Regular Car Reviews: 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser
August 12, 2016 2:05 PM   Subscribe

"The PT Cruiser: The official car of getting your 9-year-old son a balloon-tired mountain bike to make up for pawning his DS Lite in order to buy 'loose tobacco' and zigzags."

"We hate the PT cruiser because we hate the idea that we are just 2 or 3 bad breaks away from buying one out of desperation."

Enjoy more Regular Car Reviews, Previously
posted by bologna on wry (96 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
They were surprisingly kind on the PT Cruiser.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 2:25 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Those were all over Southern CA (but not out here in Western NY). My father had one for a few years, and liked it well enough, but the one time I had to drive it I couldn't help noticing the GARGANTUAN AND INCONVENIENT BLIND SPOT on the driver's side.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:34 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Heh. PT Loser.

These things are still everywhere here in Indiana.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:38 PM on August 12, 2016


I'm not American, so anyway... I just timed the video: when does the first understandable full sentence appear in this video as far as I'm concerned? It's about 45 seconds in, when the dude says "Production of the PT Cruiser...". Everything before that could basically be in Tuva as far as I'm concerned. I have literally no idea what any of the things said before that mean. And supposedly I'm a professional translator. It's pretty funny.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 2:44 PM on August 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


Misunderstanding postmodernism should be an Olympic sport.
posted by sfenders at 2:45 PM on August 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


Oh man oh man.

During The Worst Month Of The Worst Year Of My Life, I "had access to" my uncle's PT Cruiser (ie. I was allowed to drive it home on weekends after a 60-hour week of driving his meat truck across New Jersey during the graveyard shift)

It was purple. On the inside and out.

The seats were manually-adjustable, apart from an electric motor, which could raise or lower the seat exactly vertically. I've never seen another car with seats that are directly adjustable along the vertical axis. This motor was broken on my uncle's PT Cruiser. I am 6 inches taller than him.

From this video, though... it looks like there weren't actually any reasonable driving positions that didn't cause your head to rub against the roof.

It was small. It had a powerful engine. It wasn't fun to drive. It got terrible gas mileage. It also somehow performed horribly in crash tests.

Like, you'd think it'd be a little fun to drive, in the way that a small inexpensive cars like the Civic or Golf can be fun to drive. Nope. Chrysler somehow managed to produce a tiny car that drove like a Pickup Truck. It combined the "taking up the entire lane and then some" feeling of driving a U-Haul with the cargo space of a Smart Car.

How on earth was "high seat height" considered a feature?

The video makes the argument that the PT's driving, handling, and visibility were "unremarkable." I disagree. Cheap rental cars are unremarkable. The PT Cruiser is the only car I've ever driven that was actively unpleasant. The blind spots were also pretty shockingly bad (the Chrysler Pacifica is the only car I've driven that had worse visibility... even cargo vans have big mirrors)

It'd be easy to say that Chrysler were forced to make numerous compromises during the design and engineering of the PT Cruiser. However, "compromise" implies that there was a positive upside to the tradeoffs that were made. As far as I've been able to tell, there were no upsides with the PT Cruiser.

It also chewed through tires, and broke down a lot. [Remember that I only drove this car for a month.]

Virtually every PT Cruiser that Chrysler sold was some kind of "Special Edition" or "Limited Edition." Their customers seemingly ate this up.

It wasn't even cheap. You could get a Jetta for less. A Civic for a lot less.

My uncle LOVED the car. He wouldn't stop talking about what a great car it was. (Until he interrupted to lecture me about how Chris Christie was going to save New Jersey, or about how the ways he avoids paying taxes).

The PT Cruiser was pretty much the icing on the cake of this absolute shit sandwich of a month. I couldn't even bring myself to be angry about it.

My life got a whole lot better shortly after this month. Maybe I should thank the PT Cruiser for giving me a kick in the butt in the right direction.

Nah. It's a piece of shit that Chrysler sold to a population that was completely uncritical of the rapidly-declining quality of American-made cars. Given the competition, there's no reason anybody should have ever purchased a PT Cruiser. It was a cynical marketing ploy that worked for an entire decade by being marketed well, and barely-good-enough.

Sorry, Mr. RegularCars. The PT Cruiser was actually an awful car. We're not elitist for disliking it.
posted by schmod at 2:45 PM on August 12, 2016 [48 favorites]


I was looking at those when they first came out but then I found out they were just puffed up Dodge Neons. I drove a Neon rental once, and that was all I needed to know.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:45 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I inherited my mom's in 2007 and drove it for five years.

