Market Spotlight

After 20 years, the Chrysler Crossfire is making inroads in the collectible market

by Steven Cole Smith
16 November 2023 4 min read

Daimler Chairman Jürgen Schrempp, an architect of the 1998 merger that resulted in DaimlerChrysler, described it then as a “marriage made in heaven.”

But for five years, it appeared that the couple had taken a vow of chastity. Where was the first child from that Chrysler and Mercedes marriage?

In 2003, it was finally delivered: A 3084-pound bouncing baby sports car named the 2004 Chrysler Crossfire. The platform, suspension, and drivetrain were from the Mercedes SLK – Chrysler claimed that nearly 40 percent of the car was Mercedes, but it felt like more, from the 3.2-liter, 215-horsepower normally-aspirated V-6 to the awkward cruise control stalk that hung from the steering column. Still, using Mercedes mechanicals trimmed the development time to a brisk 24 months, at a bargain cost of $275 million.

The art deco styling was all American, though. Designer Eric Stoddard penned the original concept car that debuted at the Detroit auto show in 2001, and the resulting production car looked remarkably like it; toned down a bit on all four sides, but faithful.


The Crossfire was Chrysler’s first sports car, but like the SLK roadster, it was less a performance car than a casual cruiser. (“The blended DNA of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler Corporation produced its first offspring in 2003, and hairdressers rejoiced,” wrote Hagerty’s Aaron Robinson, then of Car and Driver). 215 horsepower impressed no one at a time when the Honda Accord was available with 240 horses.

That said, the car handled quite well, less a result of the independent suspension—double wishbones up front, multilink in the rear—than the massive Michelin Pilot Sport radials: 18-inch 225/40ZRs in front and 19-inch 255/35ZRs out back. All-season Continentals were an option, and either choice was mounted on flashy alloy wheels. The fairly soft suspension tempered the ride over rough pavement, helpful when you have a car with a short 94.5-inch wheelbase. Steering was a dated recirculating-ball unit; brakes, from the SLK, were excellent.

That wheelbase was the same as the SLK. The rear-drive Crossfire was a tenth of an inch longer, but about two inches wider, which added room to the interior. The platform was extremely stiff—stiffer than a Porsche 911, Chrysler claimed.

“Crossfire could have been tuned as a boy racer, but we took a more refined approach because Chrysler is a premium brand. It’s a plush car, but not so plush you have to be bashful when it comes to handling or performance,” said Larry Achram, then Chrysler’s vice president of advanced vehicle engineering, at the model’s introduction.

Inside, the high beltline and smallish windows made for a slight submarine feel. Visibility, especially when backing out of a parking space, was a challenge. Rear visibility was trimmed further by the automatic power spoiler, which popped up as the Crossfire approached 57 mph. The awkward cupholder was apparently added as an afterthought.

Transmission was a passable six-speed manual, or a five-speed automatic, both from Mercedes. Aside from tires and color, the transmission was your only major choice to make at the dealership. ABS, traction control and stability control came standard.

Inevitably, those who wanted either more boy-racer power or a convertible roof, or both, only had to wait a year or so. The SRT-6 used a Japanese-built supercharger and an intercooler to boost horsepower by 115 to 330. Alas, the manual transmission was missing from this version.

Crossfire SRT-6. Stellantis

The convertible was a soft top, unlike the retractable roof on the SLK. The open-air feeling was nice with the top down, no major wind buffeting, and much-improved side visibility.

The SRT-6’s stiffer suspension and improved handling came at the expense of the ride, though—it became jarring on road transitions and bumps and potholes. Chrysler salespeople usually mapped out a route of smooth pavement for prospective SRT-6 customers.

At introduction, the price of the Crossfire was $34,495 for the manual model, $35,570 for the automatic, including shipping. Figure about $5000 more for the convertible, $10,000 for the SRT-6. Get both, and you topped out around $50,000.

In terms of sales, the prices may have been optimistic, as the Crossfire was marketed against other attractive imports (the Crossfire was built at the Karmann plant in Germany) like the Audi TT, Nissan 350Z, Infiniti G35 and Mazda RX-8. Chrysler wanted to sell 20,000 Crossfires a year: They managed that through 2005, but sales fell off a cliff in 2006. Chrysler even eliminated a few features in 2005 to offer a true “base” model, with a price closer to $30,000. You can tell one by the absence of fog lights. 2008 saw Crossfire production draw to a close. 


