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Now that's different PT Cruiser

Keith Bowman is one owner who has taken a liking to the now seven-year-old model. He has a 2006 convertible PT Cruiser, which he bought seven months ago. And he believes it's the only one in the Linen Gold colour in manual form in Australia.

“I always had a love for the convertibles,” he says. “It's great driving around with the roof down. The sun and wind in your hair.”

This isn't Bowman's first PT Cruiser.

“I saw it on the road in November 2000,” he says. “At first I thought it was a hot rod. I had to do some investigations about what it was and in February 2001 I bought my first one.”

Bowman says he enjoys driving a car that looks different to others on the road.

“With new modern cars, when you've seen one, you've seen them all ... but the Cruiser, it's eye-catching,” he says.

And it gets the thumbs up from his two grown-up children. “They love it,” he says. “Whether they'd own one's a different thing, but they love its individuality.”

Bowman individualised his previous PT with an airbrushed surfing theme. But he doesn't plan on making any external alterations on his present model.

“I don't know if this one will see a mural,” he says. “With the top down, you don't need anything on it to catch any eyes.”

And it attracts some curious fans.

“People ask us where we got it chopped. They don't realise they're out there as a production car as a convertible. There aren't that many out there right now,” he says.

Bowman has carried out some exhaust and engine modifications on his convertible Chrysler but he doesn't really have any plans for more changes.

The PT Cruisers were introduced in Australia in July 2000, with many people instantly taking a liking to the design and adopting Bowman's interest of airbrushing and modifying. By March last year, Chrysler had built a million PT Cruisers in its manufacturing plant in Mexico.

“PT” stands for Personal Transportation, but the initials also indicate the car's platform. While the Neon was based on the Chrysler PL platform, or Platform Low, the Cruiser was based on the Chrysler PT platform, for Platform Tall. The cabrio version was launched overseas in 2005 and made its way to Australia last June. And Bowman says he had to have one.

But that meant upgrading from the model he had at the time. Bowman bought his first PT in 2001 for $42,000. `I traded that one in, I think it's still on the road somewhere in the Northern Beaches,” he says.

The cabrio models today retail for about $35,000, but with trade-in, Bowman says he paid $11,000 for his car.

“Considering I bought it (his original Cruiser) when our dollar was at the rock bottom ... I had to pay for everything, I believe it held its value OK. It had 186,000km on the clock, and I had it for five years.”

And the Bowman family seem to have an interest in the Chrysler brand.

“When I was first married, I owned an old 1965 Valiant AP6 station wagon,” Bowman says. “We also have a Chrysler Neon, which the PT was formed from.”

And as the “cruise controller” for the PT Cruiser Down Under club, which means Bowman plans all the club runs, he knows many people who have jumped aboard the Cruiser bandwagon.

“You either like them or you don't, they're just different to the other cars,” he says. “With Holdens and Fords, you have to have a close look before you know which one's going past you. But you always know the difference with a Cruiser.”

And while the 50-year-old clocked up a lot of kilometres on his old model, he says he's taking better care of his topless version.

“I'm actually looking after this one and keeping the mileage down,” he says.

“My wife drives it to and from work, five minutes down the road. I drive it mainly on the weekend.”

Fast facts  
Chrysler PT Cruiser: ranges from $29,990-$35,990
Chrysler PT Cruiser Cabrio: ranges from $35,890-$40,490
Engine: 2.4-litre, 4-cylinder, 105kW@5200rpm, 214Nm@4000rpm
Verdict: With a unique design, the PT Cruiser has attracted many fans and its on its way to being a classic.


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