 1 and 6, while they are still the best bargain on the road.
It is unfortunate that some people bad mouth this automobile in order to appear superior. Quit "piling on", drive one and you will fall in love with it. I like having a car that is relatively rare and totally agree with the July 17, 2010 post. Incredible value.
Ray

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