Which brings us to the present. Anecdotally, several of our team have encountered die-hard Crossfire enthusiasts who remain doting owners or remember their Crossfire experiences with a fondness usually reserved for family pets. It’s not too hard to see why—the Crossfire, in any configuration, can be a fun and affordable weekend toy.

The car is reasonably sturdy thanks in part to the Mercedes underpinnings, unless you are one of the unfortunate owners who has experienced perplexing electrical problems. Overall, though, maintain it like you would any older car, and the Crossfire should provide years of good service.

While we don’t track the Crossfire in the Hagerty Price Guide, we are seeing signs that the little sports car is beginning to achieve some collector status. Our insurance policies written on Crossfires have more than doubled since 2018—it’s still a modest amount of cars insured, but the increase is substantial. Also up is the number sold at collector car auctions: only five Crossfires made it to public auction in 2015, but that number has steadily increased to 71 so far in 2023.

Based on insurance quotes sought, buyer demographics have remained consistent over the last four years. Boomers are the most enthusiastic, at 63 percent of buyers, followed by Gen X at 20 percent. Younger buyers have held steady at a little more than 5 percent since 2020.

The average value of $13,727 on those policies is about the same as it was in 2018 – it’s actually down $200. Auction prices are a touch higher, with the average sale price for the base car coming in at $14,319, while the SRT-6 commands a 27-percent premium, coming in at $18,200. We’ve seen high-mileage versions go for considerably less.

The Crossfire is a handsome, undeniably distinctive sports car with no glaring faults. It may not yet be unanimously considered a collectible, but it’s on its way.


  • paul s murray says:

    The styling is to say the least questionable. To say the most awful. If memory serves serves me right the SLK platform it was based on was a recycled version of the previous model that had run it’s course and Mercedes had put out to pasture. People who retired to the Florida Keys and went back to the dealer to replace their Sebring convertible bought them and loved the shoddy chachka tacked on the exterior ( you’ll be hearing from them singing it’s praises ). If you were at some dumb monster truck event and ‘ Grave Digger ‘ was about to run over one would you care? Collectible? If I have to speculate, a definite no.

  • Chuck says:

    You’re going to need identical parts cars in order to keep it going. Mercedes and Chrysler have let many part go nla. Any part with 112 or 170 prefix will be ok but ALL the crossfire only prefix 191 parts are gone now.

  • Gary Cooper says:

    I fell in love with the car when I first saw it in a local dealership and always dreamed of buying one. Last year after 6 years of looking I found one low miles never winter driven well cared for. I live in Canada it is in miles and came via Chrysler Canada but from USA that was why no winters was important to me. I l have now enjoyed the car for 2 years and I sill love it always hoped it would be collectible.

  • Tom Cotter says:

    Smith writes an honest review of an often overlooked car. Admitting you like the Crossfire is like admitting you like listening to the Carpenters; most people actually do. Rather than complaining about its shortcomings as a sports car, just consider it for what it is: a “sporty” car. As a collaboration of German and American ideas — at a moderate price point — it couldn’t have been much better.

  • Larry Reade says:

    I had the roadster but sold it years ago. Wish I hadn’t. My pal has an ’04 coupe & needs headlamp covers. We can’t find replacements anywhere. That’s Chrysler for you!

  • Gary Magwood says:

    The Crossfire Roadster is an inexpensive and fun summer tourer. Despite a few interior design glitches (cup holder!), it has a comfortable and cozy cockpit that enables relaxed long distance cruising. The car also acquits itself admirable on the race track. For under $15K the Crossfire is a bargain, I think.

  • Timbo says:

    If you went to, you could get a $10,000 discount. That’s how popular they were! My son in law bought one and the electronics stopped functioning; the company stopped supporting it, and it took him about a year and a half to find someone who could fix it. He dumped it as soon as it would run. Another proof of the wonderful “merger of equals”. Having been in management at that time, I have many horror stories and how Chrysler got taken along with its employees and product line.

  • Tim Kuehl says:

    I always liked the style of the Crossfire and wouldn’t mind owning a coupe. But I would worry about the reliability equating it with some British cars I’ve experienced; don’t rely on it. However, regarding whether it would be a collectable, to me that market is what people like for whatever reason. As I said, I wouldn’t mind owning one because I like the way the coupe looks. I have a Lincoln Mark VIII which has a fan base who believe they’re collectable but other’s don’t like them. Like in so many other things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I think a lot of cars that are “collectable” are just plain ugly or just plain. They don’t have what Lee Iacocca referred to as, “pizzaz.” My opinion and I’m sticking to it. To the owners of the cars I don’t care for; Drive them and enjoy them, because my opinion should make no difference to you.

