The seldom-seen 1971 Plymouth Cricket was an epic failure
Like going a movie and realizing the previews are actually better than the film, we had a great time perusing what barnfinds.com readers had to say about a 1971 Plymouth Cricket for sale on Craigslist.
The Aztec Gold Metallic-painted Cricket, located in North Carolina, is claimed to have traversed just 22,322 miles since new. That low mileage explains the survivor condition and seems to corroborate that it was last registered in 1975. The little four-door sedan is powered by a 70-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to an automatic transmission.
The car was produced by Britain’s Rootes Group, which became a subsidiary of Chrysler Corporation beginning in 1967. Known as the Hillman Avenger in the UK, it was imported to the U.S. and Canada—and rebadged as a Plymouth Cricket—so that Chrysler could compete in the subcompact market against the Ford Pinto and Chevy Vega. Chrysler claimed that “To know a Cricket is to love a Cricket,” but the final North American sales figures for 1971 told a completely different story: Pinto, 352,402; Vega, 274,699; Cricket, 27,682.
It’s no wonder then that the seldom-seen Plymouth generated plenty of comments—mostly negative—on barnfinds.com. From complaints about the seller’s “asking price” of $1 to the car’s country of origin and its build quality, here are our favorites:
2cooc2say: “I didn’t know Maytag washers came in these colors.”
That AMC Guy: “Back when these were new, a friend’s dad bought a Cricket thinking it was a Japanese car and expecting Japanese levels of quality and reliability. Hilarity soon ensued.”
Ralph: “I’m in for $1… hell, I’d go $10… no wait, $5.”
XMA0891: “The last time I came across one of these, it was abandoned deep in the woods of northwestern Maine. Same color! Must’ve been the only other one Plymouth sold.”
Roger: “The Cricket was a disaster… total junk. I was the parts manager in a Chrysler Plymouth [dealership] when they came out. They were impossible to get parts for. We had several of themthat sat for months waiting for parts.”
Ben T. Spanner: “Shortly after they left the sales lot, they returned to the service bay.”
Madmatt: “I don’t think that any Cricket ever turned over to 122,000 miles, so judging by that alone I would say it’s totally original.”
Had a Wagon: “As far as I can tell, their main contribution to the U.S. auto market was to make Chevy Vega owners feel better about their purchase decision.”
All harsh, and all hysterical. We thought we’d have a little fun of our own as well, and asked the Hagerty team to share their uncensored thoughts.
“Even if the price were $1, the appropriate response to an ad for this polished turd is well… crickets.” — Eric Weiner
“The Cricket was dead on arrival, and only a V-8 could fix it. Still, it came in a two-door hardtop, and the fact that I kind of dig that scares me.” — Brandan Gillogly
“It has a bizarre mash-up of ’70s Japanese design cues, except with none of the Japanese quality. Just the stuff of British-fueled nightmares.” — Kyle Smith
“Judging by the psychedelic brochure art, Chrysler expected you to go on a whole different type of trip if you were planning on enjoying the Cricket at all.” — Brett Lirones
Have a Cricket memory of your own? Share it in the Hagerty Forums below.
A cute little used white Plymouth Cricket was my first car…it had a very hard time making it up an incline. There were several times when it barely made it to the top. I always liked that car, it was attached to a lot of fun memories.
My late best friend’s first car was a used burnt orange/copper Cricket that she bought in 1975, and what I remember most about it was it seemed to always be in the shop. I don’t think she even had it a year. Cute name for a car, though!
My wife and I drove a Cricket from northern Wisconsin to Disney world in Florida in the mid 70s. Got great fuel mileage. It was a 5 speed and drove and handled well. The only problem I had with it was the distributor. There was an approximately 3 inch cloth covered wire that was exposed. It would get wet and the engine would misfire. I kept a spare in the glove box and just switch them when needed.
So upsidedown the story , Plymouth Cricket’s tooling assembly line was sent for Argentina’s production factory at Chrysler Fever and it was relaunched here as the Dodge 1500 . Then it was rebadged as the Volkswagen 1500 and 1800 Rural ( the wagon ) , simply imagine a Plymouth Cricket with Volkswagen’s aesthetics mainly in the front and in the rear fascia . We get difficult to believe the American and Canadian Plymouth Cricket was such a failure . Here in Argentina it became one of most dependable cars ever built , infact over 300,000 units of Argentinian ” crickets ” were produced until its final year 1991 . The Argentinian’s version was one of the best cars ever done in this region, durable long lasting engines , strong transmission and remarkable gearbox, this was the ideal automobile for the families of every budget, both the rich and the under midclass people wanted to own a “cricket” so is such a mystery if USA & Canada rejected this little wonder, most reknown by being zero troubles , the car that you never saw at the Mechanic’s garage . We still miss the “cricket” ( Sunbeam Avenger ) a lot because there are still thousands and thousands of this tiny Argentinized Plymouth turning all round the rough streets of countryside’s suburbs in Argentina