The recipe was simple.
Use an existing small-car platform, mix in some nifty retro styling inside and out, build it in a low-cost country, and command a higher price.
When it made its debut at the 1999 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Chrysler PT Cruiser with its street-rod flair was an immediate sensation.
Americans either hated or loved the little wagon born during the SUV craze. Those that adored it had to have one of their own to cherish.
And it didn't hurt that it went on sale during the U.S. auto industry's biggest sales boom.
The last PT Cruiser rolled off an assembly line in Mexico today, marking the end of one of Detroit's most celebrated product runs in recent years. A Chrysler spokesperson said the last model was stone white and destined for a U.S. dealership.
It wasn't the first retro-styled car to tap into America's penchant for nostalgia. It followed Volkswagen's New Beetle but rolled before the Ford Thunderbird, BMW Mini and Chevrolet SSR.
But the little five-door hatchback certainly has been a soldier, with more than 1.35 million sold worldwide -- generating early waiting lists and fan clubs, spawning imitators in the Mini brand and Chevrolet HHR, and the subject of more special editions than any other vehicle in recent memory.
It was a refreshing new model in an era populated with a lot of redundant designs.
Bob Casey, curator of transportation at The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Mich., said the PT Cruiser, unlike the minivan, mixed practical function with attitude.
"Every time I see one I smile," he said. "I can well understand why they sold more than 1 million."
Unlike the Thunderbird and Mini, the PT Cruiser also made retro styling affordable to the masses, regardless of income, without trading away utility.
"It was an ideal single car or second family car," said Erich Merkle, an automotive analyst and president of Autoconomy.com. "For Chrysler, it was a gamble that paid off for 5 to 7 years."