Dual loyalties come in all versions. There's hunky Gladiator star Russell Crowe, a down-to-earth Aussie who has bedded down for years in his adopted Hollywood, U.S.A. Donald Trump bride Melania Knauss, of Slovenia, has merged homeland and new land with well-heeled aplomb after wedding the real estate mogul-turned TV phenomenon. Bad boy Simon Cowell, who manages to undercut American Idol's idol-wannabees with scalpel-like precision, keeps his Brit tones intoned while enjoying U.S.A. superstar status.
So why not an auto star merging the best of both worlds when bringing a rakish, drop top, sex bomb model to market? Chrysler's new German-engineered, German-built Crossfire Roadster blends continental with the kind of homegrown attraction Westerners just can't seem to resist. Those who "oohed" and "aahed," for the earlier coupe could barely wait for the roadster's 2005 arrival.
Crossfire is actually a crossbreed of American design on a solid Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster technological base. Power is strictly Teutonic -- M-B's 3.2-Liter, 90 degree V-6 that pours out 215-horsepower and 229-lb.-ft of action-launching torque. Two roadsters and two race-inspired, street legal versions with performance-based SRT badging now bring total Crossfire models to six, as Chrysler moves it into true sports car contention status. The humped up performers boast 330-supercharged horses and 310-lb-ft. of torque for sport-tuned stallion kick. Price wise, there's about a $20,000 spread from a coupe base just under $30K.
Roadster styling remains mostly intact with familiar broad hood and powerful face. Sans top, it looses the hunched over feel that made some coupe lovers a bit claustrophobic. With soft top down and hidden under a power-operated tonneau cover, the roadster's interior lines flow seamlessly outward for a complete finished appearance. An exterior ridge line Chrysler calls "spine," flows from front to rear encompassing all elements inside as well, including instrument panel and shifter. Outside, the retractable spoiler emblazoned with full-width stop lamp is still there. It pops up at 60 for added pavement grip.
Those who wondered if Crossfire might lose its unique identity with the top peeled off needn't have fret. The distinctive boat tail rear -- reminiscent of last century's classic collector cars driven by early movie moguls -- remains instantly identifiable. It's still evident, tucked between haunches that cover muscle bound 19-inch rear wheels for a look of unsprung energy waiting to slingshot forward while 18-inch front wheels hold it at bay. And -- as Trump told a jeans-clad Melania during his top-rated Apprentice television show -- it's all in the rear.