Journey's end for the Chrysler's PT Cruiser

Don Sherman

After a decade-plus run, production of well over 1-million units, and global distribution, Chrysler's spunky homage to 1930s design has ground to a halt. The last Chrysler PT Cruiser has been delivered and no replacement is likely. The chronology that follows celebrates the bright moments of its illustrious life.

Exploring the possibilities of a retro-esque compact wagon, Bob Lutz conspires with designer Bryan Nesbitt and an off-the-wall consultant Dr. Clotair Rapaille. The controversial Rapaille is a cultural anthropologist who espouses tapping consumers' unconsciousness to influence their purchase decisions.

The Plymouth Pronto, Chrysler Pronto Cruizer, and Chrysler CCV concept cars accurately forecast the coming production model. PT is code for Personal Transportation.

Production commences on the 2000 (model year) PT Cruiser with five doors, five seats, hints of a 1937 Ford in its exterior design, and Neon underpinnings. Because partner Daimler-Benz intended to terminate the Plymouth brand in 2001, the Cruiser was born a Chrysler.

Automobile toasts the car on its June cover with a Just Beachy! headline. Design analyst Robert Cumberford praises the exterior and raves about the interior.

Chrysler has configured the interior package to qualify the vehicle as a truck in the eyes of NHTSA, helping the company's CAFÉ score.

Demand is strong and dealers soon have waiting lists for PT Cruiser deliveries. Mature buyers identify with the exterior design and appreciate the slightly elevated seating.

PT Cruiser wins the North American Car of the Year award at the Detroit Auto Show. Nesbitt leaves Chrysler, joins GM, and helps revive a faltering design which arrives in 2005 as Chevy's HHR.

PT Cruisers for North American consumption are manufactured in Chrysler's Toluca, Mexico, assembly plant. In addition, production commences in Graz, Austria, for other markets.

A turbocharged GT model is added to the lineup with 220-230 horsepower. (All PT Cruisers are equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine; the transmission lineup includes a 4-speed automatic and a 5-speed manual supplied by Getrag.)

1 of 2
I owned one, it was a piece of junk, I'm GLAD to see it's final demise.
Edward A. Sanchez
A 10-year run isn't too bad, all things considered. I'm frankly surprised it lasted as long as it did. A full re-design based on the Caliber/Compass platform might have helped, though.

New Car Research

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price


new cars

Read Related Articles