More on Story of the Plymouth Cricket

Bill Burdette submitted this great information:

There is a bit more to the story of the Cricket. Chrysler thought that since GM had purchased Holden and Adam Opel, they should do a ‘me too’ and buy the Rootes group. This consisted of Talbot, Hillman, Simca, and Sunbeam.

The reality is Chrysler was left with a Dog of a car company. They thought the Cricket might catch on due to its image as a gas miser, but it really wasn’t too great on MPG. The build quality was awful, and customers found that the other MOPAR ‘captive import’, the Dodge Colt built by Mitsubishi, was a terrific car with great MPG, and priced a bit cheaper.

One great thing did evolve from the Rootes group for Chrysler; the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon. These were billed as America’s first FWD 4 cylinder car that could compete with imports. Basically, it was a Talbot Horizon that had been on the market in the UK for many years. Chrysler did do dome re-engineering for the US market by adding a FWD version of the bullet proof Torque Flite auto trans (A413), and used VW Rabbit 1.7l 4 cylinder engines rather than the ‘shake and bake’ Peugeot motor in the UK version. Omni and Horizons were a hit, and reasonably reliable (my first new car was a 1982 Horizon TC3 that was reliable to 120K miles and then fell apart).

Lee Iacocca ended up giving the Rootes group away to Peugeot in the late 1970s in exchange for some stock and 4 cylinder engines for the Europe marketed MOPARs.

I’ll stop here so I do not go onto the era of the great K CARs HA HA.