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by Steve Siler

Chrysler Crossfire
2004 Chrysler Crossfire

Big news this year is the arrival of the arresting new Chrysler Crossfire sport coupe, a sexy two-seater that they have been teasing us with for a couple of years now but are finally delivering right about the time that you read this.

Huh? A two-seat Chrysler? It's true. And one look is all you need to see that this ain't no Cordoba. Rather, it's an eye-catching hardtop sportster that brings back certain design themes and devices we loved from the art deco years (such as silver metal strakes on the sides, as well as a sassy "boattail" rear end) while at the same time introducing what we will come to know as the "new face of Chrysler."

And a handsome face it is, to be sure. Even more interesting from a design standpoint, however, is the crossing of positive and negative surfaces that happens on the doors, just under the mirrors, thus giving the Crossfire its name. Other nifty details include a silver windshield surround, 18-inch front/19-inch rear wheels, an elegantly straked hood and a center "spine" that runs the length of the car. There truly is no bad angle from which to view the Crossfire, but if you are near one, be sure to examine the complex and hard-to-manufacture rear quarter panel, which from the windshield to the rear bumper is a single piece of stamped aluminum. Impressive.

The mechanical bits and certain interior pieces come directly from none other than the stellar Mercedes-Benz SLK320, including its suspension and its gutsy 3.2-liter V-6. Inside, the dramatic two-tone interior features luxury up the wah-zoo and a continuation of the center spine all the way down to the gearshift knob.

As you might guess by looking, the interior is quite encapsulating and private (to rectify that, a convertible version will be introduced next year). But cargo space is stellar, making it the perfect car to take on a weekend road trip. Just do yourself a favor: don't take the interstate. Rather, just aim for the twisties and get ready to get caught in the Crossfire.

Price: $35K