No Amount Of Money Is Too Much Money For This Vanilla-Pudding Chrysler Crossfire

Jellopudding

After years of our eyes being overwhelmed with bright colors or underwhelmed by matte everything I can’t help but be in love with the vanilla pudding goodness of this Chrysler Crossfire for sale at BringATrailer. Just straight up J-E-L-L-O. The perfect snack pack hue for a real one. A pudding pop on wheels.

One of the best educators I ever had was a physics teacher named Mr. Poythress and one of the best classes he ever taught was when he let us use his Mercedes-Benz SLK 320 to make various motion-related calculations. Do I remember how to do any of these calculations? Let’s assume yes. [Editor’s Note: If I had to guess, one of them involved driving the car at a given velocity around a curve of a given radius, and calculating the minimum friction coefficient acting on the tires to allow the vehicle to make the turn safely. You just use the (mass*velocity^2)/R, draw some free body diagrams, and get’r done. -DT]

Screen Shot 2022 11 08 At 1.56.24 Pm

That car was a dream, and if you’d have asked then if I’d rather have the SLK or its American clone the Chrysler Crossfire I’d have definitely chosen the SLK without blinking. Now? It’s a much tougher call.

There’s a great, possibly apocryphal story about Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, aka Dr. Z, aka Tobias Fünke that’s worth telling here. As the story goes, Dr. Z had just announced the merger of Daimler and Chrysler — a “merger of equals” that was definitely not equal, with the much stronger German brand absorbing the perennially troubled Chrysler.Exterior Cfire

As he left the press conference and approached an elevator, a reporter asked “What’s the name of the new company?” and he replied “DaimlerChrysler.” Then, slightly under his breath, mutters “…but the Chrysler is silent.” [Editor’s Note: I don’t think this is a real story, though it’s apparently a widespread one, and it wouldn’t surprise me. -DT]. 

Rear Cfire

While Mercedes and Chrysler peanut butter and chocolate did mix (see the Chrysler LX platform and the Grand Cherokee WK platform, both of which shared bones with Mercedes vehicles), the only complete re-style of a Mercedes car to carry the Chrysler badge in the United States was the Crossfire. Underneath the art deco exterior of the Crossfire is the same basic R170 Mercedes platform that underpinned my Physics teacher’s Benz-o. It’s the same five-speed automatic and basically the same M112 3.2-liter V6.

Interior Cfire2

Is the 215 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque going to give you a thrill? Only if the only other car you’ve driven is a Yugo. Does it matter? Not really. Just look at it.

Chrysler design in this time period is largely mixed, but much like the Chrysler 300, the Crossfire feels extremely American. There’s no restrained Teutonic-ness to it. Nothing about it is restrained.

Interior Cfire

From the Winamp-ass looking center console to the bright aluminum wheels and front windshield surround it screams a very specific, very Iacocc-ian concept of luxury. The SLK 320 looks like a sports car. A silver arrow. The Crossfire looks like it was milled from a 9,000-pound block of ambergris.

The one for sale, with current bidding at $8,000, has about 12,000 miles on the clock and a few issues, but nothing that seems like a dealbreaker. Do I want it? Yes, yes I do, even if Jeremy Clarkson loathed it when he reviewed it many years ago:

All photos via BringATrailer.

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35 Responses

  1. Woo, first comment here and it is of course about an obscure Chrysler that I know far too much about. My family owns one, my mom bought it brand new when I got my license and took over driving her Escape back in the day. She has a 2005 N/A convertible with the 6-speed manual, because despite wanting the faster SRT6, “sports cars have manuals.”

    It only has 19k miles on it now as she’s ended up with another crossover to daily after DDing the Crossfire for a few years. Mercedes and Chrysler dealers both don’t want to touch it because they’re all terrified of the poor thing. It is 100% Mercedes hardware but MB diagnostics software simply will not talk to anything. You need a Chrysler DRB III scan tool to talk to the car, or find the emulator online if you Ask Jeeves hard enough and use an old Windows XP laptop.

    Keys are a constant PITA, they are the same switchblade key as the R170 SLK got but in gray. Same circuit board but (again) Chrysler programming. They are basically NLA but Josh at The Mercedes Swap Shop can get them, somehow.

    When the 12V battery gets low, funky things happen. The SKREEM module, which is what remembers the chipped key and handles the immobilizer, will just… forget the keys exist. You get three tries and then it’s dead. Josh at TMSS is the one who can fix it unless you happen to find a dealership service department with a DRB III.

    There are some other common issues but the good news is there is a pretty fiercely vocal enthusiast group of owners on Facebook and on a forum. So, it’s easy enough to figure out. The cars aren’t very complicated and if driven enough (aka not my mom’s) they end up being reliable.

    We alllllmost bought this color combo. Mom loved it. Dad was on the fence. I knew I would be allowed to borrow the car if Mom needed to use the Escape, I was very closeted at the time, and the notion of driving a light yellow convertible was not something I liked much. So I suggested Aero Blue and that’s what we got.