It was fine, got mediocre gas mileage and I was glad to hand it off to my sister when I moved to Boston and swore off car ownership for the last few years.

My mom loved it though. I think she was happy to have a fun looking car after thirty years of minivans.
posted by dismas at 2:47 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


My ex had a convertible turbo PT Cruiser... driving it felt like being in a parade float. Like, deep down inside, not up top waving with a crown on my head.
posted by palomar at 2:47 PM on August 12, 2016 [14 favorites]


I've always been curious how the PTC's design came about after the showing of the Pronto Cruizer concept.

Note that link, the PT Cruiser's designer left for GM to design...the Chevy HHR.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:48 PM on August 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's an ugly car. Oddly this seemed to be something that Chrysler thought would be a good in to building their name on UK market. It always put me in mind of the Anthill Mob.
posted by biffa at 2:49 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


The PT Cruiser! The official car of men who think they'd make good mobsters!
posted by The Whelk at 2:52 PM on August 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


I fully and shamelessly blame the gargantuan and inconvenient blind spot for the time I had a PT Cruiser as a loaner for two days and in that time managed to dent the rear bumper by running into a parked car while turning out of my own driveway. Fuck a PT Cruiser.
posted by clavicle at 2:52 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


From this video, though... it looks like there weren't actually any reasonable driving positions that didn't cause your head to rub against the roof.

As the owner of a 2002 model who is 6'2", I've never had a problem with this. And I don't even recall if I had to move my seat directly up or down, there's simply enough headspace above me that it's no issue. Maybe because I moved the seat back I'm further under the high part of the roof, I dunno. Other cars, like my family's Toyota, I've always felt a little too hemmed in.

Plus, as an aesthetic bonus, the PTC has all the instruments on the panel in round, raised displays that make me feel like I'm operating an old-time propeller plane. The thermometer, speedometer, odometer, fuel... ometer, all of them round.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 2:55 PM on August 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've been driving a PT Cruiser since January 2003, and I DREAD the day my baby kicks the bucket. Maybe it's because I'm short, but I find the seat very comfortable and it gives me great views around the whole car. The storage options are great: I've hauled an electric wheelchair, a 27" cathode ray TV, an eight-foot stepladder and tons more in there, usually with multiple passengers.

Go ahead and laugh at her: you'll get her away from me when one of us, her or me, is dead dead dead!
posted by easily confused at 2:58 PM on August 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Minnesota was rife with these things, and Chevy HHRs and Pontiac Azteks. It was somehow a sad car purgatory up there.
posted by Ferreous at 3:00 PM on August 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm reading this thread in my '05 PT Cruiser, so I'm not getting a kick out of this.
posted by parliboy at 3:05 PM on August 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Haha, right after college I was in a situation where a bunch of recent college students were sharing a bunch of rental cars, and the least in-demand car by far was the Chevy HHR which was universally denounced as "that beast that looks like if you made a PT Cruiser even worse". I was unfortunate enough to drive it once.

My personal car in the rental car pool was a purple minivan, which at first blush felt uncool but which everyone wanted to borrow all the time because it had more seats than the rest of the cars.
posted by the marble index at 3:05 PM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


We turned down a free upgrade to a PT Cruiser when we rented a car on our honeymoon.
posted by Lyme Drop at 3:13 PM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


The perfect car for driving from your McMansion to a Dixie Chicks show in Clearwater Florida after a long day of playing online poker.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:15 PM on August 12, 2016 [26 favorites]


The mystery method of cars
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:15 PM on August 12, 2016


Car look like @fart's shoes
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:18 PM on August 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


The only thing wrong with the PT Cruiser is it was a poorly-made vehicle built by a company who (at the time) didn't really give a shit about their cars lasting long enough to ensure any sort of brand loyalty. If my PT Cruiser hadn't been shoddily constructed and gotten indifferent-at-best service care from Chrysler, I would have kept it much, much longer than I did.

The PT Cruiser suited me for many reasons, notwithstanding the various aesthetic objections (wait, I don't like the Dixie Chicks, did I miss something?) and the fact that hating it is the car equivalent of proudly proclaiming a dislike for "country and rap" (a convenient shorthand for disassociating oneself from "low" white and black culture, manifested here as disassociating oneself from "lower-middle" painfully un-hip white culture).

1. I could get into and out of the car comfortably -- I'm too tall for every other compact car of the era, before the companies discovered people over 6 feet tall wanted to drive little cars. Nowadays, I seem to be within the error bars of of more car design standards.

