After the 1993 Chrysler Prowler, which wanted to look like a hot rod, Chrysler launched a new concept car in the same vein in 1998; neo-retro. This is the Pronto Cruiser, the true predecessor of the PT.
It must be said that then manufacturers – like Fiat, which revisited the 500 – turned their past into a triumphant future. For those who remember, in 1996 Renault also tested a concept car derived from the 4CV Fifty. The concept was approved by employees of Chrysler, which Mercedes just bought.
PT for Private Transport
It is officially a translation of two initials; unofficially, the project to be sold under the Plymouth brand could have been the Plymouth Truck. But recently DaimlerChrysler abandoned the Plymouth brand.
PT will be Chrysler. It is a 5-door front-wheel drive vehicle designed with Dodge Neon elements, including a 2.4L gasoline engine. It was painted by Bob Lutz, Clotaire Rapaille and Bryan Nesbitt. The PT Cruiser is manufactured at the Toluca plant in Mexico and released in 2000 (model year 2001).
The PT Cruiser is reminiscent of cars from the 1930s and 1940s: Chrysler Airflow, panel vans… The interior presentation matches the exterior style and combines retro touches with a modern look such as the gear lever and top ball.
The kit prides itself on hard plastic and the finish quality is American (like the first Mercedes ML, whose service was not incredible).
The rear is finished with a tailgate reminiscent of van doors. A few tricks show things off, like a hard trunk cover that can be turned into a dining table.
The PT Cruiser only had a 2.4-liter 140-horsepower gasoline engine at launch. It’s quite pleasant to drive quietly, it still has a very greedy flaw. It is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.
In 2001 and 2002, it was also assembled in Graz, Austria for the European market. Reception has been quite good, with over 7,500 sold in France between 2000 and 2002. 2002 is the year Mercedes chose to give the PT Cruiser a diesel.
The optional CRD 2.2L is the 121hp version for utilities. The advantage is that it consumes less than 7 l / 100 km, almost half of gasoline … 2002, it is also the arrival of the cabriolet, declared by Top Gear as the worst car of all time.
Turbo in 2003
From 2003, DaimlerChrysler would add some flavor to the PT Cruiser by turbocharging the 2.4L to offer the GT Cruiser. From 2003 to 2005, the engine will produce 180 horsepower with either a 4-speed automatic transmission or a 5-speed manual transmission.
Since 2006, the power has increased to 210 hp. Not the best-selling version in France, where sales began to decline: 3468 sales in 2003 (diesel effect), 2833 in 2004 (- 18%), 2437 in 2005 (- 26%).
2006, restyling that did not help
In 2005, restyling took place; it greatly affects the aesthetics of the front end by making the bumper heavier, under which there is an air intake; this modification brings out the neo-retro side of the grille.
Inside, the dashboard has been modified; new services appear, but sales continue to decline (1,806 cars in 2006), the brand announces the release of the millionth PT Cruiser.
In 2009, a tired Chrysler was bought by Fiat. Kim decides to stop production of the PT Cruiser. In July 2010, the last cruiser leaves the factories, and in France, 3 cars are sold in June, and 33 cars are sold during the year. It will sell 19,622 PT cruisers in France over ten years.