I had a black 2004 PT and I loved it. I didn't like the lackluster acceleration on the automatic version, so I bought one with a Getrag 5 speed stick. Unfortunately I have a lead foot, and the clutch was about to go at 88,000 miles so I traded it on a new 2010 Challenger SE. I love my Challenger, but I miss Darth Vader. As far as what year to buy, I did not like the gray bumper covers on the early models and I didn't care for the 2006 face-lift, so I would pick 2003-2005 myself.
ADD: My 2004 PT had the 2.4 liter non-turbo engine and shared the same platform as the Cirrus and Status, not a Neon. The PT Cruiser was assembled in Toluca, Mexico for the entirety of its production run. A quote from the link below for the haters:
"In 2001 Car and Driver acknowledged the PT Cruiser on its Ten Best list and the PT Cruiser also won the North American Car of the Year."