Chrysler PT Cruiser (Photo: Chrysler)

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The PT Cruiser was like a Mexican cockroach: you couldn't kill the thing. On sale since the 2000 model year, how the compact wagon managed to survive four owners (Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Cerberus, and Fiat) with such poor build quality, wobbly handling, and a generally low-rent driving experience has always been a mystery to me.

Chrysler's tall wagon was supposed to be a Plymouth model, designed to fall in line with the then retro-styled Prowler hot rod. But when Plymouth died in 2001, the PT Cruiser survived with a Chrysler badge. There were countless special editions to keep up the interest over the years (the Dream Cruisers, the Pacific Coast Highway Edition, and even the particularly tasteless Couture Edition pictured here), as well as a convertible. But Chrysler never gave the Cruiser much engineering love. Based on the original Neon platform which dated back to 1994, it drove like an old car even when it was new. Under Cerberus management, the Cruiser was to die (again) in 2009. It survived (again), if only to keep Chrysler's rental car fleet buyers happy. But enough was enough. To make way for North American-bound Fiat 500s, the last Cruiser rolled out of Chrysler's Toluca, Mexico plant this past July. Good riddance, I say. -- John LeBlanc for MSN Autos

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