Chrysler Crossfire

crossfire-ext-008Based on the then-just-superseded Mercedes-Benz SLK two-seater, the Crossfire was the result of the ill-fated marriage between Benz and Chrysler. The Crossfire benefited from Mercedes technology in the engine and driveline department, as well as sharing the suspension layout and platform of the SLK. This immediately elevated it to a higher place than the bulk of its United States peers from that era.

That said, the Crossfire might have carried a North American badge, but it was, in fact, built in Austria (but that’s globalization for you).
While the Benz SLK that begat the Crossfire was built as a folding-metal-roofed convertible, the Crossfire was engineered as two distinct versions; a hardtop coupe and a convertible.

Of course, being something of an orphan car, the Crossfire’s prices have plummeted in recent years to the point where good used examples can be picked up for as little as low-teens and, considering its Mercedes-derived underpinnings, that’s really something to consider.

Which also means that the more expensive version of the Crossfire, the SRT-6, is now also vastly more affordable than ever and is probably an even bigger bargain. Okay, mid-teens to low-20s isn’t free to a good home, but consider that the SRT-6 was actually heavily based on the Mercedes-Benz AMG C32, and you can see how it starts to add up. In fact, if there’s a cheaper way into AMG ownership (without the badge, of course) we can’t think of it.

While the standard Crossfire got a 3.2-litre Benz-derived V6 engine, the SRT-6 package added that all-important supercharger for a stirring 330-hp and pretty lurid acceleration from the 310-ft/tq.

In fact, forget the fact that a decade has passed, because even now, a Crossfire SRT-6 will show many an alleged performance car its tail-lights.
But it wasn’t just straight-line acceleration where the Crossfire held the ace; it was actually quite a tidy handler, too.

Again, you can put that down to the SLK underpinnings, but with fairly accurate steering and decent ride, the Chrysler was a decent day-to-day proposition. Provided you didn’t have to carry any more than one passenger and a modest amount of luggage, that was, because a strict two-seater layout was what you got regardless of whether you went for the coupe or convertible.

The convertible version would be a great pick over the coupe for a couple of reasons.
Firstly it got away from the slightly hunchback styling of the coupe, but also since the car is more of a cruiser than outright sports car, the drop-top option just adds another dimension to the car’s appeal.

Whichever way you go, there are a few things to watch out for when shopping for a secondhand Crossfire.

The main problem you’re likely to encounter is a range of silly little problems brought on by lackluster quality control.

Chrysler is well enough known for such problems, but it should be added that even Mercedes-Benz at this point in history was going through the horrors of poor quality control. So make sure all that electrical gear works and that all the buttons and switches do exactly as they’re supposed to.
That includes the electric roof mechanism on the Roadster version.

Speaking of the convertible roof, have a look to ensure that the glass rear window is bonded to the cloth top properly.
This area can start to delaminate on some cars and that’s a prime place for a water leak to start.

While we’re on the subject, when you start the car, the anti-lock brakes and air-bag lights should illuminate momentarily and then disappear once the engine is running. If they stay on, there’s a problem somewhere.

Make sure the central locking works perfectly every time and try unlocking the car with just the key (rather than the remote). It should work.

Check that the spare key is included as well, and also try it to make sure it locks and unlocks the car.
Take a look at the retractable rear spoiler. Is it extended even though the car is not moving? If it is, there’s a problem because these were only supposed to extend beyond 60-mph. Sometimes they’ll stick half-way up or down and it won’t be cheap to fix.

The engine and driveline seem fairly robust but we’d also always want to see a fully stamped service book in any high-performance car like the SRT-6.
The output of the engine was enough to put extra strain on most mechanical components, so preventative maintenance is crucial.

Check on the ground where the car is usually parked for signs of a small pool of transmission fluid. The five-speed automatic has been known to leak a little, usually from a solenoid that screws into the side of the transmission. A bad solenoid (or even just a leaking one) will also often be the cause of an illuminated ‘check engine’ light.

The other gearbox-leak hot-spot is where the wiring harness form the car enters the transmission. This can often look like a leak from the area where the gearbox joins the engine, but usually, it’s this little sealing grommet for the wiring that is at fault.

A fun cruiser for a good price, and with the Mercedes heritage, makes it truly “luxury for less”.