2. Unless I wanted to buy a full size fan, before the PT Cruiser came along I was unable to buy, and still cannot get, a car that was a configurable as the PT Cruiser was. The back and front-passenger seats folding flat was a serious help to someone like me who regularly toted around a band's worth of musical gear.

3. Not only could I get into and out of the car comfortably, 4 people my height and my size (6' 2" 210+ lb) could comfortably get into and out of the car. Again, the PT Cruiser was sui generis and this capability at this size has not been duplicated.

4. I actually liked the retro styling. You can flay me for that if you wish. If you choose do so, you can also bite me.
posted by tclark at 3:21 PM on August 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


If I close my eyes, I can't quite picture a PT Cruiser in my head. I just come up with a sort of purple (always purple! Have I seen a lot of PT Cruisers? Have I ever seen a PT Cruiser? I can't confirm an occasion when I know that I did, but I know that I have and that they exist. Don't I?) station-wagon-shaped blob that I have to mentally squish and tug like play-doh of the mind's eye until it acquires a sort of high-roofed, rounded shape. There, that's as close as I can get to imagining a PT Cruiser. Now I am having flashbacks to that Dick Tracy movie from the 90's. The PT Cruiser is the car equivalent of Warren Beatty in a bright yellow trenchcoat? Does that sound about right?

Okay I just googled "PT Cruiser" to find out what the "PT" stands for and the images that come up look literally nothing like what I was picturing. What the fuck is going on here
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:21 PM on August 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


the car that says "I long for the days when tv comedians made jokes about the polish"
posted by Ferreous at 3:21 PM on August 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Shortly after I bought my PT Cruiser, I drove over to a friend's house and pulled into her driveway. She saw me get out, did a double-take, then exclaimed across the front yard "Oh my God, you bought a bread truck!" Which is what it came to be called during the short time I owned it.

Those big barstool seats were good for visibility, but had absolutely no side support. I found the limit of adhesion when going around corners wasn't between the tires and the road -- it was between my butt and the cushion.

There were some good points. The high seats meant that the back could be comfortably occupied by full-sized adults, and it had some clever storage tricks. However, the design quirks quickly morphed from "tee-hee" to eyeroll (replacing the battery requires disassembling the air intake system?! Really?!). And the gas mileage was truly abysmal for such a small car.
posted by penguinicity at 3:22 PM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Only in America would a PT Cruiser be described as a 'small car'.

They do look pretty cool though - the sort of thing Batman would drive on his day off.
posted by pipeski at 3:22 PM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


The other day I had to convince my wife, who is a millennial, that Blueberry IBooks really existed, and they're like 10 more believable than that someone made Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy into a vehicle.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:27 PM on August 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Now I am having flashbacks to that Dick Tracy movie from the 90's. The PT Cruiser is the car equivalent of Warren Beatty in a bright yellow trenchcoat? Does that sound about right

Oh shoot jinx haha
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:29 PM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Like, you'd think it'd be a little fun to drive, in the way that a small inexpensive cars like the Civic or Golf can be fun to drive. Nope. Chrysler somehow managed to produce a tiny car that drove like a Pickup Truck. It combined the "taking up the entire lane and then some" feeling of driving a U-Haul with the cargo space of a Smart Car.

The amazing thing is that Bryan Nesbitt, who headed up design of the PT Cruiser, went ahead and repeated exactly this miracle of anti-quality with the HHR. That is the most unpleasant driving experience I've ever had.
posted by invitapriore at 3:32 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Station Wagon :PT Cruiser :: The Sopranos on HBO : the Sopranos on A&E
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:33 PM on August 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


I went to a small public college (about 3,000 students) in a fairly isolated Virginia town in the late '90s/early '00s. We had a Walmart and three bars and that was kind of it (that's an exaggeration but just barely). It was a place that attracted oddballs but honestly not quite enough of them.

I had two English professors who both drove PT Cruisers. I don't know who bought his first or they both decided on them at the same time (they were friendly -- like they played tennis together -- but they weren't best friends or rivals). The English department wasn't that big (because the school wasn't that big). So no matter what, I'll always assume that the PT Cruiser is the preferred car of middle-aged, white male English professors everywhere.

