by Clint Burgess

The idea of concept cars is quickly taking hold of the automobile industry. One of the first concept vehicles that hit the market in a big way, grabbing the attention of consumers everywhere, was the Chrysler PT Cruiser. One group of local PT enthusiasts, the Northwest Cruisers car club, got together on Saturday to exhibit their die-hard devotion to these retro rides.

About 45 cars were on display in the parking lot of Big Daddy's in the Lincoln Heights shopping center. There were stock-painted PT's with imaginative colors along with some custom jobs that really blew the doors off. But the focus for this car show was not just the cars themselves. For the past two years, Northwest Cruisers has put on this show as benefit for a local charity.

"This year we decided to get involved with the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery," said Tom Eikmeyer, a proud PT owner and Northwest Cruisers member. "One of our members volunteers for them, and we got involved because of the good things they do for kids that are very beneficial."

The show, sponsored by Spokane Chrysler and Big Daddy's, brought out not only car club members but also other PT owners along with just plain curious onlookers.

The event itself is an opportunity for club members to showcase their vehicles in between other activities that the club sponsors. For instance, Northwest Cruisers takes their vehicles on cruises all throughout the Northwest, going for drives to Montana and Oregon, as well the west side of the state. There are show-and-shine events that allow members to get a feel for some of the new custom accessories that are available for the PT Cruisers -- and even offer an opportunity to pick up a little hardware.

"We give awards for best in show, as well as best trunk display and other elements," said Eikmeyer. And what trunk displays they are. The PT has a perfect display spot when you open the back hatch door. This particular show featured displays ranging from a 1950s soda shop, to a gold rush motif, to a tribute to the fallen soldiers of our nation's armed forces.

The scene was impressive. Oldies tunes pumped from sound systems, passersby ogled the flashy and sleek Cruisers, and the overall atmosphere was very welcoming. By the looks of things, it was difficult to imagine this club has only been around for two years. And it was easy to see why everyone involved is so enthusiastic about the PT Cruisers.

"PT Cruisers are so well liked," Eikmeyer said. "The public likes to see them on the road, and they're not just nice to look at, they're very reliable cars. But they are eye-catchers, there's no doubt about that."

So far the Northwest Cruisers have gathered about 100 members into the club, and they are always picking up more. The club, truly a collective, has no officers: No one group is running the show. And PTs are for everyone -- so there's no age barrier, either.

Car clubs can be hit-and-miss, but the Northwest Cruisers are firing on all cylinders. "The members of this club are here because they love these cars," said Eikmeyer. But that's not all. As much as car clubs promote unity among enthusiasts of certain vehicles, this club has more to offer. Their community involvement is not only rewarding for the members but for the people and agencies of the community they cruise.

If you've got an interest in PT Cruisers, check out

Publication date: 08/05/04

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