Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible: Retrograde movement

The soft-top version of Chrysler's PT Cruiser suffers from all the original's faults, plus a few more all of its own, says Michael Booth

Price on the road £17,495
Maximum speed 118mph (0-62mph in 11.1 seconds)
Combined fuel consumption 31.7mpg
For more information 0800 616 159

I'm no great sage, I'll admit it, but I have learnt some basic, inalienable truths about life that I am happy to share with you for no extra cost. First, never trust a man in dungarees. It may seem self evident, but sometimes they can appear trustworthy. Second, true to conventional wisdom, a red hat actually very often does signify that a woman is not wearing any knickers. And third, any car with a roll-bar like the handle of a strawberry basket will be rubbish.

From the Triumph Stag to the Talbot Samba Convertible to this, the Chrysler PT Cruiser, the use of this crude, ugly safety brace is, almost without exception, a warning to steer clear. The only exception I can think of is the original Volkswagen Golf convertible which, in its day, was just about the most desirable car in West London (preferably driven while wearing large sunglasses mounted atop an Hermès headscarf). The Golf convertible was a cheap, practical, reliable alternative to all those rattly old death-trap convertibles such as the Triumph Spitfire or MGB Roadster - in its own way it was rather revolutionary. These days, however, a roll-bar can be integrated into windscreen surrounds or primed to activate from a concealed hidey hole in a matter of milliseconds when a roll is detected. Modern convertibles are designed with all the structural bracing they need hidden within their chassis, so a fixed, mid-mounted, single-arc roll-bar is a sure sign that the engineers involved received their qualifications from a mail-order college in Utah.

Imagine how much better the PT Cruiser would look without this automotive Alice band. Less like a pram, that's for sure. But, doubtless, if they were to remove it, the thing would probably end up looking like something a troupe of clowns would use to enter a circus ring. The PT Cruiser was never the most impressive piece of engineering. We could argue all day about the appeal or otherwise of its retro-futuristic (or whatever they call it) hot-rod styling, but the sorry truth is simply that Chrysler isn't as good at making cars as other manufacturers. From the Cherokee to the Neon to the Voyager to the Crossfire, its cars don't look very nice, don't drive very well and don't last very long. And it's catching. Getting into bed with Chrysler was the worst thing Mercedes-Benz ever did - rather than the Germans raising the American company's game, Chrysler dragged Mercedes down to its level, and the rest is history.

I appreciate that this is probably a question of taste, but the Cruiser is not for me: it's too cartoonish, too contrived and, well, too American Graffiti. Is there anything nice I can say about it? Well, the new soft top is quite roomy in the back, but then again, clambering in there is a royal pain and, if you are unfortunate enough to sit in the back when the roof is down, you'll be picking midges out of your teeth for days, as there is virtually no protection from the wind. The roof folds in about 10 seconds, which is quick, but it would take a team of five origami black belts to try to fit the vinyl tonneau cover once it is down.

It also drew more attention than I expected, which I believe is sometimes considered a plus by some. But they only come in left-hand drive, the emissions are poor and it drinks like a navvy. Ghastly chrome wheels, too. Oh, yes, I do know one other positive thing about it: they are only going to import about 100 a year.

It's a Classic: Triumph Stag

The Triumph Stag was never the success British Leyland hoped it would be. Its appalling reliability (its V8 was made from two Dolomite engines stuck together because Triumph was too proud to use the far better Rover V8), lacklustre performance, the oil crisis of the early 1970s, the car's enduring Jason King image and, of course, that silly roll-bar meant it found far fewer buyers than the 500 a week that the company originally predicted. I really don't know if I should admit this in public, but I used to own a Triumph Stag. I'm not particularly proud. I was about 19 years old, very impressionable and desperate to impress. Mine cost about £1,000 but was only partially assembled and finished in grey primer. Frankly, it was a complete disaster of a car that should have been crushed to a cube and recycled as tin foil, but I reckoned I could turn it into a silk purse and set about "doing it up". Eventually it bankrupted me and I sold it to a garage. I later saw the same car on TV in a feature on Top Gear as a warning about the dangers of buying old Triumph Stags.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing and Business Development Officer

    £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hull based charity providing except...

    Recruitment Genius: Part Time Female Support Worker

    £9464 - £10396 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will ne...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

    £32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future