The 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser 'Woodie Package.''
The 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser 'Woodie Package.'' - 
Listen To The Story

One of the weirdest cars of the 21st century might be the Chrysler PT Cruiser. While the playful, retro, odd [insert your own adjective] car lost its popularity with drivers a few years after its release, it became a staple in rental car fleets. 

"It was a novelty car, and like all novelty items the enthusiasm faded," says Keenan Mayo, associate editor at Bloomberg Businessweek, who wrote an obituary of sorts for the Cruiser. "The only people who were really buying it for much of the last decade were the rental car companies because it was cheap."

But after government intervention in Detroit drove up the price, the rental companies backed off. Then, in 2010, Chrysler discontinued the PT Cruiser line altogether.

Often a punch line, PT Cruisers had quite a run. Over the course of 10 years, Chrysler sold 1.4 million Cruisers, reaching a peak in 2008-2009, according to Mayo, who was issued a PT Cruiser rental back in 2008. 

"It was very under-powered as a car, it had this weak four cylinder engine. The other problem was you are driving it and people stare at you," Mayo says.

A business traveler Mayo interviewed for his story described the car as "what Steve Carrell drove in [the TV show] 'The Office'" and Mayo agrees.

What's the first word that comes to mind when you think of a PT Cruiser? Tell us on Facebook or in a comment below.

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Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson