Gut instinct drives Chrysler to Crossfire

MONTEREY, Calif. — Top Chrysler group executives are so enthusiastic about the Crossfire that they approved it for production without any formal consumer research.

COO Wolfgang Bernhard said the decision to put the Crossfire into production was made when the car was unveiled at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in January.

“I just watched the faces of people” and realized “this has all the ingredients of a major home run,” said Bernhard, who was interviewed Aug. 19 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey, Calif., where the announcement was made.

After the Detroit show, “we got everybody lined up to discuss how can we do it — production issues, sourcing issues, getting suppliers involved, thinking about marketing, how to position it.”

Beyond the crowd’s reaction, no research was conducted, Bernhard said. “We’re not going to analyze good product to death. If too many people start talking about things, they screw it up.”

The V-6-powered, two-passenger coupe is about the size of a Dodge Viper and blends American and European styling. Few details were given about the production version of the Crossfire, other than that the rear end will be modified to provide adequate bumper protection. The production model will be unveiled in January at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. The company did not say when it would go on sale.

The Crossfire is expected to represent the first Chrysler-branded car to show the auto-maker’s new commitment to rear-wheel drive. The company’s next-generation Chrysler Concorde and Dodge Intrepid sedan also will be rwd and debut for the 2004 model year.

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