(The two of them were my favorite English professors so it's not meant to be negative.)
posted by darksong at 3:39 PM on August 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Pro- and Anti-PT Cruiser is going to become Metafilter's new Ask Culture/Guess Culture or Sit to Wipe/Stand to Wipe
posted by ejs at 3:54 PM on August 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


The driver side window on my 2006 pt cruiser broke today, in the down position. The air conditioning has never worked for two years in a row. The electronic latch on the back door has developed an uncanny ability to unlatch itself.

But, it still runs. It rolled to 12,000 miles the day I bought it (Sept 9, 2006). That number is over 123k now. The gas mileage could be better, i'm still getting 22-24 highway and about 17 in town. I guess I'm not a car connoisseur, it's no worse to drive than any other car I've driven. Blind spots abound, but I'm very short. I've been able to fit amazing amounts of stuff into it. 8-ft lumber with the rear door closed, plywood sheets with the rear open. Four people, four dogs, and luggage. I can't do any of that with my Civic. I hate this car for many reasons, but it's been ok for the most part.

I did some research on the car at one point because the gas mileage was so low compared to other similar size cars of the same era. It's not a "car", it's a truck for EPA gas mileage purposes. That is why those back seats are so configurable and removable. The "PT" actually stands for Plymouth Truck.
posted by Talia Devane at 3:59 PM on August 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Not for nothing but this video makes way more assumptions about people than anyone I've ever met who makes fun of this car.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:00 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


We turned down a free upgrade to a PT Cruiser when we rented a car on our honeymoon.

Um, if I may ask, from what exactly is a PT Cruiser an upgrade? A rusted out '56 Rambler abandoned in the woods somewhere and used for target practice by a generation of bored hunters?
posted by Naberius at 4:01 PM on August 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


Not for nothing but this video makes way more assumptions about people than anyone I've ever met who makes fun of this car.

I totally agree, the irony was remarkable.

I can't stop laughing at these ridiculous reviews. 2000 Ford Crown Vic P-71 Police Interceptor.
posted by bologna on wry at 4:17 PM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


PT Cruiser convertibles look like a claw-foot tub with a handle.
posted by The World Famous at 4:17 PM on August 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


We turned down a free upgrade to a PT Cruiser when we rented a car on our honeymoon.

I'm jealous that you had that option. We honeymooned on Kauai, and I was so fucking bummed when the rental company was like 'nope, we're all out of cars. All we have left is six PT cruisers.' They were all on the neon side of metafilter-blue.

Everytime we parked the car, my wife insisted everything we brought with us was taken out of it. Her logic was that no local in their right mind would drive a PT cruiser, let alone a bright blue one, and that it would immediately be noticed as a rental car for the worst kind of tourists.

ONE STAR WOULD NOT CRUISE A PT AGAIN.
posted by furnace.heart at 4:26 PM on August 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


When they first came out they were pretty cool looking and where pretty nice inside for the money. But they rapidly became junkier and cheaper and were ubiquitous at car rental companies (usually not a good sign). It's hard to believe they are still around.
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:27 PM on August 12, 2016


But, it still runs. It rolled to 12,000 miles the day I bought it (Sept 9, 2006). That number is over 123k now.

Only 123k after 10 years? It damned well better still be running. Most Japanese makes consider that mileage just getting broken-in.

I suppose, being a PTC, it should have grenaded by now. So...congrats?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:31 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Everytime we parked the car, my wife insisted everything we brought with us was taken out of it. Her logic was that no local in their right mind would drive a PT cruiser, let alone a bright blue one, and that it would immediately be noticed as a rental car for the worst kind of tourists.

I support this logic, and agree. Anti-PT MeFi checking in.
posted by a halcyon day at 4:32 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't stop laughing at these ridiculous reviews.

Allow me to present the 1988 Dodge Aries K.
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:32 PM on August 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


A PT Cruiser is such a strained combination that of course it's not going to come out quite right.
posted by ckape at 4:47 PM on August 12, 2016


Allow me to present the 1988 Dodge Aries K

No! Nooo, I can't! I can't! Too close to home! My first car was an '81 (-ish?) 4-door puke gold Plymouth Reliant. This was in, oh, I dunno, 1993 or so, as a junior at a private Catholic school where most of my classmates were gifted with BMWs and Mercedes upon their 16th birthdays. The horror! The embarrassment! How I longed for an even maybe-semi-partly-not-totally-ugly car! But, you know, looking back it sure did teach me humility. And my parents of limited means bought it for me, free and clear, and gave me a car to drive and gas money with which to fill it. They were pretty rad parents indeed. And that car never gave me trouble. And, hey, bonus-- when I banged it up it was no big whoop.
posted by bologna on wry at 4:57 PM on August 12, 2016


His Suzuki GS500e review is... terrific.
posted by Chutzler at 5:00 PM on August 12, 2016


One of my favorite Reddit threads is PT Cruiser owners, what tragedy burdened you with your car?
posted by teponaztli at 5:05 PM on August 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


I've always just thought they were really goofy-looking, personally. And I'm a guy who drives an '03 Outback, so it's not like I have high standards for vehicle aesthetics. But something about the plasticky faux-retro styling combined with that tall, bulbous profile just rubs me the wrong way. Same with the HHR, which I see as basically just a ripoff of a ripoff.

