Chrysler has sold more than 1.3 million PT Cruisers in the past decade, but with sales of just 5450 in the US so far this year (and 52 in Australia between January and May) it seems new car shoppers have fallen out of love with the old-world wagon.
The PT Cruiser (PT for Personal Transport) first hit the market in the US in 2000 at the height of the SUV craze and sold well beyond Chrysler’s expectations, some months topping the company’s sales charts.
Although many brands have a retro design vehicle in their range today, when the Cruiser arrived on the scene it followed only the Volkswagen Beetle and Plymouth Prowler as mainstream modern takes on classics, notably beating the MINI Cooper and Fiat 500 to showrooms.
Drawing inspiration from Chryslers of the late 1930s, the PT Cruiser range initially started as a wagon before adding a cabrio in 2005 and a turbocharged hot rod-style performance version, as well as a list of special editions that stretches well into double figures.
Manufactured in Mexico, the five-seater front-wheel drive Cruiser started life with customer waiting lists and huge demand, and was even named the North American Car of the Year in 2001.
But a failure to significantly update the vehicle (similar to Chrysler’s handling of the 300C sedan) meant the PT Cruiser rapidly became less relevant and as dated as its retro looks, losing favour with its once loyal fan base.
In 2009, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US gave it “poor” ratings in side and rear crash tests (the worst result of any small car tested), and it was also the only small car tested not to offer electronic stability control.
Chrysler Australia has been contacted regarding the implications of today’s news for the local line-up, and the story will be updated when we hear more.