    They did another interesting interior that was a kind of orange/red color. Cool cars, cheap materials, they don’t drive especially sporty but at this point it’s like driving a concept car. Good space for Talls (in the ‘vert at least) and comfy on the highway. Steering is recirculating ball and is bleh. Manual is shared with the 04-06 Wrangler and first is super short.

    Alright that’s all I got.

  2. My favorite totally American part of the Crossfire story was how it ended: some time after production ceased, Chrysler unceremoniously sold the remaining vehicles on overstock.com.

    You didn’t really buy it from overstock of course, it basically brokered things with a willing dealer, but still, there’s something so wonderful about looking at patio furniture and coming across that…

  3. But we all know the Crossfire to get was the SRT6.

    With sales being underwhelming and a multitude of “looks fast, goes way too slow” complaints, DumberChrysler had to do something. And thus the SRT6 was born.
    Not with the SLK230 Kompressor’s engine, but the SLK AMG’s supercharged 3.2L V6, bigger brakes, a completely overhauled suspension, better tires, but sadly only the atrocious 5G-Tronic gearbox. (Chrysler’s 42RLE Autostick was insultingly superior to the 5G-Tronic, and everyone knows the NSG370 6 speed was the only right choice.)

      1. All I know is the moment when someone calls in for a key on a Crossfire, the possibility they’ll buy the key is so low that you have a better chance of winning the lottery.
        I’ve always just assumed that it was a Mercedes key with some more coding and exterior plastic with a Chrysler badge on it lol

      2. From what I recall from the forums, there is specific software added to the Crossfire so that it could be serviced via the Chrysler dealer body and that Mercedes stopped supporting/producing it after the divorce.

        “It’s Mercedes-provided hardware and software – take it to them.” -Chrysler dealers

        “It’s Chrysler dealer-specific security system software – take it to them.” -Mercedes dealers

        Last I heard from the FB Group, folks were paying up to $900 for a key.

        1. I’ve seen exactly one key ordered for a Crossfire once, it looks like it’s been possible since the divorce.
          By the looks of it, though, Chrysler hasn’t said it’s being discontinued, and the key is currently out for an ETA greater than 45 days from “a supplier”, which I imagine has to be Daimler but what do I know lmao.

        2. Wow. This makes me think the only thing worse than having an orphan car might be having one whose parents got divorced.

          The extra anger of seeing the solution potentially RIGHT THERE (no “yeah, you might try seeing if you can order that part directly from Japan, maybe”) but being denied.

  4. Back in my DaimlerChrysler days, I had 3-4 Crossfire company cars and even had personal leases on a couple more for my college kids. I have some thoughts.

    They were kinda awesome. That 3.2 was plenty strong for the era and they handled just fine. The 6-speed versions were certainly more fun, although no one would confuse it for an S2000. With a bit of finesse, you could take off from a stop without even touching the throttle due to the biggish torque from that Benz 3.2. The SRT versions were just stupid fast. 0-60 in 4.9 was a big deal back then.

    If there was a flaw, it was the TINY interior volume. Full size ‘mericans just wouldn’t fit in the coupe. Getting in and out was absolutely comical for anyone over 5’10. The converts were a bit better, headroom wise.

    All in all, it was a misunderstood car. We never figured out how to market it which is why so many factory guys had them for company cars. A Mercedes SLK in a better suit. What could possibly go wrong? Even with Celine Dion singing her heart out in our ads. ‘I drove all night’…, they just didn’t sell.

  5. Gimme the coo-pay. A personal head turner. Parking lot friend had one in maroon, but for some reason the back script lost a letter somewhere…..it was a ‘Cross ire’. Perhaps the car let down the owner along the way……

  6. “shelf stable vanilla pudding goodness of this Chrysler Crossfire.” FIFY.
    The only yellow I have ever really loved on a car is the 1964 Ford Phoenician Yellow, specifically on a 1964 Galaxie XL, with white interior.
    True story, dad took me to the Ford / Mercury dealer somewhere around Washington DC in early 1964 to pick up a new car. Dad showed me a Mercury Comet on the sales floor and asked if I like it. I said yes, and he said, well that’s the car we are getting. While waiting, a crowd cleared around a 1964 Galaxie XL convertible in Phoenician Yellow, and I ran to my dad telling him I wanted that one instead. He said we were already getting the Comet, and for years after I thought it was my fault we ended up with the “Comic” instead of that beautiful convertible. I didn’t know dad had already bought the Comet and had come in for trade and delivery (traded a 1956 Pontiac wagon, as I recall.)

      1. That’d be relatively reasonable, but I suspect an article or two like this get passed around and the bidding will get a little higher at the end. Probably won’t make any list of the most overpriced vehicles there, but still too rich for my blood.

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