"Retro" cars never manage to look even a tenth as good as the classics they're inspired by. I get that there are reasons why we can't/don't make cars that actually look like the classics, but when you take classic design and force it to fit contemporary safety standards, construction techniques, and material options, it just never seems to work. The PT Cruiser is a textbook example of this.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:32 PM on August 12, 2016


2001 Motor Trend Car of the Year

I stumbled upon this looking for the slashdot pt cruiser that valinux gave away at a linux con I went to the year they IPO'd. This link is better than that one would have been.
posted by bukvich at 5:33 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Certainly a polarizing design (that was insanely popular at introduction) that IMO was better than 95+% of contemporary cars in the same price range. Just being available in something besides white and 11 different shades of grey was an immediate plus.

schmod: "However, "compromise" implies that there was a positive upside to the tradeoffs that were made. As far as I've been able to tell, there were no upsides with the PT Cruiser. "

Well they allowed Chrysler to sell a shit ton of hemi equipped pickups that each made more money than a dozen PT Cruisers. One of the reasons they didn't handle were constraints imposed by requirements to be a truck. But that was also the reason they could haul so much.

schmod: " It's a piece of shit that Chrysler sold to a population that was completely uncritical of the rapidly-declining quality of American-made cars. "

I disagree on the declining part. Things had been looking up reliability wise since the 80s and an average PT Cruiser is going to get more miles with less maintenance than most American cars made before. People forget how much constant maintenance the typical "reliable" American (or even imports whose reliability was relative) car with drum brakes, carburetor(s), 20 grease nipples, non seal beam lights, 30K tires, mechanical voltage regulator (at one point controlling a generator), mechanical points, 1500 mile oil change, solid lifter car required.
posted by Mitheral at 6:07 PM on August 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've always been curious how the PTC's design came about after the showing of the Pronto Cruizer concept.
From a non-US PoV (notwithstanding a VJ Valiant owned during my youth), that's just Chrysler all over - an impressive-looking concept that matched the best from the rest of the world design-wise, turned into an ugly-looking, pedestrian, & agricultural product…

"If anybody asks you how it handles just pause, look into the middle distance and mention that it's from the same people who brought you the multi-Le Mans winning Viper. That ought to warn them off for a bit." (and give you enough time to get away & avoid embarassment…)
posted by Pinback at 6:30 PM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


The actual video: That was a pretty strange document, and somehow entertaining enough that I watched the entire thing. The "postmodernism" section was pretty goddamned incoherent, and I felt like it could never quite decide what points it was making or undermining, but a lot of that material was surprisingly observant and empathetic. The whole monologue about grandma dying and the family charity cases getting the car for, fuck it, 500 bucks - not bad, really.

The car itself: Yeah, put me in the majority consensus "this is a piece of shit car" column, pretty much. Then again, I've never driven one, just sort of instinctively cringed at them as they drove past. Maybe part of my contempt is down to the fact that I was once given an HHR as a rental for a 400 mile road trip to Scottsbluff, NE, which, yeah, to echo invitapriore above, I have never hated driving anything more.

I actually had no idea that there was, like, an entire hating-the-PT-Cruiser memeplex. I feel like I just found out that people passionately dislike Nickelback.
posted by brennen at 6:36 PM on August 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


an ugly-looking, pedestrian, & agricultural product

"agricultural"?
posted by brennen at 6:37 PM on August 12, 2016


I always thought of them as giant Matchbox cars.
posted by acrasis at 6:50 PM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


teponaztli: That thread pretty much validates the review as well. The PT Cruiser, the car of age and misfortune, and most drivers say 'well it's fine, really'.

