Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!  

Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe PT Cruiser has had a lot of work done to it. Sadly, it needs even more, as it comes with an engine that’s blown, but also possibly blown up. Let’s see how that, and the fact that it’s a PT Cruiser, affects its perceived value.

Seven and a half litres sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? That’s the engine displacement of yesterday’s 1999 Chevy Suburban 2500, a vehicle that in pretty much every sense offers ample proportions. Some things can be deceiving however, and when you convert those seven and a half litres to U.S. numbers you find that it’s actually less than 2 gallons of capacity. Hell, any one of us could drink that in a weekend. Undisputed however, was the truck’s price. At a mere $2,500, that earned the big box Chevy a stunning 91 percent Nice Price win, one of the highest in our history.

Speaking of high, check out this 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser GT and its custom paint job. What? No, I don’t mean you’d have to be high to do that to the car, I mean that it’s a convertible and hence gives you sky-high vistas wherever you go. Geez, I don’t know how you could have taken that any other way, ya’ bunch of lodies.

Interestingly, the PT Cruiser convertible has a unique connection to Tuesday’s Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler. Can you guess what it is? That’s right, they are both members of that semi-exclusive club of convertible top trucks. I know, you’re all asking ‘dufuq dat?

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The story goes that the PT in PT Cruiser doesn’t in fact stand for ‘Poon Tang’ but for ‘Plymouth Truck’ as that was the internal designation given to the model during development. That name was further validated by the NHTSA classifying the PT as a truck for CAFE fuel economy standards even though it was Neon-based and was sold as a Chrysler not a Plymouth. With the debut of the hoopty convertible, Chrysler added yet another weird little bit of fame to Cruiser’s retinue as it too was NHTSA’d to be a truck.

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Regardless of its designation, the most obvious feature of the PT Cruiser is its retro style. This one is taking that cosplay even farther.

The work to do so includes a fresh coat of mint green paint. On top of that canvas has been applied some serious Von Dutchery, which dresses up the nose, sides and tail. Add to that Buick-esque chrome strips on the front fenders, more chrome on the bumpers, and wide whitewalls wrapped around Moon steelies and suddenly the awkward little droptop isn’t so off-putting anymore.

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The top looks to be in decent shape, as does all the glass and the lighting. We don’t see the interior, so that remains an unknown. The car carries a clean title and just 110,000 miles on the clock.

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This PT doesn’t just feature paint and trim that aggrandizes its retro bonafides, it’s also kitted as one might like. That means the 230 horsepower turbocharged 2.4-litre four and a five-speed Getrag manual gearbox. The engine was shared with the Neon and featured a DOHC head co-designed with Lamborghini. It’s that head however, that is the cause of this PT Cruiser’s woes.

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The seller has diagnosed the engine to have blown its head gasket and offers as evidence white punks on dope white puffs of smoke coming out of the exhaust. That all kinds of sucks and to be honest, it could be far worse than just a blown head gasket. It could be a cracked block as that’s known to happen on these.

Either way, it means popping that pointy hood and at the very least digging the top end of the engine out for a look-see. A new-old 2.4 HO would probably be a couple of grand to find and exchange. A rebuild would be even more, and that’s assuming the major components are all good.

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So, we have a custom Cruiser that with a major unknown under its hood. How would you proceed? Who am I kidding, we all know what most of us would do—we’d run the other direction as fast as we could. There are a few brave souls however, who will find the car appealing and appreciate the challenge it presents. For them, let’s now consider its $2,000 asking price.

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Holy cow, two-grand for a freshly painted and pinstriped convertible? That’s chewin’ gum money and could easily be parted out for more. The question is: should anybody part with that much cash for it?

You decide!

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Albuquerque, NM Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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