  • Michael Ragan says:

    I have owned two Crossfires a Coupe and Roadster. They are fun cars to drive and if you follow the forums, not as frightening to repair and maintain as people think. I only wish they made headlight assemblies for them.

  • Gary Bechtold says:

    I never cared for the styling of it. The savage review by Top Gear did make me laugh though.

  • paul s murray says:

    Timbo- You’re forgetting that there are no more Dodge trucks. They’re all now RAM , and I quote – “We only make trucks.” Right, and I just fell off the limited ‘Turnip Truck’ version. Stellantis advertising here in the states is so pathetic I wouldn’t buy one just on principle.- ” Can I help you sir? ” – “Yea, I’m looking to be fleeced ” Sorry to sugar coat it Larry R.

  • Steve says:

    I own a 2005 roadster and am having real fun with the little guy. Took it to the Tail of the Dragon last year and the Snake this year. My wife and I had a ball. Drove back home (500 miles) in one day. Rides good, handles good and if you know what you are doing not a maintenance problem. Great group of owners to meet with and there are many forums that offer technical support. I’m 70 and still having fun!

  • Thomas Rusch says:

    My niece received one for her high school graduation and let me take it out for a run. The styling isn’t bad IMO, but (sorry) it was absolutely the least enjoyable 20 miles I have ever driven.

  • Mike Moneypenny says:

    I’ve owned over 25 Sports Cars since I got my drivers license 57 years ago, as a matter of fact I’ve never been without one. I purchased my 04 Crossfire brand new, and I never drove my Miata or my Viper GTS again, the Crosssfire impressed me that much, and it still does. Some people find it hard to believe, but no Sports car I’ve owned ever turned more heads and has satisfied me more than my C-Fire. I’ve driven it cross country and sometimes for more than 12 hours at a time, and always got out wishing the trip was just a little longer. It’s been very reliable with just routine maintenance. It’s not the perfect car (no car is) but for me it checks off all the boxes and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.

  • Allan K says:

    Had the chance in January 2004 to buy a
    Crossfire (new) or a 2002 bmw m roadster w/ 7,000 miles. Bimmer had a better feel – so I bought it. Parts and service readily available. X-fire not so much.

  • Coop says:

    Well, first it would have been absolutely impossible here in SE Michigan to map out a route of smooth pavement back then. And we’re still paying for the years of neglect, though it’s been getting better.

    I think I saw a coupe, from the side, and from a block or so away, just the other day. It was silver and my reaction was “What’s that?”. In the following moments I’d have to say my reaction to it went downhill from there. Heck of a way to have used ones plan A buy..

  • Joe Melton says:

    Reviews are certainly mixed here.
    When the Crossfire came out, I thought they were beautiful, but never bought one. Some time later, I did buy a used 1998 Mercedes SLL230 “Kompressor”. The supercharger makes it a blast to drive. The interior is plastic pieces with paint sprayed on, a lousy factory decision. Nevertheless, I can’t understand why these models can be had now so cheaply. Perhaps I’ve been lucky, not needing parts or repairs.

  • Dan says:

    If you are literate enough to read the Mercedes part numbers which are on over 90 % of the parts, you can order the part and log on to a Facebook tech site to see how to install them, (also will help you diagnose the issue), OR you can find a privately owned Mercedes service garage in your town to do it for you. Ca’mon guys. its a Mercedes!
    You’re missing out on the best roadster driving experience for under $15,000. I have $10K into mine and I get compliments every time I take it out, (plus it has a 3rd pedal).

  • Tom Martin says:

    I have loved these little cars since the first time I laid eyes on one. My BIL bought a SRT and loved it. So much so that when another came up for sale 2.5 hours away, he bought it also. He asked me to replace a window in one a while back (don’t ask), Of course. it was fast and fun, and I almost talked him into selling me one, but couldn’t swing it, plus my wife for some reason thought it would be a little cramped on our many trips to PA, especially with 4 little dogs. Can you say “Minivan”? Yeah practical but boring, so I have to rely on my 55 Bel Air 383 Stroker when I need my horsepower fix.

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