There was a period during the latter part of the 20th century when retro design was heartily embraced by American automobile manufacturers. Perhaps the most popular example of this was the Chrysler PT Cruiser.
Intended to evoke images of hot rods based on 1930s styling, the PT Cruiser (the most clever way to get people to buy a station wagon ever devised) was originally intended to be a Plymouth. However, by 2000, that nameplate wasn't selling very well. With a restructuring of Chrysler’s divisions imminent, with the realization the Plymouth brand probably wouldn't survive the restructuring, the PT Cruiser was rebadged Chrysler product.
Chrysler designer Bryan Nesbitt was responsible for the overall look of the car. The irascible Bob Lutz, who was working at Chrysler at the time, also had a hand in the development of the PT Cruiser. The initials PT in the car’s name stand for personal transport. Many people are surprised to learn the PT Cruiser is actually classified as a light truck. The fact of the matter is Chrysler intentionally designed the PT Cruiser to fit the NHTSA criteria for light truck in order to bring the corporate average fuel efficiency of its truck fleet into compliance with the federal government’s CAFE standards.
Introduced in 2000, as a 2001 model, the Chrysler PT Cruiser was produced for model years 2001 through 2010. Based upon the platform underpinning the Dodge Neon, more than 1.35 million examples of the PT Cruiser were produced over the car’s lifetime. Among its many accolades, the Chrysler PT Cruiser was named North American Car Of The Year upon its debut.