Dodging bullets, our resident Mr. Miles offers his thoughts on an underappreciated Pentastar.
I’m Fortunate enough to have a scenic commute to and from work, the route encompassing rolling hills and open moorland before plunging headlong into suburbia and masses of unwashed vehicles. Vicious in winter, the summer weather has allowed occasional non-use of wipers alongside higher external temperatures, accompanied by regular morning sightings of a car whose rarity increases daily. DTW’s Richard Herriott wrote about the Chrysler Crossfire six years ago. Inspired by his words and my daily flash past this black bolide, I wanted to see what changes, if any, had occurred.
In military parlance, crossfire is never a good place to be caught in but one remains impressed by the look of this car, now, if anything, more than ever. Your author has no recollection of this car’s launch but felt suitably impressed by its avantgarde looks. Inexplicably, these eyes missed the crossfire connection; Andrew Dyson’s transverse character lines crossing just beneath the side-view mirrors having been dismissed by this hapless car spotter.
My eyes always seem drawn to both claw-like slashes on side and bonnet. The former is a pointless flourish, a dirt collecting area. Perhaps Wolverine’s adamantium claws could have scratched those six bonnet flutes but where’s the fire? Ah, yes, the cozy collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler and the car’s boat tail rear which garnered more fire brigade attention than a large pile of blazing 18” (front) and 19” (rear) tyres.
Controversial styling, archaic underpinnings tied with high prices placed the car in an unfortunate position which led to a short forty eight month lifespan and but seventy six thousand made. The Crossfire could have worked out better. The styling was all American but the car was built in Germany by Karman; Chrysler bargaining on 20,000 stateside units per year over a five year period – which did wonders for their financial status.
Regular viewings are momentary but evoke some feeling within. Unencumbered by daytime running lights, the Crossfire maintains its odd but charismatic looks to the front. Checking my rear view mirror reveals that still controversial rear end – there really was nothing like the Crossfire then – today the car is a welcoming sight. Neither a true hatchback (fish, per-se) or SUV (fowl!) one can see what Chrysler were aiming at – something different.
As the Mercedes R170/1 versions appear ten a penny (yet fading fast), this gregarious Yank cuts rather the dash. Those wearing the three pointed Star never tickled my fancy as much as its Germano-American cousin did. The stretch of road where our paths often cross is tree lined. When the dappled sunlight catches the (nominally) clean looking bodywork, my thoughts turn to attractive film stars of a time that one hasn’t seen in years, such as Siena Miller or Uma Thurman.
Back in 2004, as an avid cinema-goer, these leading ladies became the focus of my attention, briefly. As time moved on, along with a growing ambivalence towards cinematic outpourings, like the Crossfire, they became forgotten until such a brief yet happy reconnection occurs. Occasionally, it’s good to revisit (sections) of the past. The SLK’s flickers are a dying memory ember of peroxide blondes, moustaches and driving gloves. To me, that was the wannabe car.
Our car hails from the same year as Layer Cake and Kill Bill. And comes across as being cherished for its seventeen years. Should the government’s data capturing be correct, the car has traversed only 57,000 miles in all those years. The car has failed the yearly MOT several times over the years but on small rather than significant maladies; tyres, lights unaligned, brakes, perished wipers, etc.
No mention of anything nasty or dangerous. One can never tell the service history though, even from logbooks filled in by nefarious grease monkeys, or dealerships or that matter. Those of acidic tongue may offer the Crossfire was trashed on its announcement but one hopes this specimen has lived the right side of the red line.
On a glorious morning recently, two American cars were in close approximation, the elder leading the new recruit. Rather unhealthy in the exhaust department, the Crossfire’s 3.2 V6 emits 243 grams of nastiness, no doubt making the following Tesla S driver wince in disgust. Knowing which model I’d prefer to steer and it isn’t from the land of Musk, the two really are gamekeeper and poacher. The Crossfire augments that air of indifference that I applauded then, more so now. In fact, I’d give the Crossfire a new moniker – the Gamine.
Dependant on where one looks (such a critical matter) such definitions as elfin, teasing, mischievous or neglected street urchin; all four (and more) could apply here. Reports suggest the Crossfire suffered from an element of style over substance. But much water has since passed under the bridge and the Crossfire has taken on the role of urchin, however well nurtured.
But that’s not to discredit the car, circumstance can force different and difficult life choices. Getting to know someone can take time, peeling away layer by layer and understanding those behavioural complexities. And while far from the best of its kind these past score years, the Gamine retains its favour with this enthusiast, even if that should be just seen when passing at 60mph.
But the Crossfire wore the wrong badge at the wrong time. A niche prospect doomed to fail. As indeed Chrysler were, shuffled off in a very public divorce into private equity hands in the form of Cerberus Capital Management briefly before the late jumper wearing fellow snapped it up. Of course by this time, the Crossfire had become outcast, homeless and forgotten. The keeper of this case in point saw fit to offer a second chance. Not all urchins turn out bad.
According to www.howmanyleft.co.uk there’s around 2,500 left on UK roads.