I have in laws who bought 2 PT Cruisers. Not sequentially, at the same time. They needed 2 cars, they bought 2 PT Cruisers. I see the deal with PT Cruisers it as being something like the white/gold blue/black dress thing. There is wiring in some people's heads that make them understand, instinctively that the PT Cruiser is badwrong, doubleplus badwrong; just like there seemed to be wiring that made people see black and blue. Those of us blissfully free of what some of you may be describing to yourself as 'taste', just see a car possibly a car with some interesting styling, I mean at least its different.

brennen: Well, villain originally derived from a word describing peasants tied to the land, the majority of whom were farmers. So you know, there's precedent for "involved in the vital but low class job of large scale food production" turning into a generic term for "bad". Hmm. I feel like there's a longer rant about how the transition from John Deere selling small art-deco styled tractors to small farmers to John Deere selling lawnmowers to the suburban bourgeois and equipment for large scale agribusiness and the shifting patterns of status and dependency in post war America. But just typing that made me want to punch myself in the head, so I'll never have a viral video where I ramble semi-coherently on YouTube I guess.
posted by Grimgrin at 6:52 PM on August 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


The Kia Spectra one is pretty amazing.

"How long did it take for the 2000s to stop being the 90s, anyway?"
posted by brennen at 6:55 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Regular Car Reviews is something that makes me look forward to Mondays. Honestly. I love this guy (yes I know there are two). Sure, it's easy to complain about the schtick sometimes (and sometimes, like a Monty Python sketch, the repeated-over-time joke just lands for no explainable reason and it's goddamn perfect. I love what he's built. I love that enough people have loved what he's built to the point where this is his actual job, now. I love the college-philosophy, literature-referencing, armchair-observational sociology, and the semantics of machines. And that it's all nicely complemented with actual wrenching.

My favorites are the car show bits.
posted by rp at 7:11 PM on August 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


an ugly-looking, pedestrian, & agricultural product
"agricultural"?
British/Australian slang for 'clumsy, awkward, ungainly; lacking in finish or finesse', etc. Commonly used to describe things that should be reasonably state-of-the-art, but turn out to instead be built like a 1930's tractor (and not in a good way).
posted by Pinback at 7:16 PM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Huh, TIL. Thanks.

I was just thinking of the howls of disdain and hilarity I remember from my truck / tractor driving relatives when the PT Cruiser showed up in car commercials.
posted by brennen at 7:20 PM on August 12, 2016


I didn't think I was a car snob until a guy I was chatting with told me he drove a PT Cruiser and I totally lost interest in him.
posted by AFABulous at 7:42 PM on August 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


I just sold an 05 Corolla with just over 300k miles on it. I don't know how many exact miles because the odometer only goes up to 299, 999. Looked like shit, still ran like a champ. Old dude gave me 1500 for it to give to his grandson. No quirky styling is ever going to be worth as much to me as that kind of performance.
posted by emjaybee at 7:42 PM on August 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


I remember interviewing at a job once where the person interviewing me would not shut up about how great the PT Cruiser was and didn't I wish I had one. (I drove an 83 Civic wagon at the time, if memory serves.)

Between that and how I thought the whole job could and should be automated out of existence as soon as possible, I am relieved that I dodged a bullet on that job.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:55 PM on August 12, 2016


A couple of days ago, a PT Cruiser blew a tire on the Interstate in southern Minnesota. The driver lost control, the car rolled....and split in two. Half the car landed in the lanes of opposite traffic and was hit by several vehicles.

No snark here, it's a pretty tragic event. The "split in two" aspect caught my attention, and not in a good way.
posted by gimonca at 8:08 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


We turned down a free upgrade to a PT Cruiser when we rented a car on our honeymoon.

We took the alternate route because the econocar my wife booked was going to be an insufferable shitbox for the week. The PT Cruiser was a turbo convertible and -- for the week -- a generally fun little car to drive about Oahu. I actually wanted to do the upgrade before I got there because a convertible on the islands was an idea that did not suck. I've never been in a convertible -- or any car really -- that made me feel more like I was sitting in a bathtub at the age of three. The sides were way too high to comfortably rest one's arms and damn if that's not a primary requirement while cruising an island-locked interstate.

At the time they came out, dang, I dunno: I knew they were based on a Neon as did everyone who sat on line and paid healthy surcharges to get them when they came out. Car design was going through this weird period where concept cars seemed to be coming to life. The Prowler! The PT Cruiser! The SSR! The New Beetle! Who the eff built these things? Right, nobody. I'm not sure where the inventive streak came from or what ground it down, the economy maybe. I sure miss it though in a sea of mostly identical blobmobiles.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 8:49 PM on August 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


It was an upgrade from a subcompact ;)
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:03 PM on August 12, 2016


20 grease nipples

You'd think they could've found a better name for whatever these are
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:01 PM on August 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


So in 2005 I booked a rental car. When they gave me a PT Cruiser, I was like "Hey! This looks like a fun car to drive."

