HHR never met Lutz's lofty prediction
Some auto writers derided the retro-styled 2006 Chevrolet HHR as a Chrysler PT Cruiser wannabe. They said the HHR was destined for failure.
The HHR was inspired by the 1949 Suburban and 2003 SSR, and, yes, it was directed at buyers wanting a retro-styled vehicle. The HHR was designed by Bryan Nesbitt, who also penned the PT Cruiser. General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz lured Nesbitt to GM.
In January 2005, a few reporters were sitting in a large conference room at the Los Angeles Auto Show when Lutz lost his temper.
"I read a news story today that is the height of stupidity: 'GM's reply to the PT Cruiser, but it comes to the party at least three years late.'
"Who the hell says there is some magic period when you must absolutely introduce a heritage-derived vehicle for one of your brands? Who says the PT Cruiser sucked up all the demand for small front-wheel-drive cars that draw on the corporate heritage for their definition?"
He added: "Read my lips. The HHR will be sensationally successful. I don't apologize for it."
Later that year Lutz predicted 120,000 annual sales.
It never happened, but the HHR was a good seller. After its launch in the fall of 2004, the HHR averaged nearly 90,000 annual sales for 2006 through 2010.
Production ended in May 2011.