Farewell, PT Cruiser

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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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  • Ragtopman Ragtopman on Jul 13, 2010

    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"?

    • LectroByte LectroByte on Jul 14, 2010

      How do you update a "retro" vehicle? Ford seems to be doing a pretty good job of it with their Mustang.

  • Geozinger Geozinger on Jul 13, 2010

    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.

  • Rudiger Rudiger on Jul 13, 2010

    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).

    • See 1 previous
    • Rudiger Rudiger on Jul 14, 2010

      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.

  • Dadude53 Dadude53 on Jul 14, 2010

    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.