Preview: ‘04 PT Dream Cruiser Series 3

August 18, 2003

2003 Woodward Dream Cruise Index by TCC Team (8/18/2003) 

In nearly four years on the market, what Chrysler’s PT cruiser retro-breadvan/wagon/sedan has lacked in variety of body styles, it has more than made up in variety of special paint and trim custom packages.

There was the 2001 street-roddish Flames version, then a nostalgic Woodie version and the ’02 Inca Gold PT Dream Cruiser Series 1, introduced for the 2001 Woodward Dream Cruise, followed by the ’02 PT Turbo, the ’03 Chrome Accents version, the Tangerine Pearl turbocharged Dream Cruiser Series 2, an updated ’04 Chrome Accents package and now — drum roll! — the two-tone turbocharged PT Dream Cruiser Series 3.

Depending on how you count, Series 3 is the eighth special-edition PT and easily the best equipped and most elaborately decorated. Unveiled the Tuesday morning of Woodward Dream Cruise week in suburban Detroit, it begins with handsome two-tone paint and extends to Cruiser GT mechanicals, including aggressive 17-inch tires on chrome cast-aluminum five-spoke wheels and Chrysler’s 220-hp, 2.4-liter high-output turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Not surprisingly, it’s also the most expensive at $28,810, plus $590 destination charge, roughly $7,000 more than the standard model.

Factory custom

“We received inspiration for this, the third member of our limited-production PT ‘dream team,’ from the hundreds of Chrysler PT Cruiser owner events held across the globe,” said Chrysler Group Marketing vice president Tom Marinelli. “It’s all about upping the ante and making your PT Cruiser just a bit more unique than the one parked next to you.”

One disadvantage of “factory” custom versions is that there are others out there exactly like it. One major advantage, however, as Marinelli quickly reminds us, is that factory jobs retain the factory seven-year/70,000-mile warranty. Owner-customized versions often do not.

The Series 3 Dream Cruiser will be fairly exclusive with a build of “fewer than 2,000” planned at the Toluca, Mexico, plant beginning later this month. The 2002 Series 1 and 2003 Series 2 PT Dream Cruisers were built in quantities of 5500 and 2200, respectively. Also, to enhance collectibility, Series 3 VINs will be reserved in a continuous sequenced block.

The Series 3’s most visible and distinguishing feature is its Midnight Blue over Bright Silver two-tone paint. These Cruisers are sprayed solid silver at the plant, then the blue upper is applied at a Mannheim facility in Detroit. Blue tinted windows all around (darker in the rear) complete the custom look.

Chrysler proudly points out that this design harkens back to the bold, multi-tone paint schemes popular in the 1950s, and again on some muscle and specialty cars in the 1970s, but is the company’s first two-tone since then.

“Chrysler hit its heyday with custom paint options in 1955,” said Dave McKinnon, vice president Small, Premium and Family Vehicle Design, “including bold, contrasting bodyside inserts called ‘color sweeps’ on its upscale Plymouth and Chrysler vehicles.”

“That year,” he added, “Chrysler offered an astounding 56 solid hues, 173 two-tone combinations and several three-tone choices—which usually included white, black and one additional bright color such as fuchsia, bright yellow or lavender.”

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