By on July 13, 2010

The last-ever PT Cruiser rolled off the line last week, decked out in the “Couture Edition” trim shown above. After 11 years on the market, familiarity has bred its fair share of contempt for the old PT, but the old Neon-based hatch certainly had its uses. For one thing, by classifying the compact-based Cruiser as a truck, Chrysler was able to keep the CAFE wolves at bay. It also gave rise to at least 15 different “Special Editions,” from the Dream Cruiser series to the Street Cruiser Pacific Coast Highway Edition (not to mention the $38k “Brazilian Edition“. The PT Cruiser Convertible in “amble mode” was, according to one Robert Farago, “Hakuna Matata in-car-nate.” Hell, in merry old England, the PT Cruiser is nothing short of a cultural exchange icon. In short, it may not be the greatest car any longer, and it probably should have died with some dignity a while ago, but the PT Cruiser was undeniably one of the more influential cars of the 2000s. Having shuffled off this mortal coil, it certainly deserves a moment of remembrance.

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44 Comments on “Farewell, PT Cruiser...”


  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    I don’t know that it should have died a while ago; maybe they should have updated it a while ago would have been a better solution.

  • avatar
    mjz

    RIP. It died a death of neglect.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      What could be done ? The styling of all these retro-mobiles (MINI, new Beetle, 300C and to a lesser extend all the new Pony cars) are evolutionary dead ends … you can’t have a new-new-Beetle. MINI are trying to think outside of the box (literally) with their expansion of the range, but eventually everybody will tire of the style and it’ll all be over.

      Chrysler should have thought up a completely new vehicle to replace the PT Cruiser that would cater to a similar demographic, but we all know Chrysler have been lacking in the thoughts department for many years now.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    Hard to believe this used to be a PLYMOUTH.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I was under the impression that this was designed for the Plymouth line, but was ultimately badged as a Chrysler because the management knew that they would be axing Plymouth. Perhaps I’m wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      afuller

      I think it was always a Chrysler in production form.

      I had one of the first ones; it was a good car for me and I don’t regret it one bit.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      I remember coming back from Auburn Hills CTC during the PT prototype phase. At the coffee machine, the folks in engineering at our plant asked me what it looked like. I said it looks like a 3/4 scale ’48 Plymouth. Blank stares, then, what does that look like? I asked if they remembered the old long rounded Volvos from the early 60s. No, said they. Um, said I, imagine a VW Bug streched to a 4 door with a hatch on the back. Eew, they said, commenting they they expected it to over like a lead ballon.

      I’ll say this though, the PT prototype at the Bemidji cold test site had the best panel fit-up any vehicle I have EVER seen. By comparison, the worst was the H2 Hummer, worse than full size vans which were the industry benchmark for dicey fitment (due to their tough to handle size).

  • avatar
    threeer

    Fare thee well, little PT. When they rolled out the convertible at the Frankfurt auto show a number of years back, my mother almost fell all over herself looking at it (she’s lived a life of Corollas). With Chrysler’s penchant for not being super reliable, I had a hard time convincing myself to push her to consider one, even though she couldn’t get over the look of the cruiser. And now they’ve come to the end of their run.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      WRT the convertible, one of my duties was to crawl inside the trunk then have it closed on me, to confirm the luminesance and function of the anti-entrapment (toddler) release. Much to the amusement of the Chrysler people. They let take a ride on the MTS to make it up to me. Weird but fun times.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    A very practical vehicle dressed up in nerd’s clothing. As I’ve written before, I knew the writing was on the wall when I heard a television comic joke that his PT Cruiser was “vagina repellent,” and the audience laughed. Around the same time, a fashionable friend moaned that her rental PT was a dorkmobile. Didn’t sound like the kind of image Chrysler wanted for its brand. No wonder executives were skeptical from the start. Though it did well for Chrysler, was it worth the brand image damage? Two steps forward with the 300C and ten steps back with the PT Cruiser and Sebring.

  • avatar
    GrandCharles

    Wow! That’s a lot off plastic! And this is a high end line??? Couture…yeah, yeah,yeah…It’s a shame cause i always had a thing for that vehicule, almost bought one in 2007 but the stupid car salesman did not knew their own promotion they had (He told me it’s impossible that they could be bought for the price i saw advertised!) So they kept it…Still love the look of it, wish they had kept it more modern, better engine, less gas consomption…it was and still is a brilliant design…Kudos for Chrysler of the 90′s for going for special design (viper, LH, Prowler)…

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Did they think that by having a marketing guy with an accent say Couture that it would to what very limited appeal this car still has?

