The car shortage in the United States is bad, and may soon get a lot worse. We can talk all day about the causes, the reasons it’s happening, but those aren’t what matter to you or me. For most of us, the shortage just means that used cars are expensive and hard to come by. So I took it upon myself to find the five best used car listings in the United States, five cars you can buy without fear of crushing markups: The five best cars you can buy to see you through the shortage.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. This $750 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser probably isn’t what you had in mind for your next daily driver. But, think about the economics: For that price, you aren’t likely to find anything else that can fit five adults and still manage 22 miles per gallon. You’re especially unlikely to find a contender that’s also a hatchback, for hauling all your stuff, and comes in such a fantastic shade of purple.
Now, at this price point, this PT isn’t perfect. Parkway Auto Center claims the car has an unexplained “transmission defect,” and that it’s a “mechanic’s special.” For readers of this site, that may be a boon — $750 gets you a daily driver and a project to keep you busy.
For a modest price bump, up to $3,888, things get a lot more comfortable. This 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser is completely decked out: Leather seats, power mirrors, CD and cassette players — it’s the most luxurious way to get from point A to point B under four grand. And that’s before even mentioning the color — reminiscent of a 1787 Château Lafite with its deep-purple hues.
Beyond the luxury appointments, this Cruiser stands out for its condition. Sure, the mileage is in the six figures, but look at that engine bay photo! The car looks showroom-fresh, ready for the most erudite of buyers.
Everyone loves the Dodge Neon SRT-4, but those prices are getting out of control. Instead, why not get that same fire-breathing powerplant in a more practical hatchback? I present: The 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser GT. Asking price of $2,895, 2.4 liters of turbocharged power, and this particular model even has a stick transmission — perfect for row-your-own fun.
Since this is the turbo Cruiser, there are a wealth of performance parts just waiting to be bolted on. It wont’ be long before you’re eating Fiesta STs, 500 Abarths, or Civic Sis for breakfast — all without succumbing to the absurd prices demanded by the chip-shortage-fueled market (and in a better color than any of them).
Maybe you don’t need a daily driver. Maybe you’ve been watching the prices on Bring a Trailer, always rising, and you want to jump on the next big trend before Litwood rolls around. Well, look no further than this immaculate future classic: The 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser for only $5,995.
Look at how clean it is! This PT has only 76,000 miles, and has no noticeable paint damage or clouded headlights. Sure, the radio is aftermarket, but everything else looks to be entirely numbers-matching original. And in such a rare color, you can be sure this Cruiser will pull in some serious money in a few years.
Winter is just around the corner, which means this is the time of year to find deals on sports cars — especially convertibles. This 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser GT, with its turbo engine and removable roof, could be the wind-in-your-hair canyon carver you’ve been looking for. And for only $4,700, it’s an absolute steal.
This particular Cruiser is the ideal spec — turbo, manual, with the five-skinny-spoke wheels, and the fantastic purple paint. It’s even got the premium sound system and heated seats, for when the sun starts to dip but you wanna play some synthwave and whip through Angeles Crest.
Used car prices are absurd, sure, but there are still deals to be had. The key is knowing where to look, and knowing what to look for — cars that are still just a little bit overlooked, but provide a great value. Also, purple manual PT cruisers. Lotta those around.