Dodge is known for making some of the most muscular cars known to man, but its sister brands don’t have the same clear identity. While searching for new niches, Chrysler diverged from its usual luxury barge segment and targetted the affordable car class with things like the PT Cruiser.
There’s nothing truly memorable about Chrysler-badged cars as of late. It’s their own fault, as corporate leadership decided Dodge was going to get almost exclusive access to performance goodies while Jeep was in charge of the 4x4s. Besides the 300C, the only memorable modern product is the PT Cruiser.
The story of the car begins in 1997. Chrysler was thinking up a new look for Plymouth. The PT’s design basically got revealed with the 1999 Plymouth Pronto Cruiser concept. Yes, that’s why it looks like a Prowler. Following the merger with Daimler, the Plymouth brand got discontinued, so the hatchback switched brands at the last moment.
You could argue that there wasn’t anything else on the road like it when the PT Cruiser came out in 2001. It was supposed to be a modern interpretation of the Chrysler Airflow Coupe of the 1930s. In reality, this was nothing more than an entry-level car based on a lifted Dodge Neon platform and powered by small engines.
The basic configuration came with a 2.4-liter DOHC engine and a 5-speed manual. They also made turbocharged versions with up to 230 hp and the convertible model with only two doors and an attention-grabbing roof hoop. Exports to Europe and Asia occurred as well, and they came with much weaker engines. For example, there was a 1.6-liter with only 115 hp and a Mercedes 2.2-liter diesel making 120 hp.
The PT Cruiser was actually relatively successful, surviving for ten model years. But this rendering proposes a version that might have been even cooler. Oscar Vargas envisioned a Dodge Charger version, basically adopting the features of the famous American V8 sedan to the odd compact shape. These changes include obvious things like the headlights and grille, as well as the widebody kit or the creases on both sides of the vehicle. Of course, it’s got a large set of wheels and a scoop in the hood to let everyone know it means business.