As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches so, too, does the season in which many Americans will rewatch that holiday classic, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” The Steve Martin and John Candy movie is a staple of holiday-season viewing. Soon, however, it will be joined by a new version. Paramount Pictures is doing a remake of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” starring Will Smith and Kevin Hart. In the 1987 original, Martin and Candy rent a pea-soup green Chrysler LeBaron Town&Country convertible (well, sort of), which suffers a series of mishaps including catching fire yet still chugs along. It was a star turn for the wood-sided K-car droptop (though not the last), and that got us thinking: What should the Smith and Hart duo get stuck with at Marathon Rent-A-Car?
Of course, it needs to be a convertible. Among the widely used rental-car convertibles, a Ford Mustang or a Chevy Camaro would be too sporty and cool. This trip is supposed to be miserable. A Buick Cascada or a Beetle convertible would be more appropriate. Of the two, a Beetle is probably better from a comedy standpoint.
But there is another car that stands out as the clear winner: the Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible.
Granted, the PT convertible went out of production in 2008, making it a bit old for a current rental lot — but not too old. And the PT Cruiser was even offered with a Woodie package, providing even greater alignment with the LeBaron of old. However, the Woodie package was only offered from 2002–2004, so it predated the convertible by one model year. We think that in this case, the filmmakers should put aside strict historical accuracy and apply the faux-wood appliques to the PT convertible for maximum continuity with the original movie. Besides, the original car wasn’t technically a Chrysler LeBaron: it had a different name and badging, plus a non-factory color. It wasn’t too different from the Wagon Queen Family Truckster from “Vacation” in that regard.
So, what do you think? Is it time for the PT Cruiser to join the great pantheon of movie road-trip cars? Or would something else make for a better movie motors classic?