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PT Cruiser Rolls On. And On.

The Woodward Dream Cruise has become an August tradition on the street that drag racing made famous in the northern Detroit suburbs back when cars had carburetors and the only kind of airbags were the hot air bags that were throwing down lame claims about their rides.

The Woodward Dream Cruise has become an August tradition on the street that drag racing made famous in the northern Detroit suburbs back when cars had carburetors and the only kind of airbags were the hot air bags that were throwing down lame claims about their rides. What is also becoming something of a tradition is the Chrysler PT Cruiser, which went into production in February 2000 at the Toluca [Mexico] Assembly Plant and has been made some 1.2-million times since. According to Larry Lyons, Chrysler vice president, Front-wheel-drive Product Team, there have been 11 factory customized PT Cruisers, including the latest introduced just prior to the Dream Cruise, the “Street Cruiser Sunset Boulevard Edition.” Just 500 of these specially badged and painted (“Sunset Crystal” paint) vehicles will be produced. And despite the comparative rarity, the MSRP is $16,650 for the five-speed manual version.

Here’s what’s notable about the PT Cruiser: according to Lyons, “We’ve not changed one piece of metal since launch.” Yes, while there have been changes to the fascias, interiors, accessories, and the like, the body panels have remained the same. (When are the dies going to wear out, we somewhat facetiously wonder, and Lyons responds, “We refurbish them every once in a while; that’s just normal business.”) Undoubtedly the tooling was paid for quite some time ago. Yet here’s a case where a vehicle, thanks to attributes like its distinctive looks, utility, fuel economy, and price position has managed to keep going. In ’06 its total sales were 138,650, which was better than ‘05’s 133,740. And while Lyons is loathe to share any future plans, when asked if there will be another special PT Cruiser for the ’09 model year, he simply says, “See you next year.”

Design matters.—GSV