Junkyard Outtakes: Chrysler PT Cruisers – The PT Apparently Stands For Phoenix Terminus

Last week the family and I loaded up the truck with face masks, cases of disinfectant and vats of hand sanitizer and made a pilgrimage to Phoenix, Arizona for a few days, just for a change of scenery.  While the family for the most part indulged themselves in the resort’s offerings, I wangled a hall pass to see what the junkyards in Phoenix were like on the second day of our visit.  To be blunt, they were hot.  Damn hot.  111 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade hot.  Which probably explains why everyone there was angry and I was one of very few visitors, no problem keeping 600 feet of separation.

While I did come away with a few nice future Curbside Recycling finds, I came to the realization that Phoenix is the end Terminus for PT Cruisers.  It appears to be where they migrate to die, I guess they beach themselves on the junkyard driveway like whales or something on a beach, nobody really knows why.  Not that there aren’t dead PTs in other junkyards (there are), but not like this.  In the Mopar section of this particular junkyard, there were perhaps 150 assorted Chryslers, Plymouths, and Dodges.  But it seemed like about half were PT Cruisers.  Some were even arranged like the Rockettes or something, kicking up a hood…

I ended up walking up and down the aisles and just snapping random pictures of them.  I even worked up a sweat doing so but that might have just been due to the heat.  Did I mention it was hot?  And then I found myself turning around and realizing I missed one on the left when I was snapping one on the right and so on and then thought perhaps they were watching me.  And moving around when I turned my back.  Just astounding.  In any case, here they are for your viewing pleasure, at the rate these are dying out, there won’t be any left when they reach the unofficial CC status rolling age cutoff next year.

In the meantime, if you have a PT Cruiser and are in need of a part, it’s in Phoenix. Boy, is it ever.

After the mass groupings above, here’s one that looks more retro than most with the two-tone paint job.  There was in fact a rare version in 2010 (the PT’s last year) named the Couture edition supposedly limited to 500 examples but this one just seems to be an homage to it as the roof should be black and there should be chrome accents on the lower sides and the grille.  Nice try though, they got the red pinstripe correct!  This one was across from the Rockettes, trying to sneak a peek under the hoods…

This silver one was probably very bad, it has to face the wall.  It says it’s a Limited Edition but I gave up trying to figure out what’s what, there were so many different packages and versions of the PT over the ten years it was built.  Over a million were sold in the US between 2001 and 2010 and it sometimes seems like no two are exactly alike after you look at them for a few minutes.

A red and a gray ganging up on a Cirrus.  There was one redesign, occurring for the 2006 model year, so halfway through the run, the tell on the rear is that the taillights got a white center instead of amber and when viewed from the front, the later cars no longer had the grille extending below the bumper.  There were other minor changes but those seem the most obvious, on the outside at least.

I don’t know that I’ve ever noticed one with a roof rack before.  It fits but should be chrome.  Or at least painted silver.  Wait long enough and I suppose the back plastic will fade to a silvery gray as it waits for someone, anyone to come and take a part off it.  But nobody’s coming.  It’s too hot.

Lose the fender, bumper, and grille and it looks almost like anything else.  No need to be so blue about it though.  You could also get the PT Cruiser in Europe, Asia, Africa as well as Japan.  While ours were all built in Toluca, Mexico, every other continent had theirs built in Graz, Austria.  In addition to the million plus sold in North America, another quarter million or so were sold abroad, including 10,000 in Japan which has to make it one of the most successful American cars sold there, no?  (although theirs were also produced in Austria, so I have no idea how they perceived the car.)

This one with the cataracts is talking to us, wondering what we want.

Ooh, a woody!  Also with a rack, maybe it’s just me that never noticed them before.  Interesting and a bit unfortunate how the “wood” bisects the fuel filler lid, kind of gives the game away.  A car that is supposed to sort of look old with a modern fake interpretation of wood on top of the most modern color there is.  I don’t know if that IS the joke or if I’m trying to read too much into it.

Two PT’s in a starting contest.  And holding their breath.  The one on the left is losing so bad a pimple popped on the back of it.

Clearly a transplant from somewhere with salt.  Just a flesh wound.  The tinted rear window breaking though, that’s grounds enough to drop it here though.

And one with a touch of the skin cancer, probably a local since birth.  Barely old enough to drink gasoline and now here.

The Barney Edition!  “I love you, you love me, yada yada yada”, try to get that out of your head now…. Purple needs to come back in a big way.  Not sure on what exactly though.  Maybe one of the big SUVs could carry a deep shade well enough.  Or a pickup truck!  Yeah, a pickup!  Why not?

Blue did seem to be popular with the PT crowd, there were multiple hues of it over the years.  That hatch is quite large, I suppose the body is pretty tall and it sits pretty low rather than riding high to start with.  Could this be one of the tallest rear hatch openings out there this side of a Minivan?

A convertible!  We saw several other random convertibles out and about during our stay in Phoenix but none had the top down in the heat.  Perhaps after dark.  In mid-December.  With the AC on then too.

No, I didn’t forget about the red one with the shiner.  I wonder how long that duct tape did the job on the taillight?

Graphite and Champagne.  Like Crockett and Tubbs.  Together at last, fighting crime, taking down one junkyarder trying to shoplift junkyard relays in their pockets at a time.

Yeah, I rounded the corner, the convertibles are worthy of another shot of the front.  Nobody was there to stop me.

Blue with skin cancer.  And looking a little down at the rear because of it.  A bog standard early car.  This one there might be another one just like it…

Ooh, a Turbo GT!  And right next to another convertible too.  Shame about the color though.

I’ll round the corner on these too.  The turbo engine is gone, no surprise, it was pretty hot and had a lot in common with the Neon SRT4, generating either 215 or 230hp depending on if it was a pre- or post-refresh car.  Most of the other PTs here still had their engines though.  The world is awash in 2.4l I-4’s.

I desperately needed some shade by this point so let’s finish here with a view of the backseat of the convertible.  I realized I had never looked back here and this doesn’t look as uncomfortable as the rear seat of most convertibles.  I don’t think I’ve ever ridden in any PT come think of it, convertible or not, and the rate at which these seem to be dropping, that might not change.  So if you see one on the road tomorrow, take a good look, the memory might have to last you a while.  Cruise on, my friends, this bus is heading straight to the Phoenix Terminus!