Nothing traumatic or terrible came out of that driving experience, but one clear safety issue was awakened in my memory by schmod's comment:

The blind spots were also pretty shockingly bad

Fucking brutal. I might as well have been wearing a patch over my right eye when changing lanes.

The other pissoff (albeit not safety related) was figuring out how to pop the trunk: turns out you can't actually do it from the driver's seat. Glad to know I wasn't missing something.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:25 PM on August 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


20 grease nipples

You'd think they could've found a better name for whatever these are


Well, according to adamslube.com, one can aquire (pdf):

STEEL GREASE NIPPLES
Mild steel case hardened head. Zinc plated.
Stress relieved carbon steel spring.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:30 PM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Grease nipple? Hell, that's a Zerk fitting.
posted by X4ster at 10:49 PM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've driven three of the cars mentioned above, the PTC and HHR as rentals and the Crown Vic Interceptor as a work car from the County motorpool. Hated both the PTC & the HHR. Enjoyed the hell out of the Crown Vic. It got up to San Jose CA freeway merge speed in a hurry - and sounded great doing it. I'm perfectly content with my Toyo 4Runner now in my retirement.
posted by X4ster at 10:57 PM on August 12, 2016


I was behind a bright electric green PT Cruiser in traffic the other day. The decal on the back window:

"Cool PT Cruiser!"
-- Nobody
posted by medeine at 11:05 PM on August 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


Ray Walston, Luck Dragon: "20 grease nipples

You'd think they could've found a better name for whatever these are
"

The trademark name is Zerk fitting but grease goes in and this is what they look like (you don't normally see the threaded part). Alemite the trademark holder had no risk of losing the mark to genericide.
posted by Mitheral at 11:05 PM on August 12, 2016


I was looking at those when they first came out but then I found out they were just puffed up Dodge Neons. I drove a Neon rental once, and that was all I needed to know.

I dated a girl for a short while who owned a Neon. We were together for about a month, which was long enough for her car to break down twice.

I still see a fair number of PT Cruisers on the road, so either some of them turned out to be reliable or some owners like them enough to keep fixing them. I've always found them ugly, but admittedly have never driven one.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:50 PM on August 12, 2016


I always wanted to get one and replace the headlights with the bullet ones that 1930's cars came with.I mean to really looked like it was waiting for them.

I am 6'2" and got one as a rental, no problems.
posted by boilermonster at 12:02 AM on August 13, 2016


STEEL GREASE NIPPLES
Mild steel case hardened head. Zinc plated.
Stress relieved carbon steel spring.


I think you want to include a word or phrase that symbolizes or implies the season.

Also, the number of syllables is a bit off.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:39 AM on August 13, 2016 [13 favorites]


My favourite story about these cars (apocryphal perhaps, maybe I even saw it here, who knows) was the guy driving with his girlfriend when they saw one and the girlfriend started sobbing. He asked why, and she said "I didn't know they made a hearse for babies."
posted by terretu at 2:29 AM on August 13, 2016 [10 favorites]


Oddly enough, this is one of the two cars that I can actually remember the exact spot when I saw my first one, the other was the '64 GTO (behind the dealership about two days before the official release). My first PT was in a parking lot at one of the local malls, I sat and stared at it for a while trying to figure out just what Chrysler was trying to accomplish and how long it would last.
posted by HuronBob at 5:50 AM on August 13, 2016


And, I'll meet your Cruiser and raise you one of these.

Now THAT is a car worth talking about...
posted by HuronBob at 5:56 AM on August 13, 2016


I love these videos. I wonder if he works off a script or if he can just riff like that for 17 minutes.
posted by octothorpe at 6:12 AM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think for tall people it comes down to torso length. My 6'4" cousin, who has a fairly long torso, couldn't fit in the driver's seat without bending his neck (a Good Thing since it prevented him from buying a PT Cruiser).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:35 AM on August 13, 2016


I'm 6'2" and often have issues with the ceiling height in Chrysler cars. I'm not sure what that is with them but I remember getting a ride in a visiting co-worker's rented Sebring and I had to sit sideways and scrunched down in the front passenger seat.
posted by octothorpe at 6:54 AM on August 13, 2016


