Chrysler began selling PT Cruisers for the 2001 model year, and these “trucks” (yes, they were considered trucks for U.S. regulatory purposes) proved to be quite popular through at least the first half of the 2000s. built version with a convertible top appeared for 2005 (and later won the Top Gear Worst Car of the Last 20 Years award), but what about the PT Cruiser buyers who wanted a drop-top? before than? As it turned out, the aftermarket had the solution: the Newport Convertible Engineering conversion, which required new PT Cruisers and added a fully functioning convertible top. According to a discussion on Allpar, 54 of these conversions were made, and I found one at a self-service yard in Denver last month.
Newport Convertible Engineering is still there, although today they are in Huntington Beach rather than Placentia. If you want a Tesla Model S or Range Rover convertible, they’ll build it for you.
The NCE conversion for the PT Cruiser cost $9,900 (about $15,715 in $2022) plus the $17,000 sticker price for a new PT Cruiser, and included necessary chassis-bracing adjustments and a shortened, hydraulically operated tailgate.
The materials used look quite good, even after 20 years of abuse and neglect.
This one had the convertible mechanism buttoned up in many places when I found it.
Of course I cut all those cable ties to see if the roof mechanism still worked. It was very, very stiff but turned out to be semi-functional (the zips seemed to be an attempt to prevent a faulty locking mechanism from quickly popping the roof open). The roof structure weighs a lot, although you could spend an extra $3,000 to get a power-actuator system from NCE.
This cab must have been extremely noisy and jerky with the roof down at speed, but so what? Convertibles are cool.
Mechanically, it’s a regular Touring edition with Neon’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder producing 150 horsepower. You could get a PT Cruiser with a five-speed manual transmission, and many did, but this one has the extra cost automatic. From the 2003 model year, a turbo engine with 215 hp was introduced.
Rare, but not valuable.
This commercial is for the factory convertible, but you get the idea.