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 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.

1971 Plymouth Cricket engine
1971 Plymouth Cricket Craigslist
1971 Plymouth Cricket rear 3/4
1971 Plymouth Cricket Craigslist

1971 Plymouth Cricket front 3/4
1971 Plymouth Cricket Craigslist

It’s no wonder then that the seldom-seen Plymouth generated plenty of comments—mostly negative—on 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.”

1971 Plymouth Cricket rear brochure
1971 Plymouth Cricket FCA

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.

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    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.

    I had a white one it would cut off and not restart for minutes to days at a time. Then out of the
    blue it would start and run for 3-6 days and do the same thing. It was a undependable P-O-S. I had a manual
    and kept one or two buddies with me at all time in case it cut off they would push me to help jump start it
    because it would kill the battery trying to restart that junk. LOL

    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

    I just found a blue cricket in a field and I’m probably going to scrap it. Wish I could leave a picture but I don’t think I can.

    Had one in 1971 My dad bought because it was cheap with out even seeing one only by the brochure dealer showed him / first problem was wipers stopped working first rain storm / dealer couldn’t fix it no parts so had to avoid rain or wipe by hand. Finally my dad got rid of it didn’t even have 3000 miles on it. Back in 71 my dad kinda trusted car dealers , I was only 20 learned a lot from that nightmare.

    I own a 1972 Plymouth Cricket and have spent the time and money to restore it, complete with vinyl top, rostyle wheels, manual gearbox and twin carbs (from a Cricket wagon). I enjoy showing it as most folks have never heard of it, let alone seen one.

    My first car, when I turned 16, was a blue 1971 Plymouth Cricket. I saved my pennies from after school jobs and bought it new for $2000. I was some kind of proud! My pride soon turned to embarrassment, then to disgust, and finally to hate! I’m 68 now, so obviously I don’t remember all the finer details of my ownership experience, but I can remember a few of the bigger calamities. Several that come to mind was the driver’s side front door fell off, the dashboard literally cracked in half, and the little squirrels toiling in the engine worked so hard they created a major frothy foam in the motor. After two embarrassing years of ownership, I traded it in for a brand new 1972 Monte Carlo and was “given” a $250 trade in value, only because the Chevrolet dealer was a family friend. I think he promptly hauled it off to the junkyard for me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

    My first car was a blue Plymouth Cricket, in 1973 my mom went to get a new car an Oldsmobile Cutlass, and the dealer talked her into buy one get a Cricket thrown in for $250. Went back to pick it up and bring it home. They had it waiting, the engine running. Dad drove it home, it died in the driveway after it was turned off, it wouldn’t start again. Engine was shot. I was there when it happened and I almost cried, because it was supposed to be my first car.

    I can’t believe no one mentioned a green (cricket green) Cricket. Mine even had a decal of a cute cricket standing on the passenger side. That was the best thing about the car. It was my first car. I needed it to get to my first job as a teacher so I had to be on time before the bell rang. Every morning I had to go up a steep hill to a stop light. I had a stick and I never knew if I would make it up the hill and beyond. It could have been
    the driver or the car but I got rid of it in less than a year. All the plastic parts kept falling off.

    I was gifted with a black Cricket in the 70s by a coworker when I was in between junkers. It was an interesting little car. The best thing about it was that one time I was stuck in my driveway in the winter and I was able to lift the rear of the car without the use of a jack and get it out of the ice ruts so I could get to work.

    I had a bronze colored one that had nearly 100K miles on it when I finally traded it in on something, don’t remember what. British rubber was terrible on every British vehicle I ever owned, the Cricket was no exception. The only big issue was the rotor button would short to the distributor shaft so I carried a couple of new ones in the glove box. I feel sure I’d figure out and fix that if I had it now. I just don’t see or remember it as a terrible car like it’s being portrayed here though. At least the one I had wasn’t.

    I had a lime green 1971 cricket in 1982. It had a whole 44100 miles on it. It was an automatic and took forever to get up to highway speeds. It handled well, had comfortable seats and developed a weak fuel pump problem where I had to pull off the fuel line and squirt a little gas in the carb before it would cold start. It was so frustrating. Napa auto parts claimed they could order parts for it but they were expensive and on back order. I sold it after only putting on about 1000 miles on it. It died daily. It was a good car however to study in since it was very quiet when it didn’t run. Bought a gremlin after it!

    My very first car was a 1971 blue Cricket stick shift I bought new for $1695 (a huge amount for a high school kid with a part time job – Dad cosigned the loan). The very first thing that happened is the dashboard developed a huge crack down the middle. It took months for them to replace it – they couldn’t find a blue one, so I got a black one. Somewhere around 1974 it developed some sort of issue where it wouldn’t go above 20 miles an hour – a foreign auto repair shop couldn’t figure it out. I left the car with my deadbeat soon-to-be-ex-husband in 1976, killing 2 birds with one stone. Moved out of state with my 1975 Nova which turned out to be one of the most reliable cars I’ve owned!

    Forgot to mention – around the same time my cousin purchased a white Cricket – 1971 5-speed. She had it about a year and one day while shifting – the whole stick pulled up out of the floor! She immediately ditched the car. We still laugh about what pieces of crap those cars were.

    The one I had was a wonderful little car. Drove it for years til it rusted out from being in the north.

    My first car was a red ’71 Cricket, automatic. I really wanted a Mercury Cougar, but my dad decided it had a little too much “zip” for me, a 16 year old new driver. The cute little Cricket ran pretty well as I usually only drove to school and home, and up and down main street in our small town. It’s demise came when I had to make a trip to the neighboring town for errands. The main street was at the top of steep hill off the highway, so in order to make it up the hill, I knew I needed to gun it, but as I did so, I heard something go clunk and I rolled to a stop. Smoke was rising from under the hood and I thought it was on fire! Fortunately, it was just steam, as plastic fan blades had broken off and went into the radiator. My dad, being a mechanic, struggled to get parts and finally ended up letting my mom buy me a new ’74 bright yellow Nova. I drove it several years until I got married and sold it. Nice car-wish I still had it! Didn’t ever know what happened to the Cricket, but I can only guess it ended up in the junk yard.

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