Pack Automotive Museum

Performance - Hot Rods - Custom - Antiques - One Offs Many with valid Race and Movie Build Histories

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PLYMOUTH

  At about the same time James Packard (of Packard Motor Car fame) was dying, the Plymouth Corporation was being born.  Introduced on July 7, 1928, it was their first entry into the low-priced auto field although the history of the Plymouth actually began with the Chrysler Corporation and the old Maxwell automobile that comedian Jack Benny said he used to drive.   Seems the Maxwell was in trouble in the early 1920’s and Walter P. Chrysler took control of the company and made it part of his corporation.  Using the Maxwell’s facilities to help launch his newly designed 1924 Chrysler, he also decided to create a lesser expensive line for 1926.  When it debuted, it was called the Chrysler 50 and, the following year it was called the Plymouth Model U.
  Call it a blessing, but giving birth to an auto division in the height of a depression was only successful for Plymouth because of its price-point. While other, more expensive automakers were having difficulty making it through this rough time, Plymouth was selling rather well through its dealerships as well in it’s sister stores DeSoto and Dodge. By 1931, Plymouth held the number three ranking among automakers in the U.S.

  Of the low-priced three (Ford, Chevrolet and Plymouth), much of Plymouth’s life was spent in third place, even though its life was much shorter than Ford, for example.  By the ‘40’s Plymouth even made it to the number two spot.  By the mid-fifties the Plymouth was well known for durability and by the late fifties had much more of a forward styling flair than did Chevy or Ford.  Even so, that did not help when the sixties arrived.  By this time, Plymouth found it self not just in competition with Ford and Chevy, rather, with itself or should we say the other Chrysler brands of vehicles.  Vehicle downsizing such as the intro of the Dodge Dart, Rambler and even Pontiac stymied the Plymouth growth.  To counter, by the seventies Plymouth had introduced the Valiant and Duster compact models but Plymouth was hard hit with much of Chrysler’s financial woes in the seventies and could not fully recover. Intros like the Reliant and Voyager declined in sales as their sister brands sold the identical vehicles under other names and succeeded. Much of the last products offered by Plymouth such as the Neon, Laser, Acclaim and Breeze were nothing more than re-badged versions of other, existing, Chrysler vehicles.

As a side-note, after discontinuing the short-lived Eagle brand of vehicles produced by Chrysler, it was the corporation’s thoughts to expand the Plymouth line starting with the famous Plymouth Prowler and then to the P T Cruiser and a plethora of other niche market vehicles.  Then came the hammer called the Daimler takeover.  Daimler’s observations were that since Plymouth dealers sold both Plymouth and Chrysler vehicles and Dodge dealers sold purely Dodge, It would have caused a much larger interruption to the entire dealer network to eliminate Dodge than Plymouth since that meant all Dodge stores would be vacant and Chrysler holding the bag for payment.   Thus, by eliminating Plymouth, that same store could continue selling Chrysler.
The last model offered officially by Plymouth was the 2000-2001 Neon and the last vehicle that was produced was on June 28, 2001.  The P T Cruiser eventually was launched as a Chrysler product

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