American neo-retro adopted by Mercedes and Fiat

American neo-retro adopted by Mercedes and Fiat


After the Chrysler Prowler in 1993, which wanted to look like a hot rod, Chrysler signed a new concept car in that vein in 1998; the neo-retro one. This is the Pronto Cruiser, the true predecessor of the PT.

It must be said that at that time, manufacturers – like Fiat, which went through the 500 again – corrected their past in the future of victory. For those who remember, in 1996 Renault also tested a concept car based on the 4CV, the Fiftie. The concept has been confirmed by employees of Chrysler which has just been bought by Mercedes.





The convertible arrives in 2002; will be discontinued in 2007 due to insufficient sales. Picture of Chrysler

PT for Private Transportation

Officially, it is a translation of the first two letters; unofficially, the project to be sold under the Plymouth brand, could have been Plymouth Truck. But recently DaimlerChrysler has abandoned the Plymouth brand.

PT will be Chrysler. It is a 5-door front-wheel drive sedan designed with components from the Dodge Neon, including a 2.4L gasoline engine. Illustrated by Bob Lutz, Clotaire Rapaille and Bryan Nesbitt. The PT Cruiser is manufactured in Mexico at the Toluca plant and released in 2000 (model year 2001).



The luggage rack can be set at different heights like here for the lunch shelf.  picture DR

The luggage rack can be set at different heights like here for the lunch shelf. picture DR

Unusual style

The PT Cruiser is reminiscent of cars from the 1930s and 1940s: Chrysler Airflow, panel vans… The interior presentation matches the exterior style and includes modern-looking retro touches, such as the gear lever with its ball on top.

The kit boasts a place of hard plastic and the quality of the finish is American (like the first Mercedes ML whose services were not pleasant).

The rear is finished with a tailgate reminiscent of van doors. A few tricks touch the whole thing, like a hard luggage cover that can be a dinette table.



2006 remodel with bigger bumper and new headlights.  picture DR

2006 remodel with bigger bumper and new headlights. picture DR

One engine

When sold, the PT Cruiser has a gasoline engine with a capacity of only 2.4 liters of 140 hp. It’s very pleasant in quiet driving, yet it has the drawback of being too ambitious. It is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.

In 2001 and 2002, it was also assembled in Austria, in Graz, for the European market. The reception is good with more than 7,500 sales in France between 2000 and 2002. 2002 is the year that Mercedes chooses to transplant a diesel to the PT Cruiser.

The selected CRD 2.2 l is the service version, which develops 121 hp. The advantage, it consumes less than 7 l / 100 km, almost half of the gasoline … 2002, is also the arrival of the Convertible, announced by Top Gear as the worst car of all time.



The main dashboard panel has changed and simplified the circular style of the previous period.  Picture of Chrysler

The main dashboard panel has changed and simplified the circular style of the previous period. Picture of Chrysler

Turbo in 2003

Starting in 2003, DaimlerChrysler will add a little pep to the PT Cruiser by adding a turbo to the 2.4 l to produce the GT Cruiser. From 2003 to 2005, the engine will put out 180 hp with a 4-speed automatic gearbox or a 5-speed manual gearbox.

From 2006, the power increases to 210 hp. It is not the best-selling version in France where sales start to decline: 3,468 sales in 2003 (diesel effect), 2,833 in 2004 (- 18%), 2,437 in 2005 (- 26%).

2006, a reformulation model that does not help

In 2005, a restructuring took place; it greatly affects the aesthetics of the front end by making the bumper heavy, which includes the air intake at the bottom; this modification removes the neo-retro side of the grille.

Inside, the dashboard is modified; new features appear, but sales continue to decline (1,806 vehicles in 2006) when the brand announces the release of the millionth PT Cruiser.

In 2009, tired, Chrysler was bought by Fiat. Who decides to stop production of the PT Cruiser. In July 2010, the last fleet leaves the factory with France selling 3 cars in June and 33 for the year. It will have sold 19,622 PT cruisers in France in ten years.