Here’s Why I Bought a Chrysler PT Cruiser

Illustration for article titled Here’s Why I Bought a Chrysler PT Cruiser

As many of you know, I've owned a series of remarkable cars in my lifetime. Porsche. Ferrari. BMW M. Mercedes AMG. Lotus. Land Rover. Cadillac CTS-V. And now, I'm adding another highly recognizable name to my unique car history: the Chrysler PT Cruiser.


That's right, ladies and gentlemen: after thousands of suggestions and several months of searching, I can finally report that I've decided on my next car to buy and write about. Many of you have asked questions about this upcoming car; questions like: "Is it fast?" and "Is it fun?" and "Is it rare?" and "Is it cool?", and today I'm happy to announce that can finally answer each of these questions unequivocally: No. It's none of those things. It's a PT Cruiser.

You'd know all this if you followed me on Twitter, because I recently posted a picture of myself standing next to my newest acquisition: my 2002 PT Cruiser, painted white, complete with handsome wood trim down each side; wood trim that's peeling to reveal its true status as a screen-printed laminate that Chrysler no doubt farmed out to the lowest bidder.

More importantly, I've created a video review of my PT Cruiser, which highlights all of its wonderful attributes. For example: in the video, I explain how to get the cabin feeling a little warmer if the heated seats aren't quite doing their job. I also demonstrate many of the PT Cruiser's highly advanced features, like its reverse parking sensors. And at one point, I adjust the mirrors in a slightly unconventional way.

But for those of you who can't watch my latest video due to draconian workplace restrictions, the kind of workplace restrictions that limit how often you can go to the bathroom and with whom, please allow me to tell you all about my new PT Cruiser.

Before I get started, however, a few words about the PT Cruiser in general. By now, you probably know the PT Cruiser is universally hated among practically every single human being with eyes and a functioning brain. In fact, you don't even have to have eyes to hate this thing. Blind people hate it. Newborn babies come out of the womb crying because the world includes PT Cruisers. High schoolers who have a PT Cruiser nervously try to explain it to their classmates. "It's a PT Cruiser," they say. Then they quickly add: "But I inherited it from my grandmother!" But by then it's too late. Everyone is laughing at them. Even kids who drive a Chevy HHR.

I happen to think all of this is a shame, because the PT Cruiser was once the hottest vehicle on the market. Back in 2001, when it first came out, the PT Cruiser was all the rage, and people were paying above the sticker price just to get an early model. People loved them. People wanted them. People thought they were cool. And now it's deteriorated to the point where you could never, say, show up at a job interview in a PT Cruiser, or else they'd write "HAS A PT CRUISER" on your application and tell you sorry, but this job is going to a more qualified applicant, such as an adult chipmunk.


But I figured I would give the plucky little hatchback another chance; a new home; a fresh start. Don't we owe it to this once-great symbol of Chrysler's success?

So I'll begin my review in a place where Chrysler engineers clearly didn't: the powertrain. My PT Cruiser features a four-cylinder engine of some displacement and some horsepower rating, the exact specifics of which are a complete mystery to me. But I will say this: if Chrysler says it's more than 100 horses, then they're lying like a teenage boy who tells his girlfriend he'll delete the pictures right away.


I say this because the accelerator pedal's main function doesn't appear to be speed, but rather noise. I attribute this to the fact that my PT Cruiser has a fairly substantial exhaust leak, which is accompanied by a tremendously annoying sound; the kind of sound that guys in stanced Civics pay big money to inflict on the rest of us. Fortunately, the guy who sold me the PT Cruiser told me he has "a buddy" who can fix it for fifty bucks, so I'm not worried at all.

Speaking of the guy who sold me the PT Cruiser, I don't exactly think he was … how can I put this … legit. I say this for two reasons: number one, there were about six reassignments on the back of the title, none of whom actually registered the car. And number two: we did the entire deal in an apartment complex parking lot in South Jersey.


Oh, and another thing: while I was driving home from the transaction, I stuck my hand in the driver door pocket and I found the lid to a can of Bondo. I later discovered this Bondo was used on the entire front end of my PT Cruiser, to the point where I've been driving around in a vehicle that's approximately 75 percent PT Cruiser and 25 percent Bondo. But there's good news and bad news to this discovery. The good news is that the seller used the correct color for the paintwork. The bad news is that he used house paint.

OK, fine, there are some good things about my PT Cruiser. For example: the rear hatch stays in place every time you open it, provided that you remember to wedge a long two-by-four underneath it. Otherwise, it hits you in the back of the head like a Central Park mugger who's trying to steal your shoes.


Also, the interior lights are bright, and bold, and beautiful, particularly the ones that constantly stay illuminated to remind you that you have "ABS" and "TRACTION CONTROL." Occasionally, those two are joined by one that says "CHECK ENGINE," which comes on to emphasize the fact that, by God, your vehicle is powered by the finest Mexican-built 4-cylinder in the Chrysler lineup, and you oughta pop the hood every once in a while and appreciate it.

So I'm really enjoying my PT Cruiser, and I think it's going to make for an excellent vehicle to cover here on Jalopnik for the next year or so. And the best part? I haven't even mentioned my favorite thing about my new PT Cruiser. For that, you'll just have to watch the video.


@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.



Doug DeMuro

Troll Level - Master

Seriously, this video will be the love to hate video for a good while.

Well played.