In-Motion Classic: 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster Limited – What Did You Say Your Name Was?

2005 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster Limited. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Thursday, May 19, 2022.

I read an article recently about how musician Pat Benatar, a 2022 inductee of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame (very belatedly and deservedly), has recently declined to perform in concert her evergreen, singalong hit, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot“.  I’m a fan of both Benatar and this song, and I could imagine being a concertgoer and disappointed with the absence of this gem in the setlist.  It remains a standout in her canon of catchy, memorable rockers that I will still occasionally hear on the radio or play on the jukebox.

Paraphrasing a bit, she stated that she’s skipping this number out of deference to the families of the victims of the rash of mass shootings that have been so prevalent in the news this year.  I absolutely respect her for the reason she cited for giving this song a breather, which I still hope will be on only a temporary basis.  Her actual words typified her classy but succinct apparent manner, and did so without explicitly referencing any of her personal political beliefs.  She made her point very effectively in a manner that’s hard to argue against, as much as one may love that song.

2005 Chrysler Crossfire brochure cover, as sourced from the internet.

A quick internet search will yield many definitions for “crossfire”, most of which will involve gunfire coming from two different directions.  I’ll present the following question in an attempt to very gingerly sidestep igniting a discussion about gun control that’s outside the scope of this friendly, car-based site, so please play nicely with me in the sandbox.  Who in DaimlerChrysler’s product development team let the “Crossfire” model name make it past even the first or second round for consideration?  In exactly what context would crossfire be seen in even a vaguely positive light?

One could make a case that the 1982 and ’84 Corvettes with their electronically fuel-injected “Cross-Fire” engines might have set the precedent as to why this might have seemed okay.  In the case of the ‘Vette, though, the name seems justifiable as it lends itself to the mechanics of how the fuel injection system might have operated.  With this two-seat Chrysler, though, the gunfire imagery seems more inherently baked into this car’s image, aided by the fact that there’s no hyphen.

2005 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster Limited. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Thursday, May 19, 2022.

I’ve read that the Crossfire name was related to the intersection of some of the planes of its exterior sheetmetal in profile, and also to having been an early product of collaboration across the newly created DaimlerChrysler organization.  Unfortunately, neither of these things are what first come to mind when I hear the name “Crossfire” and/or look at this car.  The sporty, little Chrysler was already going to be something of a challenging sale to some prospective customers by dint of its unusual, distinctive styling that included hood strakes, highly sculpted bodysides, and a rounded, bobbed tail.  It arrived in the first months of 2003 as an early ’04 model, sharing a platform and much of its componentry with the first-generation R170 Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster that had made its debut in the fall of 1996.

2005 Chrysler Crossfire brochure photo, rear three-quarter view. As sourced from the internet.

The Crossfire’s partial Mercedes pedigree added to its mystique.  The Limited Roadster was powered by a 215-horsepower, 3.2-liter V6 engine, though the high-performance SRT-6 version packed 330 horses under the hood.  Our featured car would be capable of 0-60 mph in the mid-six second range if equipped with the six-speed manual transmission, while the supercharged SRT-6 could do this sprint about a second and a half less.  All of the first-year ’04 models were fastbacks, but the new-for-’05 Roadster was arguably a more visibly palatable offering for those who found the closed coupe’s styling too polarizing.   Shorn of its sloping, fixed roof, the Crossfire looks slightly more conventional, combined with the inherent fun-factor of being a convertible.

2005 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster Limited. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Thursday, May 19, 2022.

The ’05 model year would also be the Crossfire’s best, with total production up close to 43% to almost 36,000 units from the first-year figure of 25,000.  Sales fell off the proverbial cliff for ’06, with that year’s tally dropping to short of 9,000 units.  There were just over 76,000 Crossfires produced over its four-year run, with the final ’08 models finding just under 1,800 buyers.  Our featured car appears to be finished in factory Graphite Metallic, which thankfully wasn’t named “Gunmetal”, or something like it.

The Limited package included many upgrades from the well-equipped base cars, including and not limited to the availability of the five-speed automatic transmission, appearance items like fog lamps and satin-finish, chrome interior door handles, leather-upholstered, high-back bucket seats, and an upgraded sound system.  The original base-price of an ’05 Limited Roadster was $38,295 (~$58,000 in 2022) before options, just over $4,100 (~$6,200) over the cost of the standard convertible.

2005 Chrysler Crossfire brochure pages featuring Limited package upgrades. As sourced from the internet.

I remain a fan of the Art Deco look of these cars, in either body style.  When they had first arrived, I remembered thinking they were simply a continuation of Chrysler’s winning streak of offering products with forward-thinking style that neither GM nor Ford would have attempted with a few exceptions.  The use of combined Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler engineering (heavy on the Mercedes) also seemed like a promising harbinger of the new company’s commitment to offering advanced technology beneath a daring exterior.  However, I also remember wondering about the merits of its model name.  I had the fleeting idea that “crossfire” connoted internal combustion.  I also gave DaimlerChrysler the benefit of the doubt in terms of assuming their departments of marketing and development wouldn’t have sloppily named this sportster without considering their choice from all possible angles.

2005 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster Limited. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Thursday, May 19, 2022.

I loved the bravado this company seemed to have around the turn of the millennium, with a full-range of Chrysler-branded products intended to appeal to a wide demographic.  In 2022, this marque is down to only the 300 sedan and the Pacifica and fleet-only Voyager minivans, for a total of just three models.  At the time of the Crossfire’s introduction, it would have seemed unfathomable to me that just twenty years later, there would be just one Chrysler-branded passenger car left in new car dealerships.  I like the Crossfire all the more for simply even having existed, whether its styling was to mainstream tastes or not.  It’s just that it’s unavoidable for me in present day to look at a vehicle that had once excited me called “Crossfire” and wish it hadn’t been given a name that reminds me of human tragedy.

Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois.
Thursday, May 19, 2022.