At $3,500, Is This 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser A Bruiser Of A Deal?

Could a hot turbo engine and five-speed stick make up for the PT Cruiser origins?

Nice Price or No Dice 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser GT
Photo: Craigslist

There’s never been much ambivalence surrounding Chrysler’s PT Cruiser — you either love it or you hate it. Today’s Nice Price or No Dice PT Cruiser GT adds the Neon’s SRT-4 engine to the mix, which, should it be priced right, might make you feel the love.

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Speaking of love, I’d just like to make it known that I do, dearly, deeply love my wife. That is why I am heeding her advice that we do not need another project car clogging up the driveway, and will most likely not be purchasing the 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera we all ogled last Friday. Thank you all for your kind words in support of the purchase as well as those who advised against bringing home that particular car.

At $17,999, it did feel well-priced for a seemingly solid Carrera, a fact noted by many of you in both the encouraging comments and the 63 percent Nice Price vote that the car earned. For the moment, I will remain a one-Porsche dude and will also continue — as Homer Simpson once so eloquently said — to sleep in a big bed with my wife.

Image for article titled At $3,500, Is This 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser A Bruiser Of A Deal?
Photo: Craigslist

Husbands and wives were not the original target persona Chrysler intended with the introduction of the PT Cruiser in 2001. The goal was to bring a younger, hipper buyer into Chrysler’s fold. Instead, much like Toyota’s ill-conceived Scion brand, the buyers that gravitated to the retro-styled PT-Cruiser were older, grandparent types who liked the model’s throw-back styling just ask much as they did its cheap price. Initial sales of the PT Cruiser were so strong that the Toluca, Mexico plant building the car managed to pop out over one million of them in just the first five years of production.

That initial popularity didn’t mean that Chrysler could sit on its fat ass and just rake in the cash. With the PT Cruiser seemingly hitting a sweet sport with the car-buying public, it made sense to broaden its appeal with additional versions for even more sales. That saw the introduction of a diesel-powered model for European markets, as well as a convertible for the U.S. and a more aggressive edition dubbed the PT Cruiser GT.

Image for article titled At $3,500, Is This 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser A Bruiser Of A Deal?
Photo: Craigslist
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This 2004 PT Cruiser GT exhibits only subtle trappings of the hot turbo 2.4-liter four that beats beneath its pointy prow. A 180 horsepower turbo engine was available in non-GT cars, but with the GT badging also came a high-output SRT-4 mill that featured stronger components and a bigger turbo. Together, those make a sold 215 horsepower in this model year. Along with the hot engine came a stouter Getrag five-speed manual and a small number of visual clues on the. outside to let you know that shenanigans might be afoot.

This one counters that aesthetic a bit by being painted a monochrome yellowish white. Despite the dull hue, the seller claims the paint to be serviceable, calling it a 7 out of 10. Tires too are claimed to be ok and ride on the factory five-spokes that have more than a passing resemblance to those on the contemporary Viper SRT-10.

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Image for article titled At $3,500, Is This 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser A Bruiser Of A Deal?
Photo: Craigslist

Things are even better on the inside, with perforated leather seating surfaces and an add-on boost gauge living above the silver-trimmed dash. Nothing looks to show too much wear here and the car still carries its innovative multi-tier luggage cover in the back.

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Image for article titled At $3,500, Is This 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser A Bruiser Of A Deal?
Photo: Craigslist

With a car that features a hot mill and manual gearbox to keep that in line, you are no doubt worried that the mechanicals may have seen better days. According to the ad, that was the case with the original five-speed, but that has been replaced with a used unit, along with the clutch, RMS and shifter bushings. A cat-back exhaust has also been added and the seller makes no mention of any other issues.

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There are 134,000 miles on the clock and the car comes with a clear title to keep registration and insuring out of the headache zone. For all of this, the asking price is $3,500.

What’s your take on this turbo PT Cruiser and that $3,500 asking? Does that make you want to look at this retro car in a new light? Or, for that much, would you just stick around for a Neon SRT-4?

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You decide!

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Seattle, Washington, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

DISCUSSION

By
glemon

Easy nice price, according to the listing and pics no significant mechanical or cosmetic issues, reasonable miles, any car that meets this description pretty much starts at $3500 or more these days. Add a turbo and a five speed, plus a decent amount of interior room, this thing is a screaming good deal (unless you are one of those people who get the Heebie Jeebies from the PT Cruiser, and I never really got why this thing ended up getting all the hate).