Chrysler in the Crossfire

January 8, 2001

Though it’s Chrysler that is under fire at the moment —parent DaimlerChrysler is reorganizing its American division and anticipating a billion-dollar loss — the American brand will definitely turn heads at the North American International Auto Show next week with the Crossfire concept, a sort of response to the machined good looks of the Audi TT coupe.

Chrysler will present four new concept cars on Sunday, January 7, but in December in California, I was one of a very few journalists allowed to take a look at the elegant Crossfire.

The Crossfire is built by Metalcrafters in California, as are many other Chrysler concept cars, as well as those from several other manufacturers. It can be seen as a direct answer to the Audi TT, although it has different looks from different angles. A quick glance at the side view definitely conjures thoughts of the pleasantly deco German sport coupe, though.

From the rear, the Crossfire reminds you of cars from the Sixties, with its wide rear fenders and the roof ending low at the back in a V-shape. The spine runs from front to rear, a theme seen in the Atlantic, a ‘95 concept car. At the front the radiator grille is a bit too massive, but we like the scallops on the bonnet.

Chrysler Crossfire concept car

Chrysler Crossfire concept car

Built on an aluminum space frame, the Crossfire’s body is made from one piece of carbon fiber. The car looks squat and speedy, with its wide track (58.3 in front/59.9 in rear), and compact with short overhangs on both ends, although its wheelbase of 102.6 inches is fairly long. Big wheels with fat rubber (225/40-19 front, 295/35-21 rear) add to the chiseled appearance.

A supercharged 2.7-liter V-6 engine, coupled to a five-speed manual transmission, powers the prototype. With 275 hp and a maximum torque rating of 270 lb-ft, the Crossfire is claimed to be able to sprint from 0- 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 148 mph.

Each of the 2001 concept cars was developed under the responsibility of DC’s Senior Vice President Design Tom Gale, who was responsible for some of Chrysler’s most stunning concept and production cars in the past. Gale is now retired, but he will still be attached to the company as an adviser to the design team of his successor, Trevor Creed.

Of course, the development of the concept cars had already started before the bad news about Chrysler’s heavy losses came to light. But even if the cost-cutting measures had been announced earlier, the Crossfire likely would still have made it to the Detroit show. After all, what would Chrysler be without its ubiquitous, spectacular concept cars?

For all our Detroit 2001 coverage, click here.

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