Just FYI for those who find that the review in the FPP scratches some kind of itch they never knew they had, and who are tempted to go down the RegularCarReviews rabbit hole and start binge-watching them all: you are going to encounter a lot of weird, proto-MRA Redditor edgelord grossness. For real. Be warned. Maybe you'll be able to look past it and still enjoy them overall, or maybe it'll poison the whole deal for you, but either way it's there.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:34 AM on August 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


FWIW that aspect is very overdone early on and with success he toned it down a lot.
posted by thedaniel at 7:59 AM on August 13, 2016


Berks county PA represent!
posted by Robin Kestrel at 9:45 AM on August 13, 2016


I like how he starts off by making fun of shitty, lower-income childhoods riddled with emotional abuse and then eventually transitions into making fun of people making fun of PT Cruisers as being the car of poor folks

it's v Chekhov
posted by runt at 9:57 AM on August 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


And, I'll meet your Cruiser and raise you one of these. (spoiler: It's a Pacer)

Well, hold on, now. With the Pacer at least there's a certain outre, "Yeah, my car sucks and it looks weird. That's what makes it cool!" quality. Sort of like driving a Yugo, if any of those are still roadworthy. There's something very "yeah? Well fuck you." about the Pacer. It's a very punk rock car.

The PT Cruiser is just sad. It says "malaise" so loud and clear I'm amazed it wasn't a product of the Carter era.
posted by Naberius at 10:13 AM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


My sister bought an AMC Pacer back in the day. It was lemon yellow, which turned out to be an omen.
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:29 AM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


But the Pacer had such awesome ads.
posted by octothorpe at 10:52 AM on August 13, 2016


Everything about that Crown Vic Police Interceptor review is correct.

"For the guy who open-carries at his cousin's bar mitzvah"
posted by zippy at 4:30 PM on August 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


schmod --- re: the "Limited" thing: that's just one of the PT Cruiser trim levels. There were four: Base, Touring, Limited and Turbo. The "Special Editions" came out once annually; they were a limited number of Turbos in a special just-for-that-year color.
posted by easily confused at 5:18 PM on August 13, 2016


To be fair, we should at least look at the PT Cruiser's styling within (watch at 18 seconds in) the context of when it was designed.
posted by duoshao at 6:31 PM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


sebastienbailard: I think you want to include a word or phrase that symbolizes or implies the season.

Well, there's "Spring".
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:12 AM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pyrogenesis, I've lived in the U.S. my whole life and I have no idea what he's talking about for the first 45 seconds either. Turns out people on the internet have strong opinions about things I've never heard of, for reasons I don't understand even when they're described to me. But it's kind of cool to watch people chiming in with their own stories of PT Cruiser hatred.
posted by d. z. wang at 11:37 AM on August 14, 2016


This is the absolute best of these reviews.

Second Best is where he admits he is reviewing the single worst car he has been invited to drive... and defends it.

Third best is where he has a slick and easy schtick, he will go to a car show, and ask, "Which is best?" -

He asks, "Which is best Mopar" and makes fun of Chrysler from 1953 until 2011 for ten minutes, until he encounters a perfectly restored Dodge Omni and suffers a no-kidding existential crisis wearing his little go-pro. His guitar-paying partner has to gently talk him down from his five-thousand-dollar-cash-on-the-spot ledge.

I know that sounds like it should be first best, but, really, in this order, he reviews the PT Cruiser, the Ford Festiva, and makes fun of a Mopar show and has an unscripted nervous breakdown for his troubles. Also, I liked it when he called his boss and described his pooping with free-form poetry in the middle of the act.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:06 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I know someone who dated a guy who, although she found him initially kind of charismatic, was definitely a shitbird of a mooch. Perpetually broke, he eventually talked her into helping him with an auto loan so he'd have something to drive (his current vehicle, which was in some other way tragic, was not running and instead taking up space in her driveway). So they went to a used car place, and he played the tragic boyfriend card, and she ended up with a loan in her name and a PT Cruiser in the driveway to accessorize the unmoveable garbage he'd already parked there.

To make the rest of the story short, she now owns a PT Cruiser she's stuck with. I cringe every time I see it. Some good people make bad decisions and buy a PT Cruiser, and some bad people make worse decisions and saddle decent people with one.
posted by mikeh at 5:19 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


After watching twenty or so of the series, I recommend 1987 Subaru BRAT as the best car review by someone who just ate half a bag of prunes.
posted by zippy at 9:59 AM on August 21, 2016


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