    Didn’t realize it was classified as a truck…. CAFE rules hard at work blurring reality.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    my first thoughts when i saw the interior was that it was from some car from India or some 3rd world place?

    I mean I can almost smell the outgassing blow mould plastic from here!

    and it’s always nice when Chrysler employees are happy with their 10 yr old designed Chryslers… i mean that’s about the only source of positive comment isn’t it?

  • avatar
    mjz

    The PT (Plymouth Truck) was originally going to be a Plymouth model. Note that the grill is similiar to the grill of the Plymouth Prowler, and was to spawn a minivan and midsize car with similiar styling cues. However, when Dumbler took over, it was decided that the Plymouth brand would be eliminated, and thus was born the Chrysler PT Cruiser. The 2006 “update” cheapened it, particularly with the use of those craptastic plastics. Unfortunate.

  • avatar
    Bruce the K

    I’ve owned my PT since new in 2005 and have put over 100K on it so far. Wasn’t a big fan of the retro styling at first but it has worn very well. I love the roominess, ease of entry/exit, and outstanding flexibility of the interior design, all in a very compact package.

    I can understand Chrysler’s conflicted attitude, despite the vehicle’s popularity. It doesn’t really fit the Chrysler brand. It had two very big strikes against it: 1) It’s really a practical, affordable family car (Plymouth), not a near-luxury wannabe (Chrysler), and 2) It was doomed to a slow death rather than steady improvements when Chrysler killed the Neon platform on which it is based.

    Considering its “bastard” origins and lack of love from its maker, the car has been a remarkable success and has earned its well-deserves iconic status. I believe these things will still be making many of us smile fondly years from now.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    RIP PT Cruiser, but buyers still have the Chevy HHR (which GM introduced seven years too late, a fact which now may work in its favor for those still wanting a retromobile). I drove a turbo convertible in Vegas and with the top down, rearward vision was zip, was not impressed, was zippy but felt like driving a truck so I was scared to push it hard in the corners.

    Hmm, maybe Chrysler/Jeep/AMC should resurrect an updated Pacer wagon!

  • avatar
    John R

    “Having shuffled off this mortal coil, it certainly deserves a moment of remembrance.”

    No it doesn’t. The mini-hearse a blight upon humanity. Good riddance.

    • 0 avatar
      Roundel

      You may have not liked it for whatever reasons, but it would be a bald faced lie to state that it wasn’t succesfull and enjoys a following and a place in automotive history. Same things can’t be said for many of its counterparts.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    I spent a couple of days with one. I had to take a 700-mile round trip for work a few years ago, so I rented a car (I was told it’s easier and cheaper to expense a rental than paying milage on a personal car). When the guy said, “We’ve got a PT Cruiser for ya’!” I groaned, but I didn’t see much other choice and thought I’d give it a chance. The one I got had less than 200 miles on it. It didn’t seem too bad at first, for a distance, ummm, cruiser, but I noticed a few things: many people really do react negatively to the things (especially when being passed by one or when the driver is checking into an upscale hotel); it’s not really suited for cornering at all, but OK when driving down the straight, narrow, flat stretch of asphalt connecting Columbus to Indianapolis and that, on said asphalt stretch, the speed limit drops from 70 to 50 outside of Indy and at least one officer will decide it’s the car to ticket for 26 over; and finally that those seats got insanely uncomfortable after 600 miles.

    It didn’t break, though.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    I know a little bit about PT Cruisers, currently possessing a 2006 base model with autoshift, and a 2005 GT cruiser (the non-convertible one)with a five speed. Used PT cruisers are a value second to none in the used car market. I got the 06 with 50k miles for $4,000. The 05 GT cruiser for $7,500 with the same 50 k. I also had a 2005 touring edition with five speed and a 2005 convertible with a “turbo lite” with automatic (the only one I DIDN’T like). Mine have been flawlessly reliable and dependable, and have achieved 30 mpg regularly on long trips. You can sleep in the back of these things, and I am 6-2.

    Too bad the article did not mention the GT, which is my favorite. Same blown motor as the SRT4 Neon with possibly the most brutally strong manual transmission ever put in an american car. A true rock crusher. What other car can you stuff two boxed lazy-boy recliners in the back and still blow the doors off of a Civic Si? Light ‘em up in second gear with 10 flats of bedding plants in the back? And yet with the standard traction control push through 2 feet of snow and then with a few upgrades turn a 13 second quarter mile.

