Junkyard Find: 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser, Purple Flamed Edition

2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile it seems that we have always been at war with Eurasia Eastasia and hated the PT Cruiser, the loathing for Chrysler’s retro-styled, Neon-based “truck” didn’t become widespread until well into the smartphone/social-media era of the late 2000s and early 2010s. That was the time when the PT started showing up in large numbers in the big self-service junkyards I haunt. Now I see so many discarded PT Cruisers that I can be picky about which ones I document, and this first-model-year example in Deep Cranberry Pearl paint and screaming flames qualifies for inclusion in my Junked PT Cruiser Hall of Fame.

2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard, flame decals - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFactory-applied flame decals for the PT Cruiser were available from Chrysler starting in the 2002 model year, and buyers of ’01s could get the decal kits from dealerships and have them installed. Many did.

2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard, flame decals - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOn top of that, multiple aftermarket companies created PT Cruiser flame kits, apparently because demand was incredibly strong for a new car truck that made you feel cool while draggin’ the line. After way too much maddening research slogging through gibberish-laden online PT Cruiser forums, I gave up trying to figure out whether this car’s flames were genuine factory flames or semi-custom aftermarket flames.

2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile the PT Cruiser was just a tallish Neon with a rear hatch, Chrysler was able to work some regulatory magic to get this vehicle certified by the US government as a truck, legally speaking. That meant that fuel economy, emissions, and crash-safety requirements would be less strict than those applied to cars, with associated cost savings. PT Cruisers flew out of the showrooms for the first few years of production.

2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard, engine - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsYou could get a PT Cruiser with a turbocharged engine and/or a manual transmission, but this one has the ordinary 150-horsepower engine and an automatic, like about 98% of the ones I find in car graveyards.

2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard, decklid badge - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThere were plenty of special-edition PT Cruisers over its 2001-2010 sales run, including the Dream Cruiser in Aztec Gold paint and the Route 66 Edition with special badges. This one has just the slightly-better-than-El-Cheapo Limited Edition trim level.

2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis one looked pretty clean, but the resale value on even a nice PT Cruiser must be grim these days. Perhaps a “bustleback” body kit might have enhanced its value.


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