PT Cruiser became too conventional, and now the HHR is going, too

UPDATED: 7/12/10 5:03 pm ET My high school English teacher once made an observation that struck me.

She said: “There are people who want to be different and rebel. But then they end up rebelling in groups, which doesn't make them much of a rebel -- does it?”

Over the years, I'd think of her observation and grin whenever I'd see a Chrysler PT Cruiser drive by -- which was practically all the time.

I bet the PT Cruiser crowd thought they were artsy and eclectic by driving the retro-styled car. But the more the Cruiser appealed to the masses, particularly to those aged 50 and up, the more conventional and nonrebel it really was. What a disappointment, I'm sure, to those younger folks who bought the car as an exclamation: “I'm different.”

Personally, I think the PT Cruiser is ugly. Its popularity bewildered me. It further perplexed me why the Cruiser would inspire copycats such as the Chevrolet HHR.

Whatever magic the PT Cruiser initially possessed was clearly wearing thin by the time the HHR came to market. The “rebels” were moving on, en masse, to drive crossovers and hybrids.

HHR fans might argue that its sales through June are up 24 percent -- that's 38,076 units sold in six months. But keep in mind: 69 percent of those sales have been to fleet customers. Only 32 percent of GM's total sales are going to fleet operators.

General Motors Co. must have recognized the shift in sentiment. It's wisely retiring the HHR next year -- perfect timing.