It's easy to be dazzled by outward appearances. Witness the puzzling popularity of Britney Spears. Witness the glitzy glamour of Las Vegas. Witness the rapture caused by the Chrysler PT Cruiser's debut at the 1999 Detroit auto show. Chrysler's announcement that it would start production in the spring of 2000 caused a traffic jam at dealerships as potential buyers queued up to place their orders. Eager customers anxiously waited months for their cars to be delivered.
We weren't so easily blinded, however. We placed our order and, our anticipation tinged with a healthy dose of skepticism, awaited the arrival of our Four Seasons PT Cruiser. Yes, the PT was striking (in a 1937 Ford/London taxicab kind of way), but we wanted to see whether this cute little toon car could endure twelve months in the hands of our hard-driving staff. We knew that Chrysler's reputation for quality, especially in brand-new models, had been sketchy. We knew that underneath the sheetmetal lived some of the underpinnings of the humble Dodge Neon. We wanted to find out if this Chrysler worked as well as its cutting-edge design promised.... Read full article