    PT cruisers will definitely be missed.

  • avatar

    I’ve always hated that thing. In our crowd, we call them “PM Cruisers” for “Post-Modern”

  • avatar
    twotone

    Does the “Brazilan Edition” come with a Brazilian wax and no tan lines?

    Twotone

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      Speaking of tanlines: Has anyone else noticed the factory tape marks on the front and rear unpainted (but seemingly clear-coated while the tape was still on) bumpers? I have sold a number of these cars and they all seemed to have the same “tanlines”. I guess that would that be considered a Spray-On tan?

  • avatar
    mjz

    “Couture Edition” named after a Chrysler engineer Allen B.”Tobe” Couture. Not “couture” as in fashion, according to Allpar.com

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      “Tobe” Couture? But then I googled it. http://www.allpar.com/images/chrysler/couture/zeder-oldfield.jpg

      Speaking as a cigar smoker, then shouldn’t it come with a special edition built in humidor or something?

  • avatar
    mjz

    If Chrysler had kept it fresh and updated mechanicals, they could have had a continuing Mini-like success on their hands.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    My title and insurance papers state the body style as “sport van.” That’s pretty truthful– I don’t think one can peg the PT’s styling into one genre with any degree of certainty.

    When I get gas, I tell the attendant: “it’s the little black wagon,” and they always look at me sideways. “Oh! You mean the PT Cruiser?” “Yeah, the little black wagon.”

    It’s a great little scoot scoot car. Tightly-built, 30MPG in any sustained-speed driving, and the rear seat isn’t a punishing place where knees meet chins. My only complaint is that the neon had a plusher interior.

    The newer(2006+) interior is quite handsome in minimalist/deco style. The car softly whispers style, and people don’t really know what to do with that. They seem to have a need to be hit over the head with it– like with current Hyundai design.

  • avatar
    LXbuilder

    Its a shame that Dumbler never really understood the PT, one really bad update in 06 that basically ruined the original looks and saved them money with a cheaper interior. She should have been given a full redesign with updated drivetrain and better interior, oh I forgot Dumbler didn’t upgrade any drivetrains or interiors when they were busy sucking cash out of Chrysler to help Benz over a rough spell.
    R.I.P. PT, you could have been …should have been, so much more.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    What kind of clearance did you have that you were able to go through 2 feet of snow? I was getting stuck in my colorado 4×4 last winter in 2 feet.

    • 0 avatar
      Larry P2

      Um, I too used to get stuck with my Canyon 4×4 (same as your Colorado) until I discovered that FWD with snow tires was hands down WAY WAY better than any SUV. Don’t even get me started on the vast disadvantages of SUVs both on and off road!

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      His must have been AWD with optional snowplow attachment and factory 20″ lift kit, offered at select dealers in the snowbelt states and Canada only… ;)

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I know a couple of people with PT Cruisers. They report they are commodious and have been reasonably durable. Neither are the reportedly unreliable turbo version.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Um, I too used to get stuck with my Canyon 4×4 (same as your Colorado) until I discovered that FWD with snow tires was hands down WAY WAY better than any SUV. ”

    Oh really? So the next time I get my 4X4 SUV stuck in snow I should just disconnect the rear drive shaft. Now I have front wheel drive just like your car and it will pull itself right out. Thanks for the tip….LOL

    Always liked the HHR SS better than any variant of the PT Cruiser. Neither will go through 2 feet of snow. Not even close.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Snow tires are better than Mud Terrain or All Terrain truck tires in the snow;

    Traction control with FWD and snow tires is many times better than Four Wheel Drive without TC and without snow tires for most winter driving situations. Only a tiny tiny minority of SUV drivers humbly install snow tires on their SUVs, hence the superabundance of “dirty-side” up SUVs lining the freeway in the winter. ;

    Unfortunately, your Colorado is as equally helpless off-road as it is helpless in the snow. I have owned two Jeep Wrangler Rubicons, and compared to “built,” jeeps, the Rubies are only marginally acceptable off-road. As long as you keep that Colorado on smoothly-graded dirt roads, you should have no problems.

