The Crossfire was probably one of the more visible results of the DaimlerChrysler conglomerate. Born as a concept around 2002, it garnered immediate applause among the automotive faithful for being a strikingly beautiful car with the potential to break Chrysler into an entirely new market.
Unfortunately, by the time the Chrysler Crossfire finally broke ground on the streets in 2003, the impact disappeared. It looked nothing like the original, received the underpinnings and engines from the old Mercedes-Benz SLK, and contained the interior quality of a typical Nineties Chrysler, with cheap materials everywhere. Chrysler realized their mistake fairly quickly, and did their best with what they had.
To be honest, the Crossfire was a pretty poor place to start for improvement, but thanks to their German brothers at Daimler-Benz, Chrysler found a few solutions. The SRT group snagged parts from the AMG parts bin, including the engine and transmission from the old SLK32 AMG, some upgraded suspension pieces, and bigger brakes. This all went into the Crossfire coupe and roadster, along with an aggressive body kit and beautiful rims, and the SRT6 was born. While it didn’t save the Crossfire, it wasn’t at all a bad car at the time.
Thanks to its new parts from the AMG bin, the SRT-6 gave the Crossfire the street cred to match its aggressive (if slightly droopy) styling. The new engine came straight from the SLK32 AMG, developing 330HP. Despite the lack of a manual transmission option, the SRT6 hit 60 MPH in under 5 seconds and was capable of beating 145MPH at the top end. The styling, if you squint, isn’t that bad at all (certainly more manly than the SLK, but still won’t win beauty contests). The interior got some minor improvements, including better seats, but the steering wheel still smelled like a Chrysler. The rims helped the looks also, filling out the wheelwells a bit more effectively than the stock 17s. For some reason, they kept a recirculating-ball steering system rather than a rack-and-pinion for the Crossfire–whether this was a throwback or an oversight remains to be seen.
As convertibles go, styling wasn’t so great. The front end is too horizontal compared to the concept, and the back end droops over like a melting Jolly Rancher on a hot day. These aren’t compliments (obviously), but when one considers that the same styling studio did the Airflow back in 1934, perhaps its looks will age better. The coupe’s roof is sloped heavily, and can be a divisive issue among enthusiasts; some love it, others loathe it. My opinion is that the droptop does look classier, and the coupe’s roof damages the car’s lines.
Another pretty decent point for the Crossfire SRT6 is the lack of rarity; it’s more exclusive than the regular Crossfire, but it sold better than the SLK32, making it easier to find. This helps prices as well. For the most part, the SRT-6 can be found for anywhere from 15K to a bit over 20K, with most of them falling into the region of around 16K or less. However, since they used Mercedes mechanicals, be aware that you’ll be paying German-car costs to fix things if your car goes bad at any time. Modification potential is a bit below average, as these weren’t popular when new, and the aftermarket is a bit threadbare. Still, the Crossfire provides an offbeat way to get a fast roadster, with American styling and German engineering (even if it’s an ugly duckling).