• 00 - 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
  • 02 - 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
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  • 08 - 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
  • 09 - 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin
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  • 23 - 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser in Colorado junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

It has become fashionable to hate the PT Cruiser these days, but Chrysler really hit a home run with the idea of a retro-looking, Neon-based vehicle that — legally speaking — qualified as a light truck according to American regulations and thus didn't need to comply with the costly fuel-economy and crash-safety rules applied to cars. PT Cruisers sold like crazy for the first half of the 2000s and even developed something of a cult following… but familiarity bred contempt once every parking lot and traffic jam in the country filled up with cute-looking retrowagons.

I didn't start seeing many of these cars trucks in junkyards until about a decade ago, at which point the Chrysler section of every yard instantly became about 50% PT Cruisers. Most of the time, I ignore them as car-graveyard background noise, but the rare turbocharged Cruisers or those with manual transmissions can catch my eye, as well as those with weird body kits. The more interesting special-edition PT Cruisers also seem worth documenting as historically significant Junkyard Gems, and here's one of the rarest of all: a Dream Cruiser Series 1, found last summer in Colorado.

Inspired by Detroit's Woodward Dream Cruise, the '02 Dream Cruiser Series 1 was the first of many special-edition PT Cruisers (if you're going to collect them all, you'll need to find a Pacific Coast Highway Edition, a Sunset Boulevard Edition, a Woodie Edition, and all the subsequent Dream Cruiser Series cars).

All the Series 1 Dream Cruisers came in metallic Inca Gold paint, allegedly inspired by the paint on the 1998 Pronto Cruiser concept car. Chrysler planned to build 7,500 of these cars trucks, but I cannot verify actual production numbers. This is the first I've seen in a self-service wrecking yard, at any rate.

The Dream Cruiser Series 1 got leather seats and interesting gold-trimmed interior surfaces. This one looks a bit rough inside, but we can assume it was glorious when new.

Resale value on the PT Cruiser has cratered in recent years, so even a runner has little chance of evading the cold steel jaws of the crusher, once it starts to rust.

Because every performance upgrade you can do with a Neon can also be done to a PT Cruiser, it would be possible to swap all the relevant mechanical bits from an SRT-4 Neon into a snazzy-looking Dream Cruiser and have the quickest PT Cruiser in your timezone. You should do this.

So hip, the woman at the scuba shop will throw in her panties on a rental deal.

Chrysler PT Cruiser Information

Chrysler PT Cruiser

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