Can PT Cruisers Be Cool? These Ones Fight the Stereotype

Genevieve Fraser
· 5 min read
Over its decade-long production run from 2000 to 2010, the
PT Cruiser was a polarizing force. It quickly found favor among loyal fans and developed a cult following as passionate as the critics who felt the model was Chrysler’s worst car.
Yet, debatably, it also may be the automaker’s most iconic offering, thanks to the plentiful customizations that delighted fans who gather to celebrate their love of the quirky little car.
Here is the incredible story of one of Chrysler’s most fascinating cars, according to
Folks love to hate it, but the PT Cruiser has plenty of loyal fans.

Clubs and gatherings keep the love for cool PT Cruisers alive

The PT Cruiser, short for “personal transportation” was marketed towards the younger generation with its affordable starting price tag of less than $16,000, but instead captured the interest of boomers.
After initially promising sales, the car wasn’t selling well at all by 2010 and was discontinued. However, it remained popular among those who liked to customize their vehicles.
According to Hagerty, the PT Cruiser became the focal point for gatherings of like-minded fans all over the world, from Australia to Germany to Japan.
The Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado is one popular meet-up destination for owners of cool PT cruisers who pack their cars onto the suspension bridge for a group photo.
This event is part of the Colorado PT Cruisers Club’s “Cruise the Rockies” initiative, which takes place every year, even though participation has diminished since the PT Cruiser’s early ‘00s popularity.
Back in 2019, Cindy Liles, the club’s co-chair, was expecting only 30 cars to show up, when they had hosted around 165 in years prior, and other national events were known to attract hundreds.
Called an “old people car” by Liles, who is one of the younger club members at 50-something, it is sadly a reality that participation has faded as many of the car enthusiasts have gotten older.
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What were the features of the PT Cruiser?

According to
Motor Biscuit
, the standard PT Cruiser was an awkward four-door sedan that missed the mark, stylistically. However, it did offer respectable performance and pretty good storage.
Hagerty noted that the original PT Cruiser was equipped with five-speed manual transmission (or a four-speed automatic) and a 2.4-liter inline-four engine offering 150 hp. It didn’t have the best fuel economy at 18 mpg for the city and 24 mpg for the highway.
Inside, the passenger and rear seats could be folded down to provide 65 cu-ft of cargo space, making it more like a compact SUV than a sedan.
The retro interior featured plenty of standard inclusions like air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, and a six-speaker stereo. It was styled with a traditional four-spoke steering wheel, color-matched dash panels, and a gear shift knob styled like a cue ball.
If you wanted upscale additions like 16-inch chrome wheels, a sunroof, and leather upholstery, the Limited was available for a few thousand dollars more.
Naturally, performance and styling changed over the years. In 2003, Chrysler created a more powerful turbocharged GT model offering 215 hp and 245 lb-ft of torque.
A convertible model was released for the 2005 model year, and a modern 2006 “facelift,” to the PT Cruiser family was not well received by die-hard fans.
Liles of the Colorado PT Cruisers Club explained that the “first-gen” PTs are preferred to the “second-gen” ones, as quoted by Hagerty.

Amazing customizations make for cool PT Cruisers

MORE: Chrysler and Other Automakers Make Efforts to Get Minivans Popular Again
While the media loved the PT Cruiser, it had a polarizing effect on consumers. It was truly a “love it or hate it” phenomenon.
Those who loved it were keen to make the vehicle their own with customizations, and Chrysler was more than obliging. The automaker first released the Flame and Woodie appearance packages, before the Dream Cruiser and Street Cruiser editions, which featured unique wheels, paint, and grilles, according to Hagerty.
A collaboration between PT Cruiser and the Ron Jon Surf Shop resulted in the launch of 1,000 Woodie edition Cruisers in 2002.
Some owners spent large sums adding flair to their vehicles with special paint, split rear windows, suicide doors, and panel van conversions to their vehicles. For beefed-up performance, some people even converted their Cruisers to have Hemi V-8s with rear-wheel drive.
With a little (or a lot) of cash, a regular PT Cruiser could become a cool PT Cruiser in a flash. From a Denver Broncos Cruiser to a Marvel-themed Silver Surfer delight, the design possibilities were as vast as your imagination. Keep an eye out for one of these wild creations next time you hit the road.
And when you do, make sure you’re protected with the right car insurance. If you’d rather leave the hard work of gathering quotes to someone else, use
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