Junkyard Find: 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser, Purple Flamed Edition

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 2001 chrysler pt cruiser purple flamed edition

While it seems that we have always been at war with [s]Eurasia[/s] Eastasia and hated the PT Cruiser, the loathing for Chrysler’s retro-styled, Neon-based “truck” didn’t become widespread until well into the smartphone/social-media era of the late 2000s and early 2010s. That was the time when the PT started showing up in large numbers in the big self-service junkyards I haunt. Now I see so many discarded PT Cruisers that I can be picky about which ones I document, and this first-model-year example in Deep Cranberry Pearl paint and screaming flames qualifies for inclusion in my Junked PT Cruiser Hall of Fame.

Factory-applied flame decals for the PT Cruiser were available from Chrysler starting in the 2002 model year, and buyers of ’01s could get the decal kits from dealerships and have them installed. Many did.

On top of that, multiple aftermarket companies created PT Cruiser flame kits, apparently because demand was incredibly strong for a new [s]car[/s] truck that made you feel cool while draggin’ the line. After way too much maddening research slogging through gibberish-laden online PT Cruiser forums, I gave up trying to figure out whether this car’s flames were genuine factory flames or semi-custom aftermarket flames.

While the PT Cruiser was just a tallish Neon with a rear hatch, Chrysler was able to work some regulatory magic to get this vehicle certified by the US government as a truck, legally speaking. That meant that fuel economy, emissions, and crash-safety requirements would be less strict than those applied to cars, with associated cost savings. PT Cruisers flew out of the showrooms for the first few years of production.

You could get a PT Cruiser with a turbocharged engine and/or a manual transmission, but this one has the ordinary 150-horsepower engine and an automatic, like about 98% of the ones I find in car graveyards.

There were plenty of special-edition PT Cruisers over its 2001-2010 sales run, including the Dream Cruiser in Aztec Gold paint and the Route 66 Edition with special badges. This one has just the slightly-better-than-El-Cheapo Limited Edition trim level.

This one looked pretty clean, but the resale value on even a nice PT Cruiser must be grim these days. Perhaps a “bustleback” body kit might have enhanced its value.

What’s that?

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3 of 34 comments
  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Oct 12, 2020

    Everyone complains that all cars today look alike. And then the same people complain that PT Cruiser does not look like other cars. I was not fan of PT Cruiser but my wife was. I like retro Pontiacs circa Late 50s early 60s.

    • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Oct 13, 2020

      For me there are only three sorts of vehicles. 1) Cars I like. 2) Cars I don't like. 3) Cars I'm not sure about. The PT Cruiser is a 3. I thought it was interesting to look at, would be useful, but then I recall an undercurrent of Chrysler's crap, avoid it. I wasn't as aware of vehicles then and am only marginally moreso now and have no first hand knowledge. My thoughts on music are similar. There are only 2 types. Music I like and music I don't like.

  • JimC2 JimC2 on Oct 15, 2020

    Echo the comments about what I call the "cool granny" demographic that bought these. Styling is always a matter of choice and we're all free to choose (or reject) cars based on our personal opinions of styling. My only time riding in one is with a small town taxicab company- they have a small fleet of these with manual transmissions(!). So there's a novelty angle to their business model. I agree that the interior is functional, and I thought that getting in and out of the things is as easy as any car on the road. Their cabs have fairly ordinary paint jobs with no flames, sorry to disappoint.

  • Wjtinfwb How does the ICE mid-engine C8 platform work for... anything else? A sedan? SUV? With a mid engine configuration? A mid-engine SUV will have to be Suburban sized to offer the utility of a CRV. GM should dust off the Omega platform designed for the Cadillac CT6 for an SUV/Sedan offering with exceptional handling, Rear or AWD capability and acceptable space utilization. They also need to focus on interior fit & finish, trim choices and high quality final engineering and assembly. What GM doesn't need is another half-baked product with a storied and prestigious badge on the decklid and a premium price on the Monroney. No more Cimarron's, Allante's or X-cars needed to tarnish the reputation of Corvette.
  • InCogKneeToe BUILD It and they will come.By Build It, I mean a Vehicle that the Customer Wants and it works for them. It could be called Chevette for all that that matters. The Mach E's success isn't because it totes the Mustang on it.Just build what people want, the next Caravan/Taurus/Beetle/Maverick (truck).
  • YellowDuck Wait...how do you make a mid-engine crossover? Or even a 4-door coupe? Me not get.
  • 28-Cars-Later Thanks Corey. The head stud job on NOrthSTAR-T was $3K *years ago* as it involves an engine pull so rear wheel arch rust in and of itself isn't a show stopper. I'll be sure to check out the trunk as it may start to add up on deferred maintenance. Supposedly this was garaged so the underneath the rockers etc. should be decent but if those are shot its not gonna work.
  • Mark 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, G4NG engine with connecting rod bearing issues. Engine needs to be replaced, but Hyundai is denying warranty claim. I have all maintenance records from mile zero. It has been in Hyundai Service department 5 time in 4 months. They added the knock sensor and software update to let you know the engine is about to blow up. They kicked the can down the road doing patch work until the car was past the 120k extended extended warranty. I have that documentation too. So how can I join the class action law suit or find a Lawyer that handles these types of issues?