One of these cars flashed past me today, prompting this small item. Now that I come to think of it, there was one parked on my road a few years back. It was the Chrysler Crossfire (2003-2007).
We all have small car moments, don’t we? For reasons unclear, our synapses fizz and fuse a little harder when we see a car and forever more the image, time, feeling and moment are irremovably etched on our memories. It’s a wholly random process, note. Some of my car moments involve worthless heaps of mediocrity.
The Chrysler Crossfire is taking up some of my limited and diminishing RAM with a set of memories related to seeing one parked in a shopping centre somewhere in Mainz. I was with a friend who was working in the car industry. Seeing a Crossfire in the metal offered a chance to talk shop. We had both been reading about the Crossfire which had generated a considerable buzz. There it was, on a stand and we both peered closely at the point on the bodywork where the feature lines cross-over. The surface didn’t look right. I winced.
If you recall, the name of the car was supposed to represent the literal crossing over of the feature lines but also the relationship of Mercedes and Chrysler. The car itself was a cross-breed, being based on the R170 platform used on the 1996 Mercedes CLK. And that platform was derived from the Mercedes C-class which had its roots in the late 80s.
I think that Mercedes planned to re-use its older platforms on Chryslers and the Crossfire showcased this strategy. (The 300C of 2005 used rather newer bits from the W211 Mercedes). If the competition did not develop new platforms all the time, then this strategy might have worked. Did Mercedes think the R170 platform so good as to be future proof?
And if Chrysler was allowed to improve the R170 underpinnings the strategy might have had a chance. The world did not cooperate. Competitors in 2003 were using new platforms. The Nissan 350 Z trounced the Chrysler in tests. And Chrysler only built in cheapness which made an outdated platform even worse. I suppose Mercedes thought that with a new set of clothes the otherwise good R170 architecture could live on another decade and in so doing save Chrysler money it didn’t really have.
The Crossfire ended production in 2007 with a not-terrible run of 75,000 cars. There came no replacement though, as for one thing Mercedes had become tired of the whole tie-up which was as problematic for them as Rover was for BMW.
I haven’t addressed the styling: in Mainz 2003 I was unable to give the car the thumbs up, secondarily because I disliked the hunch-back fast-back and the forced curve of the side glass. Primarily because the crossfire motif had been botched, a fraction of a millimetre out but it was right there in the centre of the car, glaring at me.