Junkyard Find: 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser GT Turbo

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 2004 chrysler pt cruiser gt turbo

The quantity of Chrysler PT Cruiser s in the high-turnover self-service wrecking yards remained close to zero for the first decade after the car’s 2001 model year debut (while the Cruiser’s Neon cousins showed up in large quantities starting at about age five). For the first few years of our current decade, I’d see a sprinkling of discarded PT Cruisers… and then the floodgates burst in about 2014, with seemingly every U-Wrench-It yard in the country packed wall-to-wall with the things.

I have ignored them, but the minivan version of the SRT4 Neon seemed worth photographing.

Using the same running gear as the 2004 SRT4 Neon, the GT Turbo PT Cruiser packed an impressive 215-horsepower 2.4-liter turbocharged engine. Not many were sold, for obvious reasons.

I’m surprised some Neon “tuner” type (of which there are many in the San Francisco Bay Area) hadn’t yanked the engine and suspension goodies from this car for an easy bolt-in swap to a Plymouth Neon Expresso with rattle-can yellow spray-painted dash panels and “ILLEST” stickers on the quarter-panels. Perhaps that happened after I left this yard.

Yeah, it’s an automatic. Of course it’s an automatic (though a higher percentage of junkyard PT Cruisers have manual transmsissions than do junkyard Neons; perhaps the manual was $19 cheaper).

The special “2.4 Turbo” tachometer is cool-looking.

Speaking of the abundance of PT Cruisers in places like this, how about the one that was right next to the ’04 GT Turbo? I’m pretty sure this is a custom aftermarket paint job, but perhaps it’s a rare-but-not-so-valuable special edition.

The PT Cruiser Turbo was just the thing for those crazy youngsters and their flip phones.

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3 of 44 comments
  • HotPotato HotPotato on Sep 30, 2017

    I got to take a daylong test drive in a PT Cruiser GT. People forget, those things were FAST with the 2.4 turbo and manual transmission -- 0-60 in 6.something. The interior was also an upgrade from the standard PT, with model-specific perforated leather and a slightly nicer dash plastic. I remember having two quibbles with the car: the hilariously bad turning circle, made worse by the enormous wheels on the GT, and the massive cliff in ratios between first and second gear. First gear was all unintentinded wheelspin and instant redline, and second gear felt like third. Frustrating in traffic. That was on a first-year model though, I hear they revised it later (no idea if that's so).

    • Bluegoose Bluegoose on Oct 03, 2017

      I own a PT GT with 5 speed and the "Stage 1" upgrade package which adds about 20HP. It is very fast for its time period. It is a very underrated car in the performance department. The turning circle is horrendous and that is because of the 17 inch wheels that are on the car. The manual is a pretty stout Getrag transmission that was pulled from the Euro Diesel PT. I put a Hurst Shifter in it which shortened the throws. The car is an oddball that attracts outliers. However, I think the first 5 years were the best. The GT was only made 4 years.

  • Jansob Jansob on Feb 25, 2018

    I know two older ladies who bought these because of the looks. One still has hers, despite the awful paint and paper mache interior. She says the worst thing is that it's been mechanically quite reliable, so in her words, "they were perfectly capable of doing it right, but just didn't". The other got disgusted after a couple of years of interior bits turning to dust like a mummy in sunlight and bought a Scion XB, which has been awesome, and still looks great. She says the only thing she misses is the "cool retro styling" of the PT.

  • Grein002 I hope you meant "take the Ranger out behind the *barn*" rather than "bar". I think something completely different happens "behind the bar".
  • Cprescott Suddenly there is no reason to buy ugly anymore. The Silverdodo is dead. Long live the less hideous Colorado.
  • Cprescott Portable BBQ's for everyone!
  • Lou_BC The 2023 ZR2 is burdened with GM's 8 speed. It's been allegedly "fixed" so it doesn't gear hunt and shudder. I still won't trust it. The turbo 4 cylinder should address the lack of torque found in the V6. I test drove a full-sized Trail Boss. I could make it gear hunt. The turbo 4 didn't seem to be lacking in power, at least for an empty crewcab with a 6.5 box. It lacked anything resembling character. It had next to zero compression braking even with tow/haul engaged. Chevy should have continued offering the VM Motori based inline 4 diesel that's in the older Colorado trucks. I do like the fact that the 2023 comes with 33's standard and IIRC the wheel hubs/axles etc. have been beefed up to handle the larger rubber. The bolt pattern (IIRC) is shared with fullsized 1/2 tons opening up one's choice for aftermarket wheels.
  • EngineerfromBaja_1990 That's a >$50K truck right there. I don't need to have the build sheet, it's just way over the top. I'd keep it simpler in LT or Z71 trim. If I wanted to spend $50K I'd have gone full size already