Never Forget...The PT CruiserS

(Full Disclosure: I hate this car.)

(Programming Note: This was posted on my personal blog when I first was learning to Kinja. I wanted to repost it so that more than two people would see it.)

A couple of days ago, an article went up asking what the most inexplicable car buying decision was. A man identified only as User1312 came to the defense of the Dodge Caliber, the car inexplicably purchased by so many people, by comparing it to the PT Cruiser. As the one time owner of a PT Cruiser, this riled me up so bad that I might have referred to owning a Cruiser as a “holocaust.” User1312 stated that the Cruiser “wasn’t a bad car, it just never got a refresh.” My experience with the car proves quite the opposite, that it was indeed a bad car.

First let me explain the inexplicable: the decision to purchase a PT Cruiser. My grandma was getting up in age and was having trouble getting in and out of cars. Since the Cruiser has what amounts to kitchen chairs mounted on top of the chassis, it was an easy height for her to drop in on and it was high enough that she could just swing out, so my dad and my uncle went to “go look” at a PT Cruiser. They returned three hours later with what can only be described as one of the most embarrassing cars to exist. It was purple and had a set of vinyl purple flames smeared across the body leading from the grill.

My dad hopped out of the car and slammed the door shut. Beaming proudly at me, he said, “So what do you think?”

Mouth hanging open in shock and disgust all I could muster was a small squeak, “it’s terrible.”

“It’s yours.”

I was 15 and I had just gotten my learner’s permit. Soon, I had thought, the world will be my oyster and all the girls in that world will need a ride. A year later, I inherited the PT Flamer as it had become known in my family and that dream died a brutal and horrifying death.

The Flamer with its horribly underpowered engine, cheap plastic, and god awful styling was my daily driver for the next couple of years. This was not a peaceful time. The Flamer was constantly trying to kill me because it knew how much I loathed it. The overdrive would refuse to kick in when merging on the highway, the engine revving freely without any intent on propelling me faster. Braking for anything that was less than a mile away was a feat on par with stopping a Carnival cruise ship with a sternly worded letter. (I should also mention the lack of ABS here. Terrifying for a kid who doesn’t know that when you lock the wheel s you cannot steer.) Not to mention the threats I got when driving anywhere from downtown Baltimore to the Deep South. (It also turns out people assume a lot about a person from the car they’re driving.)

By far the worst part of the car was the styling, which I’ll remind you User1312 referred to as “unique.” It sticks out from every other car there is making you immediately noticeable. Not a problem if you’re in a nice car like an Aston or a Porsche, but in the PT Cruiser it made everyone immediately aware that you have awful taste. Picking up girls in the Cruiser was more difficult than picking up the island of Japan and moving it to the right two inches. Even when I managed to get a girl interested enough to go home with me, I would have to preface my car on the walk to the car: “So, um, it’s a PT Cruiser…and it’s purple…and it has flames…” I can’t count the number of times a car full of girls pulled up next to me only to speed away laughing and dreaming about guys who owned Mustangs.

Besides the lack of performance and horrible styling, the reliability of the mechanical parts was…lacking. Wait, that’s being too nice. How about non-existent? The car was constantly in a state of disrepair up until its appropriately fiery death.

So, Mr. User1312, don’t try to tell me the PT Cruiser is not “a bad car” that “just never got a refresh.” It was born a bad car and no amount of tinkering by Plymouth was ever going to fix it. (Holy crap, how did I not hit on the fact that IT WAS A PLYMOUTH?!) The happiest day in my driving life was when it burst into flames after a crash caused by its brake failure because I knew my ordeal was over. Made in Mexico to be the cheapest vehicle it could be to be sold to old ladies and people with no taste so it could, presumably, kill them. RIP PT Flamer. May ye rot in hell.