  • avatar
    Magicman9

    I just got rid of a 2003 GT which I bought in 2002. With the front passenger seat folded, you could carry a ladder and close the hatch. The seats were so good I never noticed them on long drives. The GT model had nice passing power on the highway. The vehicle had zero sound insulation so it was seriously loud on the highway. The back end would float if there was any snow depth on the road. The gas mileage really sucked for a 4 cylinder.(with 215 hp who cares)

    After 8 years everything still worked. No warranty work ever required. Traded for a 2010 Taurus.(smooth ride) I hope the Taurus is a reliable.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    With off-the-shelf dealer stocked SRT-4 Mopar parts, the GT Cruiser could achieve about 365 horsepower with 360 foot pounds of torque. You could also get plenty of cheap handling parts from the ACR SRT-4 Neon to make it handle and stop with that much power. With these readily-available and relatively cheap add-ons, the GT Cruiser could achieve 11 second 1/4 mile times and yet as the prior poster pointed out, still be able to haul a ladder with all the doors closed. Or how about hauling 20 or 30 watermelons and sucking the doors offa a Subaru WRX?

  • avatar
    ragtopman

    Re: “I don’t know that it should have died a while ago; maybe they should have updated it a while ago would have been a better solution.”

    How do you update a vehicle whose raison d’etre is to be “retro”?

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I have had a love/hate relationship of sorts with these cars; I like the functionality of the 4 door hatch, but not so crazy about the retro styling 10+ years on. The same goes for the HHR. The retro cars ARE a dead end, and really I want a NEW car, new styling, new stuff all the way.

    If one of my “cockroaches of the roads” dies anytime soon, this is number 1 or 2 on my list. Depending upon price, I will probably pick up a PT or a HHR, as I really could use a little hauler.

    I’ve rented several of these over the years, and I hate to make remarks on rental cars, because it’s not the same as living with the car daily. But, none of them were particularly bad, the only real complaint I would have is the fuel mileage was less than stellar. I would suppose it would be due to the fact that they were almost were all brand new cars, with under 10K miles on them; the engines were green and hadn’t broken in yet.

    It’s sad to see that no one seems to want to build a (true) minivan, something the size of the PT but more conventionally styled and with sliding doors. This would be the logical successor to the original T 115 minivans and breath of fresh air compared to the euphemistic “minivans” we have now.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Pity the PT Cruiser. Based more on the old Dodge Stratus (not the Neon), it had the potential to be another Mustang. But Chrysler hadn’t a clue and severely underestimated the popularity. It took months (if not years) for supply to catch up with demand. I don’t know what the first year sales were but Chrysler could have sold twice as many if they had listened to the focus groups that said the car would be a hit.

    When the Cruiser came out, who would have thought that less than ten years later, Chrysler would be partnered with none other than Fiat in a last-ditch attempt to save the brand.

    Of course, with Daimler concentrating on bringing crap like the Caliber, Nitro, Compass, Sebring, and Crossfire to market, well, it’s not too difficult to understand. It’s just a damn shame that the PT Cruiser was left to languish on the vine. Hell, I always thought all they’d have to do is change the slanty headlights to the more traditional round versions. Just that change alone would have give the vehicle a new lease on life (even though it had fallen into the same, nobody wants to be seen driving one category as the minivan).

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      It was the hot new “must-have” fad car that first year, but after that… Seriously, another Mustang? Not seeing that at all. I can appreciate why people like them, but the ones I’ve driven and ridden in just didn’t really inspire me to consider buying one.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      The genius of the Mustang was putting a different body on an existing platform and dynamically changing the character of the vehicle to the tune of huge profits. Iacocca’s genius with the original Mustang was taking Robert McNamara’s stodgy Falcon and turning it into something completely new and different. Few people ever referred to the Mustang as ‘just a Falcon’.

      The analogy is applicable to the PT Cruiser in that ChryCo was able to take the stodgy Dodge Stratus and turn it into the very different and wildly popular (for the time) PT Cruiser in the same manner the Mustang was, in reality, nothing more than a rebodied Falcon.

      Although I can’t think of anything else offhand, it seems like the PT Cruiser was one of the most successful of the Mustang model since the Mustang itself. Unfortunately, unlike Ford, Chrysler was unable (or not interested in) continuing the model line.

  • avatar
    dadude53

    I remember the car having a worst turning radius than the minivan.Not so much a problem in the U.S but for Europe it was. Especially with the Daimler 2.2CDI Diesel engine/Getrag transmission combo which even stuck out further. They offered a 1.6l base engine setup which was so bad that if in the cruise mode it would never resume acceleration.So what was Chrysler`s fix? They eliminated cruise control on the the 1.6l package.The 2.0l engine with some 140 horses was such a drag that on the German Autobahn we were fighting and losing against 75hp Polos.


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