Many claim to hate the Chrysler PT Cruiser now, though better than a million were sold in the United States during the retro-styled little truck’s production run (the NHTSA classified the PT Cruiser as a truck, so that’s what we’ll call it). I didn’t start finding many PT Cruisers in junkyards until about 10 years ago, at which point the Chrysler section in just about every big self-service yard became choked with row upon row of them. While most of these
cars trucks were ordinary— if cute-looking— transportation appliances, Chrysler built some with turbocharged 2.4-liter engines and five-speed manual transmissions. Here is one of those rare machines, found in a Northern California self-service yard last month.
The PT Cruiser was based on the Neon, meaning that it was no sweat to take any high-performance Neon bits and swap them onto its sibling. The PT Cruiser GT didn’t quite get the same running gear as the SRT-4 Neon, but it was a genuine factory hot rod.
The heart of the PT Cruiser GT was this turbocharged 2.4-liter engine, rated at 215 horsepower in the 2003-2005 version. The naturally-aspirated 2.4 that went into ordinary PT Cruisers made 150 horses in 2004.
While a Getrag five-speed manual transmission was standard equipment (at least at the lower-end trim levels) for all but the final year of the Cruiser’s 2001–2010 American sales run, nearly every buyer paid what it took to get the optional four-speed automatic. That didn’t happen with this
car truck, which has the five-speed.
The GT also got better brakes, bigger wheels, a stiffer suspension, a lower ride height, and a louder exhaust. What’s not to like?
Will we miss the special-edition PT Cruisers when they’re all gone?
Referred to as a “small-car alternative” in this TV commercial.