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Chrysler Rolls Out The Last PT Cruiser

An icon heads for the rust heap.

by on Jul.09, 2010

Heading for the automotive rust heap...the last PT Cruiser rolls off the assembly line today.

They called it “too cool to categorize” when it made its debut, but the once wildly-popular PT Cruiser has come to the end of its run, the last of the quirky little hatchbacks rolling off the assembly line at Chrysler’s Mexican assembly plant today.

In its decade on the market, the troubled automaker has sold more than 1.3 million of the once-iconic vehicles which was futuristic in some ways, retro in others.  The basic design brought to mind the bustle-back classics of the 1930s and ’40s but even if Chrysler didn’t use the term, the PT Cruiser was the company’s first true crossover vehicle and one of the first industry-wide.  It heads for the automotive rust heap at a time when crossovers of all sorts have supplanted traditional sport-utility vehicles as the market’s fastest-growing segment.

Why Chrysler decided not to try to update the Cruiser is a matter of debate, though the decision was certainly based, at least in part, on the company’s ongoing financial problems and frequent change of ownership, something that has befouled its entire product development program.  Though several senior officials have suggested they couldn’t really find an effective next-generation design, rival Chevrolet came up with a similar concept in the form of the HHR — something championed by now-retired car czar Bob Lutz, who also helped push for the PT Cruiser when he served as Chrysler president.

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For more on the PT Cruiser, Click Here to read a longer post — and to check out some classic Cruiser pics — on TheDetroitBureau.com.

Cruisin’ to a Conclusion

Production set to stop on once popular Chrysler PT Cruiser.

by on Jun.30, 2010

Going for its last cruise. The once wildly popular PT Cruiser ends its production run on July 9.

Its debut at the 2000 North American International Auto Show touched off a near-riot when Chrysler began handing out die cast models.  And in its first few years on the market, the automaker could barely keep up with production.  But shortly after the Independence Day break, a car once described as “too cool to categorize” will fade into oblivion, the last one set to roll down the line on July 9.

Exactly why the Chrysler PT Cruiser is going out of production is as much a matter of debate as the reasons for its early success, though there’s no arguing the fact that sales are a shadow of their one-time peak, when the Detroit maker could barely keep up with demand.

Short for Personal Transportation, the Cruiser was one of the first domestic models to fall into the nebulous crossover category.  Even federal regulators had a hard time figuring out whether to call it a car or truck for safety and fuel economy standards.  Smaller by a foot than the old Dodge Neon sedan, its high seating and large cargo compartment were part of the appeal, but there was also a sort of back-to-the-future element to the design, former Chrysler officials suggested.

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“The styling gets you into the vehicle, but the utility keeps you there,” one-time PT Cruiser Marketing Manager Jay Kughie told TheDetroitBureau at the vehicle’s launch.

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