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