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  • Writer's pictureMatt

From scale models to full size builds

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

I have a pretty decent interest in cars, while I do prefer old American classics i'm certainly not one of those enthusiasts who turn their nose up at other vehicles.

Now part of why I drive a PT cruiser is down to not having too many American imports to chose from in the UK, certainly not as a daily driver. That being said the PT being one of the few American cars in the UK is not the sole reason I drive one, I generally like the 1940's style Bryan Nesbitt brought to the early 2000's. I was 13 when the PT first came out and knew i'd own one at some point, although back then the assumption was a stock unmodified car.

I ended up buying my cruiser 14 years later, after my previous car was written off (not my fault). Here it is untouched on the drive.

It was and still is very sound mechanically, at the time she only had 42 thousand miles on the clock runs a Mercedes 2.2 common rail turbo charged diesel engine.

I'm not winning any races but i've never had issues on the day to day commute, a PT also has a fair amount of space inside which is double useful with a family.

Over the years the car has been very dependable, i mean i've kept up with repairs which goes a long way. We've had a leaky radiator, a snapped accessory belt and a couple of electrical issues. All been solved on the driveway give or take.

I think the first addition was a 10 ball pool gear shifter, I almost fell into the trap of adding bits of chrome where ever I could stick them but a limited budget meant I started creating mods myself.

Rocket Lights!

The first build which is shown in much more detail on another blog was the 1950's Cadillac rocket tail lights, a hot rodders favourite. Built from a set of PT break lights to ensure the light fixtures were not interfered with, it was simply a case of sinking in silos to hold the rockets. It was time consuming but looking back if I had a proper workshop it wouldn't have been such a task.

New(ish) Alloys

Still early on in my ownership I was given a set of stock alloy's in exchange for some Pinstriping I did for another car. They were in better condition than the alloys my car came with, however I wasn't keen on keeping them silver. After the old playing card trick round the rim and leaving gold circles on the lawn I spent a few evenings adding pinstripes, I can tell you the wife wasn't too happy having wheels on the coffee table.

That year my work on the alloys won me 3rd place in an annual PT get-together. Four years on they're holding up pretty well but I do have to break out the touch up paints from time to time.


After winning the trophy above I set my sites on something head turning for the next years competition, I ended up wining the pinstriping trophy twice since then. I settled with the idea of a large bonnet pinstripe with added spray painted panels incorporated into the design.

Unfortunately the time I took off work ended up being a very wet weekend, I ended up under a gazebo with panels tied to the sides in the pouring rain laying down paint.

I cut stencils out of paint masking tape and laid them in place, being very careful to ensure they were central and equally spaced apart. The colour I used was Ford purple velvet after not finding a light blue I liked.

I also added some filigree to the B pillars with the same purple. Since being added i've had to keep up with the stone chips and i've repainted the thin purple lines light blue.


At this point the outside of the car was taking shape but the inside was still a boring grey. I had already added some basic modifications like swapping out the shift nob and door lock pins but I turned my attention to the door cards. With the help of my wife we added some Lowrider inspired blue fur complete with silver trim.

The back seats had a Mexican blanket thrown over them and the interior started to brighten up.

We also found some pretty fancy fabric for the centre arm rest.


I touched on it earlier but i've always been impressed with the Mexican style Lowriders, one day I hope to put the car on hydraulics but for the time being I ended up neatening up the rather boring dashboard.

I bought a spare one to work on from a break part dealer and the biggest obstacle was sanding it smooth. The PT dashboard has a triangular pattern in it which seemed impervious to any grade sand paper. In the end I layered up plenty of high build primer.

Once I had it as smooth as I was bothered to get it I laid down several coats of high glitter silver and marked out a design with a few thickness of J-Tape. I then applied a candy blue paint over the top to so when the sun hits it the glitter would still shine through. Lastly I finished it off with some pinstripes.

We did have to (and by we I mean my wife) make a cover, the reflection into the windscreen is quite something. Better safe than sorry.

Aftermarket Grill

In 2017, no small part due to a successful year pinstriping I managed to buy a full frontal after market grill. If you have a PT and want to get one check out the PT graveyard on facebook here.

I had to replace my head and fog lights due to the kit being designed for a MK1 cruiser, the original lights are still on my bedside table...

It was a pretty simple job, but I did drive up to a mates garage for the space and tools. Testament to the boot space it all fitted inside, albeit with the seats down.

The grill really did change the look of the car, much more in keeping with the concept vehicle and couldn't be happier with it.

First picture outside with the new grill:

The new front end also gave me the option of adding kerb feelers. I get asked a lot about these little antennas on the bottom of the front wheel arches. They are an old 1940's gadget, coiled metal poking out of the wheel arches, the idea being if you get to close to the kerb you will hear them scratch against it and you know that's far enough. Never had to rely on them so far but I like not scratching alloys!

Door Jams

Last year I added a bit more to the interior, a fur stripe across the dash board. However I didn't want the fur to just end in the door jam.

I decided to cut some custom panels from pvc and add a little paint job, if you haven't noticed so far there is a recurring pool theme in the car due to the very first mod.

Granted they're hidden most of the year but at car shows it adds another element.

This Year

Not touched the car in any meaningful way recently, however I did update some of the pinstripes. The belt line is now ivory and light blue instead of gold and purple. The ending of the belt lines have also improved.

I also need to replace my front brakes, polish the head lights and a few other maintenance issues.


31st of March 2019

So the brakes have been a total headache, they started squeaking before I changed the discs and pads and continued to squeak after. The front wheels have come off 5 times to date! I've cleaned the carriers multiple times, swapped copper slip for non metallic brake grease, and mucked about with other elements of it. I think it's solved now, there was a sliding pin which had threaded. With a new one in, the disc are wearing correctly now.

So with that out the way it's on to the fun stuff, what with show season about to start. The first thing I wanted to tackle was the side mirror toggle, since adding the fur and silver bezel it's not that easy to use. I filed one side of a small 10 Ball flat and drilled in three pins, in a triangular lay-out. Three holes were then drilled in the toggle and fixed with epoxy resin.

It's a minor addition but I like it.

On the same day I also resprayed my center console. I had picked up a Kustom Canz holographic spray back in September during KKBO. With a layer of primer, one of silver, 8 layers of holo spray plus 2 coats of lacquer the finish is excellent. Unfortunately the video was taken on a cloudy day, I might upload another video during the summer as it doesn't do the the paint justice.

Things to do this year;

I've got to go back to the pinstriping on the wheels as a couple of lines have come off.

The rear reflectors on my rocket lights are showing signs of rust and will need to be replaced.

The fancy fabric armrest will need to be looked at, the blue dye has been worn off...

Plus the side indicators have a couple of dead LED's

I'm also looking to swap out my exhaust, watch this space!


3rd of September, 2020

So I have to say there has not been much aesthetic work on the car recently, with the only notable fix being a new hand brake cable and leaver.

Which is just as well as I now live by the seaside and wouldn't have parked on this cliff just relying on 1st gear to keep it from rolling!

I also added a bit of lettering to the tailgate at the end of 2019, boy should I keep this blog more up to date!

I'm not really planning on much more this year. Covid wrecked a lot of events, like the whole car show season. Although the pinstriping on the bonnet is looking pretty tired, would be nice to get a new bonnet and start over.


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