A 7-year-old girl taught me something I didn’t know about cars.
I consider myself pretty well educated about the auto industry and knowledgable about past, present and future vehicles. So when this little girl inquired about a “Cricket car,” I told her I didn’t think there was any such thing. If so, I pictured it as an older British car, something along the lines of an original MINI Cooper. Or a Reliant Robin.
She convinced me to Google it, and yes, I discovered that the Cricket is a real, though easily forgettable, American car.
Imported from Britain.
The Chevy Vega and Ford Pinto were rolling, slowly, off dealer lots in the 1970s. Built to be the new compact cars of America when much larger cars dominated the landscape, Chrysler knew it needed to try and compete with its Detroit brethren in the small-car market. It’s answer was to hastily bring in a British Hillman Avenger.
Launched in the States in 1971 as the Plymouth Cricket, the car was sold for only 2 years. Low sales were mainly due to poor workmanship and a lack of properly preparing the car for the U.S. market. Plus, it was priced too closely to the larger, more comfortable Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant twins. With up to 70 horsepower, the Cricket didn’t offer much in the way performance, either.
Had the car been introduced a few years later, the fuel crisis may have spurred more sales and created a legacy of sorts for the Cricket. Instead, gas was cheap, so very few people bothered with a small car when a larger one could be had for a similar price. Only 41,000 cars were sold between 1971 and 1973, so finding one on the used market today can be a challenge.
No one in their right mind should seek out a Cricket to own, but it’s fun to take a few moments and learn about a car that’s been all but forgotten. Well, forgotten by everyone except the occasional 7-year-old kid.
What other cars of the past have been forgotten by the masses?